Titus Young and Austin Pettis have spent the week in Mobile, Alabama, raising their draft stock, drawing rave reviews, being compared to NFL stars, making Colin Kaepernick look better than he has any business looking. It has been a good week - a great week, in fact. Young is now considered a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Pettis is expected to go off the board not long after.
After the jump, read more on how Young and Pettis performed under the watchful eye of NFL scouts and coaches, and get the details on Saturday's game. Go North. Go Broncos.
Watch on TV: Saturday, 2:00 p.m. MT, NFL Network
The buzz on Titus Young
Young has been a consensus hit at the Senior Bowl, establishing himself as the top receiver, showcasing his speed and route-running, and generally doing pretty much everything right. As such, hype has been building all week. Here is one quote that caused quite the ruckus on Internet Bronco Nation:
NFL Network guys speaking very highly of Boise State WR Titus Young, evoking the game-breaking talents of DeSean Jackson & Percy Harvin.
Huzzah! DeSean Jackson and Percy Harvin are pretty good football players.
Senior Bowl practice reports
There is no shortage of Senior Bowl practice reports floating around the Internet, which is to be expected when your credential requirements are soft enough that Bleacher Report writers somehow qualify. "Have you made a Top Ten list of soccer WAGs? You're in!"
To that end, I have chosen three scouts/websites to recap Titus Young and Austin Pettis's week at Senior Bowl practice.
- Matt Bowen and Wes Bunting, National Football Post
- Fifth Down blog at the New York Times
- Scott Wright, Draft Countdown
If you'd like additional reports, I would recommend checking out ESPN's Todd McShay (Insiders only), NFL Soup, CBS Sports' Rob Rang, or basically anything that Mike Mayock says. And while I'm at it, a hat tip to the OBNUGgers who posted updates throughout the week. If you have additional Senior Bowl resources, feel free to add them in the comments.
Monday practice report
Boise State’s Titus Young: Watching the skill positions on Monday, Young is the one player that stood out above everyone else. ... The speed—top end speed—was evident down the field. Young showed the ability to stem his route with a vertical release and then separate when the ball was in the air. He ran past people all day. But don’t mark him down as just a deep ball guy. This is the type of prospect that would be a fit in an offense like Andy Reid’s in Philly or Mike Martz’s in Chicago—where the underneath crossing routes come into play. You want receivers that can work away from a defender’s leverage and make a play with the ball in the open field. Young displayed that ability on Monday.
... It’s going to be tough for any senior wide out this week to play at the level of Boise State receiver Titus Young. Young not only is an out and out burner who has the ability to consistently get up to full speed quickly and separate vertically down the field. But, he’s a really savvy route runner who is sudden in and out of his breaks and does a nice job changing speeds in order to separate. Reminds me of a more polished/savvy version of Johnny Knox.
From the New York Times:
Titus Young, Boise State: At the weigh-in, Young showed off a strong, well-defined back. At practice he showed great backbone, running routes fearlessly over the middle. He does a good job of looking in passes, and is quick on underneath routes. He displays good body control when catching passes near the sideline, and can turn up field in a hurry. Young did miss a couple of high passes Monday. It was a high degree of difficulty to bring them in, but they were not uncatchable. One of those passes bounced off his hands and into those of Virginia Tech CB Rashad Carmichael. Young lacked effort after the interception; he just let Carmichael run away with the ball. He also dropped two other well-thrown routes. He flashed electric skills, but he was not consistent.
Austin Pettis, Boise State: Pettis does a good job of getting his head around when a pass is coming in, but his greatest liability Monday was his route running in drills. The receiver coach repeatedly corrected Pettis’s mistakes with his breaks, pointing out his tendency to round off his routes or tip off his break with his shoulder at the top of his routes. Pettis eventually showed improvement in this area, but a few minutes later he was getting repeated coaching on his run blocking. Pettis needs to work on his hand placement, his initial punch and using his legs to sustain blocks. Although known for his ability to adjust to the errant throw, he had a pass thrown somewhat low and behind him bounce off his hands. This was not a standout day for Pettis.
Boise State WR Titus Young beat Rutgers DB Joe Lefeged for a long touchdown early in the practice in a one on one drill. He showed quickness, great cutting ability, and deep speed all practice long. After a few mental mistakes of dropping a few high passes (including one for an interception,) during 7-on-7’s, Young regained his composure and looked dynamic toward the end.
The other Boise State wideout Austin Pettis was surprisingly fluid out on the field and even held kicks on field goals.
Tuesday practice report
From the New York Times:
Titus Young, Boise State: Young had an up-and-down day. He had fewer drops, but he also drew the ire of the coaches for his route running. One coach told Young that he needed tighter angles upfield when he released from press coverage at the line of scrimmage. His body control needs to be more refined to sharpen his technique. There continue to be rumblings from some personnel evaluators that Young has DeSean Jackson-like skill, but expecting him to make a Jackson-like splash seems doubtful based on his performance this week.
Austin Pettis, Boise State: Pettis wowed the crowd at Ladd Peebles stadium with a fantastic one-handed catch. It was almost as if his gloves were sticky. He displayed good concentration on a pass that came in behind him and hot. Pettis gathered in the pass off balance and continued downfield without missing a beat. But this is the known quantity to Pettis’s game that earned him a trip to Mobile. The common theme with Pettis’s performance in drills is the amount of corrective attention he’s receiving from his receiver coach on his release, his breaks and the use of his hands. He’s a natural hands catcher, but it’s very apparent that he is not a refined player in the art of receiving.
