Who are the Shrine Game Week Standouts?
The East team at the Shrine Game has several very intriguing prospects and I’ll be summarizing the week that was for the top 10 prospects that I saw. At TE Kentucky’s CJ Conrad was beginning to make a really strong impression when he unfortunately got hurt. The receiver group is strong and all had at least a few good moments but the most consistent ones were: Terry Godwin II, Jeper Horsted, DeMarkus Lodge and I got to speak to Georgia’s Terry Godwin II, though he’s 5’11 3/8” 174, but his personal record in the power clean is 315 pounds. He showed tremendous competitiveness, he has special teams experience as a returner and is very open to doing more. I think he was the member of the East team who helped himself the most. Also Jordan Ellis caught the ball better than was expected and reminded me of BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He’s compact and powerful with a little more quickness in person than I’d seen on tape.
Jamal Custis ‘won the weigh-in’ coming in at 6’4 ¼” 212 with 34 ¼” arms and 10 ½” hands, while he wasn’t as dominant as some hoped he’d be, he displayed some raw talent with which to work. His equivalent on the QB side would be Taylor Cornelius he was measured at 6’5 7/8 “ 220, he was not on the biggest in size he had the biggest arm and the biggest variance in his consensus future projection, but again there’s a good deal of raw talent with which to work. Jordan Ta’amu, of Ole Miss, was far and away the most consistent of the East QBs, he can move around and extend the play he can maintain accuracy from different platforms and “won the weigh-in by showing up at 6’2 5/8“ 222 OG Olisameka Udoh from Elon, is a human dump-truck at 6’5 5/8” 328 who has lost ever 30 pounds of ‘baby-fat’ since he arrived on campus. He’s very powerful and often finishes his blocks crushingly. He’s a red-shirt senior but only 21 years of age until February of 2019. He could play right tackle at the next level, but he could be great at guard. Either Lamont Gallaird or Bunchy Stallings was the next best offensive lineman on the East squad but it was clear that Udoh was the top offensive line prospect and has now earned a spot at the Senior Bowl.
On defense for the East Jordan Brailsford of OK State looked like both the most natural and complete of the pass-rushers and Kyle Phillips of the Volunteers showed the potential to be a contributor, quite possibly as a 5-technique end in a 3-4. Cortez Broughton looked a bit like Kerry Hyder in terms of quickness and hand usage. He’s likely to draw more attention as the process continues. Michael Dogbe also flashed some power and pursuit ability. Among the linebackers: Cole Holcomb, a converted former safety came in at 6’1 ¼” 233 and showed coverage ability, UNC’s Malik Carney had some good moments and may be able to play 3-4 SOLB. The defensive back group had a few standouts: JMU’s Jimmy Moreland looked like a feisty slot corner and Tim Harris had a pick 6 and showed he can disrupt routes.
For the West the WR group all had some very interesting qualities: KeeSean Johnson of Fresno St. was smooth, he caught the ball cleanly outside of the frame of his body, and ran efficient routes, Cody Thompson showed elusiveness, great concentration, and deception, and Shawn Poindexter had a few nice red-zone repetitions. Among the backs Darrin Hall of Pitt showed he could catch, as well as run effectively between the tackles. Devine Ozigbo also had a good week and he appears to be slimmer, perhaps in an attempt to gain more suddenness. Among the offensive lineman Nick Linder is limited as an athlete but he’s tough and during the Thursday practice mixed it up with Daniel Wise. LA Tech OG Oshea Dugas was an imposing physical presence who has some work to do in becoming more dependable in pass protection. Many of the same things could be said if Lanard Bonner of Arkansas State, but he looked fluid in motion and was well built.
The West QBs were all capable of making almost every throw, Easton Stick reinforced his credentials as an athletic, tough guy, however he was inconsistent in ball placement, release point and follow-through. For my eyes Brett Rypien of Boise State and Marcus McMaryion of Fresno were remarkable similar, 6’1 ¾” 204 for the nephew of Mark Rypien and 6’0 7/8“ 207 for the Oregon State transfer, the were both mostly accurate with some head-scratching misses, the differences were slight; however showed more consistent zip on the deeper throws outside of the number and Rypien seemed to handle pressure from within the the pocket a bit better. Kendall Blanton, the TE from Missouri, has an eye-catching physique, but that was all that caught my eye I didn’t see enough as a blocker nor as a receiver to make him memorable.
On the West defensive roster the Big winner was Kansas DT, Daniel Wise the brother of Deatrich Wise Jr., he was playing angry, with heavy hands and light feet, I would have sent him to Mobile. Daylon Mack wasn’t quite as consistent, but his best reps were a revelation. Armon Watts looked like a made to order 5-technique end, I wish he were more active and made better use of leverage. Landis Durham had some good moments and he made proper use of leverage, if he was in the body of Armon Watts, then top 100 buzz would be generating. The clear star of the linebackers here was BJ Blunt, unfortunately he lost the weigh-n badly, coming in weighing only 203 pounds on a 6′ 0 ¼” frame, some may wish to move him to SS, I still think putting 14 lbs. On him and letting be as back up 4-3 WLB and special teams terror is the better idea. He’s both fast and quick, he diagnoses well, communicates and showed leadership ability. Justin Hollins was less of a guided missile but he showed some promise but he has a great frame that looked like it could easily hold more weight.
The defensive back group was highlighted by Blace Brown of Troy and Montre Hartage, Brown isn’t spectacular, but he can do most things proficiently, Hartage is a real reflection of the Northwestern program: super competitive, tough, intelligent and a bit underrated. Hartage can play CB or defend the slot, his physical testing will be very consequential. To take a look at the 94th East-West Shrine Game players as a group I think between 10-12 will be drafted with the earliest like being taken in the mid-3rd. I watched what this game did for Emmanuel Sanders, Julius Thomas and most recently Philip Lindsey, I hope it has the same impact for one or more of this year’s participants.