Expert ranks the best Practice Squad players's Russ Lande (I think he just moved over starting in Sept.) has started posting a list of the 5 top Practice Squad players in each division, and I thought you might be interested. In the case of today's article (they are listed in the reverse order of publication, from last to first), he list the top 5 Practice Squad players in the NFC West, who are most likely to make a teams 53 man roster (I will only quote his impressive comments about a player).

1. Cardinals - OT Steven Baker (6-7 7/8, 312, 4.87-40), who only started 1 year at East Carolina, but that 4.87-40 is a great time for anyone his size, and he certainly seems the raw measureables to develop into a NFL OT.

"Baker has the knee and hip flexibility to get low to block with good base, but his lack of experience shows up in his tendency to still block straight legged and high."

2. Rams - OLB Sammy Brown 6-1 3/4, 243, 4.63) - Many of you probably remember me pushing for the Panthers to fist draft Brown in the late 6th or 7th round, then to sign him as an UDFA, and finally to claim or sign him when the Rams cut him at the end of training camp. I wanted Brown because of his pass rush ability (21 sacks, 50 TFL's and 169 tackles in his 2 seasons at Houston, with 13.5 sacks, 30 TFL's, and 93 tackles as a senior in 2011), but Lande says Brown excells in pass coverage (I assumed that was his weak area, with him blitzing around 80-90% of the time in college). Another great cover LB, who's also a good pass rusher would be a great pairing with Luke Kuechly on the other side.

"Brown is definitely capable of starting in the NFL and that is why he is an excellent developmental prospect. Excelling in pass coverage has become paramount for a linebacker to shine in the NFL and this is where Brown is the strongest. Smooth and fluid in his pass drops, he can flip his hips to change directions easily and can cover backs and tight ends in man coverage without issue. Remarkably, for a player who racked up 13.5 sacks as a senior, Brown lacks explosiveness off the ball and a variety of pass rush moves. Naturally strong, Brown can anchor, shed and make plays when he competes hard and fights to make plays."

That glowing report on Brown makes him sound like a must sign now prospect for some team (this time I still hope it's the Panthers).

3. Seahawks - DT Hebron Fangupo (6-0 3/4, 325, 5.18-40)

4. 49ers - OLB Cam Johnson (6-3 1/2, 268, 4.76-40)

5. Seahawks - OG Rishaw Johnson (6-3 3/8, 313, 5.20-40)

1. Bucs - TE Drake Dunsmore (6-2 1/8, 241, 4.69-40)

2. Bucs - WR Dale Moss (6-3, 213, 4.38-40) - I thought Moss was a priority UDFA signing after the draft, and he was, but the Packers cut him at the end of training camp, with the Bucs grabbing him up. He was South Dekota State's starting point guard, only playing football in his senior season, with 61 catches, for 749 yards, and 6 TD's.

"Moss was cearly a gifted athlete who was very raw in the technical aspect of playing receiver. He must improve his inital 'get off', must run sharper, more precise routes and become more consistent running through contact to make plays after the catch. While there are many bigger names on practice squads around the league. Moss likely is the one with the most upside and potential as he has number one receiver physical tools."
I think Moss and the Panthers Practice Squad WR Lamont Bryant are virtually identical in their potential, and physical measurements. Here's how Bryant and (Moss) match up, by the numbers:

Measurement - Bryant - (Moss)

Height - 6-5 3/8 - 6-3

Weight - 229 - 213

Arms (inches) - 33 1/4 - 33/p>

Hands (inches) - 9 1/2 - 10 1/4

40 Time - 4.39 - 4.38

10 Yard Split Time - 1.50 - NA

Bench Reps - 19 - NA

Vertical Jump (in inches) - 43 - 41.5

Broad Jump - 10-8 - 10-10

3 Cone Drill Time - 6.78 - 6.32 (the record was around 6.45 to 6.50)

20 Yard Shuttle Time - 4.38 - 4.08

Moss seems to have more agility than Bryant (as shown by their 3 Cone and 20 Yard Shuttle times), along with larger hands, but Bryant is a little bigger. It might take until 2014, but I believe both have great potential, and if they learn their craft well in the next 2 years could become good NFL WR's.

3. Saints - DB Jerico Nelson (5-9, 200, 4.65-40)

4. Falcons - DT Micanor Regis (6-2 5/8, 309, 5.21-40)

5. Panthers - RB/WR Almond Smith (5-9, 190, 4.40-40), who split his senior season between RB and DB. The Panthers said before the draft that they wanted a Sproles like RB, so I had hoped they would draft RB Michael Smith (5-8 1/4, 207, 4.32-40, 1.48-10), but he was the Bucs #212 pick (he's been inactive for the last 3 games).

"While he lacks the bulk/strength to consistently run through arm/grab tackles to gain yards after contact. Smith's dynamic explosiveness and open field running ability gives him a chance to develop."

1. Bears - OT James Brown (6-3 1/2, 316, 5.23-40)

2. Packers - QB B. J. Coleman (6-3, 233, 4.90-40)

3. Packers - OT Andrew Datko (6-6, 315, 5.26-40)

4. Lions - WR Patrick Edwards (5-9 1/4, 172, 4.45-40)

5. (Cut) - WR Tori Gurley (6-4, 232, 4.55-40)

1. Cowboys - WR Danny Coale (5-11 7/8, 201, 4.43-40)

2. Eagles - WR B. J. Cunningham (6-1 3/8, 211, 4.53-40)

3. Giants - WR David Douglas (6-0 3/4, 205, 4.55-40)

4. Cowboys - OG Ronald Leary (6-2 7/8, 315, 5.30-40)

5. Giants - OT Matt McCants (6-5 7/8, 308, 5.47-40)

I'll post Lande's list of the 4 other divisions Practice Squad's as they are posted.

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