The 88th annual East-West Shrine Game was played Jan. 19 in St. Petersburg, Fla., and college football players from across the country participated in it to try to improve their draft stock.
A mix of overlooked and lesser-known players took the field to try to impress NFL scouts as we head toward April's draft. Throughout the week of practice and the game, some players improved their draft positions with good performances, while other players struggled and hurt their draft chances.
In the end, the West team won 28-13 after getting off to a fast start.
Finding players in the Shrine Game who are draft-worthy is important for teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are in the first year of a complete rebuild. The Jaguars have holes to fill all over the team, and they must hit on a majority of draft picks to fill those holes.
Finding players who show NFL-level talent during the East-West Shrine Game can allow the Jaguars to find the "diamonds in the rough" and have a deep draft class to begin their rebuild with.
Here is the latest mock draft for the Jaguars following the East-West Shrine Game.
New Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley's defense in Seattle boasted massive players in the middle of the defensive line, and it led to the Seahawks having one of the NFL's top defenses.
Bradley will most likely try to bring the same strategy to Jacksonville, and he can get an early start on it by drafting Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.
At 6'3" and 320 pounds, Lotulelei is a monster of a man and would be exactly what Bradley would be looking for in the interior of the defensive line.
Lotulelei was one of the most dominant players in the country during his collegiate career and is as close to a can't-miss prospect as there is in the 2013 NFL draft. He was named to the 2012 Walter Camp All-America first team and was a two-time member of the first-team All-Pac 12.
The Jaguars defense struggled against the run in 2012, finishing 30th in the NFL by allowing 141 rushing yards a game. Lotulelei would immediately upgrade the rush defense as he had a team-high 11 tackles for loss in 2012.
Lotulelei would also help Jacksonville's NFL-worst pass rush; he finished his senior season with five sacks on the year.
Lotulelei flashes an explosive burst off the snap and is athletic enough to slip through gaps in the offensive line and stop plays in the backfield. He locates the ball well and can run down ball-carriers. He has strong hands and can control opposing offensive linemen.
Lotulelei has all the tools to be a force in the middle of the Jaguars defensive line for years.
I originally had the Jaguars selecting Virginia offensive tackle Oday Aboushi in the third round in my first 2013 mock draft, but he is unlikely to still be available at that point. Aboushi is a first-to-second-round talent, according to CBSSports.com, and with the first pick in the second round of April's draft, the Jaguars could be in the perfect position to draft him.
Jacksonville's offensive line, especially the right tackle position, was terrible in 2012. The Jaguars gave up the third-most sacks in the NFL at 50, and the 103 quarterback hits allowed was also third most in the league.
Aboushi could be an immediate starter and an upgrade at right tackle for the Jaguars.
After being named a team captain, he earned a spot on the 2012 All-ACC first team following a season in which he averaged 10-plus knockdowns per game.
Aboushi has good size at 6'6" and 310 pounds, and he is athletic enough to negate speed rushers. He had a great senior season despite Virginia's poor play.
Aboushi would be an upgrade at a position the Jaguars desperately need, and it would be worth the second-round pick to take him.
The Jaguars could lose both Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis to free agency, which would leave them extremely thin at cornerback. It would be in Jacksonville's best interest to re-sign Cox and look for a young player in the draft to replace Mathis.
That replacement could be cornerback Desmond Trufant from Washington.
Trufant, whose older brothers Marcus and Isaiah both play in the NFL, has been a shutdown corner during his collegiate career. The four-year starter was named to the 2012 All-Pac 12 first team and earned an invite to play in the 2013 Senior Bowl.
Trufant's stats don't jump off the page; he had only one interception and nine passes defensed in 2012. The low numbers are for good reason, though: Opposing quarterbacks rarely threw the ball in his direction because he usually had his receivers covered so well.
Coach Bradley's cornerbacks in Seattle were some of the biggest in the league. At 6', Trufant has the size Bradley looks for in cornerbacks.
