East-West Shrine Game: 2020 NFL Draft prospects to watch include sleeper at running back
These are the draft prospects you need to watch in the Shrine Game on Saturday
The East-West Shrine Game is the first big all-star game of the pre-draft process, and while not featuring as many high-profile prospects as the Senior Bowl, it's undoubtedly a worthwhile event in which a handful of participants will eventually make plays in the NFL. Some will become stars.
Recent alumni include Jimmy Garoppolo, Za'Darius Smith, Justin Simmons, Terron Armstead and Shaq Barrett.
Here are the five prospects from each team to keep a close eye on during this year's game.
Onwenu is a large, heavy guard who carries his 350-plus pounds well. His frame is very unusual in that he has shorter arms and isn't imposingly tall. Because of his size, he's rarely pushed back into the quarterback and plays with high-level awareness of stunts and blitzes with just enough lateral movement to get to a secondary block when needed. Most offensive line prospects aren't "NFL strong" as rookies. It looks like Onwenu is.
Coleman is a technician with his hands, rarely letting offensive tackles to get into his frame, and when they do, his arsenal of pass-rushing moves allows him to counter. While not overly twitchy, Coleman is decently smooth once his momentum starts moving forward, an attribute which gives way to an effective inside move. Coleman needs to get stronger, because at times he can get manhandled. But the senior was productive thanks to his fundamentally sound hand usage during his time with the Orange.
On mostly average-at-best Oklahoma defenses, Motley stood out as a play-making cornerback. His pass breakup figures improved from nine to 11 to 13 in his final three seasons with the Sooners, and he hauled in six interceptions in that span. Listed at 6-feet and 180 pounds, Motley isn't super strong and his hips can be a little tight, but his feet are lightning quick, and he obviously plays with high-end awareness at the catch point.
Highsmith went into the season with a fair amount of draft hype after 18.5 tackles for loss in 2018. Then, the 6-foot-3, 240-ish pound edge rusher amassed 21.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks in 2019. He held his own against Clemson early in the year and flashed a nice blend of quickness, power, and hand use around the corner as a senior. There will definitely be Day 3 appeal with Highsmith in April.
A strong penetrator on the inside, the 6-foot-2, 290-pound Marino tallied 6.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss for UAB in 2019. And he reached those figures in many ways. He won with first-step quickness through a gap, a deadly swim move, or simply shedding blockers on his way into the backfield. While not a super athlete for the defensive tackle position, Marino has an NFL-caliber toolbox to be disruptive on the inside.
Speed. Speed. And more speed. That's what you get with Bellamy. He brings a full-throttled game to every contest. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound burner had runs of 47, 55, 73, and 75 yards as a redshirt senior and averaged a bulky 6.0 yards per carry over 617 totes in his illustrious career for the Broncos. He scored 23 times in 2019 and has some lateral juice along with good vision, so he's not just a straight-line player.
Throckmorton was Mr. Reliable for the Ducks in his long career in Eugene, as he played multiple positions across the line and didn't look out of place in any of them. The senior relies on good fundamentals, a strong base, and good balance to flourish, as he's not a dancing bear by any stretch of the imagination and will probably be plugged in at guard in the NFL.
Kevin Dotston, OL, Louisiana-Lafayette
Dotson is a steamroller in the run game at 6-foot-4 and 320-plus pounds. While he's not exactly light on his feet, his steps are efficient and get him to where he needs to be on combo blocks. He plays with outstanding knee bend, so he rarely loses the leverage battle. And once he latches on, it's over. His run-blocking is ahead of his ability as a pass protector at this point, but Dotson's inherent strength allows him to anchor well and his plus balance keeps him under control on pass plays.
While run-stopping specialists aren't as valuable as they once were, there are still spots for them in a defensive line rotation in the NFL. And Williams is as good as they come halting inside run plays. The nose tackle accumulated 18 tackles for loss and seven sacks in his final two seasons at Michigan State. His hands constantly fire into offensive linemen, and they're strong enough to effortlessly dispatch them on his way to the ball-carrier. He's up there with Derrick Brown in terms of block-defeating, run-stopping prowess.
The lanky outside corner was a football magnet in 2019 with nine interceptions and 16 pass breakups. He reacts instantly in zone and has the length needed to get his hands on the football as often as he did. A zone-heavy team could very well be interested him on the third day of the draft.
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