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Prospects to watch in the 2018 Shrine Game, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

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We highlight and profile the 2018 NFL draft-eligible prospects from the East-West Shrine game and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday, January 20.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 UConn at SMU
Justin Lawler
Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2017 college football regular season and post-season have come and gone, which means the 2018 NFL draft season is upon us; therefore, let the uncontrolled giddiness commence!

Over the next several days, three college football all-star games will help NFL talent evaluators, draft analysts, and couch GM’s decipher the best of the best senior prospects in this years’ draft class. For those selected few seniors, it’s their last chance to play collegiate football competitively against quality talent, where iron sharpens iron in hopes of increasing a players’ draft stock or create a memorable and lasting blip on an NFL teams’ radar.

The college football all-star games on the slate for today are the East-West Shrine game and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The games today are the culmination of an extremely important aspect of the draft evaluation process. The week of practices leading up to the all-star games are imperative for all prospects involved, since it allows NFL scouts the opportunity to evaluate players during team practices and in one-on-one competitions. Moreover, it shows scouts and coaches how quickly a player is able to pick up the offense/defense hopefully displaying their capacity to improve throughout the week.

Today, we take a look at a few standout players during both games, specifically focusing on areas of positional needs for the 49ers. So, sit back, put your scouting hat on, and let’s get things started with today’s action.

2018 East-West Shrine Game

Date: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Time: 12:07 p.m. PT
Location: Tropicana Field — St. Petersburg, FL
Channel: NFL Network

Welcome to draft season faithful! We officially begin an exciting and intriguing four month journey towards the 2018 NFL Draft. We kick things off in St. Petersburg, Florida for the annual East-West Shrine game. Today, I will be focusing on ten prospects who could be potential fits for the San Francisco 49ers. The team has a lot of draft needs, and the Shrine Game has some potential playmakers who could be great fits for the team. Here are ten prospects to keep an extra close eye on in today’s East-West Shrine Game.

Defense

Justin Lawler, DE - SMU - Team West
6’4” - 265 lbs. - 2nd-3rd Round

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Tulane at SMU Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Lawler has exceptional strength for his position, and creates push, making his presence known in the opponent’s backfield. This season he had 14.5 tackles for a loss, 9 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, 29 run-stops. He also specializes as a 4-3 defensive end and could be an intriguing scheme fit for the 49ers. On tape, Lawler utilizes his hands well, and moves through his hips to run around and evade blockers. Has a high motor, and bursts off the line. His best traits include rushing the quarterback and stopping the opposing team’s run game. Lawler’s numbers increased in each of the last three seasons including sacks, QB hurries, and hits. Lawler is an intriguing pass rusher for 49ers fans to know.

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, DE - Arkansas State - Team West
6’2” - 244 lbs. - 3rd-4th Round

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 02 Troy at Arkansas State Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This season Jones totaled 56 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and a batted pass. Like Lawler, Jones has been improving his stats and ability with each passing season. He was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the year for two straight seasons. His 52 total pressures were 4th among draft eligible prospects. Requires a lot of attention on the line, and was often double-teamed as a result. It is yet to be determined, however some scouts and evaluators feel that Jones may need to play outside linebacker due to his size.

Deatrick Nichols, CB - USF - Team East
5’10” - 189 lbs. - 5th-6th

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Towson at USF Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This season Nichols recored 56 tackles, 12 passes broken up, and 3 interceptions. Nichols had a positive season with the Bulls of South Florida. He received positive grades across the board with his play. He has the ability to isolate and knock the receiver off of his route. This season quarterbacks only had a 58.7 passer rating when targeting receivers that Nichols was covering. He seems like he will transition to the next level as a slot receiver. There is some concern about his size and physicality, and it will be interesting to see how he measures up against his peers throughout the draft process.

Jason Cabinda, LB - Penn State
6’1” - 232 lbs. - 3rd-4th Round

Penn State v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

During the 2017 season Cabinda recorded 88 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, and 3 passes batted. As a senior, Cabinda took on a role of leadership and was a focal point of the defense. Cabinda was effective against the run, and contributed in blitz packages. Where there was some inconsistency is against the pass. He is still a work in progress in pass coverage. Still though, watching his tape, I like Cabinda’s football instincts, and more often than not his ability to break up a play, especially against the run.

