NFC West: C.J. Akins
May, 13, 2013
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Rookie minicamps came and went over the weekend with players generally meeting expectations, to hear their coaches rave. That was understandable for reasons Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians explained when analyzing Jonathan Cooper, the guard his team selected in the first round.
"He showed up in good shape and he looks like the player that we thought he would be," Arians told reporters. "Offensive linemen, you really can’t tell until you put pads on. He moves around just like we thought he would because it looks like the combine out there right now."
These camps resembled the combine in a couple ways. Players wore shorts and no pads. Also, rules prevented veteran NFL players from participating. That complicated efforts to determine how players might fare during actual games, but these first glimpses can be affirming nonetheless.
Initial reports suggest the two drafted tight ends from Rice, Vance McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers and Luke Willson of the Seattle Seahawks, made favorable first impressions catching the ball. We heard much more about Willson, but that shouldn't come as a total surprise because the Seahawks, unlike the 49ers, opened all their practices to local media.
None of the draft choices appeared to suffer a significant injury. The St. Louis Rams lost undrafted free agent C.J. Akins to a torn Achilles tendon. Akins, a receiver from Angelo State, was expected to undergo surgery this week.
The 49ers' Lawrence Okoye, the Olympic discus thrower from Britain, looked the part physically, according to reports. Some of the offensive linemen in camp reportedly matched up well with Okoye in drills. But when the 49ers participated in feats of strength, Okoye launched a medicine ball over his head and backward some 18 yards in the air.
"That was about nine yards farther than anyone else," Matt Barrows wrote. "The tower at San Jose International is still wondering what was showing up on its radar."