I know there are about a million reasons why this story is less important this year than it was last, but with the Shrine Game happening on Saturday, I figured it would be good to have a little something up on FG for those looking for some sporting distraction from the Sunday title card, and took a peek at some of the college kids that will be headed the draft way in May.
Shrine game is pretty much the 3rd level scouting opportunity that occurs between now and the draft (behind Senior Bowl and the actual NFL Combine), and there won’t be a ton of NFL players coming out of these squads, but there are always a few each year. In 2013, the biggest names that played in Shrine were RB Zac Stacy, RB Christine Michael, OT Terron Armstead, LB Sio Moore, TE Joseph Fauria, LB Devonte Holloman, CB Micah Hyde, S Shamarko Thomas, and S Duke Williams.
I think the Shrine Game is most useful for spotting outside players. Meaning: WR/TE/CB/S. And that seems to hold true this year, as a predominance of the players I’m interested in come from those positions. But there will be a few linemen to watch for.
On the defensive line side of the ball, the East team will showcase DT Jason Bromley, DT Zachariah Kerr, DE Will Clarke, and DE Ethan Westbrooks. Bromley (formerly known as ‘Jay’) is a player I’ve noticed a few times this year. Coming to the draft from Syracuse, Bromley is listed on their team site at 6’4"/285 and bears an uncanny physical similarity to Greg Scruggs (Scruggy came out of Louisville at 6’3"/284 with enormous length). Don’t have Bromley’s arm measurement yet, but just on eye test; I’m guessing 35" reach. Jason had a nicely productive year posting 41 tackles, 13.5 tackle for loss, 9 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles.
Having watched most of Syracuse’s games now, I have to admit many of Bromley’s sacks (including sacks of Jameis Winston and Tajh Boyd) came as coverage sacks with QB’s running into him as plays broke down. But against lesser competition, like Wagner or Wake Forest, Bromley showed a terrific power pass rush (#96 at left DT):
He basically took out a triple-team on that play. I think Bromley is still very raw, but I see a lot of upside with a nice motor, and, more importantly, I have this vision that he could play a sized-down version of the Red Bryant 5-tech. Maybe pop back and forth between 3-tech and 5? That would interest me. Bromley is currently getting 6th round projection (223rd overall) from nfldraftscout.com. Here’s a bigger chunk of his tape:
Will Clarke comes from WVU and currently this vibe kind of like Devin Taylor did last year. He’s 6’6"/273 and prior to this year really hadn’t tapped into that impressive size. This year he went: 50 TT, 17 TFL, 6 sack, 3 PBU, 1 FF. Moving in the right direction. Probably not a fit in Seattle though.
Ethan Westbrooks I wrote about in December after noticing his 6’4"/275 listed size. Then the stats, although at a very small school (West Texas A&M), have been dominant: 19.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 5 PBU, 1 FF this year, as well as 28.0 TFL, 19.5 sacks, 19 hurries, 2 PBU, 3 FF in 2012. Umm…holy crap. I’m not gonna get too excite about this one, as he smells of this year’s Armonty Bryant.
The other East DT, Zach Kerr, I had yet to see game tape of for the longest time, but I had watched a couple interviews and I was digging his charisma. Then I found a highlight tape. Listed at 6’2"/310, Kerr plays pretty nasty. And it’s not often you see a NT with this kind of swim move:
Coming from an FBS school, Kerr hasn’t much of any love and is currently considered the #326th overall player on draftscout.
Staying on the East defense, a couple names from their secondary to monitor: Duke CB Ross Cockrell (as featured in prior Gems, as well as my first ever Field Gulls contribution from one year and one week ago), Vandy CB Andre Hal, S Hakeem Smith (the lesser half of Louisville’s safety tandem), and CB Pierre Desir. Desir is the one I’m most curious about, as he is the one I’ve seen the least of. Actually, none of…he played college ball for Lindenwood (anyone? Lindenwood. Anyone???) He’s listed at 6’1"/205 and reports are that he’s very smart, very instinctive. Very 3rd round projection.
Jumping over to the West defense; more interesting mid-to-late round corners in Oregon State’s Rashaad Reynolds, San Jose State’s Bene Benwikere, and Notre Dame’s Bennett Jackson. Also watch for UW’s safety, Sean Parker, to make some noise at the Shrine and maybe move up a few rounds.
