Tag:East-West Shrine Game
Posted on: December 27, 2010 4:30 pm

All-star games improving selection process

Having attended senior all-star games such as the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game and Hula Bowl since 2001, I'm typically very impressed with the scouting departments in charge of locating the talent for these contests. There was a time not too long ago when I'd attend a senior all-star game and see prospects whose production was very obviously a result of their scheme or their invitations just as obviously due to playing on a high profile team.

As technology improves, however, their talent scouts have become even better at recognizing gaudy statistics as an indicator of talent, but not necessarily as the end-all, be-all way to find diamond in the rough prospects.

Take Hawaii wideout Greg Salas as an example. Salas caught 106 passes for 1,590 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior, earning All-WAC recognition and even some Biletnikof Award hype. Like many Warrior receivers before him, his production is enhanced by Hawaii's dynamic offense.

Still, whenever I speak to scouts about underrated prospects, Salas' name comes up. He once again was statistically dominant in 2010. In fact, Salas led the FBS with 1,675 receiving yards this season and has an eye-popping 4,345 yards over his career. More important that stats, however, is Salas' size (6-2, 210) and underrated combination of speed and elusiveness. I've spoken to teams who rate Salas among the top three senior wideouts in the draft -- as I'm sure has the Senior Bowl -- who invited Salas to their game back in October.

Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed is another example. At 6-3, 262 pounds he doesn't have the bulk to remain at defensive end -- which in the past may have, in itself, been enough to keep him from earning a post-season invite to an all-star game. With half of the NFL playing the 3-4 scheme, there will be no shortage of teams looking at Reed as a rush linebacker. I'm not sure I agree with the comparisons some insiders had made between Reed and Packers' star Clay Matthews, Jr. but I do believe Reed's burst, hands and tenacity are enough to make him effective off the edge in the NFL. The senior all-star game -- in this case the Senior Bowl -- is doing its job of providing prospects an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do. 

Each year, however, there are a few prospects who slide under the radar that I believe should get the attention of the all-star game's talent evaluators. It is entirely possible that any and all of these (and other) all-star games are considering these prospects. However, with the bowl games increasingly turning towards technology (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to release their rosters, the invitation process is much more transparent than in the past.

Here are three prospects that I have not yet seen be recognized with an invitation to the primary senior all-star games venues. I believe if they are, they'll impress there.

TCU OT Marcus Cannon : I listed Cannon a few days ago as one of the combatants in the five individual matchups I'm most looking forward to scouting during the bowl games. It remains to be seen how often Wisconsin elects to line up their star defensive lineman JJ Watt against Cannon. If they're wise, they'll pick their spots carefully. At 6-5, 350 pounds Cannon's athleticism is jaw-dropping. Andy Dalton gets most of the attention for TCU, but in terms of pro prospects, Cannon is the Horned Frogs' top talent... and folks, it ain't even close.

California FS Chris Conte : In a weak year for senior safeties, Conte's size (6-3, 212) and athleticism stand out. We all know that NFL teams love to move collegiate offensive tackles inside to guard. I feel that just as natural a transition can be made in moving big collegiate corners (who can tackle in space) to the safety position. Conte has already done it, earning First Team Pac-10 honors in his first full year at free safety this season after backing up at corner throughout his career.

New Mexico OT Byron Bell : NFL and all-star game scouts alike may be a little late in noticing Bell due to the fact that he entered this season characterized by New Mexico as a redshirt junior. The NCAA, however, ruled against his request that his 2007 season be ruled a medical hardship, meaning that Bell's career with the Lobos is over. At 6-5, 325 pounds Bell has surprising lateral agility and flexibility and will soon be flying up boards. Remember how shocked we all were when the Minnesota Vikings took former Lobo Ryan Cook in the second round in 2006? With an invitation to an all-star game, I believe Bell could make a similar leap.

For the best in NFL draft coverage, be sure to check back frequently at NFLDraftScout.com or by simply clicking here.

Posted on: December 18, 2010 11:58 am

Who to watch in today's 4 games

There are four college football games today and each one of them offers NFL talent.

In the FCS Semi-final game to determine who will move on and play No. 1 Eastern Washington in the national championship, Georgia Southern travels to Delaware.

The Delaware Blue Hens feature NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 rated senior quarterback, Pat Devlin . Devlin impressed me last week with his poise, mobility and accuracy. His arm strength has been questioned by scouts I've spoken to and there is no denying that the Blue Hens' spread offense makes it difficult to gauge just how much zip he has. That said, Devlin had enough to thread passes through tight windows and loft deep balls down the seam and sidelines last weekend against New Hampshire.

