J On January 23rd, 2016, NFL hopefuls from around the college football world will converge on Tropicana Field in St. Petersburgh at the 91st East-West Shrine Game (for more on the event/scheduling, click here). This game, combined with the Senior Bowl, are two of the most important scouting events leading up to the NFL Draft. While casual fans are most familiar with the Combine, the Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl is where players can really make an impact on NFL coaches. How? leading up to the Shrine Game is a week of practices and interviews where NFL coaches and scouts can see players in action against competition from all levels. Division I schools, small schools, military academies, and even Canadian universities all have players in this event on a near-yearly basis. Every year, some players use this event as a springboard to the NFL.
Coaching the East Team is head coach Charlie Weiss. He will be joined by assistant coaches Brady Quinn (QBs), Warren Sapp (DL), Bill Muir (OL/C), Dave Moore (TE), Troy Brown (WR), Mike Alstott (RB), Sam Madison (DB), Pete Adrian (Special Teams/Defensive Assistant), and Leo Govoni (Assistant Special Teams/Offensive Assistant). Coaching the West Team is head coach June Jones. Jones will be joined by assistant coaches Dennis McKnight (Special Teams/TE), Jerry Glanville (DL), Mike Maser (OL), Bert Hill (LB), Tim Krumrie (DL), and Steve Broussard (RB). This game is notable because it pairs young NFL hopefuls with NFL-caliber coaching talent (and former players) to guide them through the event.
While the Senior Bowl gets most of the hype when it comes to college all-star games, the Shrine Game has some notable alumni. Gale Sayers, Tom Brady, John Elway, Brett Favre, Walter Payton, and Dick Butkis all starred in the Shrine Game. Those are some notable names, and this is a notable game. At least some of the players in the list below will find a place on an NFL roster in Fall 2016. Enjoy my scouting reports, and have fun watching the game! Scouting Reports will be added for each player until the list has been finished. This post is currently still under construction. --Mike B.
Vernon Adams, Jr. QB, Oregon. Vernon Adams is a guy that has generated some hype lately, but is ranked relatively low as far as quarterbacks in this class; NFL Draft Scout has him listed as the 16th QB in this class. He's a dual threat-type of quarterback who has a decent deep ball. He's small, fast, and reminds some scouts of guys like Johnny Manziel. Adams transferred from Eastern Washington, where he performed well as a player, and continued to perform well at Oregon. However, according to one Oregon assistant coach, Adams is "just a guy." The coach notes that Eastern Washington continued to put up solid production after Adams left. That being said, Adams stepped up from Division IA football to Division I football and continued to put up decent numbers. Here's some film. At the end of the day, Adams is a guy that has some decent upside, but more likely will max out as a backup in the NFL. He's a guy that could go near the end of the draft (or undrafted),and at that point he's worth a lottery ticket (as he could show up at the next level), but at the same time, he could also wind up on a practice squad. He's one of the more difficult prospects in this class to properly pin down for me, but I think his most likely career trajectory is a backup/practice squad type of role. I still peg Adams as a Big Sky Conference dual-threat type of guy that excells in that conference but tend to not catch on in the NFL (a good analogy is DeNarius McGhee from Montana State). Adams' time at Oregon should at least get him a camp invite though, where he could carve out a role.
Siaosi Aiono, C, Utah. Aiono is an interesting option at center. He's a capable pass protector and does a nice job picking up linebackers, but at the same time, he doesn't play as heads-up as one might like in a center prospect; at times, he looks downward and is vulnerable to swim moves. He has experience snapping with both his left and right hand as a result of injury (natural hand is right hand), which shows some versatility and ability to make adjustments.Is also capable of playing guard after playing the position as a freshman in college. NFLdraftscout has him ranked as the 8th overall center in this class, which gives him a likely undrafted grade, but a strong Shrine Game showing could propel him into the late rounds of the draft. His struggles against swim moves do tend to point him towards a backup role, but he should generate some NFL interest.
Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas. Allen's story is a story of redemption. Brandon Allen struggled heavily early in his career at Arkansas, but has gotten better over time. As a 5th year senior, Allen heads into the draft process as nfldraftscout.com's 9th rated quarterback, a spot that points towards a likely UDFA signing with an NFL team. Most scouts seem to have him ranked as a camp body-type of player, but he has generated some buzz in some scouting circles, which could help him trend towards a spot as an NFL backup quarterback. Allen's father, Bobby Allen, has been an assistant coach at Arkansas for 18 years, so Brandon Allen has grown up around the game. With his slow start, he also has experience facing and overcoming adversity, which will serve him well in the NFL. The knocks on him especially early in his career were footwork and late interceptions. He has improved his footwork and mechanics over the years, and has gotten better as far as mistakes. That being said, while Allen has put up some decent numbers at Arkansas, his throws aren't as crisp as one would hope for out of an NFL prospect. Generally reacts well to pressure, but can overreact at times. I think he's more of a practice squad-developmental guy early in his career, but could develop into a solid backup. Here's some film.
Geronimo Allison, WR, Illinois. Allison is a guy that may hear his name called near the tail end of the NFL Draft. While nfldraftscout.com has him ranked as the 36th overall WR in this class (and likely undrafted), he generated some hype among scouts especially early in the season, which could help propel him into the 7th round of the draft. Allison doesn't have huge numbers, and doesn't hail from a big-name program, but he does some things well. He has decent hands (although he does juggle catches on occasion), and isn't afraid to take a hit. Effort shouldn't be an issue as he doesn't appear to take plays off. Also not afraid to block unlike some WR prospects. He's probably a special teamer or #5 WR early in his career especially, but his willingness to block and effort on every play will draw interest from some NFL scouts. He likely goes undrafted, but he has shown some flashes of potential, and his effort will endear him to teams. That could get him into the tail end of the draft. Not likely a star player at the next level, but definitely a guy that will work hard enough to secure a spot on a roster. Consistent enough to make the plays he is expected to. Especially in the 7th round-UDFA range, that's a big deal, and could help him stick with an NFL franchise. Here's some film.
Robby Anderson, WR, Temple. Robby Anderson is a WR prospect I struggle to analyze. At times, he makes some really nice moves on the field and sheds coverage. At other times, he loses awareness of where he is along the sideline and makes catches out of bounds or gets twitchy at the line of scrimmage (which will lead to false start penalties in the NFL). Anderson has decent hands, and will make the occasional spectacular catch, but also misses some catchable balls. Drops can be an issue. He will block, but it's not his strong point. Anderson has had some big games this season, but he doesn't do any one thing special. He's most likely a depth guy or a practice squad guy early in his career, and may go undrafted, but could also slot into the late rounds of the draft. Here's some film.
Alex Balducci, NT, Oregon. Balducci is a 6'1 310 pound run stopper who isn't hugely athletic, but does eat up space in the middle of a defense well, which can free up linebackers and other D-linemen to make plays. He doesn't generate a lot of numbers, and has average-at-best footwork, but has the size and strength to cause problems in the middle of an offensive line. That will intrigue NFL teams, even if his footwork isn't perfect. It's tough to find college film of him online (I've watched him in a few Oregon games) since he wasn't a huge name, but here's some high school film. NFLdraftscout projects him as an undrafted player, but in the right system he's a good rotational asset who could see some NFL interest late in the draft.
V'Angelo Bentley, CB, Illinois. Bentley is a guy who generated a lot of hype heading into the 2015 season. He's decent as a corner and also is an experienced kick returner. NFLdraftscout has him currently ranked as their #43 CB out of 255, which puts him in undrafted territory (which I think is a mistake), but if nothing else, his special teams ability will pique teams' interests. Just check out this kickoff return. I like his alertness, and he is explosive whenever he gets the ball in his hands. While he has the speed and alertness to stick potentially as a coverage corner at the next level, his strongest marketing point is his special teams ability. The guy can be a potentially explosive returner in the NFL. That being said, he does have the talent to also make it at least as a backup or nickel corner in the NFL, and potentially more. Here are some more highlights. Also willing to do anything to help his team, including moving to offense for practice reps in college, which wil endear him to scouts.
