CPGM was in attendance for the 2016 East-West Shrine Game which turned out to be a laugher as the West team coached by June Jones thoroughly dominated the East team coached by Charlie Weis. One thing that immediately stood out was the offensive philosophies for each side. Jones (Mr. Run and Shoot) and the West came out playing a three receiver shotgun spread formation while Weis and offensive coordinator Brady Quinn lined up in a prototypical quarterback under center I-formation offense. Although the Front Office at CPGM prefer the quarterback taking snaps under center this game was won by the quarterback play and talent for the West, or more importantly the lack of quarterback play and talent for the East (see here). Here are the biggest takeaways that will influence the 2016 NFL Draft in this year’s Shrine Game:
1. Vernon Adams’ performance at the Shrine Game (6 of 9 for 191 yards and 3 TDs) demonstrated that he can beat teams from the pocket. The diminutive Adams was the MVP looking off defenders and shredding the East defense with pin-point accuracy from the pocket. This is very important to Adams development if he wants to make an NFL roster next season, accuracy and making plays from the pocket. At 5’11 and 195 pounds many NFL scouts will automatically take him off their board while other scouts will compare him to Russell Wilson because of his size and mobility. In my opinion that’s a “little” bit too presumptuous at the moment as Wilson was a 4-year starter in a pro style offense. Adams started one season which he didn’t finish due to injury and played in a gimmicky Oregon offense which will not translate to the next level. Adams has a lot of work to be considered an NFL caliber quarterback but he did take a step in the right direction in this one.
2. The offensive line for the West thoroughly outplayed the offensive line for the East. All the hype coming into the game was focused on center Graham Glasgow of Michigan after impressing scouts in the East practices leading up to the game. But on the other side of the ball Nebraska’s OT Alex Lewis made plays particularly in the run game by opening up holes and playing physical at the point of attack. He is also credited for protecting Vernon Adams’ blind side allowing the QB to step up in the pocket on a 93-yard touchdown pass.
3. There has never been a player selected from the draft from Stony Brook in the history of the NFL but things should change this year as DE Victor Ochi consistently was the first man off the snap and pressured West quarterbacks’ all game long. Ochi committed an egregious off-side penalty on 4th and 5 giving the West an automatic first down but that was the only hiccup in his day as he recorded one sack and an amazing effort play chasing down Vernon Adams for a minimal gain which would have gone for a lot more. Ochi at 6’2 250 pounds would need to transition from DE to OLB in a 3-4 scheme to make an impact at the next level. He has the physical chops and first step to make this transition and should be on many teams’ board looking for a pass rusher to add to their rotation.
4. Illinois has two prospects worth watching more tape on. RB Josh Ferguson showed his ability to cut and make people miss along with his receiving skills out of the backfield which makes him an interesting prospect. With NFL offenses opening up more a pass catching third down running back has become essential at the next level. Ferguson fits that mold. The other Fighting Illini to watch is WR Geronimo Allison who caught 6 passes for 68 yards and 2 TDs. He did an excellent job separating with great route running and catching tough contested passes in traffic. At 6’4 195 pounds Allison is not considered a burner but has enough athleticism to make an impact at the next level. Allison had a nice week overall at practice and turned it into a solid Shrine Game performance.
5. I would be remiss not to mention the player I wanted to see the most in this game, QB Nate Sudfeld. Looking at the rosters before the game he was the quarterback I felt had the only chance to possibly be a starter in the pros. Watching Sudfeld this season for the Indiana Hoosiers he flashed great arm talent and the ability to beat teams from the pocket. Standing at 6’6 240 pounds he has the prototypical size most NFL teams covet to go along with his knowledge for the game, pocket presence, and poise. So what did I see from him in the Shrine Game? If I had to sum it up in one word it would be “inconsistent.” The same trait that he has carried his whole career at Indiana. Sudfeld threw perfect timing routes with accuracy and then missed a wide open swing pass in the flat. He threw a perfect deep pass down the sideline which turned out to be incomplete because the receiver couldn’t get his feet down in bounds and then threw an inaccurate pass down the sideline which flew 5 yards out of bounds. After this game, I’m more uncertain whether or not Sudfeld has what it takes to be good at the next level but he is definitely someone that I am going to be keeping a close eye on.
Other notable players
- CB Juston Burris – played poorly but has NFL size
- DT Javon Hargrave – flashed a bit and dominated practices
- C Graham Glasgow – good practice but East line was dominated
- S Justin Simmons – flashed speed and good instincts
- RB Daniel Lasco – showed good vision
- S Michael Caputo – 2 interceptions
- DE David Ontemata – 2 sacks
- FB Derek Watt – he is J.J. Watt’s brother