Devlin, a Penn State transfer, would be a great addition to a senior all-star game, such as the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine Game.

Besides the FCS playoff game, however, the FBS bowl games, of course, begin today.

In the New Mexico Bowl between BYU and UTEP, I'm most looking forward to scouting Cougar LT Matt Reynolds . Reynolds is only a junior, but he's started three seasons with the Cougars and projects well to the pro game at 6-6 and 322 pounds.

In the Humanitarian Bowl pitting Fresno State against Northern Illinois, I'm most interested in how three FSU Bulldogs perform. Pass rushing phenom Chris Carter has been able to parlay his speed off the edge into the WAC Defensive Player of the Year, but at 6-2, 240, he'll need to show the agility to handle coverage responsibilities as an outside linebacker.

Offensive guard Andrew Jackson has been a standout for the Bulldogs throughout much of his career. His drive-blocking was an underrated component of Chargers' first round pick Ryan Mathews' success last year. Jackson has struggled with foot injuries this year, however. He should be as healthy as he's been all year long for this game.

Finally, the Bulldogs' Ryan Colburn has his final chance to impress in a Bulldog uniform. Colburn, 6-3, 230 pounds, has all of the physical skills scouts look for in a developmental quarterback, but despite his solid numbers (61.8% completion rate for 2,529 yards and a 21-9 TD to INT ratio), he's been prone to critical mistakes in the past. A strong final game, however, could be enough to get him into a senior all-star game and provide just enough intrigue that scouts will want him as a potential UFA.

In a classic case of burying the lead story, Troy's spectacular receiver/returner Jerrel Jernigan is the highest rated prospect in this post and playing today. The 5-09, 190 pounder is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 rated senior WR and he's already accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. The playmaker with legitimate 4.3 speed will help Troy take on Ohio in the New Orleans Bowl tonight.

You can read more about the prospects to watch in the upcoming bowl games by clicking this link.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.

Posted on: December 15, 2010 5:29 pm

2011 East-West will feature ex-NFL head coaches

The 2011 East-West Shrine game will feature ex-NFL head coaches Dan Reeves and Wade Phillips, organizers of the game announced Wednesday.

The game will take place in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida on January 22.

One of the unique elements of the Shrine Game is the presence of former NFL head coaches. Their notoriety helps sell seats and generate interest from prospective players, but more importantly, they typically do a great job of showcasing their prospects to scouts.

The Senior Bowl also utilizes NFL head coaches (and their entire staffs), but due to the fact that the teams coaching remain in the NFL, coaches will sometimes "hide" players rather than showcase them.

We've seen this on the defensive side of the ball more often than on the offensive side, where coaches have sometimes been hesitant to move defensive ends outside to linebacker, for example, to test their agility.

With no allegiances to worry about, Reeves (who coached in the Shrine Game back in 2007) and Phillips' staffs should do a nice job of featuring prospects for the next level.

More information on the East-West Shrine Game can be found on their official website here.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 9:15 pm

Diamond in the Rough -- Lehigh OL William Rackley

I listed Idaho safety Shiloh Keo as one of my five prospects to watch Saturday and I envisioned him as a potential Diamond in the Rough candidate. Keo played well enough to deserve the acknowledgement, but scouts had tipped me off about the impressive play of Lehigh offensive tackle William Rackley so far this season and with the Mountain Hawks' game picked up by Fox College Sports on Saturday morning, I focused my attention on this game.

A four year starter who earned First-Team All-Patriot League conference honors after each of the past two seasons, Rackley helped Lehigh double up Holy Cross Saturday with sound pass protection and strong run blocking from his left tackle position.

Rackley plays with good leverage, keeping his feet spread wide, his butt down and his surprisingly long arms out-stretched to control his opponent. Scouts will likely want Rackley moved inside to guard at the next level, as he doesn't have the elite foot speed or balance to handle pro pass-rushers and at a shade over 6-3, doesn't have the length preferred on the outside, either. As I mentioned, however, Rackley plays with good arm extension and his strong upper body helps him corral his opponent initially and he does a nice job of sliding laterally to remain square. With his good use of leverage, Rackley was able to handle the bull-rush of Holy Cross defenders, including defensive tackles stunting to him.