Taylor Bertolet, K, Texas A&M. Bertolet is a guy that has been overlooked by scouts a bit so far in the draft process, but he has one of the strongest legs of any prospect in this year's draft. This season, he's made 5 50+ yard field goals. NFLDraftscout has him ranked as their 16th rated kicker, but some teams may rank him higher due to his leg strength. He's likely to go undrafted, but should see a camp invite.
Ronald Blair III, DE, Appalachian State. I'm relatively bullish on Blair. He's able to play both defensive tackle and defensive end (although his size, 6'4 270 lbs will keep him on the end in the NFL), he's great against the run, is extremely quick for his size, and is a tackle-for-loss machine. The Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year should generate enough interest from NFL scouts to place him early on day 3. I think he not only gets drafted, but also sees playing time early in his career. He's a rotational guy with borderline starter upside. Here's some film.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CB, Minnesota. Boddy-Calhoun is a quick coverage corner with solid footwork and hips. He has good coverage ability and even though he is a bit raw, he could emerge as an NFL starter with coaching. He has struggled with some minor injuries in his career, and has missed a few games. Should be a package corner and see NFL reps even if he doesn't start. He projects as a 3rd round pick. Here's some film.
Joe Bolden, ILB, Michigan. Bolden is an aggressive tackling machine in the Michigan defense. Teammates love the fact that he has taken on a leadership role with the team, and this will impress coaches and scouts. What won't impress coaches is the fact that he loses his cool on the field at times, for example throwing punches and getting ejected for targeting against Michigan State. I think he's a solid depth guy that could contribute immediately on special teams and in some defensive packages. NFLDraftscout has him rated as their #21 inside linebacker prospect, which puts him in undrafted territory, but Bolden is a guy that could easily outplay his draft position. He's a tough player with great instincts and good upside, and may be a better prospect than Jake Ryan.
Jake Brendel, C, UCLA. Brendel is a guy that isn't getting a ton of love from scouts (NFLdraftscout has him as their 16th rated center), but he is a pivotal piece of the UCLA offensive line. When Brendel missed a game against Virginia last season with a sprained ankle, UCLA gave up 5 sacks, multiple pressures, and the run game only averaged 3 yards per carry. Brendel isn't a guy that was flashy for UCLA, but he did play a major role in their offense. Has NFL size at 6-3, 305 pounds, and has the athletic ability and work ethic to make it in the NFL. While he projects as an undrafted guy, he's a guy that should stick with an NFL team.
Anthony Brown, CB, Purdue.
Chris Brown, WR, Notre Dame.
Ryan Brown, DE, Mississippi State.
James Burgess, LB, Louisville.
Juston Burris, CB, NC State.
Deon Bush, S, Miami.
Jamie Byrd, S, University of South Florida.
Devon Cajuste, WR, Stanford.
Taveze Calhoun, CB, Mississippi State.
De'Vondre Campbell, LB, Minnesota.
Michael Caputo, S, Wisconsin.
Lloyd Carrington, CB, Arizona State.
Kyle Carter, TE, Penn State.
Tevin Carter, S, Utah.
Kivon Cartwright, TE, Colorado State.
Andrew Caser, P, Texas A&M.
Donavon Clark, G, Michigan State.
Trevon Coley, DT, Florida Atlantic.
Fahn Cooper, T, Mississippi.
Cody Core, WR, Mississippi.
James Cowser, DE, Southern Utah University.
Ken Crawley, CB, Colorado.
Jared Dangerfield, WR, Western Kentucky.
David Dean, DT, Virginia.
Gerald Dixon, Jr., DT, South Carolina.
Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky.
Parker Ehinger, G, Cincinnati.
Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State.
Taylor Fallin, T, Memphis.
Chase Farris, G, Ohio State.
