Though there aren't any prospects currently slated as first-round talents set to appear in the 2014 East-West Shrine Game on Saturday, there are at least three players who could drastically improve their 2014 NFL draft stock.
By the time the game is over, expect to hear substantial buzz around the following names.
Jordan Lynch, QB/RB/Safety
The 2013 Heisman Trophy finalist is probably the most well-known prospect scheduled to compete at the EWSG at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
He was second in the nation in rushing in 2013 for the Northern Illinois Huskies, despite playing quarterback. He talks with Dan Patrick on the Dan Patrick Show about some of his accomplishments.
Lynch stands only six feet tall, so he will still have to combat the height stigma that signal-callers under 6'3" face.
Also, Lynch's passes have been the subject of criticism because he fails to throw a tight spiral. CBS Sports draft expert Rob Rang, writes:
A concern, however, is that too many of Lynch's passes wobble, negating some of his velocity and forcing receivers to make difficult grabs.
It's a legitimate concern considering Lynch could be playing for a team who plays its games in windy conditions or even on the road in the same situations.
Combine the questions about his throwing with his beastly abilities as a runner, and you have a player seemingly headed for a position change in the NFL.
Running back seems like the most logical transition, though safety is something that Rang and others have mentioned as a possibility.
Lynch should get an opportunity to show what he can do as a runner at the EWSG. Once teams see how open he is to playing running back, he will be a bit more attractive to general managers who may be enamored with his toughness and football instincts.
Greg Gabriel of National Football Post thinks highly of Lynch. He wrote:
Lynch is an outstanding leader and has excellent football character. This will go a long way in determining his success at the next level. If I was doing the drafting, I would draft Lynch as a QB and let him show me he can’t play QB before I would have him switch positions.
Lynch is the kind of guy you want on your team because of his versatility and leadership. Ultimately, he does need to have a primary position, even if he spends some time as a gadget player in Wildcat sets.
Pierre Desir, CB
One of the things that makes the Seattle Seahawks secondary so good is the height of the players.
Richard Sherman is 6'3", DeShawn Shead is 6'2" and Brandon Browner is 6'4". The only exception is all-world safety Earl Thomas who is just 5'10", but he is such a freak, the height doesn't even matter.
Lindenwood College's Pierre Desir has similar length to Seattle's corners, and he simply tore up the competition in the MIAA conference.
Standing 6'2", Desir had 25 interceptions in his college career split between Lindenwood and Washburn college. EDraft's Mike Johnson breaks down Desir's athletic ability:
His [Desir] athleticism definitely stands out, a former running back with the ability to return kicks. Desir knows how to use his size to gain advantage on the wide receiver and put himself in position to either deflect the pass or intercept it. Desir does a nice job changing direction with his hips, and change direction to follow his man.
The young man will have much to prove as he gets an opportunity to test his skills against Division I talent. Look for him to rise to the occasion. Don't be surprised if you see him climb as high as the second round on some draft boards.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB
Small-school quarterbacks are always intriguing prospects. This is the case with Eastern Illinois' Garoppolo as he's been wowing scouts with his sharp mechanics at the EWSG practices.
The 2014 NFL draft is already considered a fairly strong one from a quarterback standpoint.
Garoppolo doesn't have a chance to push the likes of Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Central Florida's Blake Bortles or Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, but he can solidify himself as a fifth-round pick.
He could be the type of developmental quarterback that a team simply falls in love with.
A strong showing on Saturday could make him the hot name at QB, and that's a good place to be.
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