The Dallas Cowboys need help all over their roster, and the East-West Shrine Game is a great opportunity to uncover some potential mid- and late-round prospects who can give the 'Boys much-needed depth. Over the past two seasons, only 11 total players from the Shrine Game have gotten drafted in the first three rounds.
Still, the contest is an opportunity for scouts and entire organizations to uncover hidden gems who could turn into potential all-stars. The Cowboys have historically been adept at bringing in high-impact undrafted free agents, and many of their undrafted signings in 2014 will presumably be playing in this game.
Combing through Shrine Game practice reports and combining that information with scouting reports, stats and player measurables, here are the five most important players for the Cowboys to watch in the East-West Shrine Game.
It's pretty obvious that the Cowboys need a defensive end, and you can expect them to address the position within the first couple rounds. That doesn't mean they can't come back to it later in the draft, however.
If the 'Boys want to add defensive end depth late in the draft, they should take a look at West Virginia's Will Clarke. Clarke has elite size at nearly 6'7", and he's impressing scouts at the East-West Shrine Game. PhiladelphiaEagles.com's Tony Pauline reported that Clarke has "continued to impress with his combination of size and athleticism."
Late-round picks rarely work out, so teams should be trying to hit a home run when the cost is low. There's no reason to bring in low-upside players who might make the roster but will never be anything more than special teams players. Clarke is the sort of high-ceiling prospect that teams should covet late in the draft.
Another defensive end with elite size, Bloomsburg's Larry Webster stands 6'7". He's a little light at 250 pounds, but he clearly has the frame to add bulk.
Scouts at the game are enamored with Webster, according to DraftBrowns.com's Justin Higdon. His size has obviously generated a lot of talk, but some like that he's a former basketball player and have even questioned if he could make a Jimmy Graham/Jordan Cameron-esque move to tight end.
Because of that potential versatility, I think Webster could be unusually safe for a late-round pick. It's not that he can or should play two positions in the NFL, but rather the potential to contribute at more than one spot raises his floor. And of course, his measurables alone make him a high-upside player.
Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley is a tall (6'3"), athletic player on the inside. The first thing that stands out about Bromley is his 2013 production, as he recorded 41 tackles and, more important, nine sacks in the ACC. That's a high number for an interior defensive lineman in a big conference.
Bromley reported to the East-West Shrine Game at 307 pounds, which is apparently above his normal playing weight. That could potentially raise some red flags concerning his work ethic, so it's something to monitor. Nonetheless, you aren't normally going to get Bromley's upside in the sixth or seventh round.
At 6'3", 195 pounds, wide receiver Allen Hurns has the frame to put on more weight. He was excellent in his senior year at Miami. Hurns led the Hurricanes with 62 receptions for 1,162 yards and six scores. That's more impressive when you consider no other player on Miami had more than 600 receiving yards in 2013. Hurns is a big-play receiver with the size to remain relevant in the red zone. Best of all, he can probably be signed as an undrafted free agent.
Hurns has reportedly flashed his speed but had trouble fighting for the ball in traffic during the first few Shrine Game practices, according to Hogs Haven's Steve Shoop. His college touchdown rate was good but not great, suggesting Hurns' ability to impress in practice might be more important than for a wide receiver who consistently found himself in the end zone in college.
Those of you who follow my work know I love length along both the offensive and defensive lines. When a lineman has elite arm length, it allows him to get into the chest and control the opposition.
Well, Belhaven's Matt Hall is listed at 6'10", 320 pounds. While Hall is probably closer to 6'9" or even 6'8", it doesn't really matter; he's going to be the tallest player in this draft class. The question will be if he can move fluidly and athletically enough to keep up with speedier defensive ends. If that's the case, the sky is the limit for Hall.
National Football Post's Eric Galko reported that Hall was one of the only offensive linemen to stand out during early practices. He could be a high-upside selection to eventually seal up the right tackle position in Dallas.