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EW Shrine Game

  • buck
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Best receiver once again today was Pittsburgh State's John Brown.

San Jose State's Chandler Jones had his moments the past two days, but he struggles with physicality at the catch point

-Valdosta State's Sentavious Jones certainly looks the part, and showed off, again, better than you'd think route development.

The best cornerback that I saw today was Arizona's Shaquille Richardson.

Rashaad Reynolds of Oregon State and Bene Benwikere of San Jose State both showed the quick feet and the adjustments away from their body
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Among the big names watching Monday's practices: Bears coach Marc Trestman, Redskins GM Bruce Allen, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and former Ohio State coach John Cooper, now a Bengals scout.
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Among general managers in attendance at Shrine practices are Ozzie Newsome of the Baltimore Ravens, Thomas Dimitroff of the Atlanta Falcons and Ted Thompson of the Green Bay Packers.

Here's who to follow on Twitter down at the Shrine Game this year:

Dane Brugler - @DpBrugler

Kyle Crabbs - @NFLDraftTracker

Eric Galko - @OptimumScouting

Josh Liskiewitz - @JoshLiskiewitz

Tom Melton - @TMeltonScouting

Josh Norris - @JoshNorris

Tony Pauline - @TonyPauline

Jeff Risdon - @JeffRisdon

  • buck
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The East practice was all-but useless today, as the rain washed out any hopes of gather notes as the team practiced indoors in a walk-through type setting.

Luckily the rain cleared up and there was the chance to evaluate the West practice. The field wasn't in great shape, but it was certainly good enough to evaluate the offensive linemen.

The biggest "winners" today were WR John Brown, OG Austin Wentworth, DT Justin Ellis, DE Chidera Uzo-Direbe, and CB Shaquille Richardson.
  • buck
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I spent considerable time watching the WR group today. I think the surprise of the group may be QUINCY ENUNWA of Nebraska.

He's a good-sized guy at 6'2/225, who can really move for his size. He has long arms and nice big hands that he uses to hand snatch almost everything thrown his way.

He was very impressive catching hard, short throws in a circle drill. He also displays quick feet. He may have flown somewhat under the radar in college because of a pretty vanilla Offense at Nebraska and lack of an elite throwing QB. He looks to me like a guy who could have a better pro career than in college.

Surely the best DB work in two days has come from CARRINTON BYNDOM/CB/TEXAS.

He has decent size (5'11/190) and plays with a feisty attitude. He will hit anything moving with the ball. He also showed deep cover ability on several long throws this afternoon. What was most impressive was his ability to turn his head, while running full speed in coverage, and find the ball in he air. He had several impressive break-ups in passing work today. He also shows the ability to turn his hips at full back pedal; speed to react to the ball and/or receiver.
Key & Peele
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Day three East Squad

Wide Receivers:

Jeremy Gallon (Michigan):

-Gallon is going to have to make a living as a slot receiver, but he just might be able to do so. He was able to get some nice separation with his route running and quickness and showed some nice YAC ability as well.

Matt Hazel (Coastal Carolina):

Hazel was really impressive today, making some big time catches against some of the best corners on the squad. He showed both really nice deep speed and some crisp route running that earned him some separation. On one screen pass he juked past a defender and got the side line for an easy score.

Allen Hurns (Miami):

-Hurns has some deep speed and caught a couple of nice balls, but he had some trouble coming away with the catch when the defender was there. On one throw from Mathews, Hurns had a clean look and the ball was there but he couldn't come down with it.

Defensive backs:

Tre Boston (UNC):

-Boston clearly showed that he was the best safety today, as he showed good reactions to both run and pass plays. He ran easily with all the tight ends and helped out in deep coverage as well. He has starting potential (maybe not as a rookie) and is one of the higher upside players in this secondary group.

Nevin Lawson (Utah State):

-Lawson really struggled throughout practice and wasn't able to keep up with a number of the top receivers. He was slow to react on a couple of occasions, and other times he was just plainly outmatched. This was not a good showcase for him at all today.

Pierre Desir (Lindenwood):

-It's easy to see a lot to like with Desir, with his speed and size really shining through, but it's also clear he's maybe a bit more raw than some of the other prospects. Desir showed a lot of good physical tools and was very fluid throughout practice, but he was pulled aside by the coaches on multiple occasions to fix mistakes.

Ross Cockrell (Duke):

Ross Cockrell had a couple mistakes early in practice during 1-on-1's where he allowed separation or didn't react quickly enough to an underneath route, but he improved later in practice, especially in 7-on-7 and team drills. Cockrell showed some physicallity in fighting with receivers and getting off blocks to defend screens or running plays. On one running play, he got off his block and forced the back inside, and as the back was cutting back inside Cockrell punched the ball out causing a fumble. It was a good heads up play, and an underrated trait for a corner to have.

