East-West Shrine Game 2014 Roster: Sleepers to Watch in NFL Draft Showcase

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2014

Aug 31, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Eastern Illinois Panthers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) drops back to pass during the first half against the San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

The East-West Shrine Game might feature second-tier prospects compared to the Senior Bowl, but there are plenty of college stars who will turn heads in this showcase.

There will be no shortage of NFL scouts looking for a diamond in the rough that could end up being a star at the next level. While there are some big names from big schools looking to show they have what it takes to succeed in the NFL, the true fun of this game is examining the small-school prospects.

Fortunately, this competition has plenty of those likely to shine on Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. on NFL Network. Here is a look at the top sleepers at the event followed by full rosters for each team.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois

Dec 13, 2013; Charleston, IL, USA;  Eastern Illinois Panthers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) during the third quarter against the Towson Tigers at O'Brien Field. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports
Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes it takes putting up some huge numbers in order to get attention at the lower levels of college football. Jimmy Garoppolo did just that, leading the FCS with 5,050 passing yards while being one of only three players in Division I to top 50 passing touchdowns.

Of course, there are plenty of system quarterbacks around the country who can put up big numbers without being legitimate NFL prospects. Garoppolo is not one of those players. According to Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated, all 32 teams have sent representatives to check out the Eastern Illinois star.

Johnson also quoted some of the quarterback's coaches who explained what makes him so good:

"Jimmy just flat-out has a very quick release," (assistant coach Roy) Wittke said. "It's a short stroke, and he gets the ball out of his hand."


"(Garoppolo) is one of the best I've ever had at being able to take that information, digest it and put it on the football field without ever having practiced it," (head coach Dino) Babers said.

While there are some familiar names at quarterback in this game—including Notre Dame's Tommy Rees and Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch—Garoppolo is the one who will truly shine.

Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood

There is a strong group of cornerbacks at this event, including Ross Cockrell, Rashaad Reynolds and E.J. Gaines. However, Pierre Desir is the player who can really prove himself.

The Division II player was dominant for Lindenwood throughout his career and was recently selected as winner of the Cliff Harris Award as the best small-college defensive player of the year. In his career, he intercepted 25 passes and broke up 52 more, which became a new MIAA record.

Amazingly, much of this production came late in his career after opposing teams had decided not to throw to him. Somehow, Desir still found a way to make an impact whenever he was on the field.

Besides just natural instincts, the cornerback also has the size and length that will help him out, according to Josh Norris of NBC Sports:

Desir's only knock is that he has not faced elite competition. However, a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game will prove that he can handle some of the best around.

Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky

Sep 28, 2013; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Navy Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds (19) is tackled by Western Kentucky Hilltoppers linebacker Andrew Jackson (4) during the first half at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-US
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

When you are a small-school prospect, you already have questions about how well your game can translate to the next level. Adding off-field problems is not a good way to help raise your stock.

However, Andrew Jackson will have to answer for a suspension that took place earlier in the season due to what coach Bobby Petrino called a violation of team rules. The good news is that he came back after one missed game and provided his best effort of the season, totaling 15 tackles in a win over Army.

If these issues are behind him, Jackson instantly becomes a quality prospect that should be high on the list of middle linebacker prospects. He not only has a great deal of strength, but he has good instincts that allow him to get to the ball-carrier in a hurry.

Additionally, he can put some big hits on opponents, as seen with this Jadeveon Clowney-esque play:

Jackson is a consistent producer when he is on the field, and he could end up being a steal for some team in the middle rounds.

Full Rosters - East Offense
Pos#First NameLast NameHTWTSchool
QB11JimmyGaroppolo6'3"222Eastern Illinois
QB6JordanLynch6'216Northern Illinois
RB24ZachBauman5'10"200Northern Arizona
RB27LaDariusPerkins5'10"190Mississippi State
TE82AlexBayer6'4"253Bowling Green
TE8CrockettGillmore6'6"245Colorado State
TE18BlakeJackson6'3"235Oklahoma State
WR84MattHazel6'3"190Coastal Carolina
WR1AllenHurns6'3"195Miami (Fla.)
WR88ErikLora5'11"190Eastern Illinois
C74ChrisElkins6'4"300Youngstown State
G73ZachFulton6'5"323Tennessee (Injured)
G63JohnUrschel6'3"308Penn State
OT71KyleBryant6'7"320Youngstown State
OT 52JustinBritt6'6"315Missouri (Injured)
OT 52DonaldHawkins6'5"310Texas
OT66LaurentDuvernay-Tardif6'5"315McGill (Canada)
OT76MattHall6'10"320Belhaven (Miss.)
via ShrineGame.com
Full Rosters - East Defense
Pos#First NameLast NameHTWTSchool
DL98WillClarke6'7"273West Virginia
DL90BruceGaston, Jr.6'2"305Purdue
DL97DemonteMcAllister6'2"290Florida State
DL99EthanWestbrooks6'4"263West Texas A&M
LB13XaviusBoyd6'2"243Western Kentucky
LB40GlennCarson6'3"235Penn State
LB4AndrewJackson6'1"257Western Kentucky
LB46DerrellJohnson6'2"263East Carolina
LB34DeDe (Devekeyan)Lattimore6'1"237South Florida
LB53CodyPeterson6'3"228Navy (Injured)
LB41JohnnyMillard6'3"240Cal Poly
S10TreBoston6'1"190North Carolina
S17A.J.Marshall6'0"190Wake Forest
S12DezmenSouthward6'2"214Wisconsin (Injured)
S14JemeaThomas5'10"195Georgia Tech
CB22TravisCarrie6'212Ohio (Injured)
CB5NevinLawson5'10"186Utah State
via ShrineGame.com
Full Rosters - West Offense
Pos#First NameLast NameHTWTSchool
QB11TommyRees6'1"215Notre Dame
QB10KeithWenning6'3"220Ball State
RB20TimothyFlanders5'9"210Sam Houston State
RB37AnthonyLaCoste5'10"205Air Force
RB31BenMalena5'9"195Texas A&M
WR2JohnBrown5'11"170Pitt State
WR81SeantaviusJones6'3"200Valdosta State
WR89ChandlerJones5'11"175San Jose State
WR7TJJones5'11"190Notre Dame (Injured)
C63DillonFarrell6'5"290New Mexico
G72AustinWentworth6'5"300Fresno State
OT76DannyKistler Jr.6'8"315Montana
OT78CharlesLeno, Jr.6'4"295Boise State
via ShrineGame.com
Full Rosters - West Defense
Pos#First NameLast NameHTWTSchool
DL70JustinEllis6'2"357Louisiana Tech
DL95EvanGill6'3"291Manitoba (Canada)
DL98DerrickHopkins6'0"311Virginia Tech
DL99LarryWebster, III6'7"250Bloomsburg
DL92ZachMoore6'6"285Concordia (Injured)
FS27StephenObeng-Agyapong5'10"205Penn State
LB56ShaquilBarrett6'2"250Colorado State
LB40NateDreiling6'4"226Pitt State
LB55PrinceShembo6'1"250Notre Dame
LB41TylerStarr6'5"250South Dakota
LB44MaxBullough6'3"245Michigan State
S3AldenDarby5'11"195Arizona State
S8DaytawionLowe5'11"205Oklahoma State
CB22BeneBenwikere6'0"192San Jose State
CB32E.J.Gaines5'11"195Missouri (Injured)
CB12BennettJackson6'195Notre Dame
CB16RashaadReynolds5'11"186Oregon State
CB25MarcusWilliams5'11"192North Dakota State
via ShrineGame.com

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