After reviewing practice reports and the game, here’s my analysis of who helped, and hurt their draft stock after the 85th East-West Shrine Game.
O’Brien Schofield – DE/OLB – Wisconsin: Schofield was in the process of making a difficult transition this week. After playing defensive end throughout his career, he made the switch to outside linebacker during Shrine Game week. Schofield’s size and skill set shows that he is best suited as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. Since defenses in the Shrine Game play a 4-3 defense, Schofield had to play OLB in that scheme, which was even more difficult. Needless to say, he played well. Schofield had an interception in the 1st quarter of the game and was able to shed blocks and flow to the ball. While teams probably won’t look at him as a 4-3 OLB, I think playing that position helped him in run recognition as well as getting more comfortable shedding blocks. O’Brien also stood out on special teams on the kick coverage teams, which will really help him land an NFL roster spot. Schofield played well enough to get invited to the Senior Bowl, so now his skills will be shown on an even bigger stage.
Lindsey Witten – DE – Connecticut: Witten showed consistent pressure from the defensive end spot and really capped off a strong senior season. I was a bit surprised that he wasn’t invited to the Senior Bowl after registering 11 sacks. Either way, Witten made the most of his play time showing that he’s a high motor defensive end that knows how to collapse the pocket.
Kam Chancellor – S – Virginia Tech: There was a lot of talk coming into the Shrine Game that Chancellor may be better suited to play OLB in the NFL. With his size, 6’4″ 230 lbs, it’s probably a realistic option. However, I think Chancellor showed this week that he can play safety at the next level. He showed great range by getting to passes on the sidelines that even I didn’t think he could make it to. Chancellor is a hitter and is great in run support, which is probably another reason folks want him to make the transition. But if you compare his size to Taylor Mays (6’2″ 235 lbs), there’s not that much of a difference. No one is asking Mays to switch positions either.
Blair White – WR – Michigan State: White stood out in practice a few times and had a very strong performance in the game this week. The 6’2″ 200 lbs wide receiver has several clutch catches for the East team, but one thing really stood out to me about White; he just knows how to get open. White was great at finding holes in the coverage and worked the sidelines very well. He has a tendency to catch with his body but looked to be very focused on using his hands to catch during the game. White could find himself on an NFL roster and might wind up being that clutch 3rd down conversion guy that NFL teams love.
Dennis Pitta – TE – BYU: Pitta might end up being the highest drafted player from this game. He caught everything thrown near him and he looks very comfortable and smooth running his routes. Pitta reminds me of Dallas Clark the way he runs and catches, but doesn’t have near the blocking skills that Clark possesses. However, Pitta’s pass catching ability will land on him an NFL roster but will need to show improved blocking ability to become a complete player.
Andrew Quarless – TE – Penn State: Quarless has all the physical tools and potential you could ask for; he just hasn’t used it. Finally coming on at the end of his senior season for the Nittany Lions, Quarless is a solid pass catcher and a fluid route runner. He looked good in practice all week and came up in the clutch for the East in the actual game. In fact, it was Quarless who got open in the end zone to make the winning touchdown catch. Quarless also had an amazing one handed grab in a 4th quarter drive.
Stock Breaking Even
Greg Hardy – DE – Ole Miss: Hardy had a disappointing senior season that ended in injury, but most had him as the top rated senior defensive end coming into the season. We were all surprised that Hardy didn’t get the invite to the Senior Bowl but hoped that he’d show his old self at the Shrine Game. Hardy did….kind of. After a week of pretty much going under the radar, Hardy continued this trend through 3 quarters of the game on Saturday. However, he came alive in the 4th quarter. Hardy showed that quick first step that he used to, creating pressure on Max Hall at the end of the game and set the edge well against the rush. Hardy even showed excellent pursuit on the ball carrier. It was as if someone finally flipped his switch to “ON” once the 4th quarter started. Since the final 15 minutes of his Shrine Game week was the only time he really stood out, we’ll keep him at “even” for now.
Max Hall – QB – BYU: Hall didn’t have the best practices this week but showed consistency and accuracy during the game. Hall led the West down the field for a 4th quarter score and was putting the ball in ideal spots for his wide receivers. Hall stepped up in the pocket to throw and was just mobile enough to avoid the rush. Hall might not be anything more than a backup quarterback in the NFL but he’ll have to show that he can compete against the other top quarterbacks in the nation before he starts really climbing our board.
Freddie Barnes – WR – Bowling Green: Barnes could have really used a good week. After a huge senior season, Barnes was trying to grab the attention of NFL scouts. After a relatively average week and game, Barnes stock hasn’t really changed. He knows how to get open and he rarely drops passes, but he just hasn’t been able to stand out yet. Barnes hasn’t received an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine yet, and a good performance in Orlando would have given him that invite.
Daryl Clark – QB – Penn State: Clark was a late addition to the Shrine Game roster after WVU QB Jarrett Brown decided to go to the Senior Bowl instead. Clark really needed to take advantage this situation and he didn’t. Clark’s passes were erratic during the week as well as in the game as he would sometimes float balls as well as put them off-target. The position switch talk is now in full swing for Clark, so don’t be surprised to see him catch some passes or do more agility drills at the combine and his pro day.
Joshua Sheene – K – Ole Miss: Yes, I included a kicker on this list, mainly because his performance was that bad in the game. His first field goal attempt was a terrible line drive and his kickoffs were weak.
Alterraun Verner – CB – UCLA: Verner had a rough game and didn’t display the fundamentals needed to play corner at the next level. Verner was high in his back pedals and was slow to flip his hips and run with receivers. He’ll have some work to do before the combine and he’ll have to show some abilities on special teams to make an NFL roster.