The Shrine Game officially kicked off the NFL Draft season, and is one of the most vital parts of the draft process. The game is an opportunity for teams to find the mid- and late-round talent who will help fill out their depth charts. Shane Alexander reviews how some of the prospects fared in this 2016 Shrine Game review.
Tom Brady, Brett Favre, and John Elway are some of the best the Shrine Game has offered in the past, but the real gems are found in the possible role players who can be unearthed. Last year, the game produced cornerback Justin Coleman and center David Andrews, both of whom have contributed to the New England Patriots’ postseason run. Green Bay linebacker Jake Ryan played in the game last year as well, and developed into a key player for the Packers defense this season.
Diamonds in the rough can be found in St. Petersburg ‒ if you look hard enough ‒ and 2016 is no different. Below, we highlight several intriguing prospects from the 2016 Shrine Game.
The East Team
Rudock transferred to Michigan last season as a grad student after spending the first three years of his career at the University of Iowa. He wasn’t considered a future NFL prospect coming into the season but blossomed under Jim Harbaugh’s tutelage, leading Michigan to a 10-win season and winning over some scouts. The former Wolverine is a borderline Day 3 prospect with the ceiling of a solid backup.
His maturity and work ethic make Rudock a player to watch in workouts later in the process. However, Rudock didn’t do himself many favors in the Shrine Game, going 8-14 passing for 77 yards and one interception. Rudock isn’t going to be a player you win with, but could be someone to relieve an injured or ineffective starter and manage a few games without being a disaster.
Blake Frohnapfel, Quarterback, Massachusetts
Frohnapfel is built like a prototypical NFL QB, but lacks traits that scouts are seeking in other areas. Officially measuring in at 6’5’’, 230 pounds with 10 5/8’’ hands, he has the look, but is one of the more raw prospects in this draft class. The UMass product had just 9 yards passing, completing 3 of 9 attempts, and throwing one interception. With strong workouts and interviews, he may sneak onto late Day 3 draft boards, but is more likely to get a training camp look or ends up in another league, perhaps the CFL.
Another guy with the physical dimensions of an NFL quarterback, Stave is a work in progress based on his college career. To his credit, Stave started and won a lot of games at Wisconsin (41 and 31, respectively), and former NFL personnel director Gil Brandt says that he believes Stave will get drafted. Much like Frohnapfel, Stave looks the part, but what translates to the actual game – mental processing, precision passing, and effectiveness within the rhythm of an offense – isn’t consistent enough for an NFL quarterback.
Tajae Sharpe, Wide Receiver, Massachusetts
Sharpe has consistently looked good on the stat sheet and on film, but most of the attention he’s garnered is by measuring in with 7 3/4” hands ‒ small for a receiver. Some teams could have guidelines, even if a player has performed well, and the effect physical attributes have on evaluators is unpredictable. He needs to run crisp routes, display good separation from the defensive backs, and reel in catches that come his way to convince scouts he can play at the next level. Surprisingly, Sharpe was not featured in the Shrine Game, perhaps because of the lackluster QB play. But Sharpe did enough in the practices to earn a call-up to the Senior Bowl roster, where he’ll need to showcase himself.
Reynolds is one of my favorite players in this class. At Navy, the senior broke dozens of school records and NCAA records as a quarterback running the football, and his football intelligence should transition well to the NFL ‒ wherever he lines up. When running with the ball, it’s difficult to bring him down, given his strength. He has exceptional vision and patience. Unfortunately, Reynolds was a late scratch from the game due to back issues. However, he was elected a team captain and the buzz out of St. Pete is that he checked all of the proverbial boxes.
Ehringer measured in at 6’6’’, 302 pounds and, from everything that came out last week, has done exceptional during practice and drills. Teams looking for a Day 2 offensive line prospect could do a lot worse than Ehringer. He could be a solid sixth OL in a rotation in year one, playing multiple positions, before settling in as a guard long term.
Graham Glasgow, Offensive Line, Michigan
With one exception (see below), I doubt anyone made themselves more money with their Shrine Game performance than Glasgow, who looked liked a seasoned pro in both pass protection and the run game. He parlayed this week’s performance into a call-up to the Senior Bowl, and he’s being pegged as one of the offensive linemen who will rise up draft boards, ending some somewhere on late Day 2.
A majority of FCS and lower level prospects are difficult to watch until the draft process actually starts. That said, the scouting community has been raving about Ochi this week, who appears to be an excellent 3-4 outside linebacker prospect. The senior measured in at 6’1’’, 244 pounds, and his NFL Combine performance will be crucial to his overall evaluation. Ochi was the stud of the game, bringing constant pressure off of the edge and extra effort on every snap. He really displayed his burst, bend, and relentlessness. Ochi could have worked his way up draft boards into the mid-rounds with this impressive performance.
Lowry measured in at 6’6’’, 295 pounds ‒ ideal for a 3-4 base personnel system, and the 5 technique role at the next level. He had a professional day at the office at the Shrine Game, displaying good technique and the ability to disrupt from the interior. If Lowry tests well at the combine, don’t be surprised if he ends up in the Top 125 overall.
