Seattle Seahawks 2014 Draft: A Scouting Guide to the East-West Shrine Game
The East-West Shrine Game might not attract the top players like the Senior Bowl does, but that doesn't make it any less important for the draft process. The Shrine Game is often where teams find their late-round draft gems.
The Seahawks have drafted or signed one player from the Shrine Game in each of the four years under general manager John Schneider, including defensive end Dexter Davis in 2010, safety Jeron Johnson in 2011, offensive guard Rishaw Johnson in 2012, and running back Christine Michael in 2013.
While the game has significant meaning to NFL teams and the players involved, it can be difficult for fans who aren't familiar with the players. While there are a few players from FBS schools, like Arizona State and Texas, most of the rosters are populated with players from small schools like Coastal Carolina, Lindenwood and Valdosta State.
The Seahawks have some clear areas of focus for their roster this offseason. They especially need to find additional depth at wide receiver, the defensive line and in the defensive backfield. With that in mind, here is a brief scouting guide of players who the Seahawks will likely be watching during Saturday's game:
Wide Receiver Seantavious Jones
The West team's Seantavious Jones, from Valdosta State, is a guy who has turned some heads this week. Bleacher Report's Michael Schottley said that Jones "stood out" at practice on Tuesday. He's 6'3" and plays even bigger than that, with great athleticism. There has been some questions raised about his hands in practice, but overall he is an exceptional athlete.
Cecil Lammey (@cecillammey) tweeted on January 15, 2014:
Seantavius Jones WR Valdosta St. 1 of my favorite players here @Shrine_Game physical, large wingspan, squares body to LOS, hands catcher
Defensive Tackle Justin Ellis
If the Seahawks decide to look for a run-stuffer in the draft, then the guy they'll be watching this week is defensive tackle Justin Ellis from Louisiana Tech. Ellis is massive at 357 pounds, but has surprisingly quick and active feet for someone his size. He also uses his hands well against blockers, which help him be effective at getting off blocks and into running lanes.
As per Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com:
He used his active hands and quick feet to beat blockers during drills, putting spin moves on Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard and also steamrolling him on a few occasions. To no surprise, Ellis weighed in as the heaviest prospect here at 351 pounds and he uses that girth well to bully blockers and surge through the line of scrimmage.
Quarterback Keith Price
On paper, Washington QB Keith Price would seem like a good fit to come in and back up Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Price has good speed, decent arm strength and can extend the play with his feet. Unfortunately, while Price might be a favorite in the city of Seattle because of where he played in college, his performance this week has made him look undraftable.
Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey listed Price at the bottom of the six quarterbacks at practice this week. Price was inaccurate and struggled to make NFL quality throws. Price will need a massive performance in the game on Saturday if he is to undo the damage done by his week in practice.
Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) tweeted on January 14, 2014:
Keith Price has missed vertically repeatedly today. Placement off, velocity not there. He's done nothing to emerge as draftable.
Tight End Jordan Najvar
Baylor tight end Jordan Najvar is a big target in the passing game, though he can struggle as a blocker. Najvar isn't going to be a threat to replace a guy like Zach Miller, but he should develop into a reliable weapon that a team could rely on in multiple-TE sets.
A late invite, Najvar has already made the most of his opportunity. He didn’t always get a chance to show it at Baylor, but the sure-handed pass-catcher made several smooth, in-traffic catches Monday when working down the field. Separating from linebackers and attacking the ball at the highest point against zone coverage. - Eric Galko, National Football Post
Cornerback Pierre Desir
Despite playing for tiny Lindenwood University, cornerback Pierre Desir is definitely a player worth watching during Saturday's game. Desir is the type of long cornerback that the Seahawks love. He's a fluid athlete who's good in the backpedal and has solid technique. This week has been a chance for Desir to show that he can play with the players from FBS schools, and he hasn't disappointed.
According to Dan Brungler of NFLDraftScout.com:
Desir is going up against FBS-level wide receivers this week like Miami's Allen Hurns and Michigan's Jeremy Gallon, but he hasn't looked out of place through one day of practice. He also received praise from the coaching staff for his ball awareness to get his head turned, find the ball and come off his man to pursue the ballcarrier.
It is no secret that the Seahawks need to draft some offensive linemen this offseason. Unfortunately, the group present at the Shrine Game aren't likely to offer Seattle much help. The talent on the offensive has been overshadowed and outperformed by their defensive counterparts all week.
As per Eric Galko of the National Football Post:
The lack of talent on both lines is apparent. While a few stood out in their limited opportunities (Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard, Furman’s Dakota Dozier and Belhaven’s Matt Hall), most offensive linemen succumbed to the remarkable defensive line talent in attendance.
Wide Receiver Matt Hazel
Another wide receiver who will likely get attention from the Seahawks is the East team's Matt Hazel out of Coastal Carolina. Hazel is a 6'2" playmaker with great hands who looks like he could develop into a very productive receiver in the NFL.
According to Dane Bruglar of NFLDraftScout.com:
Through three days of practice, Hazel has stood out as arguably the top performer at receiver this week with his focus and hand-eye coordination to catch everything with his hands. He lacks ideal strength and has been out-muscled at times, but he shows good body control to make smooth adjustments on off-target throws.
Cornerback Shaquille Richardson
Arizona State cornerback Shaquille Richardson looks the part of a Seattle Seahawks cornerback. He is very long, physical and likes to play press coverage on receivers. It also appears that Richardson will be available late in the draft when the Seahawks like to select their defensive backs. A strong performance on Saturday could turn Richardson into this year's Seattle CB project.
As per Kyle Crabbs of nfldraftbible.com:
Richardson is super long and he's a little slow with his back pedal, but he was apt covering a lot of different routes today. He used his length to wall off a receiver on a go route but he also had the change of direction and technique to correctly break on his inside breaking receiver in 1 on 1s and score an interception.
Defensive End Cassius Marsh
The pass-rusher to watch on Saturday is UCLA defensive end Cassius Marsh. Marsh has shown great speed and awareness when coming off the edge. This is especially true when he is able to widen out into the 9-position like the Seahawks often have their LEO defensive end do.
According to Kyle Crabbs of NFLDraftbible.com:
Marsh looks quicker than I ever recall seeing him on film. He's a high effort player who made several plays in team today, widening out to a 9 tech to crash off the back side and tackle RB Ben Malena for a loss and immediately afterwards showing good recognition, change of direction and aggressiveness blowing through a back's block for what would have been a sack on a rolling Keith Price.