The 2017 East-West Shrine Game displayed a disturbing trend with quarterback and offensive line play that we at CPGM have spoken about in recent history. College Football’s transformation to more and more teams running a spread, easy read, “gimmicky” offense has diminished the quarterback and O-Line prospects in terms of projecting to the NFL level.
At the quarterback position single callers are not calling signals and often times look to the sidelines in a no huddle offense to see pictures of celebrities to let them know what to run. It works brilliantly at the college level as points are being scored. However, it does not translate well into the NFL as offensive coordinators expect their quarterback to call plays in the huddle, make pre-snap reads, adjust the protections at the line of scrimmage and work through progressions. These quarterbacks are ill prepared to do any of these things while trying to adjust to the game speed at the professional level.
The offensive line issues have been somewhat overlooked mainly because it is not as sexy as the quarterback position. However, if you are an avid football person, you know that games are won up front and the offensive line is the most important position group for success. They protect the quarterback and set the tone in the run game. So tell me how can collegiate lineman make an impact on the game if most offensive systems are designed for the quarterback to get the ball out of their hands as quickly as possible to the first read in the offense and if that read isn’t open they are encouraged to run with the football? The linemen are not being trained for the next level as quarterbacks in the NFL takes snaps from under center, drop back either 3, 5, or 7 steps, read the entire field and deliver passes. Technique at center, guard and offensive tackle is down across the board resulting in a longer adjustment period in the league or a swift exit out of the NFL.
Now that I got that off my chest after watching a poorly played 10-3 game, here are the players that stood out to me:
RB Elijah McGuire Louisiana Lafayette
The winner of the most outstanding offensive player of the game award Elijah McGuire showcased his vision, patience and ability to run between the tackles consistently. He was one of the few bright spots offensively as he scored the only touchdown of the game. McGuire can find a niche in the pros as a change of pace back with the ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
RB Dare Ogunbowale Wisconsin
Playing second fiddle to Corey Clement this season, Dare is another back a la James White that can catch passes out of the backfield. He may not be as dynamic as White but he broke a couple of nice runs in the game by utilizing his elusiveness.
RB Joe Williams Utah
The Utah Utes running back went out with a bang rushing for 222 yards and a touchdown in his final collegiate game. That bowl game performance gave Williams 5 games with at least 170 yards in his senior season. Williams will come at a bargain in the NFL draft due to his month long retirement this season and the depth at the running back position heading into the 2017 NFL Draft but the talent was evident on the field as Williams averaged 6.9 yards per carry including a nice 35-yard scamper.
RB De’Veon Smith Michigan
The Michigan back had the most hype out of all the running backs coming out of the Shrine Game practices. The practice week elevated Smith to get a call-up to the Senior Bowl this weekend but his play in the actual game was subpar at best. Smith averaged only 2.1 yards per carry and put the ball on the ground. He will get an opportunity to avenge this poor performance in Mobile.
WR Billy Brown Shepherd
The small school 6’5 240 pound receiver didn’t do much in the game but he stood out due to his size. He showed decent speed lining up outside. However, I believe he can make his money as a move tight end at the next level. Have Brown watch some Jordan Reed tape and cross your fingers.
WR Karel Hamilton Samford
I’ll be honest and say I never heard of this guy until last week but he made 2 of the best catches someone can make on the sidelines, adjusting his body while showing great concentration. He has a ton of production at Samford and might of got himself on someone’s draft radar.
WR Gabe Marks Washington State
After having a productive college career in Mike Leach’s pass happy offense at Washington State, Gabe Marks really stunk it up at the Shrine Game. Two easy drops and a muff point had me scratching my head. Marks’ tape told me a whole different story of a receiver with excellent ball skills and an uncanny ability to come up with big catches in the end zone. The diminutive receiver will not test good as he lacks size and speed so this game may have hurt his draft status.
WR Kermit Whitfield Florida State
Another small receiver Kermit Whitfield out of Florida State is a speedy player that can be a mismatch nightmare if utilized correctly by an offensive coordinator. He can also step in and be a dynamic return man Day 1 in the league. He was used out of the backfield on Saturday on a play where they threw him a pass in the flat. That’s exactly how he can show his versatility at the next level by getting him the ball in open spaces.
TE Antony Auclair Laval
There was a plethora of tight ends getting love before the game, including Eric Saubert from Drake and Michael Roberts from Toledo, but the guy that stood out the most in the game was Antony Auclair from Laval. Auclair comes from the Canadian University ranks and showed he can both catch the football and be an inline blocker. Not sure if he will get drafted but he has put his name on the watch list after his performance in the Shrine Game.
OL Erik Magnuson Michigan
Eric Magnuson was a player most scouts believed would be the first player drafted out of all the participants in the game. Interestingly enough Magnuson lined up at guard rather than his customary tackle position he played at the University of Michigan. The change in position might make him slip down the draft a bit but could line him up for a more successful career in the NFL.
DT DeAngelo Brown Louisville
He made some nice plays showing his quickness where he got off before anyone else on the line of scrimmage. He dominated opposing offensive lineman with speed and power throughout. Brown elevated his draft stock and will be a really nice piece for NFL teams looking for a player that can get in the backfield from the interior. Brown’s skill set makes him a three down player against the run and the pass.
DT Joey Ivie Florida
A guy that showed he was a lot better than his production in college was Joey Ivie. Ivie is an underrated player who was a rotational guy at the University of Florida due to playing on one of the deepest defensive lines in the country. He showed a tremendous motor throughout the game. He is a versatile player than can rush from anywhere on the field and cause havoc in the backfield. He is a day three guy that can become a solid rotational guy up front.
DE Deatrich Wise Arkansas
Deatrich Wise stood out just looking at him lineup over the tackle as he is a long 6’5 280 pound traditional 4-3 end. He was all over the field compiling a game-high 8 tackles 1.5 sacks and 4 quarterback hurries. He was one of the players that made himself some money in this game turning speed into power as NFL teams always clamor for a pass rusher.
DE Trey Hendrickson FAU
The most outstanding defensive player in this year’s Shrine Game was none other than Trey Hendrickson. He had the most hype coming into this game and he didn’t disappoint one bit. I love this guy’s confidence and swagger, he believes he was the best player on the field and you need that to compete at the next level. His feistiness is what stood out the most and he backed that up with a force fumble and a sack. I don’t believe Hendrickson will “wow” people when he gets tested at the combine but put on the tape and you see a smart footballplayer that loves to compete.
DE Karter Schult Northern Iowa
The FCS leader in sacks this past season with 17 sacks was Karter Schult. He made some noise in the game with stout run defense getting a tackle for loss and a sack of his own. I am a strong believer in QB sacks translating at the next level so a guy who finished this much; albeit at the Divison 2 leve will open eyes throughout the draft process.
CB Fabian Moreau UCLA
When we look back at which player participated in the 2017 Shrine Game that produced at the next level; Fabian Moreau name will be mentioned. Moreau showed off his footwork and fluidity in his hips mirroring opposing receivers all over the field. Draft pundits at the game announced that he might get into the first round and although I like him, I don’t believe he is a day one pick with such a strong CB class this season. Moreau will more than likely fit somewhere in the second round as he has the versatility to play outside or inside due to his quickness and technique.