Shrine Game – Risers and Sliders
Marvin Austin DT North Carolina
Like Greg Hardy last year, Austin’s a high-touted prospect who appeared to be a strong candidate to receive a Senior Bowl invite. However, the UNC defensive tackle ended up being passed over by the folks in Mobile, possibly because his college coaching staff didn’t give him a strong recommendation.
Austin, who was suspended by the coaching staff before the NCAA declare him ineligible, has a reputation for being inconsistent on the field and not a hard worker off of it. The Shrine Game was a big test for him; fortunately, he managed to impress scouts, showing up in shape and dominating during practice. While Austin still needs to improve his technique, he beat interior lineman with both speed and strength, displaying an impressive skill set that will appeal to many NFL teams.
David Carter DT UCLA
Carter’s another prospect who’s been inconsistent on the field. At times, he’s showcased an impressive burst and upfield penetrating ability. In ’09, it sometimes was difficult to tell him and early 2nd round pick Brian Price apart.
Carter won’t go nearly as high as Price, but he proved in Orlando that he could be an effective contributor for an NFL squad. At times during the week, Carter was simply unblockable, shooting past offensive linemen in 1 on 1 drills. His skills also translated to 11 on 11s, where o-linemen resorted to holding the UCLA product because they couldn’t handle him. With his upfield burst, Carter would be a great fit as a penetrating three-technique in a 4-3, and his length (6’4 ¼, 297 lbs.) will appeal to teams looking for a mid-round developmental 3-4 DE.
Terrell McClain DT USF
McClain was the talk of the first non-ballroom practice, repeatedly outquicking East squad interior linemen. Throughout the week, he performed at an impressive level, exhibiting great effort as well as good quickness.
The USF product isn’t as physically gifted as Austin and Carter, but he’s got a thick lower half and could be effective in a 4-3 scheme. Scouts who watched Jason Pierre-Paul and Nate Allen in ’09 reportedly came away impressed with McClain’s play. The underrated prospect has been on the radar of NFL personnel evaluators longer than he has with the broader draft community. As a result, he could end up going higher than many draftniks expect.
Martin Parker DT Richmond
The first small school prospect to make the list, Parker had a good senior season for the Spiders, notching 5.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. However, he may have boosted his stock more during his week in Orlando than he did all season long.
First, Parker showed up to the Shrine Game at a surprisingly thick 6’2 1/4”, 300 lbs, much bigger than his college listing. And the added weight didn’t affect Parker’s quickness, as he repeatedly made his past opposing offensive linemen. While Parker sometimes struggled to disengage from blocks, he fought to the whistle and more often than not made his way to the quarterback, finishing the week with an excellent two sack performance in the Shrine Game. Parker’s another prospect who fits nicely in as a penetrating three-technique, and his showing in Orlando may have pushed him up to the mid-rounds.
Justin Rogers CB Richmond
At 5’10 3/8”, 183 lbs., Rogers lacks ideal size for an NFL corner, but he proved during the week that he can compete against quality competition. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Rogers’ performance was his ball skills. The Richmond CB got his hands on several passes during the week and managed to recover a Cecil Shorts fumble before it even hit the ground.
More than any other position, small school cornerbacks have proven that they can contribute immediately at the next level. With his burst, physicality, and ball skills, Rogers could be one of those early contributors, perhaps playing his way into a nickel corner job. His small stature will put a ceiling on his draft stock, but a good pre-draft workout could move him way up draft boards.
Last year, Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka carried his momentum from a solid Shrine week to becoming a surprise 4th round pick. While Fordham quarterback John Skelton wasn’t quite as impressive, his rocket arm helped him get a chance to start late in the year for the Arizona Cardinals.
Unfortunately, this year’s QB crop didn’t impress during the week, and none of them appear ready to start for an NFL squad. Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin was the most highly-touted quarterback in Orlando, but he struggled with the adjustment to taking snaps from under center. His footwork, accuracy, and decision-making also appeared to need some work. In the game, he only managed to complete two of his seven passes and threw and interception, closing what was a down week from the mid-round QB prospect.
The other quarterbacks certified their common draft status as late round/UDFA options. Tyrod Taylor showcased his impressive mobility in the game, but he struggled with his accuracy in practice. Additionally, the 6’0 3/4” quarterback struggled to see over the line, which will limit his effectiveness at the next level.
Nate Enderle struggled with the major accuracy issues that plagued him during his disappointing senior year. Too often, Enderle’s passes ended up landing at his receivers’ feet or five yards out of bounds. He possesses decent arm strength, which was evident on a deep ball caught by Aldrick Robinson, but his scattershot accuracy could prevent him from being anything more than a backup quarterback.
Scott Tolzien may have been the most accurate of the Shrine Game quarterbacks, but his below average arm strength was evident. Ugliness ensued when Tolzien attempted to hit a deep out in the game. And at 6’2”, 209 lbs, Tolzien presently lacks the bulk to withstand the punishment of playing quarterback in the NFL. He’s a heady player who’s been receiving tutelage from Chad Pennington, but he projects more as a #3 QB in the NFL.
Unfortunately, Jerrod Johnson exhibited the same disappointing play that got him benched mid-season. Johnson lacks much zip on his throws; it’s clear that he hasn’t fully recovered from the shoulder injury suffered at the end of the ’09 season. Also, the Texas A&M QB was consistently slow to get rid of the ball. He took what would have been several sacks in the Shrine Game practices, missing opportunities to hit open receivers because of his indecisiveness. Hopefully, Johnson’s arm strength will improve as he gets further away from the shoulder injury, but he’s probably underwhelmed his way into going undrafted.
Ricky Dobbs may have shown better than expected passing ability, but the Navy quarterback will find it difficult to overcome his lack of size. Dobbs has trouble seeing over the line and will have his passes batted down my d-linemen. With his service commitment, Dobbs won’t be drafted, and he’ll most likely move on to something other than NFL career.