While they don’t have the quarterbacks that will draw the fans, the East offense still has plenty of talent to evaluate, especially considering they may feature they game’s best running back, receiver, and offensive lineman.
Checking out Collin Klien’s potential final stand at quarterback, the running back who reminds me of Alfred Morris, the receiver with elite upside, and a small school offensive tackle who may start Week 1 in the NFL.
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1. Collin Klien,, Kansas State
-This may be Klien’s final chance to prove he’s more than just an “athlete” at the next level. Possibly regardless of how he plays this week, he should get an NFL look, but having the skills as a quarterback could be what makes teams curious. While the “Tebow experiment” didn’t work, having a battering ram quarterback who can throw a little bit still has value in today’s NFL. If Klein can show improvement in his mechanics and be consistent in shorter breaking routes, he may work his way into a “developmental” role as a quarterback for some team.
2. Nathan Stanley, Southeastern Louisiana
-After just playing in the Casino Del Sol game, the late invite has a chance to impress in back to back weeks in front of NFL scouts. The former Ole Miss transfer has great velocity when he sets his feet, great timing between zone coverage, and has a quick, efficient release point. He’s not overly talented as a runner and struggles a bit with throwing lanes and middle of the field throws, but his quick wrist release, ability to throw the deep ball, and natural size/arm strength could make him very impressive in this week of practice.
3. Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech
-The efficient passer all year long, Cameron’s best qualities as a quarterback are his fairly quick (yet winding) release, quick hips to change fields and reset, and his touch down field. However, his mechanics likely further hinder his arm stretch, he doesn’t adjust/square his shoulders consistently, his footwork gets sporadic at times, and his accuracy vs. zone is untested. All of that, plus he didn’t have much experience reading coverages post-snap, and he looks like a project with limited upside. However, a consistent week here could give teams reason to believe he’ll be a capable backup at the next level.
1. Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt
-Built with a strong lower half, the ability to adjust his body through traffic, and his use of blockers combined with vision through the hole, and Zac Stacy may be the most pro-ready running back here at the Shrine Game. Will he lacks great speed and still is a bit raw in pass protection, his lower body strength and body control, and transitions laterally to attack openings and get skinny through the hole could make him this year’s Alfred Morris-type value in zone blocking scheme.
2. Ray Graham, Pittsburgh
-A true playmaker, Graham has the explosive change of direction, breakaway speed, and ability to play behind his pads in traffic to be a special runner, if only in a situational role. Because of his injury history, he may never be able to be a full-time back, and with that, comes reduced value. But with his vertical speed, ability as a receiver, and separation in open field with cuts and subtle moves to avoid big hits, he should have some wow moments this week. However, tied to him as well are some concerning off the field issues that I’m sure NFL team’s will ask him about.
3. Montel Harris, Temple
-The former BC transfer, Harris took a little while to catch-on at Temple before exploding in the middle and end of the season and putting up some gaudy numbers (including a 300 yard effort). Harris has dealt with consistent injuries over his career, and combining those, his sheer number of college carries, and his lack of deep speed, and Harris has limited NFL upside. However, his patience, consistent pad level, and lower body strength to get through defenders could make him worth of a late round/PFA pick.
1. Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech
-Easily the most talented receiver on this roster, and likely the best receiver going into this game, Davis is a special athlete with ideal size, extension away from his frame, and subtle ability to both separate and to evade tacklers after the catch. Built well across his body, he shows willingness as a blocker, decisive steps on the routes he has developed, and the high pointing ability that’s necessary for long receivers. He does have some concentration issues and lacks great upper body control in his route break (especially short), but has the upside to potentially be a 2nd rounder.
2. Rodney Smith, Florida State
-With the ideal body type (around 6’6, 219), he looks the part and has the natural upside to develop into an NFL starting receiver with time. Good, nto great vertical speed, he wasn’t asked to run a diverse set of routes at Florida State, and lacks great separation in deeper breaking routes. He does flash some definition in shorter cross-field routes, and be able to impress in a west coast offense type role. This week could be huge for teams to see if he’s worth taking a chance on in the top four rounds.
3. Erik Highsmith, North Carolina
-Despite not impressing as much as expected this year, Highsmith shows great extension away from his body and body control to adjust to passes on the outside. He does, however, struggle with press coverage, isn’t great at high pointing the ball, and doesn’t have great separation IQ. Still, he’s athletic enough to possibly impress this week.
4. Emory Blake, Auburn
5. Brandon Turner, Navy
6. Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech
7. Trent Steelman, Army
1. DC Jefferson, Rutgers
-A one-time quarterback, Jefferson’s size and flashes at Rutgers as a pass catching tight end make you want to see more whenever you watch this team. However, Rutgers refused to consistently utilize him in the passing game, and only gave him a handful of quick 2 yard hitches and the occasion redzone target inline. However, instead of wasting way as an under-utilized tight end, Jefferson developed into a fantastic inline run blocking tight end, with the ability to establish a base and pass protect as well. He’ll impress athletically this week as a pass catcher, and with that, could become a coveted, complete and versatile tight end.
2. Chris Pantale, Boston College
3. Lucas Reed, New Mexico
1. Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
-Before this week starts, LEARN THIS NAME Armstead has the size, length, kick slide, body control, and athleticism NFL teams want in a left tackle prospect, and he reportedly can run in the 4.7-4.8s in the forty yard dash. He can play over-finese at times, and power rushers may give him some issues in pass protection (especially facing Mike Catapano of Princeton this week), but there is certainly the chance that Armstead works his way into the 2nd round with an impressive week.
2. Earl Watford, OG, James Madison
-Coming into the season with a fairly high (for a small school guard) NFL grade, Watford didn’t disappoint this year, controlling the inside and rarely struggling on the interior. He moves laterally well, regaining his balance and anchoring well against 3-techniques. He may have concerns with blitzers (something he won’t face much of this week) and nose tackles (lack any great 320+ talents) at the NFL level, but has the anchoring and repositioning on the interior to be a plus pass blocker and potentially become a Top 4 round guard prospect.
3. RJ Dill, OT, Rutgers
-The long, powerful former Maryland All-ACC standout, Dill has the size and power inline to impress NFL teams as a right tackle prospect. While he struggles to get great depth in his kick slide and can let rushers get underneath him at times (a bit stiff in hips, slow to bend at knees at times), Dill has the polish and consistency to eventually have the chance to become and NFL right tackle. The biggest test for him is to see if they let Lerentee McCray and Sio Moore rush against him, as they could give him issues.
4. Mark Jackson, OT, Glenville State
5. TJ Johnson, OC, South Carolina
6. Eric Kush, OC, California PA
7. Nick Speller, OT, UMass
8. Jordan Devey, OG, Memphis
9. Garth Heikkinen, OG, Minnesota-Duluth
10. Matt Stankiewitch, OC, Penn State
** Matt Sewall, OT, McMaster (Canada)