Several QBs excel during group work

Originally Published: July 23, 2008
By Greg Biggins | ESPN.com

Aaron MurrayTom Hauck for ESPN.com Aaron Murray has risen to the occasion at the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp.
ALISO VIEJO, Calif. -- Tuesday was Day 2 of the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp. As expected, several players made big improvements from their workouts on Monday. We're still waiting for one or two players to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, but this year's event may be dominated by parity.

As was the case Monday, the 12 quarterbacks were split up in to three, randomly-selected groups which were paired with two of the six college counselors. The first hour of drills focused primarily on forcing quarterbacks to make quick reads and deliver the ball on time.

Different coverages were thrown at the signal-callers. They had to decipher if they were looking at zone or man coverage and then make an accurate throw. Accuracy has been preached above all things this week; the thinking behind this emphasis is that if everything else is executed perfectly -- the pass protection and route -- a signal-caller still needs to get the ball where it needs to be.

The quarterbacks then moved to 7-on-7 play for the next 45 minutes or so with the final 15 minutes being devoted to the Golden Gun Accuracy Challenge.

Here's a look at what the three groups looked like:

Group 1: Richard Brehaut (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos)
Garrett Gilbert (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis)
Andrew Maxwell (Midland, Mich.)
A.J. McCarron (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul's Episcopal)

Group 2: Tajh Boyd (Hampton, Va./Phoebus)
Raymond Cotton (Fort Meade, Md./Meade)
Aaron Murray (Tampa, Fla./Plant)
Tom Savage (Springfield, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara)

Group 3: Allan Bridgford (Mission Viejo, Calif.)
Zach Mettenberger (Watkinsville, Ga./Oconee County)
Bryn Renner (West Springfield, Va.)
Eugene Smith (Miramar, Fla.)

Out of Group 1, Maxwell and McCarron were very strong, and both have been among the top five quarterbacks during the first two days.

"Maxwell has been the top guy for me so far," Elite 11 quarterbacks coach Brett Johnson said. "He was great in all my drills Monday and had another nice workout today. He just does everything well."

Fellow QBs coach Tee Martin echoed those statements.

"If I was a college coach, Maxwell and McCarron would be two of the guys I would look at over just about anyone," Martin said. "Both are smooth, have a nice delivery and know where to go with the ball."

Brehaut is a big talent but has seemed to be coasting through the first two workouts so far.

"He has kind of been in camp mode," Martin said. "It's like he knows all these drills and is just going through the motions a little. When the 7-on-7 started, he stepped up and made some big plays and then kind of went back to camp mode again instead of really competing like the other players here."

Gilbert was still taking it easy and not cutting loose on his throws, which is exactly how he should be. Coming off of shoulder surgery, no one wants to see him re-aggravate his arm. There are times when it looks like Gilbert is steering the ball instead of letting it go but again, this was expected.

Group 2 was headlined by Murray and Boyd. Murray was quicker with his release today and had a better overall workout. As we said Monday, he's great when his first read is open but can get long with his release when he has to check off. Today he threw the ball accurately and on time although making his read even quicker is one thing he still has room to improve on. His arm is very strong -- top three in the camp -- and he's among the most consistent quarterbacks in being able to spin the ball on just about every throw.

Boyd again showed off a lightning-quick release and live arm. He's athletic, moves around very well and loves to be coached. Not much was said about Boyd prior to the camp, but he has had two excellent workouts and shown he belongs among the nation's elite.

Savage made big improvements Tuesday and was particularly strong on his touch throws. He was quick with his reads and has a powerful arm. His release is still a little long and if he can tighten that up, it would be big for him.

Cotton struggled a bit Tuesday; he still seems to be thinking too much instead of simply playing. He was tentative on a lot of his throws and that indecision has caused his ball to lose a lot of life on it. Rather than just taking his drop and firing, Cotton is dropping then analyzing everything to make sure he's not making a mistake before letting the ball go.

Cotton has arguably the strongest arm in the camp and we still like his upside a lot. You can't coach his size, arm strength and athleticism. Hopefully he'll rally the final two days of the camp.

Group 3 was regarded by many as the best of the day. The group was led by Eugene Smith. The lanky quarterback has been a mystery of sorts. He's the quietest kid in the camp, keeps to himself and you wonder what he's thinking on the field.

Then the drill kicks off and he makes the right read and a great throw every time. He's a very cerebral player and really understands the game. While for some of the quarterbacks, everything looks sped up, the game comes easy for Smith. He's able to slow things down and has been accurate. His arm has been strong two days straight.

Bridgford has been very impressive as well and is running away with the Golden Gun Accuracy Challenge (we'll post the results after two days later in this article). The quarterback has an advantage in the fact that he already knows all the drills front and back since his high school head coach, Bob Johnson, is the head coach at the Elite 11.

Still, knowing the drills and being able to execute them are two different things. Bridgford is making all the throws and like Smith, the game slows down for him. He has a very high football IQ, a strong arm and pin-point accuracy. On both the short routes and the longer outs, Bridgford has been hitting every receiver right in the numbers.

Mettenberger has a cannon and he has been well coached. He understands the game, knows where to go with the ball and plays with confidence. He has one of the bigger personalities in the group and seems to really enjoy the game.

Mettenberger is a pure drop-back guy. He will need to play in a system that can give him ample protection because he's not super mobile in the pocket. Saying that, his upside is high and he has a chance to surprise at the next level.

Renner looked cautious Monday but was very solid Tuesday. He gained confidence as the day went on and seemed to feed on being a part of a very solid group. Renner shows up great on film and has all the ability in the world. He's highly competitive, moves around very well and will gain arm strength as he fills out.

EA Sports Accuracy Challenge results:

Tajh Boyd: Day 1-8; Day 2-4; Total- 12
Richard Brehaut: Day 1-5; Day 2-12; Total- 17
Allan Bridgford: Day 1-23; Day 2-12; Total- 35
Raymond Cotton: Day 1-0; Day 2-6; Total- 6
Garrett Gilbert: Day 1-11; Day 2-6; Total- 17
Andrew Maxwell: Day 1-11; Day 2-6; Total- 17
AJ McCarron: Day 1-12; Day 2-10; Total- 22
Zach Mettenberger: Day 1-6; Day 2-11; Total- 12
Aaron Murray: Day 1-15; Day 2-3; Total- 18
Bryn Renner: Day 1-6; Day 2-15; Total- 21
Tom Savage: Day 1-8; Day 2-6; Total- 14
Eugene Smith: Day 1-6; Day 2-9; Total- 15

There are five targets as part of the accuracy challenge. Each targets is worth 1, 2, or 5 points based on the difficulty- the 12 yard out is worth 1 point, the 40 yard deep ball is worth 5. The players sprint from target to target with two five-minute halves and a short break in between.

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