Phillip Gaines (Rice):

-Gaines had a great day challenging receivers, not only showing tight coverage, but knocking the ball away on multiple occasions. Despite facing some quality receivers and decent QB play, Gaines more than held his own. He rarely got beat and did a nice job flipping his hips to run deep. On underneath routes he closed quickly and that is where he got a couple of his passes defensed today.

Andre Hal (Vanderbilt):

-Hal had a really nice practice today in every area. He showed both good ball and cover skills and succeeded against a variety of receivers and routes. He showed good long speed, running stride for stride with Allen Hurns and Ja'mes Logan on a couple 9 routes. He also didn't bite on a double-move from Matt Hazel on another play. I liked on one deep route he used the sideline to his advantage and forced the receiver out of bounds. Hal also showed good recognition on a couple of running plays as well.
  • buck
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With all 32 teams well represented this week for the East-West Shrine Game, the practices are when prospects have an opportunity to really impress scouts, coaches and other front office personnel. And on the East team, a few receivers have played well and stood out, most notably Coastal Carolina's Matt Hazel and Michigan's Jeremy Gallon.

Through three days of practice, Hazel has stood out as arguably the top performer at receiver this week with his focus and hand-eye coordination to catch everything with his hands. He lacks ideal strength and has been out-muscled at times, but he shows good body control to make smooth adjustments on off-target throws. Hazel isn't a burner, but he shows good acceleration and long strides to build up speed in his routes. On Wednesday morning, he put a deadly stop-and-go double-move on Lindenwood CB Pierre Desir and Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo found Hazel deep for a big connection that drew "ooh's" and "ahh's" from scouts.

One of the shortest players on the field, Gallon has probably been told he's "too small" his entire life, but he certainly doesn't play like it, displaying a competitive chip on his shoulder in every drill and each snap. Despite his shorter stature (5-foot-7), he has good-sized mitts and is a natural hands-catcher. Gallon has excellent controlled momentum in his routes to catch-and-go in the same motion to be a threat after the reception. As one scout put it on Tuesday: "I know he's small, but look at the production. The kid's just a football player."
  • buck
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day three


The final day for most NFL scouts before they head off to prepare for the Senior Bowl, I got the chance to focus on the defense for most of practice today.

The biggest winners today were WR Chandler Jones, OG Austin Wentworth, DT Beau Allen, and CB Shaquille Richardson.


A productive day for the East practice after being rained out on Tuesday, I focused on the offensive and defensive line as best I could today, but also had plenty of notes on the receiver-defensive back match-ups.

The biggest winners today were QB Jimmy Garoppolo, WR Jeremy Gallon, WR Erik Lora, OG James Stone, DT Jay Bromley, DT Bruce Gaston, and CB Phillip Gaines.
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As I was asked by someone today, my pick for the first player from the Shrine Game drafted will be Lindenwood CB Pierre Desir. Corners his size with his feet don't come along very readily and NFL teams will value that, even if he doesn't have great speed.

  • buck
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Ricardo Allen/Purdue

Mon: Technically very sound yet gave up a lot of underneath receptions all afternoon.

Wed: Was used in a variety of roles (over the slot receiver, corner blitz) and did an adequate job. Problem with Allen is he looks great in drills yet does not translate it to pass break-ups during one-on-ones, seven-on-sevens, full scrimmage.


Tre Boston/North Carolina

Mon: Non-descript practice. Used as a traditional strong/zone safety

Wed: Terrific day for Boston. Did well in drills, stood out in one-on-ones and had a strong scrimmage. Fast, covers a lot of ground and showed next level ball skills.


Ross Cockrell/Duke

Wed: Cockrell struggled on Monday but looked real good on the final day of practice. Physical and fast Made several nice defenses of deep passes in both drills and full scrimmage.


Pierre Desir/Lindenwood

Mon: Has a long, lean build and very athletic. Showed a lot of flashes. Articulate, intelligent young man.

Wed: Seemed to get a little confused at times and gave up a few receptions. Showed the physical skills to play in the NFL yet also shows he's very raw and rough around the edges.

Phillip Gaines/Rice

Mon: Nice size and impressive looking. Struggles making plays with this back to the ball.

Wed: Made a number of nice pass defenses, including one in the deep field which drew applause from scouts and onlookers. Still feel he's better as a zone corner/dime back.


Andre Hal/Vanderbilt

Mon: Showed a few flashes of dominance throughout the session.

