BEAVERTON, Ore. – Camps are often a poor platform for offensive and defensive lineman to show off their ability because it is hard to simulate game settings in the trenches without pads.
A'Shawn Robinson was dominant on Saturday.
That changed at The Opening.
In a rare camp setting on Saturday, the offensive linemen and defensive linemen suited up in helmets and shoulder pads and competed in both pass rush drills and run blocking drills. It was a rare opportunity to see who really had the physicality and toughness to match their athleticism.
We take a look at the top performers from the two primary drills in the morning Lineman Challenge.
Note: Several players were not permitted to wear pads due to their high school athletic association rules. Among the states that did not permit the players to compete in padded practice were Michigan, Georgia and Ohio.
1. Eddie Vanderdoes – Vanderdoes has already showed great quickness and athleticism as a pass rusher in one-on-one drills but when the pads were donned, he was powerful and explosive defeating double teams and knocking back offensive linemen in the run game as well. His efforts have his stock as high as any defensive lineman in the country.
2. Demarcus Walker – Walker has a lot of size and versatility but he really plays with good leverage in the run game and he has the quickness to defeat blocks with both strength and athleticism. As a complete package, Walker has had as good of a week as any defensive lineman.
3. Elijah Qualls – The knock on Qualls is that his size may cause him to become engulfed by bigger offensive line prospects and the run-game drill is exactly what would expose that kind of limitation. However Qualls actually became even better when the pads came into the equation. He played with a mean streak and he was the quickest most physical player at the point of attack. His Saturday play was the biggest pleasant surprise of the day.
4. A'shawn Robinson – Robinson is a beast. He looks like the strongest defender in attendance and offensive linemen are lost when they attempt to dictate where he goes. The best you can hope for with Robinson is a stalemate and he was outstanding in every drill this weekend.
5. Caleb Brantley – Brantley is a thick powerful prospect that really uses his hands well and plays the leverage game effectively. He was solid on all of his reps and if he didn’t defeat blocks with his hands and quickness he was able to maintain his position. Florida looks like it has landed a really high level defender.
1. Ira Denson – Denson is a mean prospect and that is meant in the best way possible. He is thick, barrel-chested and tough. When he engages defenders, Denson has a finisher’s mentality which is exactly what this drill calls for.
2. Cameron Hunt – Before committing to Cal in the evening, Hunt displayed plenty for Jeff Tedford to be excited about. Hunt is not a massive offensive lineman and may eventually move inside but he really excelled as a drive blocker and has already showed terrific feet in pass blocking. Despite a less-than-imposing frame, Hunt was a major presence.
3. John Lopez – Lopez really surprised some people with his toughness in the run game. He’s an athletic kid but he showed off his physicality on Saturday by firing off the football and not only delivering a strong initial blow but showing the ability to stay on his block and finish. Washington and UCLA are at the top of Lopez’s list.
Pass rush 1on1s
1. A'shawn Robinson – Try to take on this Texas commit with a single blocker and there’s almost no chance in this sort of setting. Robinson is just too strong and too athletic for anyone to handle in a one-on-one situation. He had his way with offensive linemen all weekend and it happened again in pass-rush drills.
2. Frank Herron – Herron is still extremely raw and he doesn’t have much of an arsenal as far as pass rushing moves but he finds a way to get to the quarterback and he Herron was better with the pads than he was without him. An LSU commit, Herron is just a high-motor, high-intensity defender that is still learning the position.
3. Elijah Qualls – Once again, Qualls took things up a notch when the pads came on and his motor and intensity were unmatched. The kid uses his limited size to his advantage and while we’ve seen Qualls struggle at times in short and t-shirts in the pass-rush 1on1s, he became a totally different player with pads on. A Washington commitment, Qualls lived up to his four-star billing.
4. Eddie Vanderdoes – We only saw Vanderdoes take one rep during the pass rush 1on1s but it was a memorable one. In a split-second, Vanderdoes exploded off the ball and put the offensive lineman on his back at the quarterback’s feet.
1. Cameron Hunt – Collectively as a staff, we can’t think of Hunt having a bad rep on the offensive line. He may not always dominate and he has a stalemate here and there but he never gets badly beaten. Hunt really is as sound as they come as a blocker.
2. Tyler Lancaster – As a center Lancaster showed the athleticism that earned him the top offensive line score at the SPARQ combine. He really bends well, reacts quickly and rarely gets overpowered.
De’Shawn Hand on his limited reps jumped out with his blend of speed and strength. Though he’s very athletic, he can beat you with strength as well…Christian LaCouture showed some really positive things on Saturday and at one point he won consecutive reps during the run-block drills…Darius Latham showed his best effort today on the defensive line splitting a double team and showing some good run-game instincts…Though he couldn’t compete in pads Brandon Kublanow showed some flashes of dominance in the unpadded one-on-ones. When it comes to absorbing bull-rushers, Kublanow is not the one you want to test.