The 88th annual East-West Shrine Game kicks off today at 1pm PST. Here are some players to keep an eye on.
Last year’s East-West Shrine game saw 37 players get drafted by NFL teams. Most notable was the 49ers first round selection A.J. Jenkins. Other notable draftees include Redskins running back Alfred Morris, and rookie kickers Greg Zuerlein (Rams) and Blair Walsh (Vikings). Numerous others signed free agent contracts.
The Shrine Game, while not as popular as the Senior Bowl, has helped 246 active players find their way into the NFL. The game provides an opportunity for scouts to find late round diamonds in the rough like alumni Tom Brady and Greg Jennings. Typically players from the Shrine Game are drafted in rounds three through seven but as noted above with the selection of A.J. Jenkins, anything can happen.
The 88th annual East-West Shrine Game kicks off at 1PM PST and will be televised on NFL Network. Former NFL head coaches Jerry Glanville will coach the East Team while Leeman Bennett will coach the West. Paul Burmeister will provide play-by-play while Mike Mayock and Charles Davis will provide in-depth game analysis.
Players improving their draft stock most:
David Bass, 6-5 275 DE/OLB from Missouri Western State recorded 40 ½ sacks during career. Scouts of compared his style of play to current 49er Aldon Smith’s. His dominance at the Shrine Game practices was obvious as he consistently dominated every opponent he faced and was a terror in the backfield.
Small school safety Cooper Taylor is proving why safeties at his size are coveted by NFL scouts. Standing 6-4 and going 230lbs Taylor "showed the range, explosive cuts, and read/react ability to intrigue as a strong safety who can pick-up RBs/TEs well at the next level" according to Optimum Scouting’s Eric Galko. The big safety has apparently taken to coaching well and didn’t have a bad practice.
Keith Pough, an OLB from Howard has "exceeded expectations" according to Galko. The pass rusher showed above average coverage skills and has positioned himself to be selected in the first four rounds.
Others to Watch:
Running Back Ray Graham – Pittsburgh: Has shown quick bursts through the line and above average speed to pull away from defenders. If he can prove he’s healthy his stock should rise.
Running Back Christine Michael – Texas A&M: drew praise from NFL scouts as possibly the best back in attendance. With prototypical size (5-10 220lbs), Michael showed off impressive cuts and bursts of speed.
Wide Receiver/Punt Returner Jasper Collins – Mount Union: Mount Union is slowly becoming a factory for NFL wide receivers (Pierre Garcon, Cecil Shorts III) and Collins is trying to throw his name in the hat. He’ll need to be more consistent in routes to move up the boards.
Offensive Tackle/Guard Terron Armstead – Arkansas-Pine Bluff: By far the best offensive lineman at the Shrine Game. Performed as well as expected and solidified a 2-3 round selection.
Corner Brandon McGee – Miami: Performed better than expected with footwork and change of direction fluidity.
Wide Receiver Keenan Davis – Iowa: Some questioned his ability on the outside but as a pure slot receiver he has major value.
Tight End Lucas Reed – New Mexico: Impressed as a pass receiving tight end although most reports seem to indicate he could use work in his blocking.
Cornerback Terry Hawthorne – Illinois: Had an up and down week of practice but scouts still liked his good days better than they disliked his bad.
Safety Zeke Motta –Notre Dame: Needed to prove himself after poor showing in BCS Championship game and appeared to do just that. He showed above average cover skills that could cause his stock to rise.
Safety Shamarko Thomas – Syracuse: "Mama there’s that man again!" Thomas, who I continue to hear good things about, practiced with same aggressive style he plays with and scouts loved it.
Notable players who struggled:
Give me a follow on Twitter @BigSwinginNick
Shrine Game Friday practice report
Shrine Game Thursday practice report
Who to watch at LB and DB
Who to watch at RB, WR and TE
Who to watch at QB