Before next week's Senior Bowl, a second tier of NFL prospects will have descended upon Tampa, Fla.(along with media, NFL team scouts, agents, etc) for the 88th Annual East-West Shrine Game.
While recently the Senior Bowl has typically featured a higher level of talent, that wasn't always the case. Mean Joe Greene and Dick Butkus are in the Shrine Game Hall of Fame. Gale Sayers is in there as well. There's even a TV star (Merlin Olsen) and a U.S. president (Gerald Ford).
However, even now, there are diamonds in the rough to be unearthed. While the game has moved from California over to Texas and now to Florida (first to Orlando, then to Tampa—its current location) the gems have followed along with the event.
Last year's Shrine Game produced a number of NFL rookie standouts, including Josh Norman (CB Carolina Panthers), Josh LeRibeus (OL Washington Redskins), Jarius Wright (WR Minnesota Vikings), Blair Walsh (K Minnesota Vikings) and Alfred Morris (RB Washington Redskins).
Whoever the Vikings and Redskins sent down to scout the Shrine Game last year deserves a raise.
I'm also in Tampa this week, taking in some of the practices and schmoozing with all the NFL types. Before I head out to the fields, I thought I'd take a moment and let you in on the players I'll be paying special attention to.