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2019 East-West Shrine Game: Players to watch for the Seahawks

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Miami v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

At the 2018 East-West Shrine Game, Texas’s Poona Ford turned a strong performance into an invitation to the Senior Bowl on the following weekend. Though Ford was mindbogglingly excluded from the Scouting Combine and ultimately went undrafted, the player Ford showed himself to be in Tampa Bay showed up for the Seahawks in 2018.

On the opposite sideline during the 2018 Shrine Game, a safety from Oklahoma State named Tre Flowers showed off his tremendous size and length for the East Team. In total, nine players from last year’s game were connected to Seattle between then and training camp—whether it was a pre-draft workout, signing with the team as a UDFA or starting 15 games, like Flowers did as a rookie.

Though the college all-star circuit is already under way, the Shrine Game truly kicks off the lead up to the draft. We’ll start off the draft coverage here at Field Gulls with my watch list for the 2019 East-West Shrine Game.

Devine Ozigbo, RB (5-foot-10, 219 pounds)

Player Summary: Some running backs are just easy to identify as Pete Carroll’s type. Ozigbo is that type. The former Cornhusker runs incredibly hard and finishes with the kind of physicality Carroll craves.

Of course, with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny on the roster, there isn’t a huge need for running back. However, last year the Seahawks spent a considerable amount of time scouting pass-catching, satellite backs, such as Ito Smith. Though Ozigbo isn’t that player, he is extremely explosive (Rotoworld’s Josh Norris likened him to Matt Breida, a 94th percentile athlete). Ozigbo would be a like-for-like replacement for Mike Davis, who is a free agent. Davis was shoehorned into the third down role in 2018, and performed admirably. Ozigbo would provide the team with a far more natural pass catcher and athlete in space, while also providing further early down depth.

(A note: There are some terrific writers and scouts at Shrine Game practices this week. The section below will be for sharing their observations, practice clips and the like.)

What They’re Saying:

Shawn Poindexter, WR (6-foot-4, 217 pounds)

Player Summary: After two quiet seasons to begin his career at Arizona, Poindexter exploded onto the scene in 2018, hauling in 42 catches for 759 yards and 11 touchdowns. As Poindexter’s 18.1 yards per reception would indicate, he has a penchant for the big play. At 6-foot-4 and 217 pounds, he’s a long strider who can get vertical with ease.

Poindexter has the size and the downfield ability, and, as a former volleyball player, he has the potential to be an excellent threat inside the paint. Russell Wilson and Paul Richardson formed a great partnership, with Richardson’s length, catch radius and downfield ability giving Wilson the same security Sidney Rice once did. Poindexter is in this mold.

What They’re Saying:

Bunchy Stallings, OG (6-foot-3, 315 pounds)

Player Summary: Entering their second offseason under Mike Solari, Seattle’s evaluation of offensive linemen remains a fascinating case study. Under Tom Cable, they had a hyper specific type of athlete and build in mind. Under Solari, that’s changed considerably—highlighted by the selection of the not-at-all-athletic Jamarco Jones. While their new direction should remain under the microscope through their second draft with Solari as offensive line coach, they have an unquestioned need at guard.

Both D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy are pending free agents, and both played great football in 2018. There will potentially be multiple holes along the interior, if one or both of Sweezy and Fluker aren’t re-signed. Stallings is in the mold of a Solari guard, with tremendous size and pedigree—having just been named first-team All-SEC.

Stallings is a physical, tone-setting presence who plays with a legitimate edge to his game.

What They’re Saying:

Kyle Phillips, DL (6-foot-3, 272 pounds)

Player Summary: Stepping into a starting role during his final two seasons at Tennessee, Phillips become a disruptive player for the Vols, collecting six sacks and 12 tackles for loss during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Phillips has a sturdy frame at 6-foot-4 and 273 pounds, and the way in which he was deployed at Tennessee will pique the Seahawks’ interest. (Phillips also earned the Piesman Trophy in 2018 for this epic touchdown against Alabama.)

On early downs, Phillips was disciplined and strong enough to hold up and maintain on the edge. On passing downs, Phillips reduced inside and provided a twitchy presence rushing from the interior. Seattle loves outside-inside pass rushers and if Phillips tests well in the spring, he’ll be on their radar.

What They’re Saying:

Justin Hollins, EDGE (6-foot-5, 245 pounds)

Player Summary: Another defensive lineman the Seahawks could be interested in due to the variety of rolls he can fill. Though Hollins is likely too light for Seattle to be interested in him in a pure pass rushing role, they could envision him in the same way as Jacob Pugh, a Shrine Game participant in 2018 who was with the Seahawks in training camp. Hollins can rush in sub packages or play off-ball, dropping into zones.

The former Duck is coming off a productive season at Oregon with 6.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and 14.5 tackles for loss. His size will hurt him, but if he can test well during the pre-draft process, it would make him a highly intriguing and versatile prospect. Helping his cause is the way he carries 245 pounds—he is by no means a scrawny prospect.

What They’re Saying:

Michael Jackson, CB (6-foot, 207 pounds, 32 3/8” arms)

Player Summary: At the risk of sounding like Dwight K. Schrute describing himself, let me list off Jackson’s best traits: Length. Physicality. Press corner. Strong tackler. Jackhammer.

Through and through, Jackson is the type of cornerback Carroll and Seattle craves. There’s reason to wonder how well Jackson will test prior to the draft, but if he can clear the Seahawks’ thresholds, he could be the latest prospect thrown into the mix. Though his ball skills need refining, with no interceptions and just six pass breakups in his final season at Miami, Jackson is a tantalizing prospect.

What They’re Saying:

A couple names not highlighted above, but worth mentioning: Wide receivers Terry Godwin (Georgia) and Jon Duhart (Old Dominion) have both met with Seattle after practice this week, per Trevor Sikkema of Pewter Report.

Though it doesn’t quite have the glamour of the Senior Bowl, the Shrine Game is always an entertaining game, and a good opportunity to get familiar with prospects who will find themselves selected in the area of the draft where the Seahawks thrive.