Travis Feeney, LB, Washington.
Claytono Fejedelem, S, Illinois.
Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois.
Blake Frohnapfel, QB, UMass-Amherst
Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa.
Graham Glasgow, C, Michigan.
Jamal Golden, S, Georgia Institute of Techology.
Darion Griswold, TE, Arkansas State.
Joseph Haeg, T, North Dakota State. Haeg is one of the best offensive tackle prospects in the country and after watching multiple North Dakota State University games this season, I am a believer. Nfldraftscout.com has him ranked as the #5 T prospect in the nation, which is a big deal for an FCS guy. I personally think that Haeg is one of the top OT prospects this year, and will be an eventual NFL starter. His footwork is spot on, and his technique is solid. He hits his assignments and hardly ever misses blocks. There are a few potential holes in his game. First, he can play a bit upright at times, but Haeg adjusts for that with excellent footwork. Coupled with his upright play is questionable lower body strength; Haeg will have to show that he can handle bull rushes from defenders in order to carve out a significant niche in an NFL offence. Second, one can question his strength of competition. Then again, Ali Marpet made it to the NFL as a DIII guy, so as a DI-A guy, strength of schedule isn't a huge issue. The Shrine Game will be a great opportunity for Haeg to show what he can do against top tier competition. At 6'6, 310 pounds, Haeg, a former walk-on at North Dakota State, has a size that scouts will like. Is capable of playing both left and right tackle. Here's some film.
Deiondre' Hall, CB, Northern Iowa.
Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State.
Darien Harris, LB, Michigan State.
Marcus Henry, C, Boise State.
Tyrone Holmes, DE, Montana.
Alex Huettel, G, Bowling Green.
Cory James, LB, Colorado State.
Cory Johnson, DT, Kentucky.
Devon Johnson, RB, Marshall.
Tyler Johnstone, T, Oregon.
Mike Jordan, CB, Missouri Western State University.
Matthew Judon, DE, Grand Valley State Unniversity.
Ted Karras, G, Illinois.
Bronson Kaufusi, DE, Brigham Young.
Robert Kugler, C, Purdue.
Daniel Lasco, RB, UC Berkeley.
Cre'von Leblanc, CB, Florida Atlantic University.
Alex Lewis, T, Nebraska-Lincoln.
Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern.
Keith Lumpkin, T, Rutgers.
Luther Maddy, DT, Virginia Tech.
Lene Maiva, T, Arizona.
Ryan Malleck, TE, Virginia Tech.
Ross Martin, K, Duke.
Sean McEwan, C, Calgary.
Paul McRoberts, WR, Southeast Missouri State University.
Will Monday, P, Duke.
David Morgan II, TE, Texas-San Antonio
Stephane Nembot, T, Colorado.
Victor Ochi, LB, Stony Brook.
Romeo Okwara, DE, Notre Dame.
Ebuka David Onyemata, DE, Manitoba.
Gionni Paul, LB, Utah.
Brian Poole, CB, Florida.
Keenan Reynolds, RB, Navy.
Mike Rose, DE, NC State.
Steven Schleu, TE, Vanderbilt.
Rashawn Scott, WR, Miami.
Hunter Sharp, WR, Utah State.
Tajae Sharpe, WR, UMass-Amherst.
Brandon Shell, T, South Carolina.
Elijah Shumate, S, Notre Dame.
Justin Simmons, S, Boston College.
LeShaun Simms, CB, Southern Utah University.
Jordan Simone, S, Arizona State.
Terrance Smith, LB, Florida State.
Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado.
Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana.
Vi Teofilo, G, Arizona State.
Joe Thuney, G, NC State.
Charles Vaillancourt, G, Laval University.
Nick Vanhoose, CB, Northwestern.
Aaron Wallace, LB, UCLA.
Derek Watt, FB, Wisconsin.
Antwione Williams, LB, Georgia Southern University.
Storm Woods, RB, Oregon State.
Connor Wujciak, DT, Boston College.
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