If you tuned into the 92nd annual East-West Shrine Game which took place in Tropicana Field this past Saturday, you may consider it a bit of a snooze fest, and that opinion is more than fair. However, you don’t watch a college football All Star game of this magnitude for the entertainment value, but instead for another crack at evaluating some of the upcoming draft’s biggest prospects, on a bigger platform no less.
This game was all defense from the start. There was a huge advantage for both defenses in the trenches. Both offenses failed to get into rhythm, especially passing the ball as seemingly every QB to take snaps played conservative and shied away from moving the ball down the field. The teams exchanged field goals early on and a 3-3 tie was taken into halftime. UL-Lafayette’s Elijah McGuire scored the game’s lone TD on an 18-yard scamper in the 4th quarter as he put the West squad ahead. The East responded late in the 4th with a solid drive of their own, only for Michigan’s De’Veon Smith to cough up the football inside the 5 as they looked to even the score.
As eluded to earlier, defense was the theme in this matchup as the 13 combined points was the lowest combined point total in the East-West Shrine Game since 1963. Edge rushers such as Bryan Cox Jr., Trey Hendrickson and Deatrich Wise dominated in this one, with the latter two each recording a forced fumble sack.
Below I listed the players who stood out in my eyes and were able to increase their draft stock and ultimately make themselves a bit more money on draft day. Comment below with some of your own.
Tune into the Senior Bowl on January 28th and follow me on Twitter @JonValencia_WiB for live updates during the game.
Elijah McGuire again! Hit the second gear and gone. pic.twitter.com/L2ZE5PRgdo
— 49ers Hub (@49ersHub) January 21, 2017
RB Elijah McGuire (UL-Lafayette)
The lone TD scorer of the game, Elijah McGuire was the most impressive running back in the game. He displayed good burst and vision up the middle, especially on his late go-ahead TD run. For a guy measuring in at 5’9”, he has deceptive power and showed he can carry guys when he reaches his top gear. His short area quickness “wowed” the likes of commentators Mike Mayock and Daniel Jeremiah.
McGuire finished with 42 yards on 7 carries averaging 6 yards per carry. In an RB class with loaded depth in the mid-late rounds, this performance by McGuire is just what he needed to standout above the rest of that tier.
TE Michael Roberts (Toledo)
While he didn’t have the big impact of others on this list, I couldn’t help but include Michael Roberts. The Toledo product hauled in a couple of passes, but his athleticism and ability after the catch was impressive. On his first catch of the game, he showed a nice turnaround. On a catch a bit later, he was able to break through a combo tackle then truck over a corner. He drops his pad level and finishes runs strong.
Roberts’ athletic ability is apparent, but what is even more intriguing is his 81” wingspan indicating a huge catch radius. Roberts also showed upside as a blocker. In a loaded TE class, he could pay off to be a steal on Day 3 of the draft.
DE Bryan Cox Jr. (Florida)
It was a rough going for Bryan Cox Jr. in 2016 as he dealt with nagging injuries throughout the year, but it looks like he’s fully healthy now. The biggest standout from Cox is his effort on every single play. To take a quote from the commentators, he “plays like his hair is on fire”. Even when you think he’s out of the play, he’ll come back to make a stop.
Cox displayed good tackling range and length and made some plays from behind the ball carrier. He showed some smarts when in the backfield. For example, in one instance he wasn’t fooled on the bootleg and stuck in his pursuit to the QB to force a quick pass. In another he re-positioned quickly on a QB step up and underneath throw to get back and make a play. If his medicals check out, a team will admire his effort and motor and make him a selection as high as the 4th round.
Trey Hendrickson with a sack-fumble here. The fullback ran into the left tackle here. Maybe that mattered. Idk pic.twitter.com/geBieuhjJV
— Why Stop There? (@JuMosq) January 21, 2017
DE Trey Hendrickson (Florida International)
My Shrine Game MVP goes to the small school stud, Trey Hendrickson. Hendrickson was downright dominant in this game and proved to be a force off the edge. His highlight play was forced fumble sack. Aside from that, he was in the backfield quite often. He displayed a plethora of ways to get through blocks whether it was with his hands, speed or a spin move. Hendrickson plays with a non-stop motor and never stops hustling on a play. He plays with 100% effort. A lot of the time you would see him come from behind to make a stop whether it was a run up the middle or a screen pass. It was clear he possesses a lot of toughness.
Coupled with a dominant performance, Hendrickson’s also measured out to 83.5”, the 2nd largest of any defensive player at the East-West Shrine Game. Hendrickson’s play and measurements could see him go as high as the early 4th round for a team looking for a persistent pass rusher and high character guy.
🗣️ Deatrich Wise pic.twitter.com/zGpHMrOk5I
— Why Stop There? (@JuMosq) January 21, 2017
DE Deatrich Wise (Arkansas)
Entering the season, there was a lot of buzz surrounding Deatrich Wise as a pass rusher out of the SEC who could potentially be a 1st round selection, but a dip in production ended that buzz. Wise was one of the handful of pass rushers to standout, and very well could’ve had the best performance based on traits he displayed. Early on in the game he was able to split a double-team and get into the backfield to leap at the running back and make a stop. Later in the game he also recorded a sack-fumble.
Wise stood out and showed a great blend of: speed off the edge, strength to drive blockers back and good instincts. He’s a massive human being at nearly 6’5”/275 with an 85” wingspan – the largest of anyone at the East-West Shrine Game. The film and measurable checked out for Wise and he could end up the highest drafted player out of anyone in this entire game as he is now likely to land on day 3.
DT DeAngelo Brown (Louisville)
By far the most impressive interior presence was Louisville’s DeAngelo Brown. Brown made a living in the backfield and displayed tremendous interior burst throughout the contest. Admittedly, he wasn’t even someone on my radar entering the game, but he sure is now, as I’m sure that’s the case with NFL scouts.
In a pretty thin class for interior defenders, Brown boosted his stock as high as early day 3.
LB Paul Magloire (Arizona)
It’s been a weird road to where he’s at now, starting his career as a quarterback at Appalachian State and ending his career as a linebacker for the Arizona Wildcats. However, Paul Magloire showed up big time in the East-West Shrine Game. He showcased his ability both back in coverage and in the box as a tackler. Early on in the game he was able to recover and run back to the corner of the endzone and make a play on the ball. In run defense, he was very stout and showed he plays with a nose for the ball. His best tackle came on a stop up the middle on 4th & 1.
Still a player adjusting to the defensive position, Magloire has a high ceiling and offers versatility as a safety – I hate to go with the stereotypical comparison, but think of him having a Deonne Bucannon role at the next level. He’s a bit undersized, but he is a good athlete and has all the intangibles. Magloire will be a high upside pick with versatility at some point on day 3.
CB Fabian Moreau (UCLA)
The pass rushers stood out in this game, but UCLA’s Fabian Moreau stood right there with them. Moreau was sound back in coverage all game long. Mike Mayock and Daniel Jeremiah raved about his change of direction, movement skills and fluidity. Jeremiah even went as far as saying he “wouldn’t be shocked if Moreau was a 1st round pick”. While I think that statement is a bit steep, especially in this loaded CB class, Moreau definitely has the talent to be a high draft pick.
Moreau has the size and speed to play on the outside, but offers versatility on the inside as well. Often overlooked in a deep class at the cornerback position, Moreau could be a steal in the 3rd round.