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East-West Shrine Game All-Star Game Preview and players to watch

East-West Shrine Game All-Star Game Preview

By Craig Forrestal 

The East-West Shrine Game is one of my favorite College All-Star games, and luckily this year I will be making the cross-state journey to Saint Petersburg, FL, to take in the game. I’ve wanted to go to this game since I was a kid watching it on TV. My brother and I would watch this then go outside and try to be whoever just had a blow-up game and solidified themselves on NFL Draft maps. And to top it off, yes, my brother will be there with me. 

So let’s take a look at the game and I will give my quick breakdown of a few players featured in the game. Please note the players featured in this article were listed as participants on the East-West Shrine Game website.

Player Participants:

  • Auzoyah Alufohai-DL-West Georgia-6’4”/320: Transfer from Kennesaw State with tremendous size. More of a run stopper than anything else. Flashes great athletic ability for a man his size. New and raw to football; only started playing later in High School. He was primarily a basketball player; which has helped craft his nimble footwork. Considering the immense improvement he has made in a short period of time imagine where he could be in about 4-5 years. His stock will only go up from here.
  • LeVante Bellamy-RB-Western Michigan-5’9”/190: Ran a 4.28 laser-timed 40-yard dash according to his Western Michigan bio. Repeat All-MAC 1st Team. 2019 MAC Offensive POY. In his final 2 seasons, Bellamy ran for 1228 yards and 6 TD in 2018 and followed it up with 1472 yards and 23 TD in 2019. In today’s game putting a heavy emphasis on getting the ball to the fast guys is the recipe, so he might be a fun one to keep an eye on.
  • Michael Danna-DL-Michigan-6’2”/261: Grad transfer from Central Michigan where he was 1st Team All-MAC 2018 and also the Central Michigan Team MVP that year. He is a pure pass-rush specialist totaling 4 sacks for the Michigan Wolverines in 2019. He was much more productive at Central Michigan (65 TKL, 14 TFL, 8.5 Sacks and 2 FF in 12 2018 games), and will need to have a big off-season to prove he is worth a shot. The East-West Shrine Bowl might be more important for him than a lot of other players in attendance. He has the physical tools to survive as a pass-rush specialist. I thought he was a draftable player last season.
  • Mason Fine-QB-North Texas-5’11”/190: Smaller QB that reminds me of Case Keenum. Fine threw for 12,505 yards and 93 TDs in his career. Fine was back-to-back Conference USA Offensive POY in 2017 and 2018. He likes to get the ball out quick and to his playmakers in space. He is a streaky/rhythm passer that has shown strong skills as a mobile passer. When he is rolling, Fine is best in these two areas: 1. 10-15 yard passing game and 2. Slants; he can put it on the money just about every time.
  • James Robinson-RB-Illinois State-5’9”/220: Robinson ran for more than 4400 career yards in what is considered to be the SEC of FCS Football. Additionally, he punched it across the goal line 44 times in his career as a runner. Quick and powerful on contact, Robinson looks like a mid-round gem, who can break tackles consistently, stop/cut at the drop of a hat and shows good balance overall as a runner. I am a little bit higher on Robinson compared to most, but I will gladly live with that.
  • Patrick Taylor Jr-RB-Memphis-6’1”/222: Taylor is a solid pass protector that had to wait his turn as Darrell Henderson (LA Rams) and Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys) were ahead of him on the depth chart. Taylor Jr. had over 2800 career rushing yards sharing a backfield and missing a bunch of 2019 games due to a foot injury, so you’re looking at a guy that gave you roughly 2000-2100 of his 2800 career yards in 2 seasons while sharing a backfield. He will be a better pro than a college player.
  • Tyler Johnson-WR-Minnesota-6’1”/198: Johnson put on an absolute clinic against Auburn in the Bowl Game going for 12 catches, 204 yards and 2 TD. Johnson posted 1100 yards in 2018 and 1300 yards in 2019 showing consistent production in one of America’s best football conferences- The Big Ten. Johnson has shown to be a capable ball catcher with or without traffic. After the catch, Johnson has good vision which will allow him to make the first man miss, but he is not a burner or someone that will run through you either. He has strong field awareness as he can find an open spot in the zone which pairs well with his aggressive ball tracking skills and level of comfort working on the short side (boundary) of the field. 
