2016 NFL Draft: Vernon Adams among Shrine Game prospects boosting stock
The former Oregon quarterback was the easy choice for MVP honors, tossing three touchdowns - including a record 93-yarder - to guide the West to a 29-9 win. Illinois wide receiver Geronimo Allison and Stony Brook edge rusher Victor Ochi were other big winners Saturday.
College all-star games are like professional all-star games -- they're designed with fans, not scouts, in mind. Players are rotated liberally and there is little regard for the final score, making the week of practice even more important to many scouts than the game, itself.
NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler was there, highlighting prospects from the week's practices.
As Allen Iverson once famously said, we're talking about practice, though. Scouts want players who perform their best under in games. That's exactly what Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams and several other intriguing NFL prospects did Saturday.
Here's who helped their NFL stock the most:
QB Vernon Adams, Oregon (5-11, 195): Frankly, Adams did everything short of growing 6 inches to boost his NFL stock, tossing three touchdowns in the first half to pace the West's 29-9 win. The Eastern Washington transfer showed the dual-threat capabilities that have earned him frequent Russell Wilson comparisons, eluding defenders with balance and agility and quieting critics with polished throws from the pocket.
Vernon Adams stares, pumps to influence DB, creating space for easy TD. https://t.co/VySQ0xsGyw— Rob Rang (@RobRang) January 24, 2016
His splashiest play was a 93-yard touchdown toss to Purdue wideout Danny Anthrop, who worked himself free and showed surprising speed to score after Adams extended the play in Wilsonlike fashion. Frankly, his "other" touchdowns were more impressive plays, as Adams baited defenders with his eyes and a pump-fake to create throwing lanes, before delivering perfect strikes for scores. It was the kind of performance which could turn some doubters into believers. Count former Atlanta Falcons coach June Jones -- who tutored Adams this past week -- as one convert. "Vernon, I think, has impressed me more than anyone in the game that we've had," Jones said at halftime. "I was thinking he wasn't good enough as a passer to play in the NFL but there is no question he has it."
WR Geronimo Allison, Illinois (6-3, 197): While Adams was the easy MVP, Allison also made some money, hauling in two touchdowns among his four receptions. After leading the Illini in receptions (65) and receiving yards (882) to earn Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors in 2015, scouts knew he could catch. But Allison's all-around game during the week earned him high marks from scouts.
For a tall receiver, Allison shows impressive initial burst to get cornerbacks turning, enough agility to make defenders miss on an end-around and strength and competitiveness as a downfield blocker. When an early pass from Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty was intercepted by Florida linebacker Anthony Harrell, Allison delivered the hit to stop the defender, nearly forcing a fumble on the tackle.
DE Victor Ochi, Stony Brook (6-1, 244): Ochi was highlighted throughout the week, and the burst and motor which caught Brugler's eye was obvious Saturday, too. As noted by NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah during the telecast, Ochi was consistently the first lineman off the ball, showing the explosiveness to wreak havoc off the edge. His disproportionately long arms (33 1/2") and compact frame make Ochi surprisingly stout at the point of attack and he showed terrific effort in pursuit, as well. Ochi's overaggression got the better of him on a 4th and short when he was drawn off-sides. But even on this mistake, he showed intriguing traits -- generating the same burst as a stand-up rusher as he'd shown previously with his hand in the dirt.
RB Daniel Lasco, California (6-0, 205): Lasco was often overshadowed at Cal by star quarterback Jared Goff but the zero-to-60 burst he showed will have scouts scouring his tape. Lasco generates instant speed with light feet and strong, decisive steps, helping him record a couple of explosive runs in the first half against the East defense and ultimately leading all participants with an unofficial 52 rushing yards (on just three carries). Lasco has struggled with durability throughout his career and saw his numbers tumble from 1,115 and 12 touchdowns on the ground as a junior to 331 and three in 2015 but he clearly possesses NFL talent. The club that rolls the dice on him in the late rounds could get a steal.
DL David Onyemata, Manitoba (6-4, 300): The East-West Shrine Game has frequently featured top-rated Canadian prospects in the past but few in prior years offer Onyemata's NFL-caliber blend of size and strength. Despite a build much better suited to playing inside than out, Onyemata did most of his damage at right defensive end Saturday, generating a sack and at least one other pressure with surprising initial quickness and flexibility. He recorded a monster hit on Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock after swimming through Memphis left tackle Fallin Taylor in the fourth quarter, flashing an exciting combination of agility, technique and explosiveness. As noted by Mike Mayock during the telecast, Onyemata hasn't yet been invited to the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. Don't be surprised if the league finds room for him after Saturday's impressive showing.
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