East-West Shrine Game 2013: Practice Report on Showcase's Top QB Prospects

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2013

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 23:  Quarterback Matt Scott #10 of the Arizona Wildcats drops back to pass during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 23, 2012 in Tucson, Arizona.  The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 41-34.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Founded in 1925, the East-West Shrine Game provides impending NFL prospects with an annual chance to exhibit themselves in front of professional scouts. 

This year's game will be played on Saturday, January 19th at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

While it is not as high-profile (or elite-caliber) the Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game has proven to be a gateway for unheralded prospects to make a name for themselves. Just last year, Washington Redskins star back Alfred Morris burst onto the scene in St. Pete before being drafted in the sixth round.

In a class that, even at the top, struggles at the quarterback position, it comes as no surprise that no truly elite signal-callers made the trip to Tropicana. But there are a number of intriguing passers who will participate on Saturday, some of whom could be littering NFL rosters next season.

Let's look at how four of the brightest looked in practice this week.


Matt Scott, Arizona

ESPN.com Positional Rank: 12

Out of the underwhelming group of quarterbacks at this year's Shrine Game, Scott initially stood out as the one most scouts were intrigued by. During Thursday's practice, he showed why.

He throws the ball too hard on short-to-medium throws, and his accuracy needs a lot of work, but he's a fluid passer with a nice release. 

Per ESPN.com's Steve Muench:

Arizona QB Matt Scott struggled early in the week, but he looked much better on Thursday. Scott's footwork and release were strong, he got the ball out quickly, and he made a perfect throw to the corner of the end zone on a fade route. He could not have dropped the ball over the defender and into the hands of Nevada TE Zach Sudfeld any more perfectly on the play.

Scott also made better decisions, including pulling the ball down and running when his receivers were covered in seven-on-seven drills. He began the process of salvaging his week on Thursday, and a good showing in the game on Saturday would complete a nice turnaround for Scott.

He currently carries a late-round grade, and while a good showing on Saturday won't quite vault him to the middle rounds, it certainly won't hurt his stock.


Alex Carder, Western Michigan

ESPN.com Positional Rank: 15

Carder's stock took a hit after an injury-plagued senior season. Even when he was on the field, he didn't look exactly like himself, throwing just 13 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Coming on the heels of 61 touchdowns and 24 interceptions the previous two years, those struggles did a number on his stock.

Judging his practice performance on Monday, ESPN.com's Steve Muench noted that he struggles with downfield accuracy—a common problem among quarterbacks of this caliber—before detailing some positive takeaways:

However, he [Carder] did show good patience on an out/slant combo route at one point, seeing that the out route was covered and waiting for the slant to clear before putting the ball where the receiver could produce after the catch. 

Carder doesn't have a cannon arm, but he had a good day overall and built a little momentum.

After a down senior season, Carder was certainly hoping to set the roof on fire. He wasn't quite that proficient, but his performance in St. Pete shouldn't hurt his grade one bit.


Seth Doege, Texas Tech

ESPN.com Positional Rank: 18

Like most quarterback prospects coming out of Texas Tech, Doege put up exorbitant numbers in college. He surpassed 4,000 yards in each of the past two seasons and tossed 39 touchdowns in 2012 alone.

Like most quarterback prospects coming out of Texas Tech, however, Doege is also brandished with the unfortunate epithet of "system quarterback." His accuracy is impeccable, but heading into the week, there were major questions about his arm strength.

Per Russ Lande of the National Football Post, Doege silenced some critics on Monday by flashing "a stronger arm than expected." West coach Lehman Bennett also explicitly named Doege among the players who impressed him this week (h/t ESPN.com).

If he can continue to add strength, especially on the heels of Graham Harrell's (relative) NFL success, Doege might get a shot in the league next season.


Collin Klein, Kansas State

ESPN.com Positional Rank: N/A

Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron and Southeastern Louisiana's Nathaniel Stanley are ranked higher by ESPN.com (which doesn't even rank Klein among quarterbacks), but all eyes have been on Kansas State's Heisman finalist nonetheless.

Unfortunately, the returns were pretty brutal.

Russ Lande of the National Football Post ranked Klein among the four players who hurt their stock most this week, sharing some harsh words about a kid he had high hopes for:

Perhaps the player I was singularly most disappointed in this week, Klein will need to shine the rest of the spring for a team to draft him with intentions of trying to develop him as a quarterback.

Prior to this week I viewed Klein as an outstanding developmental quarterback prospect because of his combination of good size, athleticism, running ability, toughness, smarts and intangibles.

However, throughout the week of practice Klein displayed a slow release with definitive hitch that led to the ball coming out of his hand like a shot-put. When combined with his being late getting rid of the ball, his passes lacking zip and accuracy really had him looking bad throwing the ball.

In the end, I do not believe Klein will be drafted before the sixth or seventh round, if he is drafted at all, and will have to spend the 2013 season on a practice squad trying to prove he warrants being developed as a quarterback.

However, after this week’s poor passing display leads me to believe his best chance of success in the NFL is as a tight end.

ESPN.com's Steve Muench lauded Klein for his Heisman-worthy intangibles after the first practice, but he later went on to admit that "Klein has not shown enough to make teams believe he can play quarterback at the next level."

Like many esteemed, mobile Heisman candidates (or winners) before him, Klein doesn't look to have an NFL future under center.


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