Javon Hargrave, Interior Defensive Line, South Carolina State
Hargrave dominated drills, which put him on the radar of the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, who called him the best player at the Shrine Game. He has ideal 4-3 defensive tackle size and, with a strong combine, can move up draft boards.
Poole showed his potential future as a nickel cornerback in the NFL when he picked off a goal line pass Malcolm Butler-style and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown. Confidence is an important trait for cornerbacks, and Poole showed a lot of it at the Shrine Game.
Simmons is one of the biggest risers in this draft class because the quality at safety in this draft seems scarce. The safety was caught in no-man’s-land on a deep touchdown pass by Vernon Adams in the first half, but rebounded nicely and showed strong ability not only in pass defense, but also in tackling the ball carrier.
The West Team
When healthy, Adams was sensational this past season at Oregon, carrying over his success at the FCS level with Eastern Washington. He checked in at 5’11” and 200 pounds, with his hands measuring 8 3/4’’. Those physical tools make him smaller than both Johnny Manziel and Russell Wilson. However, if put in a situation like Tyrod Taylor’s ‒ where he didn’t see the field for several seasons, improving both his mental skills and physical attributes ‒ Adams could develop. The former Duck was fantastic on Saturday, going 6 for 9 with three touchdown passes. Adams went from a prospect that people were largely writing off to one who’s being touted as a Day 3 developmental prospect.
Brandon Doughty, Quarterback, Western Kentucky
Doughty had a heck of a career at WKU, but the sixth-year senior has a number of obstacles to overcome, including his advanced age (24). He can make good throws, so it’s not out of the question that he provides a nice backup option for some team. However, Doughty lit up the scoreboard in a bad way in St. Petersburg, throwing two interceptions, one of which went for a pick-six. The concerns scouts have – decision making, lackluster arm, and not playing as advanced as someone with his experience (age) should perform – were on display.
Sudfeld has the physical stature and decent game film, but his arm isn’t what one would expect. However, he will likely be drafted sometime on Day 3 because of the physical tools. Sudfeld’s stats will mislead you if you missed the Shrine Game. A late touchdown on a routine out-route masked uneasiness in the pocket and poor display of arm strength. Concerns about Sudfeld remain, and he’ll need to address in individual workouts.
Lasco did enough to warrant a deeper look as draft season progresses. Lasco showed next-level burst several times, racking up 62 yards on only 6 carries, ending up on the short list of players who improved their stock.
Geronimo Allison, Wide Receiver, Illinois
Allison has some burn to his game, showing outstanding speed and the ability to create separation in practices before the game. Though he didn’t receive a call-up to the Senior Bowl, Allison checked all the boxes on Saturday and should get more attention as the combine approaches.
Devon Cajuste, Wide Receiver, Stanford
Cajuste is one of the most underrated players in this class. His physique is more pass-catching tight end than wide receiver, but Cajuste doesn’t have to be pigeonholed into a position as he projects to be a good third option in an NFL offense. For everything he lacks in his ability to create separation, he makes up for by winning at the catch point. His QB at Stanford, Kevin Hogan, knew well enough to just throw it near him.
Aziz Shittu, Interior Defensive Line, Stanford
Shittu is as underrated as his teammate Cajuste. He can play 5 technique or 3 technique at the next level ‒ an ideal run-stuffer who can push the pocket.
Jeff Risdon has mentioned several times he thinks the light bulb has come on for Campbell’s game. This is encouraging news because he has the “wow” factor when you see him on the field. Being athletic enough to contribute on special teams may help him stick on a roster and get the coaching/development time he needs.
Michael Caputo, Safety, Wisconsin
Caputo put on a clinic in the secondary, picking off two passes, including one from his former teammate, Joel Stave. Not only was his range impressive, but also his IQ: There’s a necessary duality – the ability to contribute to both the run and the pass defense without being too much of a liability in either – that safeties need, and Caputo showed the necessary versatility.
Drew Kaser, Punter, Texas A&M
Punters are people too, after all. Kaser may not get drafted because of the position he plays, but he will be making noise in the preseason, vying to take the starting role away from a team’s incumbent. Kaser put on a coffin kicking clinic for most of the game, including booming one inside the opposing 1-yard line. Due to his position, it’s hard to predict where he’ll go on Day 3, but whether he’s taken or is picked up as a UDFA, I have little doubt he’ll be in a camp competing for a job next fall.
Others to keep an eye on: Danny Anthrop, WR, Purdue, Luther Maddy, DL, Virginia Tech, Chase Farris, OG, Ohio State; Derek Watt, FB, Wisconsin; Kivon Cartwright, TE, Colorado State; Ryan Malleck, TE, Virginia Tech; Michael Jordan, CB, Missouri Western St.; Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CB, Minnesota; Travis Feeney, LB, Washington; RJ Williamson, Safety, Michigan State; Jamal Golden, Safety, Georgia Tech
Follow Shane on Twitter @Alexander1Great.