Joe Ostman, DE - Central Michigan - Team East
6’3” - 236 lbs. - 5th-6th

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Kansas Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

This season Ostman recored 51 total pressures, 13 sacks, 9 hits, and 29 hurries. Though he didn’t get the national attention by playing at Central Michigan, Ostman was one of the most productive and consistent pass rushers this season. Ostman is at his best against the run and has demonstrated his ability to rush the passer and make his presence known in the opponents backfield. He ranked in the top 10 in FBS draft eligible defensive ends both against the run and pressure on the quarterback.

Offense

Cam Serigne, TE - Wake Forest - Team East
6’3” - 250 lbs. - Round 5th-6th

Belk Bowl - Texas A&M v Wake Forest Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This season Serigne recored 44 receptions, 556 yards, and 9 touchdowns. Serigne was one of the most reliable tight ends this season and his hands were amongst the best of draft eligible tight ends. He only had one drop on 45 passes thrown his way. Serigne can be lined up all along the field, including the slot, where he lined up this season at a 35.1 percent rate. There are some questions about his blocking abilities, however in the Demon Deacons offense he was utilized mostly as a wide receiver. There are question marks with the 49ers at the tight end position, and Serigne is someone to watch today.

Ralph Webb, RB - Vanderbilt - Team East
5’10” - 202 lbs. - 4th-5th Round

Missouri v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

This past season Webb recored 4.3 yards per carry, for 831 total yards, and 10 touchdowns. He also had 13 receptions for 188 yards and a touchdown. Webb is a dual-threat offensive weapon that can be utilized in multiple ways in a game plan. Webb flashed potential throughout the season as he squared off against superior defenses, and had his moments of positive production and results. Webb is a shifty receiver, who can burst around the edge. However, what I like about Webb as a fit for the 49ers is his ability to catch the ball and line up as a receiver. Kyle Shanahan has always been known to find running backs in the later rounds, and Webb could be the next back he zones in on.

Jake Wieneke, WR - South Dakota State - Team West
6’4” - 215 lbs. - 4th-5th Round

South Dakota State v TCU Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

This past season Wieneke recored 65 receptions for 965 yards, and 16 touchdowns. The big-bodied, large target receiver should be on the 49ers radar. Wieneke physically dominates corners and consistently wins jump balls thrown his direction. He is always a threat inside the red zone, and has a combined for 32 touchdowns in his last two seasons. Don’t fear that he played in the FCS. One of my favorite receivers in last year’s draft, Cooper Kupp had a productive rookie season for the Los Angeles Rams. If the 49ers choose to address receiver later on in the draft, and want a red zone target, Wieneke is someone to keep an eye on.

Jester Weah, WR - Pittsburgh - Team East
6’3” - 210 lbs. - 5th -6th Round

Virginia v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

During the 2017 season Weah recored 41 receptions for 698 yards and four touchdowns. He can utilize his height effectively inside the red zone, and give himself an opportunity to make a play at a jump ball thrown his direction. Watching his tape, Weah had trouble at times creating separation from the opposition. Weah is not the fastest receiver in this draft, but he makes up for it with his height and reliable hands. He can line up at multiple spots along the line of scrimmage and has demonstrated the ability to move the chains. His measurements and 40 times will be vital during the draft process.

K.C. McDermott, OL/G - Miami - Team East
6’6” - 310 lbs. - 5th-6th Round

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 26 Duke at Miami Photo by Richard C. Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

McDermott was a consistent starter for the Hurricanes this season after taking over the job last season. McDermott was a major contributor in Miami’s successful ground game, creating holes and opportunities to move the football. There was also inconsistency with his game, allowing pressure on the quarterback. McDermott is a project, however he still recored more quality games, and was a solid member of the offensive line. He still needs more seasoning, however he is certainly worth a look should the 49ers decide to address the offensive line and guard position later in the draft.

2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Date: Saturday, January 20, 2018
Time: 1:00 p.m. PT
Location: Rose Bowl — Pasadena, CA
Channel: FS1

American Team

WR Davon Grayson, No. 85, 6’2” - 190 lbs., 4.51 40 - (6th) - East Carolina

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Tulane at East Carolina
Davon Grayson
Photo by Michael Berg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Grayson’s 2017 season stats: 59 receptions; 886 receiving yards; averaging 15 yards per reception; and 6 touchdowns.

WR Davon Grayson boasts a great combination of size, quickness, and athleticism. The former high school football and track athlete star is a natural pass catcher with good hands and is a fluid route runner with a smoothness to his game displaying good bend on breaks coming out quickly with great athleticism creating positive separation. He is solid in intermediate routes and shows the burst, foot-quickness, speed, awareness, and body control to take the top off coverages displaying impressive skills tracking the ball over his shoulder. Missed the 2016 season with a back injury.

