Every prospect signs up for an all-star game with the dream of stepping up their level of play in front of hundreds of scouts and being pegged by draft analysts as a "riser" or "winner."
The reality is, for every riser there is a faller. For every winner there is a loser.
No doubt you've read my fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter's detailed practice reports for Monday , Tuesday and Wednesday's scrimmages. You have probably checked out the opinions of other media members in Orlando, as well.
As expected, North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin has proven himself to be the best player in Orlando. Strong performances by USC TE Jordan Cameron, UCLA DT David Carter, Hawaii RB Alex Green and Georgia ILB Akeem Dent have boosted their stock, as well.
Some highly touted prospects have struggled throughout the week of practice. Though the vast majority of scouts have already left Orlando in preparation for the upcoming Senior Bowl, don't be fooled. A strong game can always help a prospect who struggled throughout the week of practice.
Here are the five legitimately draftable prospects most in need of a strong finish at the East-West Shrine Game:
Delaware QB Pat Devlin: Devlin entered the week of practice as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 rated quarterback, but could slip below TCU's Andy Dalton, Iowa's Ricky Stanzi and others if his play doesn't improve. Scouts tell me Devlin has been tentative and hasn't shown the arm-strength they'd hoped.
Boise State S Jeron Johnson: Last year former Boise State Bronco Kyle Wilson proved one of the stars during the Senior Bowl week of practices. The sledding hasn't been quite as smooth this week for his former teammate, Johnson, who has struggled in coverage this week.
Idaho QB Nathan Enderle: In the 6-5, 233 pound Enderle's case, his problems are exactly the opposite of Devlin's. Enderle has the strongest arm of any quarterback in Orlando this week, but his accuracy and footwork have been off, according to scouts. A couple of "wow" throws by Enderle today and he could greatly help himself.
Fresno State OLB Chris Carter: I've highlighted Carter on numerous occasions this year as one of the better rush linebacker prospects, but scouts getting a look at him this week operating in space (he played defensive end for the Bulldogs) tell me he's struggled with the transition. A sack or two today could help remind scouts of what Carter does well. Strong coverage wouldn't get the attention of the announcers as much, but would help his stock with scouts even more.
Mount Union WR Cecil Shorts III: All-star games are typically an environment in which "small school" wide receivers can really boost their stock. Few can boast Shorts' accomplishments. He's a three-time All-American with 62 receiving touchdowns over his career. Unfortunately, after being listed at 6-2, 210 pounds by Mount Union, Shorts proved just that (5-11, 197 pounds) and has struggled with footwork and drops this week.
This game begins at 4:00 pm today and will be televised on The NFL Network.
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