The 2014 East-West Shrine Game kicks off on Monday with a week of practices leading up to the game. Scouts from across the NFL come to St. Petersburg to see some of the best college football players in the nation go head-to-head. The Shrine Game has a history of producing NFL talent. Following the 2013 NFL Draft, 100 East-West Shrine Game alumni were either drafted or added as free agents to NFL rosters for camps. This year, former Falcons and Houston Oilers coach Jerry Glanville will be coaching the West squad and former Kansas City Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel will be coaching the East squad.
Here are the rosters of both the East and West teams and some players to keep an eye on this week.
Jeff Matthews, QB, Cornell
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State
Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame
Keith Price, QB, Washington
Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Jimmy Garoppolo is a name being brought up by draft pundits and evaluators because of his exceptional play at Eastern Illinois. Following a senior year where he threw for 5,000 yards, 53 touchdowns, and just nine interceptions, Garoppolo has really put himself on the map for the 2014 draft. The Shrine game will be a great opportunity for scouts to see how he fares against top-ranked competition. The 6-foot-3, 222-pound quarterback will have a chance to make a lasting impression this week in St. Petersburg.
Tim Flanders, RB, Sam Houston State
Ladarius Perkins, RB, Mississippi State
Ben Malena, RB, Texas A&M
Zach Bauman, RB, Northern Arizona
James White, RB, Wisconsin
Brennan Clay, RB, OklahomaRaijon Neal, RB, Tennessee
Anthony LeCoste, RB, Air Force
When you think of recent Wisconsin running backs, you likely jump to Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon III. Both are excellent players, but some might be overlooking another talented back in James White. The Badgers backfield has been loaded over the last few years and White has done a great job as the spell back to the primary ball-carriers. White has great vision and shifty, quick feet, to go along with good balance. He deserves more recognition for his play over the last four years. White would be an excellent fit as a rotational back in an NFL offense.
One of the more underrated running backs in the country is Mississippi State’s LaDarius Perkins, who offers an impressive blend of power, speed, and agility. The 5-10, 195 pound running back showcases wonderful burst into and through the hole, as well as excellent receiving ability. The question mark about his game is his blocking, but he’ll get a chance to prove pundits wrong at the Shrine Game. Stuck in a timeshare in a lackluster Bulldogs’ offense, Perkins will have an excellent chance to show the nation what he’s made of.
TJ Jones, WR, Notre Dame
Ja’mes Logan, WR, Ole Miss
Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan
Allen Hurns, WR, Miami (FL)
John Brown, WR, Pittsburgh State
Bernard Reedy, WR, Toledo
Quincy Enunwa, WR, Nebraska
Chandler Jones, WR, San Jose State
Patrick Laird, WR, Army
Seantavious Jones, WR, Valdosta State
Blake Jackson, WR, Oklahoma State
Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
The group of senior wide receivers in the 2014 draft class is not a great one. Most of the top-tier players at the wideout position such as Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Allen Robinson, Brandin Cooks, and others are underclassmen. The top senior wide receivers will be at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, and the best of the rest will be in St. Petersburg for the Shrine Game.
Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon is perhaps the most talented receiver on both Shrine Game rosters. If the Wolverine receiver was a bit bigger he would come up a lot more in the wide receiver conversation. Standing just 5-8, 187, Gallon looks like he is best fit as a slot receiver, but he’s a gritty player that leaves it all on the field. His effort and athleticism could tempt a team in the later rounds of the draft.
TIGHT ENDSJacob Pedersen, TE, Wisconsin
Marcel Jensen, TE, Fresno State
Alex Bayer, TE, Bowling Green
Crockett Gilmore, TE, Colorado State
Ted Bolser, TE, Indiana
Fresno State’s Marcel Jensen is a huge target that was converted from a defensive end into a tight end. Jensen is an impressive blocker with the size necessary to succeed at the NFL level in that department. His quick feet and athleticism allow him to get open in the short and intermediate passing game as well as the seam. Jensen is a player that could make noise over the course of the pre-draft process due to his size and athleticism, much like former Rutgers tight end D.C. Jefferson last year.
Pedersen is a versatile tight end that would fit great as an H-back for a team looking for a player that can split out wide, line up in-line, and in the backfield. The Wisconsin Badger should impress in the 1-on-1 pass protection drills and in the short passing game. Keep an eye out for him over the course of the week.
Matt Hall, OT, Belhaven
Kyle Bryant, OT, Youngstown State
Jeremiah Sirles, OT, Nebraska
Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan
Charles Leno, OT, Boise State
Austin Wentworth, OT, Fresno State
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OT, McGill (Canada)
Kevin Graf, OT, USC
Justin Britt, OT, Missouri
Danny Kistler, OT, Montana
Ryan Groy, OT, Wisconsin
Zach Fulton, OG, Tennessee
Antwan Lowery, OG, Rutgers
Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman
Chris Burnette, OG, Georgia
Tyler Larsen, OC, Utah State
Zach Kerin, OC, Toledo
James Stone, OC, Tennessee
Gabe Ikard, OC, Oklahoma
Dillion Farrell, OC, New Mexico
Chris Elkins, OC, Youngstown State
Michigan’s Taylor Lewan has the command of attention along the Wolverines’ offensive line, but right tackle Michael Schofield deserves some recognition as well. Standing 6-foot-7, 304 pounds, Schofield is a tall lineman with long arms who plays with a feisty demeanor. He might be asked to kick inside to guard, but he’s done a fine job at Michigan across from Lewan at right tackle. He could flash during practices in the 1-on-1 sessions this week.
