The postseason all-star game process always yields diamonds in the rough who can have an immediate impact at the next level, and St. Petersburg’s East-West Shrine is among the best in that regard. Last year, I outlined Saints pass rusher Trey Hendrickson, Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise, and others as players who I thought had high hopes in the NFL and guys who impressed me throughout the week.
With that being said, here are the guys who impressed me the most at practice throughout the week and who have proven that they can be difference makers for an NFL team.
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 17, 2018
1. USF DT Deadrin Senat
Deadrin Senat had a knee injury late in the week during the practice that caused him to miss the game Saturday. However, in practice throughout the week he demolished his blockers in 1v1 offensive line vs defensive line drills. Senat discarded linemen with explosiveness off the snap, active and heavy hand usage, and displayed a variety of moves to get past his blockers.
Senat declined an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, saying that he didn’t want to give scouts a bad impression due to not being 100% with his knee injury; but said he should be healthy for the Bulls’ Pro Day. The talk throughout the week at practice among analysts and scouts was that, as Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline put it, if Senat, “were 3 inches taller he’d be a first round pick.” Senat has received an invite to the NFL Combine and will have a chance to interview with and impress scouts more there.
UConn's Folorunso Fatukasi having a busy day — already four tackles in first half for East defense in @Shrine_Game …
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) January 20, 2018
2. UConn DT Folorunso “Foley” Fatukasi
While he may not have been the most productive player in college, “Foley” Fatukasi has the technique and understanding of the game to be a starter in the NFL. Weighing in at 6’4” and 318 pounds, Fatukasi profiles as a player who will be a nose tackle at the next level. The things that stood out most from him this week was ability to get his hands on his blocker’s shoulders and leverage him so he can get in the backfield to make plays and his functional strength for the position.
Fatukasi showed out best in game action on Saturday, however, consistently dropping running backs for losses and finishing second on the East team in tackles with six total tackles. While Fatukasi did not receive the call up to the Senior Bowl next week, he will look to impress scouts at his Pro Day and could get a Combine invite in the next few weeks.
— Riley Auman (@junioraumanac) January 20, 2018
3. Northern Iowa WR Daurice Fountain
Entering the week, UNI’s Daurice Fountain was barely on my radar, but one thing had sparked my interest in him—a report that he had been hand-timed as running a sub-4.40 forty-yard dash and jumping 40 inches in the vertical jump. I later learned that Fountain had caught 23 touchdowns in college and racked up over 2,000 yards in his college career as well as that he was a state record holder for the hurdles in high school, further showing his athleticism.
Throughout the week in practice, Fountain made highlight-reel grabs and won his matchup, showing his hops on jump ball grabs in the end zone and another where he rose up to make a play over Avonte Maddox.
Fountain capped off his week by receiving Offensive MVP for the Shrine Game on Saturday after catching three passes for 61 yards, including a 38-yarder that set up the East team’s only touchdown on the day. He also had a 30-yard punt return that set up his team in great field position that they could not capitalize on. While Fountain did not receive the call up to the Senior Bowl next week, he will look to impress scouts at his Pro Day and could get a Combine invite in the next few weeks.
Practice about to wrap up. Three stars of the day, as always:
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Chase Edmonds (Fordham)
⭐️⭐️ Jason Cabinda (Penn State)
⭐️ Chad Thomas (Miami)
— Riley Auman (@junioraumanac) January 15, 2018
4. Penn State LB Jason Cabinda
Penn State’s Jason Cabinda was a name I thought could be the highest name drafted from the Shrine Game entering the week and he certainly showed that. Cabinda has the natural understanding of the game and how to sift through blocks that makes me think he can be a day one starter at outside linebacker on an NFL team. He takes great angles to the football and rarely misses tackles or is held up at the point of attack.
Cabinda racked up 285 total tackles and 17.5 TFLs in his time as a Nittany Lion, and had five tackles on Saturday. I feel that Cabinda is better than several of the linebackers currently on the roster for the Senior Bowl, but unless he accepts an invite it does not appear he will be heading to Mobile, unfortunately.
Ohio State LB Chris Worley might be my favorite prospect on the East team. Hell of a day yesterday, making an impact again today. Making the call outs from the middle. Good in coverage and just put a RB on his ass because it's in his blood. Give me that guy.
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) January 17, 2018
5. Ohio State LB Chris Worley
Weighing in at 6’1” and 232 pounds this week, Chris Worley may seem undersized, but he looked the exact opposite this week. Worley has sideline to sideline speed and is like a heat-seeking missile to the football, always flying to it. At East practices this week I think he surprised me the most of anyone with his fluidity in coverage drills and ability to do just about anything his coaches asked of him.
In his time as a Buckeye, Worley started 39 games and racked up 125 total tackles in his junior and senior seasons. Worley led the Shrine Game in tackles on Saturday with eight in total and if it wasn’t for Wisconsin’s Natrell Jamerson returning a fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter, he probably would have won Defensive MVP for the game.
Both Worley and Jason Cabinda balled out this week for the East team and are wholly underrated, but hopefully it fuels them to make the most of their opportunity at their Pro Days and the NFL Combine.