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Senior Bowl Notebook: Miami's Clive Walford steals show

Check out the best photos from the second day of Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala. All photos from Associated Press.


MOBILE, Ala. --With a sterling practice Wednesday, Clive Walfordmight have done more to separate himself from the tight end class than he did in any game, or could do in any workout.

During one-on-one drills against linebackers and safeties at the South team's practice in advance of the Senior Bowl, the former University of Miami (Fla.) standout grabbed an array of passes down the seam, catching up to deep balls that appeared to be thrown too far and diving and turning for other passes that were low and in front or thrown behind him.

Walford grabbed two touchdown passes during his work Wednesday and presented nothing but problems for defenders of any position who tried to contain him. The 6-foot-4, 254-pound former high-school basketball player used his 81-1/8 inch wingspan effectively.

Four of the five other tight ends at the Senior Bowl this week are taller. Three are heavier. Two have longer arms and lengthier wingspans. One has bigger hands than Walford's 10.5-inch mitts.

But none of them are in Walford's class, although Delaware's Nick Boyle -- a 267-pound behemoth with measurables to match -- showed palpable improvement from Day 1 to Day 2, showing more assertiveness in his route-running and more consistency hauling in passes.

More notes from the day ...


In the public realm, Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson must fight the perception of his school not being big-time. But scouts and personnel evaluators know better.

Wednesday, a reporter interviewing Grayson called CSU a "small school" in a "small conference," which is absurd given that its undergraduate enrollment is in the neighborhood of 24,000 students and its conference, the Mountain West, produced the Fiesta Bowl champion in 2014.

But this is the perception that players like Grayson and his CSU teammate, offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo, must fight in the next few months.

But one aspect that is in their favor is the program itself. Although the offense isn't 100 percent pro-style -- it made heavy use of shotgun formations in recent years -- the attention to detail and the teaching has been, especially in the three years Jim McElwain coached there after arriving from Nick Saban's Alabama staff.

That eases the transition and helped "a ton," Grayson noted after his second Senior Bowl practice Wednesday.

"I think that helped me a lot translating to the verbiage that we're using this week, going through reads and progressions and things like that," he said. "That helped me get a leap on everybody else."

Check out photos from the first day of Senior Bowl practice. All photos courtesy of the Associated Press.

At the moment, that gives Grayson an advantage over Baylor's Bryce Petty, who, more than any other offensive player here, will need the entire week, up to and including Saturday's game, for a proper evaluation of his progress.

Petty compares the transition from Baylor's up-tempo, all-shotgun attack to changing from writing in print to cursive: same language, different presentation.

But it does take some time. Petty has lost multiple snaps over the last two days. However, he did show promise when he eluded a heavy pass rush, reading pressure from the edge and darting away to prevent a sack. He also delivered the football with more consistency than he did Tuesday.

This is a light quarterback class. There is some speculation that none of the senior passers will go in the first 100 picks of the draft. (Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley were eligible for the Senior Bowl because they were juniors in eligibility who already graduated, but opted not to play.)

But the never-ending need for quarterbacks, and the upside of Grayson and Petty, could ensure that they go off the board before the end of the draft's second day.

… Fullback is a position to watch, especially if a tweaked offense means that the Broncos go shopping for someone to line up at the position the Broncos have rarely used since 2012. In many cases, offenses helmed by Gary Kubiak preferred to have a converted running back lining up as fullback, which led to contributors like Howard Griffith, Mike Anderson and Cecil Sapp, all of whom were among Denver's fullbacks in the 1990s and 2000s.

One player who might fit the bill for teams needing a fullback is Yale's Tyler Varga, a 5-foot-10, 227-pounder who makes the transition from tailback this week. Varga has excellent ball skills, with a long run and several good catches over the last two days, but he has also improved as a blocker and could also be used as a single, big back.

… Duke WR Jamison Crowder proved that his outstanding Day 1 performance was not a fluke, catching a similar array of passes and exploiting both press and zone coverages as he did Tuesday.

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