A sleeper to keep an eye on this week is USC offensive tackle Kevin Graf. At 6-foot-6, 295 pounds, the Trojan lineman has ideal size and length to play right or left tackle in the NFL. He has light feet and good strength, but he still needs to work on his technique regarding hand placement and footwork. Graf has lots of talent and just needs someone to tap into it. It wouldn’t be shocking to hear his name come up quite a bit this week.
DEFENSIVE LINEMANGarrison Smith, DT, Georgia
Kaneakua Friel, DT, BYU
Beau Allen, DT, Wisconsin
Demontre McAllister, DT, Florida State
Evan Gill, DT, Manitoba (Canada)
Zach Kerr, DT, Delaware
Bruce Gaston, DE, Purdue
Chidera Uzo-Diribe, DE, Colorado
Larry Webster, DE, Bloomsburg
Will Clarke, DE, West Virginia
Ethan Westbrooks, DE, West Texas A&M
Josh Mauro, DE, Stanford
Cassisu Marsh, DE, UCLA
Kerry Wynn, DE, Richmond
Cassius Marsh’s excellent play has been somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of great players such as Anthony Barr and Myles Jack in UCLA’s complex defense, but he deserves his own recognition. The 6-foot-4, 260 pound defensive end plays with great intensity and has a great motor. Ideally, Marsh would fit best with a 3-4 defense as a five-technique, but he could also fit as a left end in a 4-3 base defense. Marsh has a chance to go on day two of the draft in the third round with a good week of practice at the Shrine game.
DeDe Lattimore, OLB, South Florida
Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame
Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota
Glenn Carson, OLB, Penn State
Devon Kennard, OLB, USC
Jordan Zumwalt, OLB, UCLA
Xavius Boyd, OLB, Western Kentucky
Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
Cody Peterson, ILB, Navy
Nate Dreiling, ILB, Pittsburgh State
Derrell Johnson, ILB, ECU
Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville
If you’re looking for a thumping inside linebacker, look no further than Western Kentucky’s Andrew Jackson. The senior is a heat-seeking missile that plays with incredible intensity. His run defense and blitzing ability is great, but concern currently holding Jackson back is his ability to drop into coverage against the pass. There is concern that Jackson can only be a two-down linebacker because of his lack of great athleticism, but he will get a chance to prove himself in St. Petersburg this week.
DeDe Lattimore is a hometown player with a chance to make a good impression at the Shrine Game. USF linebackers have been relatively successful over the course of the last five or six years, which bodes well for Lattimore. Linebackers Jacquian Williams, Sam Barrington, and Stephen Nicholas have all found a niche on NFL teams after playing their college ball at South Florida.
Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame
Marqueston Huff, CB, Wyoming
Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue
Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt
Carrington Byndom, CB, Texas
Rashaad Reynolds, CB, Oregon State
AJ Marshall, CB, Wake Forest
Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State
Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Travis Carrie, CB, Ohio
Jemea Thomas, CB, Georgia Tech
Marcus Williams, CB, North Dakota State
Carrington Byndom has been an effective multi-dimensional cornerback for the Longhorns over the last four years. He’s an excellent tackler who was second on the team in total tackles in 2013. Byndom also has racked up 28 pass breakups over the course of his collegiate career. At 6-foot, 180 pounds, he has good length which will be tested in press coverage drills at practice during the week.
Dezmen Southward, S, Wisconsin
Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville
Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota
Sean Parker, S, Washington
Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU
Tre Boston, S, North Carolina
Alden Darby, S, Arizona State
Ross Cockrell, S, Duke
Daytawion Lowe, S, Oklahoma State
Tre Boston, a talented safety from North Carolina, is safety that could make some noise in St. Petersburg at the Shrine game. Flaunting excellent range and playmaking ability, Boston could intrigue teams enough to take him on the third day of the draft. Boston needs to improve his tackling, but from a coverage standpoint he’s NFL ready. The Shrine game will be a nice place for Boston to prove himself.
Louisville’s Hakeem Smith is physical safety that is very effective in the box as a tackler, but also as a pass defender. Despite only notching one career interception, he makes more plays on the ball than one would think. Standing 6-1, 180 pounds, Smith could use a little extra size for durability concerns, but he should be a standout player at the Shrine game.
Zach Hocker, K, Arkansas
Anthony Fera, K, Texas
Steven Clark, P, Auburn
Richie Leone, P, Houston
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