Stock Up, Stock Down for Skill Positions at the East-West Shrine Game
The first day of the East-West Shrine Game is always a bit of an odd experience for players, coaches and media alike. It's important to remember that any players setting themselves apart or lagging behind have plenty of time to regress or catch up.
First, the "meat market" aspect of the pre-draft process is in full array as the players are paraded in front of team personnel for measurements—in their underwear. Yes, it's a little weird. You get used to it, but it never stops being weird. Unlike at the Senior Bowl, this session is closed to the media.
Thus, unlike the rest of the week, practices are pushed later into the day and are rarely intense (although Jerry Glanville did his best with the East squad).
Which skill-position players stood out on the first day? Click ahead!
Stock Up: Collin Klein (QB Kansas State)
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Collin Klein: Heisman finalist; not worth a high draft pick.
The Collin Klein at the first day of Shrine practices? A work in progress who could contribute to an NFL team.
Klein's delivery was noticeably different—deliberate, but compact and refined. Yes, there was little contact around him, but it showed how hard he has already been working. If he continues to improve, teams will start falling in love with him around his pro day.
Also important: The ball was coming out of his hands well. Not great, but better than expected. He delivered many catchable balls and at times looked like the top quarterback here.
Stock Down: Christine Michael (RB Texas A&M)
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Christine Michael is one of the more intriguing prospects here, but he may need an Alfred Morris-like surprise out of this game because he's not finding any sort of rhythm behind this All-Star offensive line.
Dancing behind the offensive line will get negative marks at the Shrine Game; it'll get you sidelined in the NFL.
Stock Up: Keenan Davis (WR Iowa)
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There are lots of ways to break down receivers, but the bottom line for NFL scouts is this: Can he create separation, and is he coming down with the ball?
On the first day, Keenan Davis was doing both of those things with regularity. He tracked two long passes over his shoulder, bringing them in for would-be touchdowns (if it were a game). He also worked the intermediate area of the field with skill.
Stock Down: Marcus Davis (WR Virginia Tech)
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Marcus Davis, a fantastic-looking physical specimen, had significant trouble with both getting open and tracking the ball in practice.
He lost a couple of long passes in the air, slowing down only to need to speed up again. He also had the first pass of the day (and his first pass of many) bounce off his hands.
Not a good first impression.
Stock Up: Ray Graham (RB Pittsburgh)
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Pre-injury, it would have been hard for Ray Graham's stock to go up any higher. He looked like one of the top backs in the country. Now, coming off an ACL injury, he's struggling to get back to form.
With that, many scouting sheets had just one box to check off: burst. If he shows he can still accelerate, teams will be much more comfortable picking him in April.
Stock Down: Joseph Fauria (TE UCLA)
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Joseph Fauria had an up-and-down afternoon, getting open and showcasing some pretty phenomenal athleticism.
However, he wasn't able to bring in as many long passes as one would've liked to see, and he was forced to leave early with an undisclosed injury.
Stock Up: Zach Sudfeld (TE Nevada)
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Stepping up in Fauria's absence, Zach Sudfeld found himself the beneficiary of more targets than the "No. 2" tight end might get in a normal practice situation.
He made the most of them.
The highlight of his first day was a 20-yard reception on a ball that should've been out of reach. Keep an eye on Sudfeld in the later rounds as a developmental pass-catcher.
Stock Up: Seth Doege (QB Texas Tech)
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Seth Doege had about the day everyone expected throwing the deep ball. More guessing than throwing, Doege completed some long throws but didn't answer any of the question marks he has there.
In the short-to-intermediate range, however, he excelled (even outside the hashes). While many of the quarterbacks were spraying short throws all over the sideline, Doege found a quick rhythm and looked every bit the part of a guy some teams would want to develop.
Stock Down: Colby Cameron (QB Louisiana Tech)
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One of those other QBs who found more turf than receivers was Colby Cameron, who was so errant on a couple of his first throws that the scouts he was apparently aiming for may need to be treated for PTSD.
He found a rhythm later on and had impressive zip on all of his passes, but in this setting, some of his earlier throws were inexcusable.
Stock Up: Rodney Smith (WR Florida State)
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Rodney Smith had a pretty nondescript day until a brilliant pass from Collin Klein (yes, you read that correctly) threaded the needle between two defenders (no, seriously, don't get your eyes checked) and into his hands.
He caught a ball that most receivers at this stage of the game would've dropped. Instead, Smith came down with it, showing impressive body control and ability to pluck the ball.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.