East-West Shrine Game 2012: 3 Players with Serious Shots at Pro Careers

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IJanuary 19, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 03:  B.J. Cunningham #3 of the Michigan State Spartan runs for yards after the catch against the Wisconsin Badgers during the second half of the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The East-West Shrine Game is the first of a few college exhibitions that allow players to showcase their skills to scouts, coaches and general managers before April's NFL draft. 

The 2012 contest features plenty of raw small-school guys oozing with upside and a few players from big-name colleges that enter the predraft process a bit unheralded.  

More specifically, these three players almost certainly have futures at the professional level. 


Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina 

Like many of the players in St. Petersberg for the game, Norman was an unknown. However, after his impressive and consistent week of practices, he's now one of the headliners. 

He possesses ideal size at 6'1'' and 203 pounds to match up with bigger, more physical receivers in the NFL. 

Along with above average athleticism, Norman displayed great fluidity in coverage during practices and often baited quarterbacks into bad throws before breaking them up or tackling his receiver instantly. 

What also makes him a good prospect is his willingness to play and success against the run. He uses superb intelligence to diagnose running plays and is capable of getting around blockers. 

He has the potential to flourish in a zone scheme as a professional. 


B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State 

Cunningham was a part of one of the most successful classes in Michigan State history. He produced for the Spartans in all four seasons in East Lansing and exploded in 2011 with 79 catches, 1,306 yards with 12 touchdowns.

He's 6'2'' and a sculpted 215 pounds and is an extremely aggressive wide receiver that typically physically dominates cornerbacks. 

Cunningham is light years away from the "speedster" distinction, but he's a good route runner and gains separation that way. 

He should be a mid-round pick that projects as an outside possession guy in the NFL. 


Chase Ford, TE, Miami 

At 6'6'' and 245 pounds, this Miami product has classic tight end size. He demonstrated impressive athleticism and the ability to make the circus catch during practices for the East squad this week. 

He caught only 16 passes and two touchdowns in the last two seasons with Miami, but showed off his unquestionable talent this week in Florida.

Ford isn't as fast, fluid or talented as fellow Miami alum Jimmy Graham, but he's in the same mold as a basketball-type runner and jumper.  

With super skilled and athletic tight ends the newest trend in the NFL, don't be shocked if a team takes a flier on this tight end with decent potential.