MOBILE, Ala. -- As Wednesday's practice came to a close, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins had a flock of NFL scouts and personnel men to speak with after practice. The former Florida transfer has been on a mission to rebuild his draft stock after some questionable off the field decisions that ultimately forced him to leave Gainesville. In the week of practices thus far, Jenkins has shown he's got the ability to be one of the top corners in the 2012 NFL Draft, at least on the field. In the first three days, Jenkins hasn't given up much in terms of separation and receptions to the South team's wide receivers, but he was turned around and beaten deep a few times on Wednesday. He's shown very good quickness and anticipation while covering the receivers. He's also very physical even for being a shade small for an NFL corner.
Jenkins isn't the only impressive defensive back on the South roster however, as Georgia's Brandon Boykin and Louisiana-Lafayette's Dwight Bentley also have impressed. Bentley was beaten a couple of times on Wednesday when the receiver was able to get off the jam on the initial snap, but outside of those handful of times he's locked down the receivers he's been up against. Boykin has also been very physical and was able to lock up the South's bigger wide receivers. Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward struggled a bit early on in practice, but when the team moved into the passing skeleton drills he really started to shine.
Speaking of receivers, Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller might have helped his draft stock more by skipping the game all together. Fuller has really struggled to get off the jam against the South's physical corners and really couldn't get any separation. When Fuller was able to get open he struggled to catch the football. A player who has been impressive even after a position switch has been Florida's Chris Rainey. After the first day of practice Rainey switched to receiver and has looked good in both days of practice. Despite Rainey's size, he's been a very tough cover for the South's cornerbacks. He's blown right past guys like his former teammate Janoris Jenkins to get deep down the field. Arizona's Juron Criner has also had a steady week and shown some scouts what they've wanted to see coming back from an illness that forced him to miss playing time. North Carolina's Dwight Jones however seems to just be going through the motions in practice, which is disappointing because the talent is there.
On the defensive line, I felt like Alabama's Courtney Upshaw had a poor practice overall. When he's rushing the passer, he's able to often beat the offensive lineman but he's not overly fast after the initial burst. Not only that, but in running drills he was constantly sealed off and washed out of plays. North Carolina's Quinton Coples however once again dominated in about every drill he participated in. South Carolina's Melvin Ingram also struggled in run defense a bit, but overall had a nice practice.
After practice, I saw the Jacksonville Jaguars chatting with Janoris Jenkins, Casey Hayward, and Jake Bequette.