East-West Shrine Game 2014: Most Intriguing Prospects to Watch in Showcase

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIJanuary 16, 2014

DEKALB, IL - NOVEMBER 26: Quarterback Jordan Lynch #6 of the Northern Illinois Huskies carries the ball during the third quarter against the Western Michigan Broncos at Huskie Stadium on November 26, 2013 in DeKalb, Illinois. Northern Illinois defeated Western Michigan 33-14. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Since 1925, the East-West Shrine Game has been a showcase of some of college football's best talent. The game is instrumental in the evaluation process of NFL hopefuls who have played their last games for their respective college programs.

This is where the real evaluations begin for players on the next level of football. Every year there are players who garner tons of attention as teams and fans try to imagine how prospects could fit on their teams.

The 2014 game takes place on Saturday, Jan. 18 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and there are three prospects who stick out as the most intriguing of the lot. 

Jordan Lynch, QB/RB/WR/Safety

No one knows for sure what position Jordan Lynch will wind up playing in the NFL, but most would agree, he has a place in the pros. At only 6'0" and with questionable arm strength and accuracy, Lynch's chances to play quarterback in the NFL seem remote.

Instead, he'd be better off playing as a gadget player getting most of his touches out of the backfield. NFL.com's Bucky Brooks agrees. He wrote:

I believe he is destined to make a position change as a pro. He simply is not a talented enough passer to make it as a classic quarterback, yet he is so explosive as a runner that there is definitely a place for Lynch in the NFL. That's why I believe he should follow the blueprint of Denard Robinson, the former Michigan QB and current Jacksonville Jaguars rookie, and enter the league designated as an offensive weapon.

He could contribute to an offense as a running back-wide receiver and also serve as quarterback on trick plays or in Wildcat formation. Additionally, Lynch could emerge as an intriguing option as a return specialist in the kicking game.

Lynch was third in the nation in rushing, despite playing quarterback for the Northern Illinois Huskies. He had his worst performance of the season in the Poinsettia Bowl against Utah State.

He only accounted for 255 yards and two touchdowns—both of which are low by his lofty standards.

Lynch threw for 2,892 yards and ran for 1,920 in 2013. He also ran for 23 touchdowns and threw for another 24. 

It will be great to see Lynch get an opportunity to run with the ball exclusively in St. Petersburg. Playing for Northern Illinois, he was the team's entire offense. The Huskies needed him to play quarterback just so they could have the ball in their best playmaker's hands on every play.

In the NFL, Lynch's size and speed makeup could also make him a fit at safety, a la former Nebraska Cornhusker and NFL player Scott Frost.

The EWSG should be a good representation of what we can expect from Lynch in the NFL.

Brock Vereen, Safety

Oct 26, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive back Brock Vereen (21) tackles Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp (1) for a lose in the second half at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers won 34-23. Mandatory Credit: Jess
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The younger brother to the New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen, Brock is a solid safety prospect from the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

He is known as a hard-nosed, explosive hitter. Take a look at this big, legal hit against Michigan State.

At 6'0", 202 pounds, Vereen has the size to play in the NFL. He may be more of a strong safety in the next level because there are questions about his speed.

CBS Sports only lists Vereen as the 12th-best strong safety prospect. He can take steps to improve his standing with a strong showing at the EWSG.

Matt Hall, Offensive Tackle

At 6'10", 320 pounds, Hall will always stand out in a crowd. Things won't be any different for the 23-year-old from Belhaven. 

Hall has played with two different schools in the SEC (Ole Miss and Arkansas) but landed with the NAIA Belhaven Blazers for his junior and senior seasons. When a player of Hall's size comes along, injuries are always a concern, but he has been very durable.

He played in 12 games as a junior and was named to the NAIA All-American team as a senior. Watching the massive Hall compete against quality pass-rushers at the EWSG could sink or skyrocket his draft stock.

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