Every season, the Senior Bowl gets most of the hype, but every year, a few players use the East West Shrine Game as a springboard to the NFL. Zac Stacy had a strong showing before being drafted by the Rams. Jimmy Garoppolo's strong showing at the Shrine Game helped garner attention for him before the Senior Bowl and helped his draft stock immensely. Alterraun Verner? Shrine Game alum. So it's a good bet that at least one player in this year's game will make an impact in the NFL, even though many players in the Shrine Game go undrafted every season. Let's take a look at the players who are confirmed so far:
Anthony Boone, QB, Duke. Anthony Boone is a 6'0 220 pound senior from Duke, projected as the 22nd best QB in the 2015 draft by www.nfldraftscout.com. While Boone has had a decent career at Duke, he also has average numbers and a bad habit of missing open receivers. While Boone may have a successful NFL career, its likely that he starts out as an undrafted free agent fighting for a roster spot. A collarbone injury in 2013 and Duke's unwillingness to fully commit to Boone (they've used Boone in a QB-by-committee type of approach) will scare NFL teams away from drafting him, but I'm rooting for him to catch on with a team. Here's some film.
Dominique Brown, RB, Louisville. Dominique Brown is an intriguing RB prospect out of Louisville. www.nfldraftscout.com has Brown slated as 5th round pick in a deep class of running backs in 2015. Brown missed the 2012 season with a knee injury sustained during training camp, but has been healthy since and has experience at quarterback, giving him some added versatility. Brown is also a decent receiver out of the backfield. He is used to working in a committee-type of role, and this might be the best approach for him in the NFL as well. He has potential in a Brian Leonard-type of third down role, for example, going in on 3rd and short. Here's some film of him and fellow Louisville RB Michael Dyer.
Jamon Brown, OT, Louisville. Jamon Brown is the second Brown of note from Louisville this draft season. Brown is projected as a 6th or 7th round pick in the draft, and at one point weighed in at 350 pounds. Now, Brown lines up as a 6'6 325 pound draft prospect. This is a kid that worked his butt off, literally and figuratively, for a chance to help his teammates and for a chance to follow his NFL dreams, and this is the type of player I'd feel comfortable spending a late round pick on. Offensive linemen deal with weight issues all the time. A prime example is Andre Smith, who struggled with weight issues as a first round pick with the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown worked hard to get his weight under control before his senior season. That's the type of kid I want on my roster. Here's some film. Brown will succeed as a late round pick, and would be well worth a pick even in the middle of the draft. Jamon Brown could be one of the pleasant "surprises" of this year's draft, but I won't be surprised at all if he performs extremely well in the NFL.
Justin Coleman, CB, Tennessee. Justin Coleman is the type of defensive back that teams will take a look at as a project player at the end of the draft. He makes some heads up plays and some game-changing interceptions, but he's not an elite athlete at the position. Coleman projects as a 6th or 7th round pick at the NFL level, and this ranking is partly because of his size (5'10, 190 pounds), and partly because of lackluster numbers (4 career interceptions). As a late round flier, he's worth a gamble, but I'd prefer a player like Deonte Flowers, the CB from Montana State University at the end of my draft. Coleman will have to produce on special teams early in his career, but could carve out a role in an NFL defense.
Larry Dixon, FB, US Military Academy. Larry Dixon is a rare breed in draft conversations. He's a fullback. Dixon is projected to go undrafted, but this ranking is a combination of two factors, first, the devaluation of the fullback position in the NFL, and second, the fact that Dixon has a required term of military service before playing in the NFL. Dixon is the type of fullback prospect that can make a major impact in the NFL, but military commitments will put his career on hold. Dixon is a talented runner (here's some film), and was once tackled 34 times in a game against Boston. Boring stat? Not when you consider that for 22 of those tackles he didn't have the ball. A player of Dixon's caliber has the potential to play a major role in an NFL offense, both as a decoy and as a ball carrier. Here's hoping that Dixon has a safe and successful military career and returns home safely. When he gets back, the NFL might just be waiting for him. Teams would be foolish to not take a long hard look at this young man.
Darius Kilgo, DT, Maryland. Darius Kilgo is one of the main components of Maryland's defense and projects as a 5th or 6th round pick in the NFL draft. Kilgo may get a shot with an NFL team, but his playing technique will need work if he is going to succeed; he plays a bit upright and is slow off the ball. Here's some film. With proper coaching, Kilgo projects as a backup or practice squad player at the NFL level.
Dean Marlowe, FS, James Madison. Dean Marlowe is one of many relevant small school prospects at safety moving into the 2015 draft. Marlowe has a good nose for the ball (film), and projects as an end of the draft type of player (7th round to undrafted free agent). Teams will take a chance on him because of his raw talent, and Marlowe could emerge as a solid role player in an NFL defense or special teams unit. Marlowe also has experience returning kicks and punts. While he may not become an every down starter on defense, his versatility will help him stick with an NFL roster.
