Thursday, January 26, 2017

East/West Shrine Game and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

The draft season officially gets underway with a couple of college exhibition games, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, CA and the East/West Shrine Game in St Petersburg, FL. Traditionally these game feature more of the fringe type, usually from smaller schools or backups/injured players who never had a chance to shine fully in their college career. That being said, these game can be crucial to discovering that later rounds talent that provide depth to championship team. For example, Cowboys 2016 6th round pick CB Anthony Brown came from the Shrine Game. Here's a look at the players who stood out at these two games:

- Eli McGuire, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette:  With no QBs distinguishing themselves in either game, most of the offensive production came from the backs. McGuire is likely a 3rd down specialist in the pros at 5-11 185lbs but he was the best RB at the Shrine game, both catching and running with explosion. Though he runs a bit too upright, McGuire should hear his name called on Day 3 of the draft.

- Taquan Mizzell, RB, Virginia: Mizzell was the best RB at the NFLPA Bowl. Nicknamed Smoke, Mizzell ran for 96 yards on only 9 carries and caught the ball well also. Like McGuire, Mizzell is undersized (5-10 185lbs) and will have to carve out a spot on a roster as a specialist.

- Jalen Robinette,WR, Air Force: Playing WR at Air Force usually means a lot more blocking than catching passes. But at 6-3 220lbs, Robinette could emerge as a diamond in the rough. Robinette also received a call up to the Senior Bowl so he will get more time to showcase his skills.

- Eric Saubert, TE, Drake: Its not often you hear about Drake Bulldogs football, but Saubert has a chance to change that. At 6-5 251lbs, Saubert was a standout at the Shrine game all week in a very talented TE group.

- Blake Jarwin, TE, Oklahoma State: Jarwin was another standout TE at the Shrine game. But unlike some of the others, Jarwin showed a complete package, doing quite well in blocking as well as receiving. With so many receiving TEs in this class that struggle with in-line blocking, Jarwin could find his skill set invaluable to many teams.

- Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic: Perhaps no single player helped himself more than Hendrickson. Scouts raved about him as he dominated OTs all week. With ideal size (6-4 266lbs), speed and strength, Hendrickson could be in the mix for a Day 2 selection.

- Joey Ivie, DT, Florida: Ivie is an undersized DT with excellent quickness and pass rush. Which is exactly the kind of player Rod Marinelli loves at the 3 technique on his DL. Keep an eye on Ivie through the process.

- Josh Tupou, NT, Colorado: Tupou is a mountain of a man (6-3 360lbs) and clogged up the middle at the Shrine game all week. Though unlikely a fit in Dallas, Tupou will be anchoring some DL in the league in the near future.

- Richie Brown, LB, Mississippi St: Brown is a run-and-hit linebacker, as Jason Garrett likes to say, that flew around the field all week. Very instinctive, Brown could emerge as a real contributor at LB.

- Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA: Perhaps the highest rated player coming into the Shrine game, Moreau lived up to the hype and more. At 6-0 194lbs, Moreau dominated his side of the field and could be in the mix as early as the 2nd round.

- Lorenzo Jerome, CB, St Francis (PA): Having 18 career INTs in college, Jerome continued to show a knack for the ball with 2 INTs in the NFLPA Bowl. At 5-10 205lbs, Jerome may get converted to FS in the NFL but has definitely garnered some notice.

Up next, full reports from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL.

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