The actual East-West Shrine game doesn't kick off until Saturday at 4pm, but the majority of this week's scouting work is complete. All-star practices are far more valuable than the game. Player-personnel attendees got an up-close look during practice drills and conducted in-depth interviews, usually focusing on players' backgrounds and injury history.
The East-West Shrine is a notch below the Senior Bowl, and most of these players will be late-round picks or undrafted free agents. In this wrapup article, I will focus on prospects that showed the most ability at each position.
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1. B.J. Coleman (6-3, 234), UT-Chattanooga - Coleman was on his own tier compared to the other signal callers in attendance. His velocity is unquestionably up to NFL standards, and Coleman took on a vocal leadership role early in the week. Coleman's accuracy was inconsistent (he usually misses high) and I wish he tested the deeper sections of the field more often, but he was the East-West Shrine's only potential future starting quarterback. With a quick and compact release and veteran footwork, Coleman should be a middle-round selection this April.
2. Austin Davis (6-1, 218), Southern Miss - Davis belongs on his own tier right behind Coleman. Though he'll probably never be a long-term NFL starter, Davis has a future as a career backup and emergency spot starter. Davis is an accurate passer with educated decision-making skills, but velocity on any throw longer than 15 yards will always challenge him.
3. Tyler Hansen (6-1, 222), Colorado - The best of the rest, Hansen grew on me as the week went along. He was the most accurate passer on the West roster. Still, at just over six-foot with little upside, he has the look of a fringe NFL backup.
4. Chandler Harnish (6-1, 219), Northern Illinois - Harnish is a better athlete than quarterback. If it were not for the next player on this list, Harnish would have been the most inconsistent passer here. After making a handful of adequate throws, he would follow up with interceptions or off-target passes.
5. John Brantley (6-3, 219), Florida - Brantley may get drafted higher than a few on this list based on measurables alone. After playing in Charlie Weis' pro-style offense at Florida, Brantley is almost the anti-college quarterback, with his best work coming before the actual throw. Brantley seems to lack anticipation on routes, as his ball placement is consistently suspect when throwing to moving targets.
Running Backs/Tight Ends
1. Tauren Poole (5-10, 206), Tennessee - It is difficult to evaluate running backs when tackling is prohibited, but even in the non-padded environment Poole clearly displayed the best running skills on either squad. He impressed with patience behind the line and an ability to plant-and-go upfield. Poole is always leaning forward and will be a consistent rotational back at the next level.
2. Chase Ford (6-6, 258), Miami - Ford caught more passes this week than he did in his entire college career (16) and was consistently targeted on seam routes. Ford will be limited as a Joker tight end since he has little effectiveness as a blocker. He is a potential red-zone target, but Ford’s lack of blocking technique and effort will likely limit his NFL playing time.
3. Kevin Koger (6-3, 262), Michigan - The top pure tight end in Tampa, Koger is more comfortable blocking than catching passes downfield despite what appears to be a receiving tight end stature. Koger is thick and can contain defensive ends, which is a rare trait for a player of his relatively modest size. Soft hands and comfort in route running will come.
4. Evan Rodriguez (6-2, 242), Temple - Rodriguez lacks fluidity and foot speed on pass routes, and isn't physical enough to box out defensive backs. He does have consistent hands, but is too often overpowered as a blocker. A fullback/H-back/tight end type, Rodriguez also has yet to find a permanent home on offense.
5. Davin Meggett (5-8, 220), Maryland - Meggett has a lot to prove in the actual Shrine Game. For a thick running back, he goes down on first contact too often on tape. Since practice showcased limited contact, each running back will need to prove they can beat arm tackles on Saturday. Meggett still has plenty left to gain.
1. Jarius Wright (5-10, 176), Arkansas - Wright's 4.3 vertical speed is obvious, and he consistently beats defensive backs that have trouble turning their hips and trailing. Wright can also break his route off quickly, and was one of the few East-West Shrine receivers that effectively worked their way back to the quarterback. His track frame may worry some, but Wright will be a very appealing downfield threat in a receiver class short on speed.
2. B.J. Cunningham (6-1, 209), Michigan State - The former Spartan rebounded quickly from a below average first day, snatching passes away from his body with strong hands. Cunningham tends to round off routes and he lacks explosiveness out of his breaks, but has the makings of a rotational NFL receiver at worst. Still, Cunningham needs to understand his style will change from deep, big-play threat to a physical intermediate-route option. Cunningham will rarely threaten NFL defensive backs vertically.
3. Devon Wylie (5-9, 186), Fresno State - Wylie is comfortable turning around defenders in the slot, but his hands were inconsistent. For teams needing a quick-twitch slot receiver, Wylie may have helped his stock the most. He may not run an outstanding forty, but pay attention to his 10-yard split at the Combine. Wylie's skill set reminds of Danny Amendola.
4. Tim Benford (5-11, 199), Tennessee Tech - Benford had a great first day, easily looking like the most explosive receiver on the East. His movements were exaggerated and he was quick out of his breaks. Benson was efficient on sideline outs and comebacks. This was likely his first exposure to NFL-caliber defensive backs, but Benford firmly added his name to draft boards.
5. Dale Moss (6-3, 220), South Dakota State - Moss was the most raw receiver prospect on either roster. He is certainly not a vertical threat, but displayed nice body positioning and great length. Moss has building, straight-line speed and needs to take extra steps on outside patterns. Moss’ routes need to be crisper and he must attack the football instead of catching against his body, but he is the kind of project/flier teams love in the later rounds.