NFL scouts and talent evaluators flocked to the Tampa Bay area this week in hopes of finding the next hidden gem from the East-West Shrine Game. In recent years, the game has produced talents like Alfred Morris, Terron Armstead and Zac Stacy. Saturday’s game was another chance for them to see the players in game action.
The East squad ended up winning the all-star game, 19-3. Saturday’s game was a sloppy game by both offenses, which combined for just one touchdown. The East squad got three field goals from USF kicker Marin Kloss to make it 9-0 at halftime. In the fourth quarter, N.C. State kicker Niklas Sade hit a 51-yard field goal to make it a 9-3 contest. Kloss kicked his fourth field goal of game to give the East team a 12-3 lead with just 4:33 to play in the fourth quarter.
Louisville running back Dominique Brown put the dagger in the West team, scoring a one-yard touchdown with under two minutes left the play. Brown, whom Tampa Bay was scouting this week, was the game’s leading rusher with 70 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries (3.7 avg.).
Utah State linebacker Zachary Vigil, who was impressive in practices throughout the week, put together a strong performance at the Shrine Game on Saturday. The former Aggie laid a big hit on LSU running back Terrance Magee on the first drive of the game, clogging the running lane with authority. He finished the game with four tackles and a tackle for loss.
Vigil plays really well in space and is very comfortable in zone coverage. With Mason Foster’s hitting the free agency market, the Buccaneers could use an athletic linebacker to fill the void. The Utah State linebacker is a name to keep an eye on in the later rounds of the draft.
Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith nearly sacked quarterback Taylor Kelly by using a nasty rip move against Arizona tackle Mickey Baucus. He later brought down Kelly, who was trying to escape a collapsing pocket, for a sack. The former Wildcat does a good job using his hands and stays low when turning the corner as a pass-rusher. He finished the game with two tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and lots of pressure on the West quarterbacks.
Smith (6-5,270) has been excellent all week and capped it off with an excellent Shrine Game performance. The Buccaneers need to find some pass-rushers with upside and Smith would be an ideal late-round selection for the team.
Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo made a poor decision and tried force a seam pass into coverage and the ball was intercepted by Florida Atlantic safety Damian Parms, who finished with two interceptions. Fajardo, the successor to Colin Kaepernick at Nevada, is an intriguing prospect because of his size, speed and tools, but the Wolfpack product is very much a work in progress from a quarterback standpoint. With that being said, he’s still worth a very late draft pick as a developmental prospect.
USC cornerback Josh Shaw made an excellent play in the second quarter, stepping in front of Michigan wide receiver Devin Gardner in the end zone for an interception. Shaw, who finished with a tackle, an interception and a pass breakup, is an intriguing prospect with good size (6-1, 200) and athleticism that should be a Day 3 selection in the upcoming NFL Draft for the Buccaneers and other NFL teams.
It’s quite a rare occurrence to talk about a Shrine Game kicker, but Kloss had an excellent day in St. Petersburg on Saturday. Kloss nailed a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter that had enough distance to go another 15 yards. On the day, the former Bull made all four of his attempted field goals. Kloss should get a look at an NFL camp in the offseason.
University of Tennessee–Chattanooga defensive tackle Derrick Lott destroyed North Dakota State running back John Crockett for huge loss at the 1-yard line. Lott (6-4, 298) showed some nice quickness and violent this week at practice and could looks like a potential late-round selection.
That wraps up PewterReport.com’s coverage of the 2015 East-West Shrine Game week. Be sure to check back next week for all of the latest news, practice reports and inside scoop from the 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. PewterReport.com’s 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl coverage will be sponsored by Gerber Collision & Glass.