With the college football season over draft season is finally starting to ramp and that starts with the All-Star Game circuit allowing NFL scouts, coaches and front office personal a chance to get out and see a large number of prospects up close and personal. While the Senior Bowl at the end of the month receives the most attention, the Shrine Game is in its 93rd year and this year the game is loaded with defensive talent. Here are the 10 Players to Watch at the Shrine Game.
Riley Ferguson QB Memphis
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) August 16, 2017
Everybody always looks towards the quarterbacks and Ferguson (#10 QB) is the clear top rated signal caller in this game. The former Tennessee Vol had a huge 2017 throwing for 4,267 yards and 38 touchdowns helping the Tigers finish the season ranked in the top 25. Ferguson has a strong arm and can throw with touch but NFL teams are anxious to see him play against better competition and if he can throw with better accuracy and anticipation.
Chad Thomas DE Miami
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) August 7, 2017
While other prospects may get more notarity, Chad Thomas has been a big part of their defenses success. 10 career sacks and 26 tackles for loss over four years won’t jump out at you but being 6’6 275lbs with good movement skills will. Miami defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski has helped develop plenty of NFL pass rushers at Missouri and Thomas may be his first with the Hurricanes.
Kentavius Street DE North Carolina State
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) August 4, 2017
Street’s teammate Bradley Chubb has gotten most of the attention but Street (#7 Edge) is no slouch himself. His 2.5 sacks this past season were not great but he has the talent to start on the edge in the NFL. At 6’2 287lbs Street is a power defensive end that attacks offensive tackles. Street will also get a look at rushing form the inside which he could project to in the NFL and didn’t get much of an opportunity at NC State.
Chris Worley LB Ohio State
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 19, 2017
When you play on a team like Ohio State where their defense has NFL Draft talent at every position it’s not hard to forgotten about, especially when you are not a flashy player like Worley (#5 LB). Even though Worley isn’t an explosive linebacker he has above average athletic ability, plays with good gap discipline and can hold up covering tight ends in the NFL. At the Shrine Game he’ll get to fully show off his skill set in every aspect.
Cody O’Connell LG Washington State
When you see O’Connell (#4 OG) there is surprise why he’s called the Continent. But even at his 6’7 351lbs frame O’Connell is much more than just a big guy who is tough to get around. O’Connell plays with good knee bend and has just enough lateral agility to slide with defensive tackles helping shut off any lane to the quarterback. O’Connell will be tested in the one on one passing drills and if he can showcase that lateral agility he will be a highly viewed guard prospect.
Coleman Shelton C Washington
Washington’s offensive line hasn’t had the greatest publicity with Alabama shredding them in the college football playoff two years ago, but center Coleman Shelton (#4 C) isn’t to blame. Shelton moves well and uses his athletic ability and good initial pop to set up and seal off defenders in the run game. During this week he’ll need to show he can hold up against bigger defensive tackles both in the run game and in pass protection.
Ja’Von Rolland-Jones DE Arkansas State
Rolland-Jones is back to back Sun Belt player of the year and brings with him 42 career sacks using strong quick hands to beat defenders and wreak havoc in the backfield. Playing in the Sun Belt and at Arkansas State he’s still been under the radar, but in Tampa he’ll get the chance in pass rushing drills but he’s being listed as a linebacker and will get the chance to see what he could do off the ball. Could he be a poor man’s Haasan Reddick?
Godwin Igwebuike S Northwestern
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) July 21, 2017
In today’s NFL teams need safeties to do a bit of everything rather than filling in a specific role. Well if you’re looking for a do it all safety, then a guy like Igwebuike (#7 S) is your guy. The problem is he does everything well but isn’t elite in any aspect. Igwebuike will be tested in every aspect at this game and how he does could determine if he is picked in day two or three.
James Looney DT California
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) May 25, 2017
Looney isn’t a house hold name and rarely gets mention in the draft community, but he could be a sleeper, especially with a strong week. During his junior year he lined up as a three technique defensive tackle and was able to use his quickness to penetrate but when Cal moved to a 3-4 he slid out a defensive end position. Looney’s production increased but he’s a tackle in the NFL. With teams needing interior pass rushers, this week could be a great opportunity for Looney to shine.
Marcell Frazier DE Missouri
Playing defensive end at Missouri for a while meant you were automatically thought to be an NFL prospect and a highly regarded one because they pumped out so much talent. Frazier has talent with good movement skills having the ability to change directions fluidly but often times Frazier struggled to make an impact. Can he showcase that fluidity at the Senor Bowl and force teams to look past his mediocre production at Missouri?