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East-West Shrine players make final case for NFL scouts

by | NFLDraftScout.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Wednesday is really the last day players get to make impressions on NFL scouts before Saturday's East-West Shrine Game. Thursday and Friday are glorified walkthroughs, and most scouts will leave tonight or Thursday morning to being preparations for next week's Senior Bowl festivities in Mobile, Ala.

Once again, the players receiving the most attention were North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin and Delaware's Pat Devlin. Austin stood strong against disappointing offensive linemen Ryan Bartholomew (Syracuse) and Randall Hunt (Illinois) in run situations, as he did Tuesday. He flashed quick hands in one-on-one pass-rush drills, giving teams a glimpse of what his game could be with more polish after being away from the game for a full season. The time off affected his stamina; he lost steam late in practice.

Devlin is the most talented quarterback on either roster, standing tall in the pocket and delivering accurate passes to all levels of the field. His lack of velocity mirrors the average arm he shows on tape. He's still working on taking snaps from under center, but that should come with time since he worked in a pro-style system during his time at Penn State.

Two running backs on the East squad impressed scouts with their quickness. Graig Cooper (Miami, Fla.) has a thinner build than most teams like in their primary ball carrier, and has had trouble staying healthy. But his burst and elusiveness are easy to identify when he does line up.

Delone Carter (Syracuse) has the 5-9, 220-pound frame more similar to what most teams prefer, and picks his way through traffic well. He also caught the ball well out of the backfield. His play this week continued his draft stock momentum off a Pinstripe Bowl MVP performance.

LSU wide receiver Terrance Tolliver is clearly the most polished pass catcher. Florida Atlantic's Lestar Jean has a very similar build, but is just not as fluid running tight routes. Fairmont State's Perry Baker is nearly skeletal in stature, but is smooth in his routes and caught everything thrown his way. Indiana's Terrance Turner has struggled in drills, whether getting his hands up, turning his head around, or simply snatching the ball with his hands.

The lesser-known defender who is working his way up draft boards is Richmond cornerback Justin Rogers.

He lacks exceptional size, but his ability to mirror defenders and be physical gives him a good chance to be a top-100 pick. His high-point interception in practice Tuesday also put on display a nice vertical that helps mask the fact he'll give up a few inches in height to most NFL receivers.

His Spiders teammate, defensive tackle Martin Parker, has also made a name for himself in Orlando. He weighed in at 300 pounds Monday morning, 10 or 15 more than expected, and has held up well against linemen from major conferences. He looks explosive off the snap both in one-on-one and team drills.

UCF right tackle Jah Reid went head-to-head with his college teammate on nearly every snap Tuesday. Reid controlled prolific but undersized defensive end Bruce Miller using his length. Despite his off-the-charts stats (35.5 career sacks), Miller's short arms and average power or speed off the ball do not allow him to project as a defensive end or linebacker at the next level.

The afternoon practice showcased the talent of several defenders working their way up boards. "Small school" cornerbacks Korey Lindsey (Southern Illinois) and Cortez Allen (The Citadel) made it quite difficult for West receivers to get off the line of scrimmage against the press. Lindsey is smaller (5-10, 183) than Allen (6-1 1/2, 197), but he has the aggressive nature to be a major pest.

Three defensive linemen caught the eyes of scouts: Brandon Bair (Oregon), David Carter (UCLA) and Ricky Elmore (Arizona). Bair's lean frame (6-6, 273) belies his strength and hustle when lined up inside. Some 3-4 team will hope they can add 15 pounds to his frame to play him at the five-technique, defensive end position.

Carter has used initial quickness to regularly beat his opponent in one-on-one drills and split double-teams in scrimmage work. He has also held his ground against the run, other than getting sideways at times, allowing teams to consider him at the three- or five-technique depending on their scheme preference.

Arizona's strong duo of all-Pac-10 defensive ends are split up during the all-star game season. Brooks Reed gets his shot against the top offensive line talent -- though he'll likely play some linebacker -- while Elmore has been using power and underrated quickness to beat right tackles here in Orlando. He has kept his mid-round grade as a strong-side end with pass rush and run-stuffing abilities.

Fresno State defensive end Chris Carter was one of several defenders who did not help himself. When standing up as a rush linebacker, he struggled in coverage other than playing easy-to-diagnose throws into the flat. In pass-rush situations and one-on-one drills, Carter did not show a variety of moves to beat his man. He was typically driven around the pocket with little worry from blockers that he might get to the passer.

Oklahoma State middle linebacker Orie Lemon, Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed, and defensive tackle Ted Laurent of Ole Miss did not stand out from the crowd. Lemon's limitations in coverage were evident; he looked incapable of handling running backs coming into his area.

Mohamed hustled to the ball, but lacks the strength to hold the edge as a strong-side 'backer. Laurent is a stout player, but his inability to win one-on-one battles makes it difficult to project him as a player who can be more than a space-eater.

Quarterbacks Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M) and Nathan Enderle (Idaho) once again struggled with ball flight and accuracy, while Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien made solid throws and made quick decisions. He might have average arm strength and size (6-2, 220) but scouts appreciate his ability to process and unload.

The West team's top skill-position player was Hawaii running back Alex Green. He caught the ball well and showed a bit more burst and elusiveness than expected.

Wide receiver Jeff Maehl (Oregon) has not looked anything like the playmaking receiver he was for Oregon last season. He slipped multiple times coming out of routes and struggled to get separation.

The West tight ends, Jordan Cameron (Southern California) and Virgil Green (Nevada) have piqued scouts' interest as potential mid-round picks. Both displayed the ability to secure catches with their hands in front of their frame when facing the quarterback and some ability to run after the catch. The 6-3, 248-pound Green performed well as an in-line blocker, bringing attitude and getting enough leverage to put his man on his heels.


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