Offensive line coaches will like the tenacious style with which Rackley plays each snap. On quick draws, he provides a powerful right club to slap the defensive end upfield, but rather than release to block at the next level, Rackley makes sure first that his primary assignment (the defensive end) isn't able to make the play on the runner with good pursuit. He plays with some nastiness, appearing to enjoy the physical nature of the game and doing a nice job of not just starting his block, but finishing it.

Rackley is not an elite athlete. He lumbers a bit when asked to block downfield for screens and doesn't have the balance to re-direct and make the clean block on the moving target.

There are obvious questions about his level of competition and as to whether he can handle remaining outside at the next level. If invited to a higher level all-star game, however, I believe Rackley could impress enough to earn a mid to late round draft selection. His pro future likely be inside at guard, though his experience and competitiveness might make him capable of sliding back outside in a pinch.     

Posted on: October 25, 2010 6:31 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2010 8:12 pm

App. State S Legree earns Diamond in the Rough

Appalachian State free safety Mark LeGree has won so many awards over his career with the Mountaineers that perhaps earning this week's Diamond in the Rough as the top "small school" NFL prospect won't even register as an award.

The recognition certainly pales in comparison to being a finalist for the Buck Buchanan award twice. Or, for earning consensus All-American accolades twice. Or, for being the only FCS representative on the official watch list for the Bronko Nagurski trophy.

It isn't difficult to understand why LeGree has earned such acknowledgement. After backing up three-time All-American Corey Lynch (now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being a 6th round pick by the Bengals in 2008), LeGree has started every game of his career, racking up an eye-popping 17 interceptions in his first two seasons as the Mountaineers' starting free safety.

I focused on LeGree in Saturday's 37-14 win over Western Carolina. Not surprisingly, LeGree came through with yet another interception, his fifth of the season and 22nd of his career. LeGree also notched eight tackles.

As is often the case with dominant FCS players, LeGree doesn't necessarily look the part of a future NFL standout. LeGree, who is listed at 6-0, 200 pounds, looks smaller on film and more like a cornerback than the lanky, big hitting free safety most NFL scouts are looking for.

That said, LeGree proved willing and able to mix it up near the line of scrimmage and the body control to break down in space and make the secure open field tackle. Scouts will be interested to learn his actual time in the 40-yard dash, but he's such an instinctive player, LeGree consistently made the play despite appearing to be out of position, at times.

LeGree's second quarter interception was an example of this. Western Carolina quarterback Zac Brindise attempted a long bomb down the left sideline from approximately the 50-yard line. He failed to look off LeGree, who easily drifted to his right to make the interception at his own 5.

I can't imagine that LeGree has had many interceptions over his career any easier than this one. However, when you have 22 (and counting) to choose from, perhaps he does.

Expect to hear LeGree's name as the season ends. He'll almost certainly be again recognized as an All-American and Buck Buchanan finalist. A savvy all-star game personnel director or two will most likely pick up on his accolades and legitimate NFL potential to invite him into compete at the East-West Shrine Game or Senior Bowl. And, of course, you'll hear his name again... when he's drafted.

Posted on: February 27, 2010 4:47 pm

Some surprises among TE workouts

Dorin Dickerson and Jimmy Graham will get most of the attention, but small schooler Clay Harbor from Missouri State stole the show during Saturday's tight end drills.

Harbor, a shade under 6-3 and 252 pounds, was timed at a very respectable 4.69 seconds in the 40-yard dash and was the surprise leader at the position in the bench press, putting up the bar 30 times -- the most from any tight end since 2007 (Daniel Coats). The former All-American had impressed scouts at the East-West Shrine and Texas vs. Nation games in January. At his size, some teams feel he projects best at fullback (which is where NFLDraftScout.com currently has him), but considering the strength he proved today and his uncommon tenacity as a blocker, Harbor is a legitimate tight end candidate, as well. 

Former Miami basketball player Jimmy Graham showcased the fluidity that had so impressed Chad Reuter and I last month at the Senior Bowl by running a 4.56 40-yard dash today. Graham moves remarkably well for a man with his 6-6, 260 frame, showing good agility and balance while running routes, as well.

Former Pittsburgh Panther tight end/h-back Dickerson blazed the track with a 4.40 second running in the 40-yard dash, according to NFL.com. Considering that he weighed in at only 6-1, 226 pounds, however, teams will have to determine if he can hold up at the point of attack -- which is why his strength (24 reps) could be the more important result to scouts.

