First let me say that this year’s edition of the East-West Shrine Game was the most exciting and entertaining contest in the last three years. It had everything from explosive offensive plays, decent quarterback play and defensive standouts. It was a competitive game which started strongly for the West team as they scored the first 21 points of the game but the East team rallied back to score 17 unanswered before falling short 21-17; securing four straight victories for the West team in this illustrious series. Plenty of scouts were in attendance for one of the first major showcases to evaluate talent for the NFL level. Now let’s get to why you all are here, to learn about the top standouts from the East-West Shrine Game.
QB Brett Rypien Boise State
The best and most consistent quarterback in the Shrine Game, Rypien started off the scoring with a beautifully placed football to RB Nick Brossette for a 22 yard touchdown. I was impressed with Rypien’s ability to win from the pocket with awareness and nice touch on the football. In previous years quarterbacks haven’t fared well in this game due to playing with new coaches and players but Rypien was able to run the offense smoothly and spread the ball around to his playmakers. He doesn’t have the arm strength that NFL teams clamor for but he throws with the requisite anticipation and accuracy that can land him as a Day 3 quarterback in the NFL Draft.
QB David Blough Purdue
The East Team’s best quarterback on the field was Blough who completed 10 of 15 passes for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns. While the East team was floundering down 21-0 he showcased great command of the offense putting together two solid drives that ended with TD passes to Georgia’s Terry Godwin II. Arm strength is a question mark like most quarterbacks to play in this game, but he demonstrated grit and the aforementioned command of the offense. He was also smart enough to recognize the biggest mismatch on the field by often times targeting Godwin out of the slot. Blough still has a long way to go in the draft process but he made scouts pay attention with his performance.
QB Easton Stick North Dakota State
The former North Dakota State quarterback was getting the most buzz leading up to the game and he was the quarterback I was most excited to see. After watching him live, he didn’t impress. Although he threw a TD pass, Stick became an afterthought as he didn’t do anything to wow you in this contest. He was hesitant at times, struggled during the week of practices and lacks the desired arm strength NFL teams covet. A former backup to Carson Wentz, Stick will be looking to improve his draft stock in the coming months.
RB Nick Brossette LSU
What an opening drive for Brossette as he showed his ability to run between the tackles and his pass catching prowess by catching a 22-yard pass down the field for the opening touchdown. He tapered off as the game went along but not before showing that dual-threat skill set that NFL teams love from their running backs. Brossette comes from that long lineage of LSU running backs and although he isn’t as talented/gifted as Leonard Fournette or Derrius Guice, his all-around skill set will get him drafted and can be an integral part of an NFL team.
RB Darrin Hall Jr Pittsburgh
Hall led all rushers with 77 rushing yards on 12 carries. His biggest run was a 39-yard scamper where he showcased his vision and burst. Hall split carries in his senior season and wasn’t a highly touted prospect coming into this game but he showed up and showed out. At this point in the draft season it’s all about timing. Hall saved his best for last running for 86 yards in the ACC Championship game against Clemson, 123 yards against Stanford in the Sun Bowl and lastly this performance at the Shrine Game. He boasts good size (5’11/225) giving him a shot to get drafted and make a roster this upcoming season.
RB Devine Ozigbo Wisconsin
Here’s a guy that was getting lots of love coming into the Shrine Week because of what he did for the Cornhuskers rushing for 1,082 yards, 7 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns in his senior season. While he didn’t produce much in the Shrine Game, he did score a TD and was a standout during the practices. He’s down 10 pounds, lighter from his listed weight at Nebraska which is encouraging as he already has a strong lower half to power through defenders. This is a Day 2/3 back that can come in immediately and improve your football team.
RB Ty Johnson Maryland
Johnson opened the game strong with back-to-back first down runs. It was not the fact he gained two straight first downs that stood out, it was the way he ran that impressed me. His feet were exceptionally nimble for a guy weighing 212 pounds. I saw shades of Nick Chubb the way he attacked the hole with vision and shiftiness while delivering blows to defenders at the end of his runs. An added bonus is the way he caught the football in the practices. He gained 44 yards on only 7 carries and is a player I circled to go back to watch the tape of his days in Maryland.
RB Marquis Young Massachusetts
Young led the East team with 54 rushing yards on 10 carries running physical all day in between the tackles. My colleague CPGM Juice stated during the game that he reminds him of a young Chris Ivory. A three-year starter at UMASS Young finished with 3,631 yards with 29 touchdowns. He can definitely etch out a role as a short yardage back early his career with the potential for more carries as he progresses.
WR KeeSean Johnson Fresno State
Although Johnson didn’t make an impact in the actual Shrine Game, he did make an impression to a handful of NFL GMs for the work he did in the practice sessions. A highly productive smooth route runner at Fresno State, Johnson is a name to watch through the draft process.
WR Ron’quavion Tarver Utah State
Not a highly touted prospect leading up to the Shrine Game, Tarver did the anti-KeeSean Johnson and produced consistently throughout the game. He beat Virginia corner Tim Harris continuously throughout the contest picking up key first downs. The 6’3 receiver led all teams with a game high 5 receptions showcasing his strong hands and ability to maintain possession through contact. Although his performance showed only a small glimpse of his ability, Tarver should generate some buzz as a late round prospect to watch.
