All-Star Game Winners
With the NFLPA, Shrine, and Senior Bowl in the books, many prospects helped themselves while a few hurt their draft stock in the process. All-Star games often give opportunities for players to be tried at new positions or for small school players to prove their skills against better competition. The following is not a fully extensive list (the number of players who helped themselves in these games is easily over a dozen per game). Through practice reports, TV coverage, and the games themselves, here are the winners and losers of the all-star games.
Malcolm Agnew, RB, Southern Illinois
Agnew showcased his versatility and speed by being the most dominant RB at the NFLPA Game. Though he didn’t have the best stats in the game, he was the most impressive RB through the week showcasing no ill effects of his ankle injury from October and being multifaceted in both catching the football and pass protection. Agnew’s performance will garner him some consideration in the 6th-7th round or as a priority free agent.
Jarvis Harrison, OG, Texas A&M
Harrison looked like a man amongst boys at the NFLPA Game. He weighed in at nearly 6’4 344 pounds and still looked light on his feet in practices, able to carry and maintain that weight. Harrison has an impressive blend of size and athletic ability that should intrigue NFL teams. With his good NFLPA week, Harrison could be a top 5 OG off the board come April.
Vernon Johnson, WR, Texas A&M Commerce
Texas A&M Commerce is no powerhouse program, but WR Vernon Johnson proved that he belonged against prospects from top programs. The 5’11 188 pound wideout showcased solid down field speed and soft hands on intermediate routes through the week of practice. He is a draftable prospect who could develop into a #3 or #4 for an NFL team.
Leon Orr, DT, Florida
Leon Orr’s talent is undeniable and he showcased that talent through NFLPA week. At 319 pounds, Orr dominated from both a leverage and strength perspective consistently when playing one on one. Orr’s issues are off the field where he up and left the Florida team before playing Vanderbilt because he wouldn’t be starting in the game. He proved at the NFLPA game that he can play, but the question is if team’s will overlook his transgression against his team.
Anthony Chickillo, DE, Miami (FL)
Chickillo was inconsistent while at Miami and often played out of position, not rushing the passer or utilizing his talents. At the Shrine Game, Chickillo was able to pin his ears back and get after the passer with a ton of success. With pass rushers always in demand, Chickillo played his way to being a potential midround pick.
John Miller, OG, Louisville
Though offensive linemen don’t always have flashy all-star games, Louisville’s John Miller played extremely well getting a great push in practice and showcasing NFL upper body strength. A power run blocker, John Miller is could be in the Top 100 after his Shrine Game performance.
Za’Darius Smith, DE, Kentucky
With teammate Bud Dupree getting most of the publicity, Wildcat DE Za’Darius Smith is often overlooked. He made a name for himself at Shrine practices by consistently beating the offensive tackles and showing in 11 on 11s that he can stop rushers in their tracks. Smith has moved himself into the Early 3rd Day and could sneak into the Top 100.
Darren Waller, WR, Georgia Tech
Waller is a TE/WR tweener who could even make the full move to being a slot TE after weighing in at over 6’6 ½ and 242 pounds at the Shrine game. With his size, Waller showed some fluidity in practice and that he is a reliable pass catching option at the next level. Look for Waller to be a late round project that entices a few teams.
Nick Marshall, CB, Auburn
Marshall may have been the QB to help himself the most at any all-star game this year, and it was because he chose to switch to another position entirely. Marshall made the move to CB (which he played while at Georgia,) and had a solid week of practice and a good game for someone who hasn’t played the position in 3 years or so. Marshall flashed the athletic ability combined with size to develop into an NFL CB. He is now draftable at this new position.
Quentin Rollins, CB, Miami (OH)
Rollins story is now well known of only playing organized college ball for one year but using his athletic ability from the basketball court to the football field. Rollins showed dominance at the Senior Bowl shutting down big and small WRs alike. In the game, he was a stand out player with an interception and nearly another. He looks like he can be a starting NFL CB with a little more experience and is firmly in the top 50 at this point.
Donovan Smith, OT, Penn State
Smith was a 4 year Junior who played in the Senior Bowl and is worthy of the “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane” moniker. In Mobile, however, Smith came to play and had a better week and game than any stretch as a college player in State College. At almost 6’6 and 341 pounds, Smith is a physically imposing OT who often is bet by even finesse defensive ends. During practice, he showed that he could not only maul with his size but also keep up with speed rushers. Smith could rise into the top 100.
Ty Varga, RB, Yale
Varga was largely an unknown after not playing half of 2013 with a foot injury, but he had an excellent 2014 for Yale. He was pegged as a fullback for the Senior Bowl, but quickly proved that he was a capable halfback as well. Varga is often discounted because of his height (just a shade above 5’10,) but he is 227 pounds and very difficult to locate and tackle. In the game, Varga had over 7 yards a carry and ran for 2 TDs. He put himself in position to definitely be drafted now.
Clive Walford, TE, Miami (FL)
With a weak TE class, the TEs of the Senior Bowl had a chance to really put themselves in position to separate in the class. Clive Walford stepped up and showcased both great blocking ability (especially in the game where he had some great pancaking run blocks,) and catching the football with his athletic ability. Walford put on a show with his range and hands, flashing starting TE talent. Walford’s performance puts him in the top 100 of the NFL Draft.