Shrine Bowl Preview
Before the National Championship even started on Monday, we were already into postseason all-star games. The Shrine Bowl in St. Petersburg, Florida started practices on Monday and continues until Thursday, before the game on Saturday. The Shrine Game gets overlooked every year because it usually doesn’t have the caliber of players that the Senior Bowl does, but it is a very important part of the pre-draft process as there are multiple guys here that will get drafted. Along with the NFLPA Bowl next week, the Shrine Bowl should be taken seriously because it has a good group of talent, especially this year. The practices and game itself will be huge for some of these prospects’ evaluations. Let’s take a look at each position group.
Best Prospect: Tyler Huntley, Utah
Tyler Huntley really came on to the scene this year by leading Utah to a very successful season, earning him a Shrine Game invite. Huntley doesn’t have a big arm and really just isn’t great at any one thing, he’s an all-around solid player. If he is able to show off his athleticism and ability to keep an offense on schedule this week, he’ll have a good shot at being a late round draft pick for a team.
Sleeper Prospect: Mason Fine, North Texas
Mason Fine’s name has kind of floated around the draft community for a couple years now. At 5’11” 190 Fine is that smaller type that will make some plays with his legs. Fine has a live arm that he’ll be able to show off all week in practice. Teams are looking for that next Taysom Hill for their team and Fine’s athleticism could potentially fit in this role.
Best Prospect: LeVante Bellamy, Western Michigan
LeVante Bellamy could be in for a huge week in St. Petersburg because of his pure speed. Sometimes in these all-star games where there isn’t a lot of contact the more athletic guys can stand out and I feel like this will be the case with Bellamy. The Senior RB has a slight frame but has been confirmed to have ran a 4.28. He is a legit burner and one of the fastest players in the class.
Sleeper Prospect: Tavien Feaster, South Carolina
Tavien Feaster transferred to South Carolina from Clemson for his last year of eligibility. Feaster has always been a rotational back whether that be at SC or Clemson. In high school, Feaster was a track star, winning many 100-meter dash races. He is a former 5-star recruit that has a lot of talent and is still very fast at 6’0” 221.
Honorable Mention: James Robinson, Illinois State
Best Prospect: John Hightower, Boise State
With Tyler Johnson appearing to be sitting the Shrine Bowl out there really isn’t that one top guy that stands out among the WR group so this will be huge to see who can separate themselves from the rest. I went with Hightower here because of his pure speed. Hightower looks similar in stature to the rest of the receivers here at 6’2”, but unlike some of the other guys he is a pure speedster and can take the top off the defense.
Sleeper Prospect: Diondre Overton, Clemson/Derrick Dillon, LSU
Both Diondre Overton and Derrick Dillon have not had prolific collegiate careers at all and are just buried on their team’s depth chart because of other top talent. If both decide to show up later in the week after the National Championship, they will be able to showcase their talent and I will have my eye on both of them
Sleeper Prospect: Malcolm Perry, Navy
There are probably better receivers here that I could’ve talked about like Joe Reed or Binjimen Victor, but I wanted to talk about the former Navy QB. Perry is a dynamic athlete that put on a great senior season for the Midshipmen. Perry will have a role in the NFL whether that be at WR or as a special teamer. It is worth noting, that because of the DoD agreement, Perry is able to get drafted and play in the NFL right away.
Best Prospect: Mitchell Wilcox, USF
Mitchell Wilcox is that kind of do-it-all type player and is a good blocker as well as a receiver. He put together a nice career at USF which got him to this point. His athleticism at 6’5” 245 will be huge for some of the TE-LB matchups.
Sleeper Prospect: Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan
Add another Western Michigan player to the list in Giovanni Ricci. Ricci is a move tight end that will primarily be flexed out and not with his hand in the dirt. Ricci’s ability to create separation will be huge against some of the less athletic linebackers in the 1 on 1’s.
Best Prospect: Jack Driscoll, Auburn
Jack Driscoll transferred to Auburn from UMass and adapted really well to this higher level of play. Driscoll may very well be the best overall player going down to Florida this week. He played opposite of Senior Bowl tackle, Prince Tega Wanogho. Many would argue that Driscoll is the better player right now, but Tega Wanogho has more tools. Regardless, if Driscoll has a big week like I think he will, he could get called up to the Senior Bowl for the next week.
Sleeper Prospect: Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon
It seems like Calvin Throckmorton has played almost every position on the Oregon offensive line and that is what really will help his draft stock. His versatility and well-rounded play will make teams want him to fill that swing lineman role that can help the team all over the line. I see Throckmorton as a late round pick that will have a long NFL career.
Interior Offensive Line
Best Prospect: Zach Shackelford, Texas
Zach Shackelford has become a staple for the Texas o-line during his time there and also stepped up as a leader. Shackelford has the ability to open up running lanes with his power as a run blocker and despite some of the concerns I have with his lateral athleticism, he is competent as a pass blocker also.
Sleeper Prospect: Darryl Williams, Mississippi State
If Darryl Williams does play this week despite getting injured in his last game, he will also be one of the best players in the whole game. Williams has versatility at both center and guard. I expect him to be valued somewhere in the late day 2 to early day 3 range.
Best Prospect: Alex Highsmith, Charlotte
Alex Highsmith is a small school guy who I think will make a big impact at the Shrine Game. Highsmith is only listed at 242 so he fits the mold of some of these smaller edge players in the league. Highsmith is good with his hands and has a solid first step.
Sleeper Prospect: Bravvion Roy, Baylor
Bravvion Roy played nose tackle for Baylor’s 3-3-5 defense the past few years. At 6’1” 333 Roy is unbelievably nimble on his feet and is a good lateral mover. If Roy has a good week and proves he can play more than just at 0 tech he could get drafted.
Best Prospect: Dante Olson, Montana
This may come as a surprise to many seeing that a Montana player is the best Linebacker here over some bigger school guys. Olson racked up 179 tackles in his senior season and has a motor like no other. He will definitely be someone to watch this week and I’ll be interested to see how he does in coverage.
Sleeper Prospect: John Houston Jr., USC
John Houston has been in and out of the USC lineup and multiple different positions in his career. However, you can’t deny his athleticism and some of the flash plays that he makes. Houston is the lightest Linebacker of the group at 220 pounds so he should accel in coverage.
Best Prospect: Parnell Motley, Oklahoma
Parnell Motley got on the field early in his career at Oklahoma and faced some bumps in the road. I never really thought of him as a legitimate prospect until late in his senior season where he did well against some of the better BIG12 WRs.
Sleeper Prospect: John Reid, Penn State
Like Motley, Reid has had his fair share of struggles at Penn State and really only got much playing time his last two years. He was their number one corner this year as a redshirt senior and despite his slight frame, he made some good plays on the ball.
Best Prospect: Shyheim Carter, Alabama
The past two seasons Shyheim Carter played in Nick Saban’s “STAR” position on defense which is basically just the nickel position. Carter is not a big guy but is able to bring ball carriers down and you rarely ever see him miss a tackle. Carter is good against the run, a good blitzer, and instinctive in coverage.
Sleeper Prospect: Jeremiah Dinson, Auburn
Jeremiah Dinson is one of “my guys” in this class. Dinson is a phenomenal tackler and is great playing in space. I like his zone instincts and his coverage ability will really be tested this week, so I’ll be interested to see how he holds up there. I can see Dinson being drafted mid-day 3 and making an impact on special teams early on, especially with a good Shrine week.