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East West Shrine Game and Practice Week Recap

Steve Shoup

I’ve already written about the players that helped themselves the most this Shrine week, so to recap I thought I would give my starting line-up made-up of East-West Shrine Game players from both  teams with one back-up at each position (instead of FB the starting line-up will have 3 WR’s and 2 back-ups)

QB: Starter: Taylor Heinicke (ODU), back-up: Taylor Kelly (AZ State)

Notes: As noted before none of these quarterbacks are great, and it is possible that none of them end up getting drafted, but I do think the best one going forward will be Heinicke. He is the one who really could develop into a serviceable number 2 QB and should be able to make at worst a practice squad this year.

Running back: Zack Crockett (North Dakota State), back-up: Terrence Magee (LSU)

Notes: It was a solid group of running backs, but I think clearly that Crockett is the best of the bunch. Even in a deep running back class he could go in the mid-rounds and contribute some as a rookie. For the number two spot it was a bit tougher, but I think Magee edges out the other three backs. Magee probably won’t be drafted until the final 50 picks, but he could be a solid 3rd back.

 Tight End: Wes Saxton (South Alabama), back-up: MyCole Pruitt (Southern Illinois)

Notes: Not a lot to see with the tight ends this week, but there were a couple of nice surprises. Saxton showed good ability to create separation and was a tough assignment for just about anyone to cover. He didn’t have a great college career so even in a weak TE class he is looking like a borderline pick, but that athleticism could intrigue some team. Pruitt is a guy I didn’t know much about heading into this week, but he was a pleasant surprise. He showed decent hands, good size and some physicality. There are some tools to work with there and he could be an interesting priority UDFA.

Wide Receiver: Tre McBride (W&M), Austin Hill (Arizona), Kasen Williams (Washington) back-ups: Andre Davis (USF), Devin Gardner (Michigan)

Notes: Tre McBride didn’t have a perfect week of practice, but he showed more than enough to show that he was a the top receiver down here and a guy who could contribute early at the next level. Hill and Williams gave McBride some competition for the top WR spot down here and both had really good weeks, which was key for them given their injury history. After the top three guys you could make a case for just about any of the other receivers in the two back-up roles, but I went with a pair of guys who really intrigued me. Davis showed probably the best deep speed of the group. He also does an excellent job on jump balls. This gives him a unique skill set that could interest teams a bit more than other receivers. Gardner is another interesting case as he’s a QB convert, but he’s got a great size/speed combo. He’s obviously raw, but he continued to look better throughout the week and some team is going to give him a shot in the late rounds.

Tackles: Darrian Miller (Kentucky), Sean Hickey (Syracuse) back-up: Tayo Fabuluje (TCU)

Notes: Miller was a guy I wasn’t super high on coming into the week, but I thought he looked good all week and helped his stock. He’s got nice feet and quickness that will serve him well in zone schemes. I don’t think he’s limited to zone blocking, but his athleticism plays up there. Hickey overall had a good week, though there were a few missed blocks that kept it from a great week. He’s another lineman with good feet and he probably will be the first drafted of all the tackles. After Miller and Hickey there was a drop off in tackle play, but Fabuluje gets the call given his intriguing size and power. He’s not technically sound by any means, but he’s raw and some team will fall in love with him as a late round project.

Guards: John Miller (Louisville), Adam Shead (Oklahoma) back-up: Mark Glowinski (WVU)

Notes: John Miller was clearly the top guard (and probably the top offensive lineman) down here this week. He showed good power and finished blocks. He has probably boosted his stock into the top 125 and he looks to be trending upwards. Shead had an up and down week, but he had a solid career and overall is a smart blocker. Glowinski played both tackle and guard this week, but guard is his better position. He offers versatility and strength. He had perhaps the best anchor down here and push linemen off the LOS. He isn’t the best in space and at times struggled to get to the 2nd level, but as a late round guy he offers some solid upside.

Center: B.J. Finney (Kansas State), Dillion Day (Mississippi State)

Notes: Finney may have challenged Miller for the best week of offensive line play as the K-State center looked good all week. It’s a week center class and he will probably find his name called in the 4th-5th rounds of this year’s draft. While he probably needs a year or two, Finney does have future starting potential. Day was the 2nd best center of the week, but really there was a pretty sizable gap.

Defensive End: Za’Darius Smith (Kentucky), Anthony Chickillo (Miami) back-up: Jermauria Rasco (LSU)

Notes: Za’Darius Smith was arguably the best player down here this week so it’s no surprise he’s on this list. He’s got size, speed and he knows how to disrupt plays. Even when he wasn’t getting sacks Smith was forcing bad throws Chickillo also had  a pretty dominant  week, showing big play ability and the potential he never fully realized at Miami. Rasco had a  solid  week of practice  and as a situational pass rusher he should here his name called in the final 2 rounds of the draft.

Defensive Tackle: Leterrius Walton (Central Michigan), Xavier Williams (Northern Iowa) back-up: Tyeler Davison (Fresno State)

Notes: Walton and Williams are two guys from smaller schools that really shined this week. Both players showed  nice power and burst, and will get a lot of interest from NFL teams in the mid-late rounds. Davison was probably the most touted DT entering this game, but while he didn’t hurt himself, he didn’t have a great week either. Still NFL teams should like him early on the 3rd day.

Linebacker: Taiwan Jones (Michigan State), Jake Ryan (Michigan), Benjamin Heeney (Kansas) back-ups: Deiontrez Mount (Louisville), Amarlo Herrera (Georgia)

Notes: Overall not a strong LB group as Jones is clearly ahead of the pack. He’s a guy who could start early in his career and be pretty productive. After him the talent drops off a bit, but Ryan and Heeney are two intriguing guys. Both area bit limited athletically and Heeney is a bit undersized, but they are both very instinctual and are typically in a great position to make the play. After those two the linebackers drop off again considerably. Mount is an intriguing guy and Herrera flashed a couple of times, but both look to be 7th round talents.

Cornerbacks: Josh Shaw (USC), Craig Mager (Texas State) back-up: Damian Swann (Georgia)

Notes: Shaw had one of the best weeks of practice and had a strong game as well. He will get some consideration at FS, but I would play him at corner until he proves he’s a liability there. His draft stock is still a question mark, but there is some real talent there. Mager really flashed this week and looks to be a real solid prospect. He had really nice coverage ability and displayed nice ball skills. Swann is another guy who has good size and speed and will get mid-round consideration. He more than held his own this week vs strong competition.

Safety: Fritz Etienne (Memphis) Samuel Carter (TCU), back-up: Dean Marlowe (JMU)

Notes: There was strong safety play overall, but three guys really impressed me. Etienne looks to have the size, range and ball skills to be a free safety at the next level. He had a couple breakdowns in coverage, but that is hardly surprising learning a new defense and playing with new teammates. Carter is a classic in the box safety and does pretty well there. His best attribute though may be his leadership, that will be a big determining factor between him and other late round SS prospects. Marlowe has great size and range, but his coverage and ball skills are a bit lacking. On paper he could play some free safety, but he is probably best suited at SS.



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