By Chad Reuter, NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange
EL PASO, TEXAS -- The fact that players from lower levels, or even non-BCS conferences like the Sun Belt, take on Big 12 and Southeastern Conference talent makes the week of practice at the Texas vs. the Nation all-star game all that much more interesting.
The week of practice can be enough for a player to lift his stock from late-draft consideration to mid-round pick and others from priority free agents into the late rounds.
It's hard for any player to really hurt himself this week. None of the prospects are so highly rated that they'd experience a considerable slide. The game is a true win-win situation for prospects and teams, many of whom sent top scouts to El Paso to find the best fit for their system.
During Tuesday's practice, these 13 players boosted their stock:TEXAS SQUAD
--Monday's top receiver, Dominique Edison (Stephen F. Austin) sat out Tuesday with a minor injury, and is expected he'll be back today. Northwestern State's Dudley Guice took Edison's place as the premier wideout on the field. Guice snatched several balls outside the frame of his body and high-pointed a few in red zone drills. In another drill, he faked the fade and used his hands to get inside position for a quick slant near the goal line. The 6-2, 213-pound Guice is not a track star but his feet were quick in and out of routes.
--Tuesday's defensive star for the Texas squad was Chris Owens from San Jose State. He had at least two interceptions on the day, stepping in front of his man as if he'd heard the route called in the huddle. He's been the "other" corner opposite Dwight Lowery and Coye Francies the past two seasons, partially because of size (5-9, 182) but Owens' game should make his phone ring sometime on Sunday during draft weekend.
--Lee Robinson, a linebacker from Alcorn State, continues to impress with his athleticism. Even at 249 pounds, he has the ability to track running backs in the flat and get to receiver in short zones. He's a guy who looks like Tarzan -- and plays like him, too. Of this week's participants, Robinson should be one of the first players drafted.
--WR Jordan Norwood brought his polished routes, nice quickness and soft hands with him from Happy Valley. He's taking full advantage of the same all-star contest opportunity afforded his Penn State teammates in the East-West Shrine Game (Deon Butler) and Senior Bowl (Derrick Williams).
--Furman CB William Middleton is holding his own. Likely too small for some teams at 5-9, 193, his ability to stick with receivers downfield and play the ball will be coveted by teams primarily using zone schemes.
--RB Devin Moore (Wyoming) is very tough to catch in the open field. On swing passes, he continually shows superior quickness against linebackers or safeties in space. A bit small for an every-down back (5-9, 191), a team may try him as a slot receiver/kick returner in training camp.NATION SQUAD
--ILB Frantz Joseph was intense and ready to go today while his Nation teammates were chilling out before practice. He popped pads all day in the box and although he's not really fluid, he gets into position to make plays in coverage.
--T.J. Lang played left tackle for Eastern Michigan for the past two-plus seasons, but his play at left guard this week proves he'll be a solid NFL player at that spot. Strong at the point of attack, Lang can also get out in front of screens and dominate defensive backs at the second or third level.
--At 5-10, 189, Louisiana-Lafayette's Jason Chery is not the most physically imposing receiver in El Paso, but he's caught everything thrown his direction. Whether on a slant, quick-out or nine route, Chery has the quickness to get position on his man and the hands to secure each pass.
--Boston College TE Ryan Purvis missed having QB Matt Ryan around this season, but has looked smooth and sure-handed this week. His straight-line speed is questionable, however, so he'll be best finding the hole in zones and moving the chains.
--Purvis' teammate, Kevin Akins, spent 2008 bouncing between cornerback and linebacker on BC's depth chart. Once again he showed great versatility Tuesday, playing strong at the point of attack and looking fluid in coverage as a linebacker and coming up into the box to support the run as a free safety.
--Montana safety Colt Anderson is reminiscent of undersized but heady Jim Leonhard of the Baltimore Ravens. The 5-10, 191-pound Anderson is plenty physical despite his slight frame. He also displayed nice reflexes intercepting a ball after it went through a receiver's hands.
--DE Pierre Walters (Eastern Illinois) has the size at 6-4, 269, to hold up on early downs but flashed good speed off the edge and an ability to spin or loop inside to get to the quarterback stepping up into the pocket. Related links:* 2009 Texas vs Nation: Monday* 2009 Texas vs Nation Measurements, Excel Spreadsheet: Height, Weight, Hand, Arm* Texas vs Nation Rosters