  • Malcolm Perry-QB/ATH-Navy-5’9”/190: He is unique. And I’m not saying that because of the reputation that follows players from the Service Academies. He has 3-straight seasons of running over 1000 yards; including more than 2000 yards season in 2019. He also spent time as a slotback for Navy before becoming a full-time QB. I believe he is a RB at the next level and his 2019 games against Notre Dame (25 carries, 114 yards) and Kansas State (28 carries, 213 yards) support this theory. You can possibly design a gimmicky type “Wildcat” for him in an almost Taysom Hill type of way to maximize his skills.  Perry was recognized as the American Athletic Conference Offensive POY in 2019.
  • Juwan Johnson-WR-Oregon-6’4”/231: A Penn State transfer that not never got to use his ideal red-zone size due to players like Miles Sanders and Saquon Barkley. Battled injuries as a Senior but still managed to post 4 TD. His best season was in 2017, but with a nice performance here he could play himself into Day 3. He has the build of that matchup nightmare player. Teams could want to see him add about 15-20 pounds and transition to TE. He has skills but it just hasn’t blossomed the way I thought it would. The kid is dripping with upside if the right coach gets his hands on him.
  • Mitchell Wilcox-TE-South Florida-6’5”/245: Extremely versatile TE that USF used flexed in the slot, in the backfield and moved around throughout formations to create clean releases and routes. Solid route runner that is comfortable with the ball in his hands. He looks like Cameron Brate to me in the passing game. He doesn’t have the build to be a blocking force in the NFL, so he will need to make a living as a pass-catcher.
  • Kevin Dotson-OL-Louisiana-6’4”/321: Dotson has played a lot of football for the Ragin’ Cajuns logging 3 All-Sun Belt selections. He has always excelled in the run game and has shown to be more than capable in pass protection. He has the looks of a Day 1 starter selected outside of Round 1. 
  • Yasir Durant-OL-Missouri-6’6”/340: Played at Arizona Western Community College where he excelled at both OG and OT. Transferred to Missouri and became an instant 2018 starter for the Tigers; all 13 games at LT and holding down the spot in 2019. I believe Durant will transition to OG in the NFL but some teams could hold out on him at LT if they miss on Mekhi Becton (Louisville, OT). He can be a little sloppy at times but his base and foundation are so good that you can live with the sloppiness because it should be an easy fix. For a massive dude, he doesn’t overly struggle with edge defenders/rushers. So I went back and found some of his OG play JuCo film. He is able to punish the defensive unit on contact and showed enough athletic ability from the guard spot to pull and look comfortable in open space. I understand it is JuCo film but I had to use what I had at my disposal.  
  • Kelly Bryant-QB-Missouri-6’4”/225: I’m not sure why more people are not talking about Kelly Bryant. A career 64.6% completion percentage; with his lowest being 62% at Missouri in 2019. He has career passing totals of 5553 yards to go along with 31 TD and 16 INT; which is nearly a 2:1 ratio; which is what I look for with QBs at a minimum. Let’s take a look back at his unique college career: He played in the ACC and SEC with 2 complete seasons of starting experience. He left Clemson in somewhat awkward fashion but he was sandwiched in between Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence; which within itself says a lot. His interviews and statements from the coaching staff will be huge, but Bryant is a battle-tested QB that should be able to serve as a primary backup immediately in the right system; to me, that’s Houston, Dallas, Seattle and Tennessee. 
  • James Morgan-QB-Florida International-6’4”/213: He is one of my favorite QBs in the 2020 Draft. Morgan shows the arm strength to make all the throws needed in the NFL. He checks the boxes with smarts, size and enough mobility to gain the attention of NFL teams. He is willing to take what the defense gives him and deliver it to the open man as 5 WRs on FIU had 22 or more catches in 2019. He was a 2018 grad transfer, with 2 years eligibility,  that received the 2018 Newcomer of the Year Award for Conference USA and in 2018 and 2019 earned Honorable Mention Conference USA. Well-groomed under Rich Skrosky (FIU OC and QB Coach) and Butch Davis (FIU HC) for the pro-style game.
  • Jared Hilbers-OL-Washington-6’7”/316: Jared Hilbers is the other OT the Washington Huskies have that is drawing massive pro looks. Hilbers started at LT in 2018 (Trey Adams was injured) and RT in 2019 (Kaleb MaGary was a 1st round pick by the Atlanta Falcons). Hilbers is a better run blocker than pass blocker with solid room to grow at the next level as he seems to be a natural fit at RT in the NFL. He has struggled with speed rushers previously, so showing he can handle speed off the edge is crucial for him as we move closer to the 2020 Draft.