Posted on: November 23, 2009 12:04 am

Impressive East-West Shrine Roster So Far

With so much talent on the field at once, there is nothing quite like the all-star game circuit for scouts to gain an appreciation of the year's prospects. Only during these opportunities are small school prospects finally given the chance to prove their ability against the so-called power school talents. This year's game will be coached by former NFL head coaches Marty Schottenheimer and Romeo Crennel.

The East West Shrine Game has long been a favorite of mine. While I've enjoyed the several different venues the game has gone to since, the Shrine Game, to me, still means San Francisco, though I'm sure the game will do well this year in Orlando. The game, of course, is for a great cause -- the Shriners Hospitals for children. Those looking to donate to a great cause can do so by following this link.

The Shrine Game always boasts an impressive crop of talent. This year's roster is as impressive as any in recent memory, with several potential first round prospects having already accepted invitations. The roster, not yet complete, is listed by the Shrine Game's official website as follows:

East Roster
Ali Villanuea Tight End Army
Dan Lefevour Quarterback Central Michigan University
Thomas Austin Offensive Guard  Clemson University 
Kavell Conner Inside Linebacker Clemson University 
Vince Oghobaase Defensive Tackle Duke University
Van  Eskridge  Free Safety East Carolina University 
John Skelton Quarterback Fordham University 
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah Cornerback Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Jamar Chaney Inside Linebacker Mississippi State University
Ted Larsen Center North Carolina State University
Willie  Young  Defensive End  North Carolina State University
Arthur Jones Defensive Tackle Syracuse University
Andre Roberts Wide Receiver The Citadel
Brandon Lang Defensive End Troy University
Cameron Sheffield Outside Linebacker Troy University
Andre Anderson  Running Back  Tulane University 
Mitch Petrus Offensive Guard University of Arkansas
Torell Troup Defensive Tackle University of Central Florida
Lindsey Witten Defensive End University of Connecticut
Jon Asamoah Offensive Guard University of Illinois
Michael Hoomanawanui Tight End University of Illinois
Terrell Skinner Free Safety University of Maryland
Darryl Sharpton Inside Linebacker University of Miami
Nate Byham Tight End University of Pittsburgh
Kion Wilson Inside Linebacker University of South Florida
Chris Scott Offensive Tackle University of Tennessee
O'Brien Schofield Outside Linebacker University of Wisconsin
Barry  Church  Strong Safety University of Toledo
Ed Wang Offensive Tackle Virginia Tech
Brandon Ghee Cornerback Wake Forest University

West Roster

Tony  Washington Offensive Tackle Abilene Christian University 
Chris Thomas Safety  Air Force Academy
Dexter Davis Outside Linebacker Arizona State University
Chris McGaha Wide Receiver Arizona State University
Joe Pawelek Inside Linebacker Baylor University
J.D. Walton Center Baylor University
Max Hall Quarterback Brigham Young University
Shelley Smith Offensive Guard Colorado State University
Seyi Ajirotutu Wide Receiver Fresno State University
Robert  Malone Punter Fresno State University
Lonyae Miller Running Back Fresno State University
Reggie Stephens Offensive Guard Iowa State University
Perrish Cox Cornerback Oklahoma State University
Zac Robinson Quarterback Oklahoma State University
Erik Lorig Defensive End Stanford University
Ekom  Udofia Defensive Tackle Stanford University
Jerry Hughes Outside Linebacker Texas Christian University
Daryl Washington Inside Linebacker Texas Christian University
Brandon Carter Offensive Guard Texas Tech University
Earl Mitchell Defensive Tackle University of Arizona
Devin Ross Cornerback University of Arizona
Tyson Alualu Defensive Tackle University of California, Berkeley
Mike Tepper Offensive Tackle University of California, Berkeley
Syd'Quan Thompson Cornerback University of California, Berkeley
Verran Tucker Wide Receiver University of California, Berkeley
Ryan Moya Fullback University of California, Los Angeles
Alterraun Verner Cornerback University of California, Los Angeles
Danario Alexander Wide Receiver University of Missouri
Larry Asante Strong Safety University of Nebraska
James Ruffin Defensive End University of Northern Iowa
Auston English Defensive End University of Oklahoma
TJ Ward Free Safety University of Oregon
Joshua Pinkard Free Safety University of Southern California
Zane Beadles Offensive Tackle University of Utah
Kenny Alfred  Center Washington State University 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com