5 Defensive Players who Helped themselves the Most During Shrine Week
January 18, 2014 in 2014 East-West Shrine Game
1. DL Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech:
-Ellis probably had the best week of any defender this week. He's a classic nose tackle weighing in at just over 350 lbs. Despite the size, Ellis isn't just a big body in the middle of the line. He shows nice penetration and is quick off the snap. Every center this week struggled when asked to block him one-on-one, and Ellis even broke some double teams as well. It's a rare combination to find a guy with Ellis size, who can get a little pressure as well, and that is why Ellis could enter discussion as a 3rd round pick. Consistency is still a factor as sometimes he stands to straight up, but the natural talent and size is there that NFL teams are going to be quite interested in him.
-Mauro brought the strong Stanford defense work ethic to this week's Shrine Week practices. He was the type of guy who you never saw taking a play off and on those few instances where he needed coaching up on something, you saw him put it into play on the very next snap. Mauro looks to be a perfect base end in a 4-3, who could shift inside as well, or a 5-tech end in a 3-4. He's very strong at the point of attack and was able to shed blocks with ease throughout the week of practice. In addition to his strong run support, Mauro showed some good pass rushing skills as well getting quite a bit of pressure on the quarterback. He may never be a 10 sack guy, but he's going to push the pocket and force the quarterback to be uncomfortable enough to make an impact. He looks like a good 4th or 5th round option at this point.
3. S Tre Boston, UNC:
-Boston came in with the reputation as the best safety here and he not only proved that to be true, but he also increased the separation between him and the next guys. Boston had a really strong all-around week, showing up well in coverage and strong instincts against the run. Boston was all over the field in coverage, breaking up passes and being in a position to make the tackle. He did a nice job diagnosing run plays and coming up in support without over-committing. It was a strong week for Boston in what is a weaker safety class. He could push his way into 3rd round discussion, but right now is more likely a 4th or 5th round type of safety. He can help on sub-packages and special teams early on, while potentially developing into a starter down the road.
4. DL Kerry Wynn, Richmond:
-Wynn may be a small school guy on paper, but when you look at him that idea quickly goes out the window. Wynn has the prototypical size and frame NFL teams are looking for from 4-3 defensive ends. He can add 10 lbs and be the perfect size for a base end in the 4-3. Not only does Wynn look the part, but he quickly proved that he can play the role as well. He shows a good combination of speed and power from the end position and shows some potential for further versatility. 3-4 teams could see him bulk up into the 280-290 range (he's got the frame to support it) and play the 5 technique, while 4-3 teams could see him as a guy who can shift inside on pass rushing downs. When you have size and ability teams will find a spot for you and that applies to Wynn. Despite being from a smaller school you didn't see many technical issues with his game that would give you cause for concern. Wynn probably won't jump up draft boards too much, but he could start getting some attention in the late 5th-early 6th round range.
5. LB Max Bullough, Michigan State:
-Despite a tremendous career and incredible senior season, questions had begun to pop-up surrounding Max Bullough and his pro prospects. Questions about his lack of athleticism began during the season and further questions arose when he was suspended for the team's Bowl Game. When Bullough weighed-in at 265 it seemed to confirm everyone's fears about him, but Bullough showed that the reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. Bullough showed excellent leadership and instincts throughout the week. He had little trouble staying with and covering the tight ends and backs of the West squad, and knew where to be when in zone coverage. He might not be the most athletically gifted linebacker, but he's going to make up for it in other ways. His ability to take command of a defense and recognize what an offense is trying to do could prove invaluable at the next level. Bullough may not be able to cover the Jimmy Graham's and Vernon Davis's of the world, but then again, who can? He may need to drop some weight at the next level, but he should be able to start and will likely here his name called in the late 3rd-early 4th round range.