Trufant is an athletic player who has great instincts. He has good straight-line speed and ball skills. Trufant demonstrates NFL-quality coverage ability and can play both man and zone coverage.
Trufant seems like a natural fit in Bradley's defense.
Devin Taylor was often overlooked on the South Carolina defensive line he had to share with Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney, but he still had a pretty good career for the Gamecocks.
He totaled 18.5 career sacks and 35.5 career tackles for loss and was named to the 2010 All-SEC first team (media).
His final two years didn't match the potential he showed early in his collegiate career as Ingram and Clowney's stellar play took the spotlight off him. Taylor had just three sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss as a senior and was not invited to play in the 2013 Senior Bowl.
He did, however, put forth a dominant effort in the 2013 East-West Shrine Game, as he recorded two sacks and forced a fumble. Taylor proved he was still capable of playing at a high level.
The Jaguars need a pass-rusher, and a player like Taylor is worth taking a chance on.
He has a massive build at 6'7" and 275 pounds, which allows him to make tackles he may not be in the best position to make. It also gives him a J.J. Watt-like ability to swat down passes at the line of scrimmage, as he had six pass defenses in 2012.
Taylor possesses an explosive burst off the snap and has the speed to chase down ball-carriers.
Taylor showed he is a playmaker during the East-West Shrine Game, and it would be smart for the Jaguars to give him a chance.
With linebacker Daryl Smith set to be a free agent this offseason, the Jaguars may be looking to find his replacement.
They may not need to look any further than Howard's Keith Pough.
Pough is one of the all-time best players in FCS history; he set an FCS record for career tackles for loss with 71. He won the 2012 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year Award and was a named to the first-team All-MEAC team on three occasions.
Pough had an illustrious career at Howard, and it earned him an invite to the East-West Shrine Game. He impressed coaches and scouts during the practices leading up to the game. He wowed scouts and coaches with his natural athleticism and aggressive style of play.
He is huge for a linebacker at 6'3" and 240 pounds, but he still has the ability to be solid in coverage.
Pough could be a good strong-side linebacker in the NFL, and he proved his worth at the Shrine Game. He will be quickly moving up draft boards following his performance in St. Petersburg.
The Jaguars could get a dynamic playmaker and a replacement for Smith by drafting Pough.
Quarterback Collin Klein was all the talk heading into the Shrine Game, but another Wildcat stole the show.
Kansas State cornerback Nigel Malone had an amazing game at the Shrine Bowl. He was named the game's defensive MVP following a game in which he returned an interception for a touchdown.
Malone's great play in the Shrine Bowl shouldn't have surprised anyone as he had a phenomenal two-year career for the Wildcats.
Malone led the Big 12 in interceptions with seven in 2011, and it landed him on the 2011 All-Big 12 first team. He followed it up with another good season in 2012 with five interceptions and a spot on the 2012 All-Big 12 second team (media). Malone was also a two-time finalist for the Jim Thorpe award.
Although he lacks the ideal size, Malone is a physical player who doesn't back down from bigger receivers. He has good awareness and attacks the ball while it's in the air.
Malone has shown he has the skills necessary to play in the NFL, and the Jaguars would get great value by drafting him late. He could be a very good nickel corner for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars not only lack starting quality offensive linemen, they also lack depth across the line. Terron Armstead from Arkansas Pine-Bluff could provide depth along the line while being developed into something more.
Armstead is another player who is turning heads following a good showing during the Shrine Game. He had a good week of practices and showed he has the feet and the athleticism to hold up against pass-rushers. He's also a player who doesn't make many mistakes.
Armstead played left tackle in college, but he's athletic enough to possibly move to the interior of the offensive line and be a pulling guard. He would provide good depth in several positions on the line and could eventually develop into a starter.
The Jaguars offensive line was dreadful in 2012, and it's an area that has to be addressed in the draft. I think drafting Armstead would provide quality depth to a weak area.