Boise St. WR Titus Young has been one of the North’s most impressive players so far this week. Young has a great burst off the line and is very quick, eating up turf in a hurry. On more than one occasion Young was praised by coaches for his route running and on a side note he actually grunts a lot while running. Young also showed the ability to avoid the jam at the line, which will be key for a guy with his slight frame. At one point Young was matched up with the likes of Oklahoma's Quinton Carter and Nebraska's Eric Hagg, which wasn’t fair as he beat them with ease.
Wednesday practice report
From the New York Times:
WR Titus Young, Boise State: As we mentioned in our report from Day 1, a portion of the scouting community thought Young could be a DeSean Jackson-type of player. While his upside could approach Jackson’s current skills, he is not as refined as Jackson was at the same stage. The positive about Young this week was that he proved to be very coachable. He noticeably improved his technique as a route runner. However, Young still dropped too many easy balls, something an elite receiver rarely does.
Boise State WR Titus Young had a few nice catches today. On a high pass in 7-on-7’s from Jake Locker, Young made a jumping catch and continued moving his feet to pick up yards after the catch. Didn’t always run perfect routes, but looked incredible the rest of the way.
Boise State WR Austin Pettis had a great day. Pettis made some nice catches in 7-on-7’s where he extended for the ball. Pettis caught most balls at their highest point and in 11-on-11’s he beat North Carolina CB Kendric Burney for a long touchdown. Overall Pettis appears to be a complete wideout.
Note: Thursday and Friday are walkthrough drills.
Titus Young: Speed and change of direction. That’s the first thing that jumps out watching Young this week in Mobile. Consistently made plays starting in one-on-ones and carrying over into team work. He can bring some excitement to an offense because he has that unique ability to stretch the top of the defense (fade, 7, post, double-move). And he can also make plays in the underneath passing game (think 3-step route tree, underneath crossers, option routes, etc.). The challenge, however, for Young will be working against press coverage on Sundays. ... Yes, he has the speed to win on the outside once he can get separation from the defensive back (something he displayed all week), but I think we are looking at a rookie WR that can add to an offense as a No. 3. There is talent here and he has the speed to make things happen at the NFL level. Exciting player.
Austin Pettis: The Boise St. WR has some size and I view him as the type of player that can work outside of the numbers and make plays in the NFL. Bigger receivers can cause some issues for defensive backs. ... During my career, that was a guy like Keyshawn Johnson. Big, strong at the line of scrimmage and could run the post, the curl, the slant, comeback and the out. Plus, let’s not forget what size brings to the red zone route tree. Pettis doesn’t have elite speed in the vertical game and must continue to work on his route running, but there is potential once he continues his development. He has to learn to play with lower pad level and come out of his cuts with more speed, quickness (still will round the top of his routes). Pettis isn’t a receiver that is going to be at the top of draft boards, but I do see the value in his game. You are going to get a big target that I envision making the tough catches.
If you want a vertical threat, look no further than Boise State’s Titus Young, who has shown the ability to not only routinely get behind corners deep, but has the suddenness/balance to his game to really snap his way out of his breaks and separate underneath.
If you’re looking for a bigger, possession-type wideout then Miami’s Leonard Hankerson and Boise State’s Austin Pettis both fit the bill. They do a nice job working the three-step game, they use their big bodies well to shield defenders from the football and know how to pluck the throw off their frame.
From Russ Lande, Sporting News NFL Draft expert, via the New York Times:
I think Titus Young helped himself a lot. He has great routes, he showed phenomenal hands, and I think he showed the ability to get open.
From Pat Kirwan, NFL.com:
Boise State WRs Austin Pettis and Titus Young: The pair can really snatch the ball out of the air and I would label them as hand-catchers. Pettis' hands are so good that he doubles as the holder on field goals. He's also the bigger of the two (6-foot-3, 201 pounds) and looks suited for the X-receiver spot. He is sudden in his release and was good against press coverage in practice all week. Young is explosive and dangerous as a deep threat. On two occasions, I watched him line up against cover 3 with a corner off at 9 yards and back pedaling at the snap. Both times, Young got by him on a go route. He has shake, separation and can stop on a dime.
Senior Bowl information
The Senior Bowl is the top postseason all-star game for college football. Coaches and scouts from every NFL team are in attendance. Also, seniors only, so you don't have to put up with Cam Newton hype all week.
The game takes place in Mobile, Alabama, at Lloyd-Peebles Stadium - home to the University of South Alabama and the GoDaddy Bowl. The players are split into North vs. South (Civil War much?), and each team gets a real live NFL coaching staff to tutor them throughout the week. The North team, with Young and Pettis, has the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff. The South team has the Buffalo Bills.
Players of note on the North: CB Rashad Carmichael (Virginia Tech), LB Mark Herzlich (Boston College), QB Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), QB Jake Locker (Washington), DT Stephen Paea (Oregon State)
Players of note on the South: QB Andy Dalton (TCU), RB Noel Devine (West Virginia), WR Jeremy Kerley (TCU), QB Greg McElroy (Alabama), QB Christian Ponder (Florida State),
What have you heard about Young and Pettis's performances? Are you buying the comparisons to DeSean Jackson? Will you be watching the game on Saturday? Share your thoughts in the comments.