The West defensive player I’m most interested in watching is LaTech NT Justin Ellis. We pointed him out in the November 20th edition of the Gems, and he’s a guy that I’ll still go back and watch. I have no idea where/how/if Seattle would use a guy like him, but damnit is he the most powerful DT I’ve watched this year. And the power comes with no lead-in. It’s like 2nd step and he’s just dominating guys back into the pocket. It’s no wonder though cause he’s 6’2"/357. No new tape, so just watch this one again:
Ellis is getting UDFA projection currently (338th overall) from draftscout. I think this will pop up to 6th round after this game.
Overall, the West is pretty light on defensive intrigue. I much prefer the players they will showcase on offense. All over the place too.
OG’s Dakota Dozier and Ryan Groy have both been featured in prior Gems and I still think both have day 3 value. Dozier is more undersized and would likely fit at RG for the Hawks, while Groy could be a nice bench LG.
At RB, for the last two years I’ve had a weird thing for Oklahoma’s Brennan Clay. Something about the style of his running feels kind of Arian Foster-esque. There’s a really nice patience to his running (perfect for ZBS). And Clay’s projection of 532nd overall sounds a bit like how Foster was viewed during the 2009 draft process. Clay is a much smaller back than Foster, running more 5’11"/200, which is also a good 20lbs under the size JS generally looks for. But with 957 yards rushing this year (5.47ypc) and 6 TD, Clay certainly had a better final college year than Foster did.
In part because of splitting time at RB with Damien Williams, Roy Finch, and even carries sniped by QB’s Trever Knight and Blake Bell, and in part because of his own (in)ability, Clay was very inconsistent this year and throughout college. 3 times over 100 yards (also only 3 times over 20 carries), and 7 times under 50 yards…Clay is still an enigma. But here is what his upside looks like:
Very much a game-flow kind of back; give him 30 touches and he gives you 200 yards and 2 TD’s. And he’s actually better as a chip-blocker than some of the backs in this draft that come in over 230lbs.
And this brings us to my favorite group at the Shrine Game: receivers. Both WR and TE have some interesting guys on both squads this year.
At TE, I’m interested in the East duo of Oklahoma State’s Blake Jackson and Bowling Green’s Alex Bayer. At 6’4"/253, Bayer is a nice, well-rounded TE in both his blocking and receiving duties. At his size he reminds me of former Sooner/current Cowboy James Hanna. Maybe a little bit of Owen Daniels. Bayer currently lists at 453rd overall for draftscout.
Jackson, on the other hand, is only 6’3"/235, ranks as #514 overall, and could have shades of the Bucs’ Tim Wright to his game:
After being hurt, or absent for some other reason, most of the year, Jackson finished 2013 having only played in 5 games and catching only 6 passes (although 2 went for TD’s). The YPC were nice at 16.33 this year, and even better in 2012 at 20.62ypc (he caught a much better 29 passes for 598 yards last year). And the thing to consider about Jackson, is the way that his college career mirrors Luke Willson’s. Willson also caught 29 passes his Junior year before finishing his college term with only 9 catches in 2012.
The WR that I will be focusing on this Saturday, are the ones on both teams that are listed over 6’2" and/or over 220lbs. That list includes Nebraska’s Quincy Enunwa (6’2"/225), Valdosta State’s Seantavious Jones (6’4"/200), Miami’s Allen Hurns (6’3"/195), Coastal Carolina’s Matt Hazel (6’3"/190), Army’s Patrick Laird (6’3"/219), and Mississippi’s Ja’mes Logan (6’3"/195). I have yet to see anything on Laird or Logan (except the time Ja’mes Logan was in that Key and Peele sketch about the substitute teacher), so both will be new. I’m already hearing good things on Logan.
I’m more familiar with Enunwa, Hazel, Hurns, and Jones. Hurns has plenty of speed, but really poor hands. Enunwa seems to struggle with consistency, but has been a very good redzone target for the Huskers this year. Hazel we talked about in the December 4th edition of Gems. But Seantavious Jones may be the one I’m most interested in watching this weekend.
Jones caught 55 balls for 777 yards (Jackpot!), 14.13ypc, and 13 TD’s this year, as well as 51 for 922, 18.08ypc, and 13 TD his Junior year. I love how this guy gives it up in blocking (please overlook the atrocity of the Valdosta QB’s throwing motion):