  • Luke Juriga-OL-Western Michigan-6’3”/298: 4-year starter at OG and C and a 3 Time All-MAC Selection with NFL bloodlines (father, Jim, was an NFL OL). Coaches rave about his Football IQ and how he makes all the right calls and line adjustments rarely becoming confused by the defense. He plays with an ‘old-school toughness’ where he is engaged in contact from the snap to the whistle never flirting with cheap or dirty plays. 
  • Joe Gaziano-DE-Northwestern-6’4”/267: 3 Time All-Big Ten selection capping off a tremendous career with a First Team selection. Gaziano is a thickly built DE that keeps his pads low initially and rarely lets an OL to get into him or underneath him. Can set the edge when needed in the run game relying on a fundamentally sound technique where he manages to stay free. Gaziano is more of a disruptive pass rusher than anything else and has shown the ability to kick inside and still be efficient against OG. Career stats for Gaziano are 49 TFL, 30 Sacks, 15 PD, 4 FR and 8 FF.
  • Garrett Marino-DE/DT-UAB-6’1”/290: One of my favorite players in the draft because of what he has overcome on the path to being a 2020 Draft hopeful. 3 Time All-Conference USA selection earning First Team in 2019. However, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered surrounding Marino. He was an Arizona State commit that never hit the field because of qualifying issues. Once fixing the qualifying issues, he reached out to Montana State as they previously recruited him. Marino and Montana State decided to part ways and after parting ways he was involved with a bizarre on-campus driving-related incident. He went back home to California and got a call from UAB with a plan for him as UAB was in the process of bringing back the football program. Marino was in with the plan they laid out for him and was one of the first players on the roster for the UAB football rebirth. Once at UAB, it all came together for Marino and he exploded this 2019 season. Marino lived in the offensive backfield this season recording 12.5 TFL and 6.5 Sacks. Marino is a prospect that I can’t wait to see in-person. He has a mentality where he approaches the game thinking “anywhere, any time” and I love that. He moved up and down the UAB DL never backing down and putting that high motor on display constantly winning matchups. While he lacks the ideal physical traits he belongs. 
  • Bryce Sterk-DE-Montana State-6’3”/257: A transfer from Washington, Sterk set out on a ridiculous 2 year stretch for the Bobcats. He had 37 TFL and 23.5 Sacks in 2 seasons. He has good size, but questions surrounding his athleticism and hips will determine his position in the NFL. I see him finding himself in a John Simon type of role in the NFL; a fierce competitor without a true position but is best suited in a 3-4 scheme in a very specific role. 
  • Bravvion Roy-DT-Baylor-6’1”/333: He will be one of the heaviest DT eligible for the 2020 Draft; along with the fastest and strongest at the position group. Bravvion Roy is something comparable to the football version of a Unicorn. Has been groomed for NFL Nose Tackle duties by new Carolina Panthers Head Coach, Matt Rhule. Roy was the force in the middle for the Baylor 3-4 defensive front making him an under the radar steal as I feel he can play NT immediately in the NFL. 2019 was a year to remember for Roy as he tallied 13 TFL and 5.5 Sacks. 
  • Shaq Quarterman-LB-Miami-6’1”/241: 4-year starter and 4 Time All-ACC Selection including back-to-back First Team selections in 2018 and 2019. Quarterman turned in his best statistical performance as a senior notching 107 TKL including 15.5 TFL. Quarterman is the only Hurricane, in program history, to start all 52 games of their college career never missing a start. He is ultra-productive and is the defensive field general shown by him being a vocal leader while playing with intelligent and controlled aggression. He is a tackler, so in a 4-3 or 3-4 it doesn’t matter, put him in the middle and enjoy. Quarterman is a born football player. He will not run a great 40-yard dash and he will not impress many people in pass coverage, but his football instincts are good and he has not only survived but thrived at The U for 4 years, that type of productivity should translate at the next level.
  • Michael Pinckney-LB-Miami-6’1”/226: Pinckney has the build of today’s NFL LB and is a tone-setter on defense just like Shaq Quarterman. Pinckney has that classic swag we see from Hurricane players; his excitement and passion for the game are contagious and makes you want to run through a wall while watching him play. His speed should serve him well at the next level where being able to get from sideline-to-sideline will most likely be his calling. Pinckney is better than most when it comes to diagnosing run plays and fills gaps hard as he is a sure tackler.
  • Kyahva Tezino-LB-San Diego State-6/235: His breakout started during the second half of the 2017 season when he started the final 5 games of the season and then rode that wave to a 2018 First Team All-Mountain West Selection. In 2019, Tezino repeated as a First Team All-MWC Selection after a phenomenal season where he had 99 TKL, 10.5 TFL, 3.5 Sacks, 2 INT and 2 FF. Tezino has a compact frame that is good for generating power and balance as he is going to rely on his smarts in the run game. After a solid career at San Diego State, he should immediately transition into a key special teams role in the NFL. I personally feel he is a niche player that fits well in certain systems/roles but is limited in terms of scheme versatility and being on the field for all 3 downs.