Wed: A bit inconsistent. Made some nice plays but also gave up a few receptions and was beaten on occasion.

Nevin Lawson/Utah State

Wed: Struggled from start to finish. Gave up a number of receptions and was beat often.


Hakeem Smith/Louisville

Mon: Tough, downhill safety with a terrific burst of speed.

Wed: Looks the part yet really struggled when he was asked to play over the slot receiver in man coverage. Slow in transition and often loses a half step attempting to turn and run with opponents.


Jemea Thomas/Georgia Tech

Wed: Sparsely applauded by coaches but for the most part had a tough day.

Marcus Williams/North Dakota State

Mon: Did not do too much during one-on-one's or full scrimmage but from a technical point of view looked as good as any cornerback during drills.

day by day critiques seem interesting, but does not cover all three days.

I think it would be worth the effort to check this site in a couple of days to see if all players listed have notes for the three days of practice.
Sounds like nobodys really dominant or helping their draft stock
Ricardo Allen–I've seen a lot of Allen at Purdue and my impression has always been that he will be a solid slot corner at the next level. He completely validated that today, showing feistiness, quick recognition and choppy feet. Plays bigger than his size. The coaches highlighted his stance as "what yours should look like" to the others.

Purdue DT Bruce Gaston tore apart the weaker competition inside. He's got a nice array of moves and very quick hands. I was watching with a group of NFL scouts and one said, and I quote, "love his rips, hips and lips", as Gaston is not shy about celebrating triumph. What I really liked was his ability to keep leverage and keep his chest clean.

My Purdue guys seem to be playing well this week. Gaston would be a great late round guy for Tomsula to mold on the DL. Ricardo would be great as our slot CB.
  • buck
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Wednesday, January 15


Sorry to say, I think I dozed off three times while standing on my feet watching the WEST practice. The pace differential between the two squads practices is incredible. Now watch the West put a solid licking on the East come Saturday.

Much like the West Squad last year, ROMEO's charges should be super prepared for Special Teams play for all the time they spend on it in practice under the guidance of Coach LOUIE AGUIAR.

One of the biggest surprises on this squad to me has been South Dakota OLB TYLER STARR. The strapping 6-4, 249-pounder has been all over the field during 11-on-11 action. He topped today off with an acrobatic sideline pick. He wasn't on my radar at all a week ago. Now he's a nice addition to my draftable LB list.

Michigan State MLB MAX BULLOUGH has also been outstanding so far. He weighed in at a whopping 265 lbs. on Monday. He has been incredibly active and around the ball constantly. He had a big interception in the middle of the field during 11-on-11 this afternoon. I'm still not convinced that this is his ideal playing weight, but it does not appear to be hindering his play so far.

Big Wisconsin DT BEAU ALLEN is throwing his weight around quite effectively, both literally and figuratively. The big inside player, who indicated to me that despite the lack of glamour playing on the Nose he enjoyed the change in scheme this past season in Mad Town. The standard 4-3 scheme used in these All-Star Games is still looking like it plays to his bulk and strength. He's been pushing OL teammates all week.

Baylor TE JORDAN NAJVAR is also making an impression this week with his practice work. The big physical specimen has shown both blocking and receiving skills. He also catches your eye with his 6-6, 262 pound frame. In a speed receiver offense, NAJVAR had only 10 catches last season, but he looks like a solid all-around TE prospect this week.

It's not a big year for senior RB prospects, so a willingness to look at undersized but productive college players is needed more than ever. One such player to look at from the West squad is Sam Houston State's TIMOTHY FLANDERS. He rushed for 1430 yards last fall at an average of 5.9 yards per pop. He's not blowing anyone away this week, but he's done a little bit of everything and with his power has to be listed as short, but not small. Don't be surprised if he makes his mark in the game Saturday. He's hard for defenders to see behind this tall offensive linemen and is very quick to and thru the hole.

The West receiving corps has been whittled down because of injuries. Both T.J. JONES of Notre Dame and Nebraska‘s QUINCY ENUNWA were out of practice today, and the East team has transferred over Army wideout PATRICK LAIRD. With both squads being down to 5 WR both groups should have plenty of snaps for all the remaining receivers.

KEITH WENNING of Ball State continues to look like the best of the West QB group. He throws the best spiral and long ball of the three on this squad. He is also mobile enough to escape pocket pressure. There are times he looks a little hesitant to try to squeeze the ball into his receivers. QB Coach CHRIS PALMER appears to be working on both a few sloppy throwing throwing mechanics as well as his psyche with WENNING.


