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2015 East West Shrine Game Preview

Steve Shoup

Despite a longer history the East West Shrine Game doesn’t get near the buzz as the Senior Bowl college All-Star game. While it is true that the East West Shrine Game doesn’t produce nearly as many top 3 round talents as the Senior Bowl or have as many draftees in a given year, that doesn’t mean you can’t find gems from the Shrine Game rosters. Now typically they say it takes 5 years to judge how good or bad an NFL draft class is, so the same logic could apply to judging how much latent one can find on a college All-Star game roster. So if we wanted to get a good feel of how the Shrine Game is at producing NFL talent we should look back at the 2010 roster.

In 2010 the following players were on the Shrine Game roster who became good-to-great players at the next level:

  • G/T Roger Saffold
  • G Zane Beadles
  • WR Emmanuel Sanders
  • TE Dennis Pitta
  • S Kam Chancellor
  • DE Greg Hardy
  • S T.J. Ward
  • CB Alterraun Verner
  • S Barry Church
  • OLB/DE Mike Neal

Now 2010’s results might not be typical of most classes, there are plenty of good solid players who come off these rosters each and every year. Even after one year you can see some guys start to become significant contributors for their teams. Last year’s East West class featured some guys who already are making an impact on their respective clubs. WR John Brown made an early impact with the Arizona Cardinals and became a good 3rd receiver on the Cardinals run to the playoffs. Fellow wide receiver Allen Hurns came out of nowhere to become a major weapon in the Jaguars young offense. LB Devon Kennard was a 5th round pick, but he took over a starting role for the Giants at the end of the season and had 4.5 sacks over his final 4 games. Fellow NYG Shrine Gamer defensive end Kerry Wynn was an undrafted free agent, but he worked his way in the New York’s defensive line rotation as the season wore on. Linebacker Preston Brown took over a starting role for the Bills this season and had over 100 tackles and was a big part of their top tier defense. Finally defensive backs Tre Boston and Bene Benwirke started a combined 11 games down the stretch and helped Carolina win the NFC South.

There is a lot of talent to be had from the East West Shrine game it just becomes a matter of unearthing it. For NFL teams this year they have a strong crop of players. There aren’t maybe as many top 3 round draft picks in this group, as there have been in recent years, but there is some good depth here and a few guys who should be able to contribute early on. Here is a quick breakdown of each position group:

Quarterbacks:

Overview:

-There is not a lot of quarterback talent down here, and it is possible that none of these guys end up getting drafted (though most if not all will end up in camps). This is a weak year of QB talent in general and the Senior QB talent is really down this season, so it isn’t a surprise that there isn’t a lot here to work with.

Top guys to watch:

Taylor Heinicke (ODU)- East team, Taylor Kelly (ASU)- West, Anthony Boone (Duke)- East

Running backs:

Overview:

Overall this is a pretty good running back group, there isn’t likely going to be a guy who pops up into the first two days like Christian Michael from two years ago, but part of that is due to the fact that this running back class is ridiculously deep. There is a ton of high-end underclassmen as well as a decent group of seniors. All six of these backs down here will get looks and probably at least 4 will be drafted. There are a lot of big physical backs in this group so most of them may max out as number 2 short yardage backs, but they still could have roles in the NFL.

Top guys to watch:

Zack Crockett (NDSU)- West, Malcolm Brown (UT)- West, Terrence Magee (LSU)- East

Tight Ends:

Overview:

Tight ends are always an intriguing group to watch down here and there have been some recent major success stories from this game (Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron, Crockett Gilmore). Unfortunately two of the more promising TE’s down here had to pull out due to injury (Gerald Christian and A.J. Derby) so the depth isn’t as strong as it was originally expected. What this game is left with is some project guys, but they have some intriguing tools to develop.

Top guys to watch:

Wes Saxton Jr. (South Alabama)- East, Blake Bell (OU)- West, MyCole Pruitt (S. Illinois)- West

Wide Receivers:

Overview:

This group is probably the strongest talent group as a whole. Of the 12 receivers, eight or more should be easy draft picks and a couple could end up in the top 4 rounds. Receiver is typically a position that is strong down here as even if guys don’t become starters they have become solid back-ups and special teamers. This year’s group features a lot of size and a couple guys with really intriguing speed. Last year speed receivers John Brown and Allen Hurns made an early NFL impact, so keep an eye out for some of these wide outs.

Top guys to watch:

Tre McBride (W&M)- East, Kasen Williams (UW)- West, Austin Hill (AZ)- West, Darren Waller (GT)-East, Devin Gardner (UM)-East, Andre Davis (USF)-East, Jordan Taylor (Rice)-West

Offensive Line:

Overview:

Another strong group overall as each squad has a couple intriguing offensive linemen. This is another area that typically does well at the next level, as you typically have a couple offensive linemen each year who end up as starters down the road. This year’s group probably won’t have any guys selected in the top 3 rounds, but look for a couple guys to go in the 4th and 5th range.

Top guys to watch:

John Miller (UL)- East, Darrian Miller (Kentucky)- East, Sean Hickey (Syracuse)- East, Mark Glowinski (WVU)- East, David Andrews (UGA)-East, Tayo Fabuluje (TCU)-West, B.J. Finney (KSU)- West, Adam Snead (OU)- West, Bobby Hart (FSU)- West

Defensive Line:

Overview:

Another strong group with a good mix of top 125 talents and some nice rotational or high upside guys who could be taken late. The defensive line group typically has a few good prospects each year and this group is no exception. Of the 16 guys on the two rosters 10-12 guys should easily be drafted and all should end up in camps.

Top guys to watch:

Anthony Chickillo (UM)-East, Za’Darius Smtih (UK)- East, Leterrius Walton (CM)-East, Tyeler Davison (Fresno State)-West, Travis Racit- (San Jose State)-West

Linebackers:

Overview:

Overall not a real strong crop as there are a lot of guys who are undersized or lacking athletic talent here, but there are still a few intriguing names to watch this year.

Top guys to watch:

Taiwan Jones (MSU)-West, Benjamin Heeney (KU)- West, Jake Ryan (UM)- East

Defensive backs:

Overview:

Another really strong group overall, there is good talent at both the safety and cornerback positions. Again this is a position group where you typically do find future starters and even some stars. This year’s group features a number of guys with really nice size which if they can put it all together could help land them a starting role down the line. I’d expect a number of these guys to get drafted and a couple of them to sneak into the top 4 rounds. It is a weak secondary year overall so a couple of these guys could really jump up the draft boards.

Top guys to watch:

Josh Shaw (USC)- West, Craig Mager (Texas State)- East, Damian Swann (UGA)-East, Fritz Etienne (Memphis)-West, Sam Carter (TCU)-West, Justin Coleman (Tenn)-East, Dean Marlowe (JMU)-East, Derick Bonner (VT)- East



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