The East-West Shrine Game is a chance for the less heralded prospects in the senior class to prove their chops as potential NFL players. The East squad ending up winning the game 23-13, but the score is the least important aspect of the game. It's all about the players and their NFL dreams. Here are a few takeaways from the action.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s Draft Stock is Rising…Fast
Stats: 9-of-12 for 100 yards (8.3 YPA), 1 TD
Without question, Jimmy Garoppolo was the biggest story of the Shrine game. He is one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in the draft, but most of the nation hadn’t watched him play a snap.
Now they have.
Garoppolo won the Walter Payton award as the most outstanding offensive player in the FCS, and it’s not too hard to see why. The Eastern Illinois product put up Peyton Manning numbers, passing for 5,050 yards and 53 TDs to just nine interceptions.
Scouts knew he had the skills, but there were concerns about how much his numbers were inflated by the “pick-and-stick” spread system he thrived in at Eastern Illinois.
He only attempted 12 passes in the all-star game, but he was easily the best quarterback on the field, and his MVP performance definitely caused some scouts to swoon.
Garoppolo showed off his nice footwork, quick release and accuracy (in the first half at least) and has generated some momentum for the rest of the draft process.
He’ll be filling in for AJ McCarron at the Senior Bowl, where he’ll have the chance to build on this momentum. With another great performance in Mobile, Ala., Garoppolo could even force his way into the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Zach Bauman Was the Best Running Back All Week
Stats: 8 carries for 47 yards (5.9 YPC)
Zach Bauman slipped under the radar with other running backs like Ben Malena (Texas A&M) and Rajion Neal (Tennessee) in attendance.
Malena and Neal were afterthoughts after the week of practices and the exhibition game.
N.Arizona Zach Bauman with another solid run. He had arguably the best week of the RBs. Great quickness upfield once he makes a cut.— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) January 18, 2014
Bauman is undersized (5’7”, 196 lbs), but he was catching the eye of scouts all week:
The running back from Northern Arizona led the Shrine game in rushing and consistently showed his speed and ability to make defenders miss. He won’t shoot up draft boards to the same level as Garoppolo, but he’s an intriguing prospect and could be a hidden gem.
Jordan Lynch May Have to Switch Positions in the NFL
Stats: 2-of-7 for 3 yards (0.4 YPA), 0 TDs and 2 INTs
B/R’s own Michael Schottey summed it up nicely:
Jordan Lynch has been terrible today, but a lot of time between now and the draft for final pronouncements.— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) January 18, 2014
Jordan Lynch had a very rough outing and didn’t ease any concerns regarding his ability to pass the football at the next level.
He still looks to run too much and struggled with accuracy in the Shrine game. There is plenty of time for him to prove his chops as a passer, but the Shrine game won’t help his case to be drafted as an NFL quarterback.
Wide Receivers Put On a Show
Chandler Jones: 7 receptions for 73 yards; Jeremy Gallon: 4 receptions for 55 yards; Bernard Reedy: 4 receptions for 46 yards, 1 TD
Chandler Jones was the star of the show in terms of the wideouts, and he showed his ability to pick up yards after the catch and make plays in the passing game.
Likewise, Gallon and Reedy proved that they can be dynamic slot receivers in the NFL with their speed, hands and ability to make defenders miss.
All three players had tremendous college careers, but their NFL futures are in doubt due to a lack of elite size and speed. They will still need to improve their athleticism to maximize their draft stock, but these three receivers can provide depth for NFL receiving corps.