2014 NFL Draft: Updated Stock Report After East-West Shrine Game
In what was the best Shrine Game roster of the past few years, there was plenty of talent for evaluators to comb through during a long week of practices and in the game itself. Scouts got a chance to see what prospects weren't able to show during their college career along with the ability to compare skill sets side-by-side with their peers.
With that, let's take a look at five prospects that helped themselves this week and five that gave evaluators doubt about their NFL futures.
Stock Up: John Brown, WR, Pittsburg State
Entering the game as a relative unknown, Brown showcased the quickness throughout his route tree, the balance and control at the top of his route and the physicality with his hands to win downfield and against press in the limited opportunities they had in practice. He didn't get a chance to showcase his ball skills during practice (thanks to a mediocre set of quarterbacks) or the game (due to a lack of targets).
He’s a guy scouts will certainly have to review and do their film work on after his success this week despite not grabbing a pass in the final game. While he didn't face many great NFL competitors, he was considered the "best receiver" fellow Shrine Game standout Pierre Desir of Lindenwood had ever faced.
Stock Down: Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State
Bullough actually looked OK in drills this week, assuming a bit of a leadership role and showing more quickness and IQ in pass coverage than I expected. His fluidity in drills, however, showed the limitations he may have in terms of range outside the pocket and ability to drop into deep coverage on third down.
Combining that with weighing in at 265 pounds certainly built concerns to his scouting report, and he may be limited to a 3-4 defense based on weight and limited range alone. He finished with three tackles and was active around the ball throughout the game, a clear leader on his defense. Bullough will need to make up for his weight issues and show better-than-anticipated testing results at the NFL Combine.
Stock Up: Austin Wentworth, OG, Fresno State
Wentworth moved over from his college tackle spot over to guard, and he had arguably the best week of any offensive lineman here. With strong hands on the interior, he held up against the bigger nose tackles and looked comfortable holding his ground laterally in the short area against counter rushes. Particularly, he was able to hold both Justin Ellis of Louisiana Tech and Beau Allen of Wisconsin, two of the more impressive interior linemen at the event, at bay on more than one occasion.
With his play during the week, Wentworth built on a solid college resume at Fresno State and may have cemented his mid or late-round grade for NFL teams.
Stock Down: Gabe Ikard, C, Oklahoma
Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard got the Senior Bowl call-up, so he’ll have a chance to redeem himself in Mobile. He struggled against the bigger nose tackles in St. Petersburg all week, particularly against one of the week's big winners, Justin Ellis. Ikard still was solid in his footwork as a run blocker and showed the balance and control as an up-field blocker.
The zone-blocking center/guard will have to show at least a little more consistent interior strength if he hopes to be a mid-round pick. He still looks to be an early fourth-rounder and a potential plug-and-play starter for a zone-blocking team, but he'll need to make the most of his second opportunity in the All-Star circuit in Alabama.
Stock Up: Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
Arguably the biggest “winner” of the week, Ellis showcased tremendous power and balance as an interior rusher, driving through most interior linemen he faced this week. He knocked Gabe Ikard on his back twice, and he even executed two well-timed, under-control spin moves during one-on-one drills. He also showcased his ability to drive the line of scrimmage immediately and penetrate head-up.
Despite not registering on the stat sheet during the game, Ellis made his impact felt by driving through the pocket and forcing quarterbacks/running backs off their desire path.
The sky’s almost the limit for how he can go in the draft. The second round may be his landing spot if he can impress in Mobile as well, as he received a Senior Bowl invite. The Shrine Game lacked great depth in terms of interior linemen, an area where the Senior Bowl has plenty of talent and should test Ellis throughout practices.
Stock Up: Zach Bauman, RB, Northern Arizona
Based on the week of practices alone, Bauman was the best running back in attendance. While most of the running backs did little during the week to wow teams, Bauman's speed was consistently apparent no matter what the drill. Running backs are generally tough to evaluate during practices, but he emerged as the clear-cut top talent.
Showing impressive quickness up and through the hole and the ability to get to his top speed quickly in the open field, Bauman didn't disappoint during the game and was strongly considered for offensive MVP after leading the East roster with 47 yards on just eight carries.
He earned the "re-watch" label from evaluators like myself after an impressive week, and if his Northern Arizona film matches up with his Shrine Game performance, Bauman could be a draftable running back in this deep class.
Stock Down: John Urschel, OG, Penn State
Penn State's John Urschel really struggled all week as an interior blocker, dealing with some of the more talented interior pass-rushers the Shrine Game has seen in some time. After being a near turnstile on Day 1, Urschel became more consistent as the week went on. But his hand placement doesn't seem to be NFL-ready in terms of hand quickness, and he needs to exchange his feet quicker laterally to control speed rushers
Despite some improvement over the week, he likely fell further down teams' boards and considered undraftable by many. The good news for Urschel is that while the NFL dream may be a reach, he's a remarkably smart young man who should do well for himself with his college degree after finishing with a 4.0 GPA in Mathimatics.
Stock Up: Jeff Mathews, QB, Cornell
As a pure passer, Mathews displayed the most live arm of any quarterback in attendance. Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois was the big-name quarterback and the MVP of the game, but Mathews made the most of the Shrine Game opportunity. Despite an interception in the game, he was 4-for-5 and he didn't make any critical errors as a passer.
While practices and the game itself didn't give him the chance to showcase his biggest flaw—footwork under pressure—he did show that his arm strength, lower-body mechanics and deep-ball placement are all worth developing in the NFL. Mathews could land as a solid mid-round, developmental quarterback, especially after his performance during practice.
Because of his struggles as a senior compared to his junior year, scouts will need to review his 2012 and 2013 film to see which player they'll be getting as they consider drafting him.
Stock Down: Carrington Byndom, CB, Texas
After earning a Day 2 grade in the preseason, Byndom slowly worked down my board throughout the season thanks to lackluster physicality throughout his receiver’s route tree, and especially at the catch point. During practices, he did nothing to qualm those concerns and actually was exposed by multiple receivers in attendance.
Despite his hip fluidity and natural talent, along with 2.5 tackles and a tackle for a loss in the game, Byndom might struggle to be a top-five-round pick and could fall completely out of the draft. After Mack Brown called him one of the best cornerbacks he's ever coached, Byndom may struggle to last long in the NFL if he can't improve.
Stock Down: Garrison Smith, DT, Georgia
After flashing at times in 2013, Smith was inconsistent throughout his senior season and failed to stand out during practices. Lost in a sea of talented interior linemen on the Shrine Game roster, Smith's mediocrity and lack of up-field penetration didn't showcase the NFL skill set he occasionally showed in the SEC.
Hailing from a program known for offensive and defensive line talent, along with sporadic impressive games in college, Smith certainly did himself no favors with his play this week nor in the game, failing to register on the stat sheet or make a notable impact. He doesn't appear to fit any defense as a developmental starter.
In a fairly deep defensive tackle class, Smith's lack of impact during his senior season and the Shrine Game practices likely push him out of the 2014 NFL draft.