WR Terry Godwin II Georgia
The offensive MVP with 80 yards and 2 touchdowns and former 5-Star recruit Godwin was unstoppable. He lined up in the slot predominantly and seemed to be open on every route he ran, even when he wasn’t targeted. Godwin made himself the most money this week as teams will be lining up for a shot to draft the Georgia product in Day 2/3 of the NFL Draft. At 5’10 he is a bit undersized to play on the outside but the way he wins quickly from the inside is how he will make his money. A sleeper prospect, Godwin did not play much for the Bulldogs in 2018 as more “talented” prospects came to Athens. It’s draft season and Godwin got off to the right start by making scouts, general managers and coaches forget about his production/opportunities in college and focus on his talent and the skill-set he can bring to a NFL team.
WR Jesper Horsted Princeton
The Ivy League product from Princeton knows he is facing an uphill battle but he showed he can get behind DBs. Horsted caught a long 38 yard pass in the game and displayed his receiving skills throughout the practice week. Horsted is looking to be this year’s Justin Watson who attended Penn and was drafted by the Buccaneers in the fifth round. Horsted is a big guy that understands how to run routes. I envision him as a big slot at the next level.
C Lamont Gaillard Georgia
Offensive linemen are people too. The most important position group in football often times gets overlooked but Gaillard was a man amongst boys in this game. A first-team all SEC selection, Gaillard showed his pedigree by opening up huge rushing lanes while also protecting his quarterback. He is a versatile inside blocker that will hear his name called on draft day.
OL Oli Udoh Elon
The big mammoth Udoh got called up to the Senior Bowl and for good reason. He is tough to get around because of his size and if he continues to show that he can get it done against all-stars in the Power 5 conferences then he will shoot up draft boards come April.
Edge Rusher Jordan Brailford Oklahoma State
Brailford came to play, spin moves for days. Did a lot of using the would be blocker’s weight against them. First step is deadly and explosive. Had to be chipped with additional help, wide receiver or tight ends. You could see his closing speed every time he beat the would be blocker on his way to the ball carrier, which I believe to be his best attribute. Dominated all week in Shrine practices especially the one-on-one drills. Offensive linemen had no chance.
DL Kyle Lawrence Phillips Tennessee
Played both inside at the defensive tackle spot as well as outside at the defensive end position. Was stout against the run, lateral movement was on display which is one of the attributes that was evident watching his Tennessee tape. Gap integrity was no issue. In this game he stood out as one of those players that I didn’t have to look for his helmet or jersey number to locate, his play did the identifying.
DT Michael Dogbe Temple
His push and penetration had guards and centers on their heels constantly at times drawing double teams to slow him down. Was able to make lateral moves on the ball carrier due to him using his strength and arm length keeping offensive linemen at bay and making plays that were to his immediate left or right. Dogbe strikes me as the type of player that will make others around him better because he is a disruptive force. Opening lanes and alleys for backers and safeties to fly in to make plays.
EdgeRusher/LB Justin Hollins Oregon
Hollins was the most versatile player I saw in this game in terms of what he can do and the coaches knew it. Placing him at defensive end, defensive tackle, outside linebacker, and inside linebacker. He played man, he played zone, came off the edge to get to the quarterback, and contained/sealed the edge off in the run game. Hollins came downhill on his run fits with bad intentions. I do believe he is a better fit in a 3-4 where his versatility will be more utilized but teams got a good look at him at work in a 4-3 and I can only imagine what will happen if Hollins shows out at the combine. I’ve said for the last couple of years now, versatility is the new safety, but Hollins makes me think his body type and style of play may have me adding linebacker in that saying as well.
DT Daniel Wise Kansas
Wise was the talk of the town coming into Shrine game week and Wise didn’t disappoint. Dominating in one-on-ones all week and being the brother of a NFL player Deatrich Wise of the New England Patriots, you’d expect nothing less. You could tell that the opposing offense knew they had a problem on their hands with Wise because he drew plenty of double teams and at times it didn’t matter. Using his strength, violent hands and motor, Wise was able to work through the double teams and consistently disrupted the play in some form or fashion showing off his strength and motor. Wise was definitely one of those that the helmet or jersey number was not needed to find him on the field.
DT Daylon Mack Texas A&M
He was like a bowling ball plowing into center and guards as if they were pins in the alley. His bull rush was on full display getting ample penetration even against double teams. Mack caused a penalty to be called on the offensive line while he was being double-teamed. His first is explosive and then you add that to his strength, size and style of play he was a problem for the interior of the offensive line, hence all the attention he received from the opposition.
LB BJ Blunt McNeese State
Had him a helluva pick on a zone drop back reading the Quarterback’s eyes on a throw that shouldn’t have been made. But from the perspective of the linebacker position it was textbook play in terms of what you want see when reading the quarterback in zone coverage. You could see his sideline to sideline movement playing in dime/nickel situations. Blunt flourished when he could use his speed and quickness heading down hill to avoid blocks and get to the ball carrier.
CB Mazzi Wilkins South Florida
Had an interception where he played off coverage turned and ran at the snap got his head around fast enough to see where the ball was coming and reacted accordingly. Click and close was on display. This was evident also in his run fits; no problem coming up to add his two cents on multiple occasions. Did get beat early in the game for a missed touchdown and also called for a PI both can be attributed to being too aggressive.
DT Chris Nelson Texas
Was the most stout player I saw at the Shrine game against the run. There is no give in where he starts to where he stops. Penetrating with bull rushes and pure power walking folks back into the backfield disrupting run plays or holding up at the point of attack, controlling his gap/man with ease. Was drawing double teams. Has the ability to shoot the gap given the opportunity. I could see him playing in both a one gap or two gap scheme, although two gap me be his bread and butter for a ma is size and stature. This was one of the few that was called up for the Senior Bowl and I am not surprised he damn sure earned it. Let’s hope he continues to put on a clinic.