The 7 Biggest Revelations from 2013 East-West Shrine Game
The college football "all-star" game season is underway, as players from across the nation gathered at Tropicana Field Saturday for this year's edition of the East-West Shrine Game.
The game (and even more importantly, the practices that led up to it) are an invaluable resource, both for players hoping to improve their NFL draft stock and teams looking to see just what these youngsters are made of.
Here's a look at what we learned this year in Florida.
Devin Taylor Stole the Show
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If there was an "MVP" of Saturday's game, then it's a ridiculously easy call to make.
South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor was a monster for the East team, racking up a handful of sacks and forcing a pair of fumbles.
It's worth noting that the 6'8", 267-pound Taylor had more sacks today than he did all season long, and Taylor wasn't invited to next week's Senior Bowl, but Saturday's monster showing can only help his stock in the eyes of scouts.
How much remains to be seen.
Collin Klein Is NOT an NFL Quarterback
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Collin Klein had a phenomenal 2012 season for Kansas State, leading the team to a BCS bowl berth and finishing the year as a Heisman finalist.
However, Klein's performance in the Shrine Game only reinforced the fact that he's just not an NFL quarterback.
As Pro Football Talk reported earlier this week Klein had a terrible week of practice, where scouts criticized his arm strength, throwing motion and decision-making.
Klein did absolutely nothing to silence those critics Saturday, completing only five of 13 attempts and badly underthrowing a deep ball that was intercepted.
Not All Kleins Went Kersplat
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It wasn't all bad for the Klein name at the Shrine Game.
Iowa State linebacker A.J. Klein, who NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock singled out as a player who helped his draft stock with strong practices this week, carried that over in Saturday's game.
The 6'2" 248-pound senior, who had 117 tackles for the Cyclones in 2012, had a very active first half that drew praise from NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah.
Iowa St LB AJ Klein had a great 1st Half. Quick to key/flow/fill. Great size and motor. Good buzz among scouting friends.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 19, 2013
Christine Michael Was the Best of the Backs
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Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris was one of the stars of last year's East-West Shrine Game, and after Morris finished second in the NFL in rushing as a rookie, many eyes were turned toward this year's crop of ball-carriers to see if there was a similar diamond in the rough.
If this week's practices and Saturday's game are any indication, then the best bet for such a steal likely lies with Christine Michael of Texas A&M, who led all rushers with 42 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
Michael's last two seasons in College Station were marred by injuries and off-field issues, but according to NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah at least one NFL team has given Michael a second-round grade based on his performance in practices this week.
Small Schools Can Produce Big-Time Pass-Rushers
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Arkansas Pine-Bluff may be a tiny FCS school, but that doesn't mean they can't produce impact players, at least if defensive end Brandon Thurmond is any indication.
The 6'2", 260-pounder, who led all FCS players with 17 sacks in 2012, turned heads in practices for the Shrine Game and followed that up with a good showing in the game itself, recording a sack.
Thurmond is probably looking at a switch to 3-4 OLB at the professional level, but the youngster definitely made the most of his first chance to make a good impression with NFL teams.
It's a WEAK Class at Quarterback
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Granted, the top prospects weren't in St. Petersburg Saturday, but if NFL teams are looking for a mid-round gem from the crop of quarterbacks at this year's Shrine Game, my advice would be to keep looking.
We've already touched on Klein's miserable outing, but he was far from alone.
Of Western Michigan's Alex Carder, Rookie Draft's Joe Everett had this to say:
QB Alex Carder with another stare-down telegraphed throw to Jasper Collins on a slant. Carder appears to have regressed at each opportunity.
— Joe Everett (@RookieDraft) January 19, 2013
Bleacher Report's own Dan Hope offered this glowing endorsement of Texas Tech's Seth Doege and Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron:
Colby Cameron giving Seth Doege some major competition for worst QB of first half. Been awful, especially with throw behind on that pick-6.
— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) January 19, 2013
All in all, this just isn't the year if you need a quarterback.
Bumphis Gets a Bump
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Given how badly the quarterbacks played on Saturday, it was kind of difficult for the wide receivers to stand out, but at least one player probably saw his draft stock get a boost.
Mississippi State's Chad Bumphis, who caught 58 passes for 922 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Bulldogs in 2012, led all receivers with four catches for 92 yards, including a 57-yard score.
Bumphis' performance drew a mixed review from Bleacher Report NFL Draft writer Chris Kouffman, however, who would have liked to have seen more consistency from Bumphis in practices this week.
Nice play by Chad Bumphis. As I said if he could consistently catch the football I'd have considered him the best WR I saw all week.
— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) January 19, 2013