Cool temps, no rain and the East football squad greeted me as I arrived at practice this Wednesday morning. The team looked refreshed and ready for some contact after being relegated to an indoor walk thru Tuesday.

I decided that since I always end up spending too much time watching the big uglies work I would at least start my morning with DB drill work. Lo and behold, who should be camped out directly beneath the goal post watching the same group but TED THOMPSON? It's a large group of DB despite the absence of E.J. GAINES who is nursing wounds from the Mizzou Bowl game. I quickly identified two good sized CBs who looked smooth with their footwork in ball direction drills in ANDRE HAL of Vanderbilt and small-college star PIERRE DESIR of Lindenwood. HAL had a strong steady career at Vandy and reminds me some of CASEY HAYWARD his former Commodore teammate who is now with the PACKERS. He's not flashy and is probably best suited in a primarily zone cover scheme, but he can turn his hips and accelerate quite nicely after a change of direction. He also locates he ball well. DESIR is the highly touted small school guy who has the length of frame and arms that scouts always look for and rarely find. He's on a pretty big stage compared to what he's used to from small school days. He seems a bit slower than HAL in reacting to the ball, but can get to it and shows good coordination and balance.

But I couldn't stay away from the big boys for long. I was drawn to some drill work by the DL, under the supervision of former BADGERS/BENGALS DT TIM KRUMRIE. I continue to be drawn to the smaller school guys and couldn't keep my eyes off of the big energizer bunny, ZACH KERR of Delaware. Though lacking a bit in finesse, KERR displays a high rev motor and great enthusiasm for the game. Krumrie calls him Delaware and offers advice and encouragement constantly. In later scrimmage type work KERR inflicted some big hits on blockers and ball carriers. He has a knack for pushing the middle right into the pocket. He's not running anyone down from behind, but he will chase.

Long and strong is how I would describe Richmond DE KERRY WYNN. I show WYNN's weight at 270, but he looks a bit thicker than I would have expected. I am anxious to see what his arm length measurement is. He sticks those arms out and deflects passes and stops runners in their tracks.

I'm still thinking that Cornell QB JEFF MATHEWS is the top overall QB down here. But his lack of play against top-level competition is showing in his hesitancy to squeeze the ball into his receivers against D1 level CBs. He holds it a bit longer than you would like and is gong to get sacked way too often. He certainly has NFL talent and athleticism, but he's going to be a grooming project before he's ready to compete for a starting job as a pro.
Watching Northern Illinois QB JORDAN LYNCH run the O at midfield I couldn't help but think to myself that he was sorely tempted to tuck it and run on multiple occasions. The 11-on-11 moved to the red zone, at the 15-yard line, and sure enough on the second play LYNCH tucked it and ran a QB keeper for a TD, straight up the middle.

I don't see him as much of an NFL prospect, but some CFL team should be excited about the prospects for McGill OT LAURENT DUVERNAY-TARDIF as a big time candidate for the Canadian league. LDT may not look pretty from an NFL blocking technique standard, but he's reasonably athletic and battles to the whistle. I can see him starting right away for some CFL team.

Arkansas PK ZACH HOCKER had his teammates fired up this morning with his FG kicking which seemed to get better the longer the attempt. He was up to 50 yards when he finally missed a long one, and his mates were hooting and hollering for him to make one more kick. You'd have thought he was possibly earning them all a no curfew night.

His work is far from perfect, but I keep seeing good things from Tennessee C/G JAMES STONE, who has moved from OC to OG this week. He's showing more strength than I expected, and in a limited area is moving his feet very well. He's quick in a short area and uses his hands very well to move bigger DL away from the pocket. He's also quick to the second level blocks on running plays. He's been much more impressive than I remember from the film study I did of him at OC for Tennessee.

The best RB for my money continues to be another RAJION NEAL, another former Volunteer who is a solidly built guy who has shown incredible quickness, cutting ability and flat out speed. He took one to the house during 11-on-11 work this morning. He faked a couple of defenders out of their jocks with one jump-cut. Then he outran everyone to the end zone. He looks to me like the best RB out of Tennessee since the equally unheralded ARIAN FOSTER. Yes, I like him that much this week.

Louisville OLB XAVIUS BOYD used his speed and athleticism to be all over the field this morning. He penetrated into the backfield on multiple occasions during 11-on-11, but on a couple of occasions the ball was headed in the other direction. His athleticism will be highly coveted by NFL personnel people, but his "guessing" and lack of assignment discipline will also cost him in some personnel evaluations. His overall play clearly indicates he has a future as a starter in the pros, just maybe not immediately.