Vince Mayle, WR, Washington State. Mayle projects as a middle round pick (4th to 5th rounder according to www.nfldraftscout.com). Mayle has the size (6'3, 220 pounds) and athletic ability (he also has played basketball) to draw the atttention of NFL teams. Mayle switched to football full-time in 2012, and dropped 20 pounds prior to this season as a response to scouts questioning his quickness. Mayle is a prospect similar to Jerome Simpson. He's still learning the game, and may not make an immediate impact at the NFL level. However, he is also a far more polished player than Simpson was when drafted, and will likely at least have a decent rookie season en route to a strong NFL career. Here's some film of Mayle as a junior college player with Sierra College. Here's Mayle in 2014 with Washington State. Mayle is a project player of sorts, but a project player with a good chance at success. He's consistently improved as a player, and this improvement will continue in the NFL.
Joey Mbu, DT, Houston. Joey Mbu is a relatively unknown defensive tackle out of Houston. Mbu is projected to go undrafted, and may be overlooked by NFL teams in general. Don't let the anonymity surprise you; Mbu stands as one of the biggest potential gainers in the Shrine Game. Mbu is a heads-up player with good size that has a lot to like. As a late round pick, he's worth a long hard look by NFL teams. I'm interested to see how he performs in the Shrine Game, as he could be one of the big stories of the week. Here's some film.
Bobby McCain, DB, Memphis. McCain is a kick returner and defensive back out of Memphis College. He's another player that www.nfldraftscout.com has projected to go undrafted, but McCain has been a fairly consistent player for Memphis. McCain is a former catcher, and a relatively instinctive player. There's McCain returning kicks. Here's McCain on defense. Here's McCain in high school. While McCain makes some mistakes in coverage, his return skills will likely propel him onto some team's radar, and I expect him to either be drafted late in the draft or sign with a team after the draft. With coaching, he could also eke out a role as a backup or situational cornerback in the NFL. At the very least, he'll find his way onto a team's practice squad.
Damian Parms, FS, Florida Atlantic. Parms is another small school player projected to go undrafted. He's an obscure enough player that its tough to find film of him online, but here's some film of him playing football and basketball in high school. The Shrine Game can potentially strongly benefit players like Parms, who are fairly unknown.
Terry Poole, OT, San Diego State. Terry Poole projects as a 7th round pick or undrafted free agent according to www.nfldraftscout.com. In 2013, Poole gave up only 2 sacks in 461 snaps, so he is capable of producing on the offensive line. He's a strong player and shows good burst off of the line, but Poole will likely fall late in the draft. Here's some film.
MyCole Pruitt, TE, Southern Illinois State. MyCole Pruitt is a solid small school prospect at tight end. He projects as a 5th round pick, but has received some attention as a small school player, even being featured in a www.nfl.com article highlighting small school players to watch. Pruitt has scored 12 TDs on 71 receptions this year, and may rise on draft boards with a good performance on the Shrine Game. Here's some film. Pruitt will likely make an NFL roster in 2015.
Edmond Robinson, OLB, Newberry. Edmond Robinson is a small school player from Newberry who could see his stock rise drastically with a solid performance at the Shrine Game. Robinson is projected to go undrafted, but has played football since 3rd grade, and once had 2 interceptions, 14 solo tackles, and a td both as a RB and as a WR, all in one game. Robinson is an relatively unknown player so far, but I expect his stock to rise at the Shrine Game. He may go undrafted, but a solid showing may earn him a spot in camp this coming summer.
Jake Ryan, OLB, Michigan. Jake Ryan is one of the better known players in the Shrine Game this year, and may even be a top 50 pick this spring. Ryan missed time last year with a torn ACL, and shifted from OLB to MLB for Michigan this year, but expect him to be drafted relatively high in 2015.
Brandon Vitable, OG, Northwestern. Brandon Vitable is a projected 6th or 7th round pick from Northwestern who will play at either center or guard in the NFL. He's not an elite offensive lineman, but teams will like his versatility and he will find a spot on an NFL roster, likely as a backup, due to his ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line. Expect the coaches at the Shrine game to get him work at multiple spots during practices that week.
Xavier Williams, DT, Northern Iowa. Xavier Williams is another small school player featured by nfl.com. He currently projects as a 7th round pick or undrafted free agent, but a strong showing at the Shrine Game could easily change that. Williams is great on special teams, and blocked 5 kicks in one season. He's a defensive leader for Northern Iowa, and could be a solid, solid part of an NFL rotation on the defensive line. Williams is an extremely valuable pick late in the draft and could see his stock rise heading into spring. Here's some film.
I'll post updates as more players are confirmed for the Shrine Game over the next couple of months.
Mike Bertasso and Matt Koontz will be posting on this page. Click here for more info about us!