  • Shyheim Carter-DB-Alabama-6/191: Carter is a versatile DB that can play CB and S serving as Crimson Tide starter as a junior and senior. Showing good skills with the ball in his hands he returned 2 career INT for TD. Carter played as an overhang Safety and Nickel CB; very similar to Minkah Fitzpatrick. Don’t let the weight fool you, Carter packs a punch and doesn’t shy away from contact. On film, you see plenty of examples where he is resetting the defense to put them in the best possible situation serving as a pseudo-coach on the field. Solid in the run game and comfortable in pass coverage; zone seems to be a little more natural for him. Has the look of an NFL player that hangs around and contributes.
  • Nevelle Clarke-DB-Central Florida-6’1”/187: Nevelle Clarke has a nice build for an NFL corner with good height and length. Broke into the starting lineup in 2018 earning First Team All-AAC honors and followed it up with an Honorable Mention Selection in 2019. Clarke recorded 24 PD in 2018 and 2019 combined adding 4 INT during the same time span returning 1 for a score. He looked like he belonged against LSU (1/1/19) and put up 6 TKL and 1 PD. Showing he can handle players from bigger schools consistently will be big for him as UCF didn’t play a schedule comparable to the SEC. Additionally, this is a deep CB class this year and he is in a cluster of CBs, in my current rankings, so I am excited to see how he can separate himself from the other DBs at the game. Side note, Clarke is proof that you can find talent anywhere in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade counties as Clarke was 3rd Team All-Broward County in high school; speaking to the rich talent pool.
  • Damar Hamlin-DB-Pittsburgh-6’1”/195: Damar Hamlin lines up and down the field for the Pittsburgh Panthers in addition to being very experienced in the slot position. Hamlin is an under-the-radar player, in my opinion, that fits into my theory of Pittsburgh Panthers players being extremely pro-ready. Think about it, Pitt has produced 3 generational greats in recent years with Aaron Donald, Larry Fitzgerald and Darrelle Revis. Hamlin is a good tackler that is confident as the last line of defense. In passing situations, he has good length and instincts allowing him to make a play on passes that come his way. A productive player that led the team in tackles in 2018 with 90. Then he came back in 2019 with 84 TKL, 10 PD, 1 INT and 2.5 TFL. 
  • Luther Kirk-DB-Illinois State-6/192: Back-to-back First Team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection in 2018 and 2019. 89 TKL, 4 TFL and 3 Sacks in 2019 after compiling 61 TKL and 5 INT during the 2018 campaign. Kirk is a long and lean safety prospect that shows the ball skills, twitch and range to have a chance at being something in the league. Kirk sat out the 2017 season but maintained contact with the program creating a smooth return in 2018. 
  • Parnell Motley-DB-Oklahoma-6-180: In 3 full seasons of playing time Motley racked up 176 TKL, 7.5 TFL, 6 INT, 33 PD, 2 FR and 6 FF. Motley was selected to the Second Team All-Big 12 in 2019 after previously being an Honorable Mention Selection. Motley showed me a lot in the 2019 Oklahoma State game registering 6 TKL, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FR and 2 FF. If you go back and watch the 2018 film from this game you will see Motley did not have his best showing. The mental toughness to rebound and ball out in the next game against Oklahoma State is something I love. Motley shows the skills and traits of a big-time NFL DB, in my opinion. He is a feisty player that shows tremendous burst with his closing speed, does a pretty good job of tossing WRs to the side when fighting off blocks and he is good at quickly locating the ball in the air and making a play.
  • Tanner Muse-DB/LB-Clemson-6’2”/230: Tanner Muse is the other safety on the Clemson roster, but he should not be treated as someone in the shadow of Isaiah Simmons. Muse has played as the deep safety for Clemson showing a tremendous understanding of pass coverage. I believe Muse will transition into a dime/nickel LB where his primary role will be to cover TEs, bigger slots and RBs out of the backfield. He is a good athlete for a guy his size not necessarily a good athlete for a defensive back; which is why I believe he will be looking at a position change at the next level. Muse spent 3 years as a defensive starter growing into All-ACC and All-American accolades, but what is most interesting to me is he was the 2016 Clemson Special Teams POY sharing the lead for special teams tackles that season with 10.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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