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Atlanta Falcons 2014 Draft: A Scouting Guide for East-West Shrine Game

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Atlanta Falcons 2014 Draft: A Scouting Guide for East-West Shrine Game
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

The East-West Shrine Game is in Tampa Bay on January 18, 2014 at 4 p.m. ET, with coverage on NFL Network. The Atlanta Falcons will be scouting players at this game for the draft, and there are quite a few prospects for the Falcons to check out.

The process behind the Shrine game includes quite a few practices throughout the week to see how the players respond to coaching, how they can fit the schemes that the NFL is throwing their way and eventually their overall abilities compared to other players at the game.

Atlanta has three main spots they need to focus on during the game. They need to check out the offensive line, edge pass-rushers and defensive tackles. There's multiple variations of each group that they need to investigate.

 

Offensive Linemen

The Falcons shouldn't look at the Shrine Game for any potential starts on their 2014 team. However, a legitimate group of depth players could be had from the group in Tampa. At center, a pair of talents in James Stone and Gabe Ikard could be possible late-round or undrafted free agents to go after.

They are both in that 6'3", 290- to 300-pound range and have a nasty demeanor to go with their quickness off the snap. The real question is how well they can hold up to the massive nose tackles like Zachariah Kerr, Justin Ellis and Beau Allen. If they hold up well, they can move into a mid-round status.

At guard, there aren't many intriguing prospects. However, potential guys for a reserve spot are Donald Hawkins, Zach Fulton and Ryan Groy. All of these prospects have tackle experience and are better as pass-blockers than run-blockers. These are all fringe-draftable guys who could be potential undrafted free agents.

When looking at the tackles, there's not much there. Size guys like Matt Feiler and Matt Hall, who are 6'7" and taller, don't have great quickness. A unique tackle-to-guard convert who could be possible in this group is Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from McGill.

The 6'5", 315-pound Canadian will see the best competition he has in his career this week. If he shows that he's capable of playing at a high level against these prospects, he could earn his way into a draftable or priority free-agent grade like Stefan Charles earned last season.

 

Pass-Rushers

There are quite a few pass-rushing talents in this year's Shrine Game. The Falcons could get someone from the game in Tampa for cheap in the draft or in undrafted free agency who's more of an underrated scheme fit and develop them into that next great rusher they have needed.

At base 4-3 defensive end in this year's game, there aren't really any guys who should be drafted. Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Larry Webster, Cassius Marsh and Josh Mauro all have some natural talent at the position but are unlikely to go before the sixth round. That's the issue with project players.

However, a good week in Tampa could turn things around for the quartet here. Webster is the most unique out of all of them. He is a 6'7", 250-pound former basketball player and could turn that athleticism into a true asset at end with proper coaching. But right now, he's the biggest project in the draft.

As far as linebackers who could be unique pass-rushers for the Falcons, Tyler Starr and Shaq Barrett are the most unique players. Barrett can play as a defensive end and linebacker in the scheme. He's been one of the most productive pass-rushers in college football this past season.

Starr is unique because of his ridiculous athleticism. At 6'5", 250 pounds with athleticism that should put him in the 4.6-4.7 range in his 40-yard dash, the Falcons could be looking at a guy who has a ton of potential within the scheme to be a breakout star.

 

Defensive Tackles

There are some late-round steals to be had at this spot. There's big guys who can play nose tackle and smaller guys who can play the pass-rushing role at the 3-technique or even slide over to the 5-technique in some sets. The best players here could go as high as the third round.

The top pair of nose tackles at the game are Beau Allen and Justin Ellis of the West roster. They are both 330-plus pounds and 6'2" or taller. The Falcons could easily use either guy, as they both have shown ability to collapse the pocket and stuff the run.

It will be interesting to see if the West puts both of them on the field together to overpower the smaller guards and centers of the East. These guys may not go earlier than the fourth or fifth rounds, but they could still provide, at a minimum, rotational value to the team that drafts them.

This is where the best players in the game have been all week. Between Bruce Gaston, Jay Bromley and Garrison Smith, the potential for a legitimate mid-round pick is there. Bromley is a 6'4", 293-pound tackle who has been able to slide to either a 5- or 6- technique defensive end role and still create pressure.

And he's also the guy who the Falcons should look at if they somehow earn a third-round compensatory draft pick. Bromley could be the one player in the entire game who could wind up starting for the Falcons in 2014 and be an upgrade as a rotational defensive tackle.

 

All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.

Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.

Follow @ScottCarasik

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