I took time to chat with Penn State OG JOHN URSCHEL after practice. The double degree math man was arguably the top legitimate student/athlete in the country this past season, although he is very intent on giving a pro football career a serious try. He says he had a special relationship with JOE PATERNO and will always consider him one of the strongest personalities who ever influenced his life. I think URSCHEL may be drafted if he can put up decent numbers at the combine and/or his pro day. He's a stout body guy, and may be tough to cut once he's on an NFL roster. He's also very articulate and polite. That should count for something.

I mentioned Louisville OLB DERRELL JOHNSON on Monday and I continue to be impressed with this large, athletic LB. He put his hand down on the ground for some blocking/pass rush drills and showed an impressive combo of power and speed. In an NFL defense where the DC is creative and willing to move this guy around he could become a star. He will have to work on his pass drops, but has enough going for himself already to be a top 100 pick and see plenty of action in sub packages… at the least.

Another solid, high energy practice was orchestrated by JERRY GLANVILLE and his staff of well respected coaches including JUNE JONES, TIM KRUMRIE, PAUL SPICER, MARCUS MASER and more. And yes ELVIS, Glanville will be leaving 2 tickets for you at the will-call window if you are in the area Saturday.
  • buck
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St. Petersburg, FL -- Wednesday was the final day of full-pads practice as the East and West squads prepare for Saturday's contest. It was also the first time both teams participated in full contact drills on the same day. The majority of the stars from this day of practice were found on the defensive side of the ball.

Tre Boston/S/North Carolina: Boston, 6-0, 198, turned in a terrific practice for the East on Wednesday. Effective in both seven-on-seven drills as well as full scrimmage, he displayed top-notch ball skills and the ability to make plays out to the sidelines. Besides breaking up several passes, Boston played with discipline, instincts and did a terrific job recognizing routes when lined up in zone coverage. Leaving the final day of full pads practice, there's no doubting Boston improved his stock in a draft weak at the safety position.

Ross Cockrell/CB/Duke: Cockrell, 6-0, 183, was, in my eyes, the top cornerback on the field for either team on Wednesday. He made several outstanding plays in man coverage both in the short and intermediate field. Cockrell did a great job locating the pass in the air then positioning himself against receivers to defend the ball. After a slow start to the week, Cockrell really stepped up his game as practices closed out.

Beau Allen/DT/Wisconsin: Allen was highlighted during our preview of the Shrine Game on and he lived up to the hype on Wednesday. The massive 6-foot-2, 333-pound interior lineman displayed great power, constantly bull-rushing blockers off the line of scrimmage. In full scrimmage, he made a number of ball carriers reverse course as his ability to take on double-team blocks clogged the running lanes. Allen, stamped with a free-agent grade prior to the season, leaves Shrine practices heading towards the middle rounds.

Will Clarke/DL/West Virginia: Clarke, 6-6, 277, continues to impress people with his combination of size and athleticism. He explodes off the snap and is quick getting up the field. His ability to bend off the edge and remain on balance throughout the play is also a positive. Clarke still needs work as he struggles to finish plays and seems to miss out at the end. Regardless, it was evident to all at Shrine practice that he's a prospect with great upside potential and that he could be a future starter in the NFL once he pulls together a complete game.

Derrell Johnson/LB/East Carolina: Johnson, 6-1, 248, was used in a variety of ways on Wednesday and proved to have a complete game. He showed a lot of athleticism along with the ability to quickly close to the action. Johnson was fast getting to the ball, both in a straight line and laterally. He was even asked to stand up over tackle in pass rush drills and flashed skill there. Granted, Johnson needs to get a bit stronger, but his Shrine practice performance proves he possesses the underlying ability to play in the NFL.

Erik Lora/WR/Eastern Illinois: Despite being vertically challenged, the 5-foot-10 Lora plays big and showed toughness as well as natural pass-catching skills on the final day of full-pads practice. He's exceptionally quick and does a tremendous job separating from defenders then snatching the pass from the air. Watch for Lora during the game on Saturday; if he displays run-after-the catch-skills, he'll likely slot into the final rounds of the draft as teams project him as a slot receiver with potential as a return specialist.

Max Bullough/LB/Michigan State: Bullough tipped the scales at a hefty 265 pounds during weigh-ins on Monday. That's 10 more than his playing weight, yet he showed surprising athleticism on the final day of practice. Bullough is an imposing figure on the field and he throws his weight around, stacking against the run to stymie ball carriers. Late in practice, Bullough, 15 yards off the line of scrimmage, surprised scouts by making a terrific interception of a Keith Wenning pass. After Saturday's game, Bullough heads towards the NFL scouting combine, where he hopes to wow scouts with a surprising workout.
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