DE Ebenezer Ogundeko, No. 1 (97), 6’3” - 255 lbs., 4.84 40 - (6th-7th) - Tennessee State

Tennessee State v Vanderbilt
Ebenezer Ogundeko
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Ogundeko’s career season stats: In 26 games 143 tackles; 28.5 tackles for loss; and 14.5 sacks.

DE Ebenezer “Ebo” Ogundeko was a member of the talented vaunted Clemson defensive line, but an off-field incident led to his dismal from Clemson. Although there are red flags with off-field issues, there is no denying Ebo’s amazing pass rush talent. He erupts off the edge displaying excellent explosion, length, quickness, agility, power, flexibility, strength, and athleticism. Ebo shows great first step explosion displaying tremendous quickness and closing speed with excellent bend off the edge. He utilizes nice hand technique with a solid pop at the point of attack (active hands), quick to transition into his pass rush moves with smoothness winning with impressive speed, power, and a relentless pursuit hitting with explosion. Character concerns will need to be addressed.

Other American’s to keep an eye on:
DE Sione Teuhema, No. 18 (59), 6’4” - 260 lbs., 4.70 40 - (6th) - Southeastern Louisiana
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, No. 11 (41), 6’5” - 209 lbs., 4.52 40 - (6th-7th) - USF
DT Filipio Mokofisi, No. 45 (95), 6’4” - 295 lbs., 5.04 40 - (6th-7th) - Utah
ILB Genard Avery, No. 6 (56), 6’1” - 255 lbs., 4.86 40 - (6th-7th) - Memphis
FS Jaleel Wadood, No. 4 (34), 5’9” - 180 lbs., 4.49 40 - (7th) - UCLA

National Team

WR Austin Proehl, No. 7 (80), 5’10” - 175 lbs., 4.56 40 - (6th) - North Carolina

Louisville v North Carolina
Austin Proehl
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Proehl’s 2017 season stats: In six games 21 receptions; 337 receiving yards; averaging 16 yards per reception; 1 touchdown; 5 punt returns; 49 punt return yards; and averaging 9.8 yards per punt return.

WR Austin Proehl is a quicker than fast explosive athlete with impressive suddenness in and out of his breaks displaying fast quick feet creating continuous separation against defenders. He is a fluid and sharp route runner with a clean technique and smoothness to his game. Proehl displays great bend on breaks popping out quickly with terrific athleticism, outstanding footwork, quickness, and burst breaking away with impressive speed. Possesses NFL bloodlines (father is former NFL player Ricky Proehl), Austin is a natural pass catcher with very strong soft reliable hands (terrific hand-eye coordination) extending arms to make the catch and excellent ball skills, and is tough as nails with an excellent work ethic. Missed part of the 2017 season with a broken collarbone.

DE Ade Aruna, No. 1 (91), 6’6” - 265 lbs., 4.75 40 - (6th) - Tulane

Tulane v Oklahoma
Ade Aruna
Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

Aruna’s 2017 season stats: 25 tackles; 3 tackles for loss; 2 sacks; 2 pass deflection; and 1 fumble recovery.

DE Ade Aruna is a raw explosive prospect with an excellent combination of length (long-limbs), speed, and outstanding athleticism. He shows a quick first-step with impressive explosion coming off the edge with solid flexibility, balance, quickness, agility, and acceleration with nice closing speed and a relentless motor. Aruna is solid in the run game, where his agility, balance, and strength helps him set the edge, stack with his long arms and disengage with an active motor to make the play. He showcases his athletic ability to win against back-side blocks with balance, foot quickness, and closing speed. Although still learning the game, Aruna is a freak of an athlete with NFL length, physicality, agility, and the speed definitely worth developing.

Other National’s to keep an eye on:
FS/CB Sean Chandler, No. 3 (43), 6’0” - 195 lbs., 4.52 40 - (5th) - Temple
CB Andre Chachere, No. 21, 6’0” - 200 lbs., 4.56 40 - (6th) - San Jose State
CB Chris Jones, No. 8 (28), 6’0” - 195 lbs., 4.52 40 - (6th) - Nebraska
RB Demario Richard, No. 4 (34), 5’10” - 210 lbs., 4.63 40 - (6th-7th) - Arizona State
TE Marcus Baugh, No. 85 (45), 6’5” - 250 lbs., 4.84 40 - (7th) - Ohio State
DT Nifae Lealao, No. 77 (78), 6’5” - 312 lbs., 5.17 40 - (6th-7th) - Vanderbilt