While the Shrine Game is behind the Senior Bowl in terms of impact talent, there are always some players who end up developing into stars. In the last three years we’ve seen Cecil Shorts, Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas, Alfred Morris and Zac Stacy (among others) parlay their Shrine Game success into a draft pick and an opportunity to play at the next level. Who will be this year’s Alfred Morris or Julius Thomas, here is my position by position breakdown:
Names to watch: QB Jimmy Garopplo, QB Jordan Lynch, QB Jeff Matthews
Garopplo is easily the biggest name quarterback in this game as the Eastern Illinois signal caller has intriguing mid-round (4th or 5th) potential and could even move into the 3rd round discussion. He didn’t play against the best competition so this should be a nice test for him this week, particularly if he distances himself from the other quarterbacks. Lynch is well known for his success at Northern Illinois, but the question remains does he have an NFL future? Lynch has good mobility, but it’s not going to play up as well at the next level. His arm looks strong, but is the decision making, and touch there needed for him to be a QB at the next level. Jeff Matthews from Cornell came into the year with more potential, but had a bit of a disappointing season. He can rebuild some of his draft stock with a strong week and could be seen as a developmental quarterback.
Names to watch: RB Rajion Neal, RB LaDarius Perkins, RB Tim Flanders
Some quality running backs have come out of the Shrine game the past couple of years, but it could be a stretch for it to happen this year. No one looks like the instant success story that Stacy and Morris were the past two years, though there could be a couple interesting guys. Rajion Neal from Tennessee and LaDarius Perkins from Miss. State area pair of SEC running backs, who may end up as at least solid back-up types. Neither dominated in college, but they showed some flashes in the toughest division in college football so some potential is there. Tim Flanders from Sam Houston State is an intriguing late round small school back. He had over 5,500 yards and 60 TD’s in his college career, and even put up 170 and 2 TD’s when facing Texas A&M this past season.
Names to watch: TE Blake Jackson, TE Crockett Gilmore, WR Jeremy Gallon, WR Quincy Enunwa, WR TJ Jones, WR Matt Hazel
There always seems to be some interesting receivers and tight ends to watch and that remains the case this year. Blake Jackson has decent size and speed and could be a late round joker tight end prospect from Oklahoma State. Crockett Gilmore is a big physical blocker. He’s not much of a receiver but could still be drafted given his size and blocking ability. Jeremy Gallon was a big play receiver this year for Michigan. He’s undersized so he will need to make his living in the slot and special teams, but he’s an intriguing name to watch. Quincy Enunwa is a name to watch, as he wasn’t in a big passing offense at Nebraska, but still managed 12 TD’s out of 51 catches this past year. He’s a guy that could move up with a strong week if he shows up well. TJ Jones from Notre Dame doesn’t look like a star, but he’s productive and has gotten the job done despite poor quarterback play. Matt Hazel from Coastal Carolina is one of the real sleepers in this class and with a big week could end up a 2nd day pick.
Names to watch: C James Stone, C Zac Kerin, G Chris Burnette, G Zach Fulton, G Ryan Groy, G/T Charles Leno, T Austin Wentworth, T Justin Britt, T Kevin Graf
As a whole this is probably one of the strong units here at the Shrine game. All the guys listed above should be drafted in that 4th-7th round range (most probably in the 4th or 5th), and there are a few intriguing small school guys as well that could work their way into the discussion. The guards especially are a strong group as Chris Burnette, Zach Fulton, Ryan Groy and Charles Leno all look like guys who can not only make an NFL roster, but could end up starting 2 or 3 years from now. Austin Wentworth is an intriguing mid-late round tackle who could rise quite a bit with a strong week.
Names to watch: DE Cassius Marsh, DE Josh Mauro, DE Larry Webster, DT Beau Allen, DT Will Clarke, DT Demonte McAllister
This is another pretty strong group with a number of draftable guys and plenty of upside. Larry Webster from Bloomsburg is one of the more interesting small school guys in this draft and looks to have plenty of upside and potential as a pass rusher. Josh Mauro from Stanford is very technically sound and flashes at times, a big week could separate himself from that mid-round tier of defensive linemen. Defensive tackle Demonte McAllister was overshadowed on the ridiculously talented Florida State defense, but he has a chance to shine and show himself as a real solid run stopper. Beau Allen from Wisconsin is a guy to keep an eye on this week. He has tremendous size and power and will be viewed as a potential nose tackle for 3-4 teams. He also appears to have the athletic ability to be a 3-Tech in a 4-3.
Names to watch: ILB Max Bullough, ILB Jordan Zumwalt, ILB Glenn Carson, ILB Andrew Jackson, OLB Prince Shembo, OLB Devon Kennard
Max Bullough from Michigan State is one of the smartest linebackers you will find, but the question is can he be an every down backer. If he shows good speed and range it could really boost his stock. Zumwalt, Garcon and Jackson all look like quality 5th-7th ILB prospects. None may ever be starters, but they are solid players who know how to play their position and can be capable back-ups. Devon Kennard moved to OLB for the Trojans and really broke out as a senior with a 9 sack season. He’s got some nice pass rush potential and could be a nice 4th-6th round type of option.
Names to watch: CB Ross Cockrell, CB Pierre Desir, CB E.J. Gaines, CB Andre Hal, S Tre Boston, S Hakeem Smith
Pretty solid group of defensive backs this year. Maybe not as many upside guys as the past couple of years, but definitely some quality mid-late round options and a few who could end up as starters. Ross Cockrell didn’t have as good of a year as his junior year for the Duke Blue Devils, but he came up big for them a couple times this season and helped Duke win their division. Pierre Desir is a small school guy with a lot of buzz, if he can have a strong week he could end up the steal from this group. E.J. Gaines and Andre Hal had success in the SEC and both look like good mid-round corners. Tre Boston had a lot of success at UNC, though consistency was an issue. If he can have a strong week it should allow him to be the top safety from this group.