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Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Who's up, who's down at The Opening

By Tom Luginbill and Craig Haubert

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- With the linemen challenge and the 7-on-7 pool play, it was a good day to get a good look at all the prospects at The Opening. Here's our take on who had a good day and who struggled.

Three up

Defensive secondary: For the first time, these receivers are being challenged and the separation gap isn't anywhere near what these wideouts are used to it being. These defensive backs are making windows smaller for the QBs, which affects their accuracy, and they are tall, physical and in the hip pocket of the offensive player. Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) stood out of the group, but all the defensive backs played well. This is an adjustment period for the receivers to give them an idea of what it now takes to get open and what they will have to change in their game by tomorrow.

OT Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe): Yes, he's the No. 1 offensive tackle, but he has been incredibly impressive in everything he has done so far. He has a quiet demeanor, but when it comes time to compete he just flips the switch on. For a 6-foot-6, 320-pounder, he is extremely light on his feet and agile. His pass-blocking has been outstanding. He is patient and uses his hands extremely well. He could be one of the more special offensive linemen we've seen since we started doing this back in 2006.

OGs Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial): Hard to pick one as both offensive linemen out of California performed well. We liked them on film, liked them when we saw them at the LA NFTC, and they continue to be impressive here. Mama projects at OG, but he is taking reps at tackle and for a player in the 350- to 375-pound range he is extremely light on his feet. While he is proving to be an effective OT here, all his strengths -- his size, punch and agility -- could be accentuated at guard. Talamaivao has also been outstanding. He's quickly getting his hands on and once he's locked on, he mirrors well. Neither lost many reps thanks to their combination of size, technique and strength.

Three down

Quarterbacks: OK, first of all, don't take this the wrong way. They were down only slightly and this was somewhat to be expected because once drills come to end and QBs are dealing with moving parts and teammates they're unfamiliar with, the landscape of the game changes. Still, the QBs pressed, held on to the ball, got out of rhythm and forced throws, and this is what we anticipated happening coming into the day. There were some bright spots, including Texas commit Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer), Arizona State commit Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin), Miami commit Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) and Georgia commit Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford). And remember, this was just one day and it wasn't a terrible day, but on the whole we expect better performances on Day 2.

OT Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster): The Ohio State commit has kind of solidified what we expected coming in. He's a raw player with upside who comes from a system where he run blocks. He is very inexperienced as a pass protector and we saw that in the one-on-ones. While they weren't in pads, his level would get high and he wasn't sure how to use his hands and defensive linemen would shed. There were a few times where his lack of experience and technique was very evident. Still, toward the end of the one-on-ones, he started to deliver a good punch, get his hands on and you could see his tenacity and strength come into play. It's going to be a process for him in that phase, but he showed his upside there at the end.

DE Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell): On tape he is one of the most stout run defenders in this class, but his inability to bend as an explosive edge rusher limits his value on passing downs. He's big, physical and certainly looks the part, but is still coming along in the development of his pass-rush skills.