Sunday, 24 January 2010

East-West Shrine game notes

By Rob Staton
I've just finished watching the tape from yesterday's East-West Shrine game. There were some impressive performers - but here are the ones who caught my eye:

Blair White (WR, Michigan State)
Lacks eye catching speed but just seemed able to get open consistently. There's been some criticism about how often he body catches, but in the shrine game he was clearly the East's go-to-guy and did make some smart grabs. He's nothing more than a late round/UDFA prospect, but he's worth bringing in to camp for a further look.

Pat Paschall (RB, North Dakota State)
He didn't get much time on the field or much attention, but I liked what I saw from Paschall. He's not the biggest (198lbs) but he has the frame to add more bulk and not hit his athleticism too much (6'1"). Decent speed and didn't look fazed running through tackles. The reason I put him here though, is due to his pass protection. It was above average - as a UDFA he's worth attention (16 TD's and 1397 yards for the Bisons this year).

James Ruffin (DE, Northern Iowa)
Could be more of a 3-4 OLB prospect due to his size (6'4", 263lbs) but he showed a decent edge rush here and recorded one excellent sack. Good effort throughout the game and may warrant late round consideration.

Freddie Barnes (WR, Bowling Green)
A prospect already on most people's radar due to his record breaking college career. Barnes again flashed his solid hands and ability to make difficult catches. Not blessed with unique size or speed, Barnes still finds ways to get open and make plays. Whether he'll carry that knack over to the pro's remains to be seen, but I'm sure someone will take that chance in rounds 5-7.

Greg Hardy (DE, Ole Miss)
There's no question that Hardy has huge potential and looks like a starting NFL defensive end. However, his character baggage and soap opera personality will put off many. If he didn't perform in this game, his stock could've sunk so much he'd just be struck from most team's radar. The fact he performed late on will intrigue some, but buyer beware - his character issues will still push him into rounds 3-5.

Jamar Wall (CB, Texas Tech)
Made some nice breaks for the ball and did a good job in coverage against the best two receivers on show (Freddie Barnes and Blair White). Nice anticipation and was sold by any pump fakes or double moves. He was never tested deep which was a shame, but what he did do today he did well.

Other notes:

John Skelton (QB, Fordham) is someone I've been asked about on the blog a few times in recent weeks. He took some snaps in this game and flashed the well advertised big arm. He's got the size and cannon that will interest teams late in the draft. But he's such a big project - footwork, touch, range, reads - they all need to be worked on. He'll need a good quarterbacks coach and he'll need to show he's prepared to put in the work.

Andre Dixon (RB, Connecticut) had a disappointing game. He looked hesitant for the most part and never really got going in the running game. With a reputation as a playmaker who's capable of breaking the big run, it was difficult viewing as he was regularly stuffed in the backfield and never managed to bounce wide and break off a run.

Kam Chancellor (S, Virginia Tech) made a couple of nice plays in coverage. He's quite big for a safety and there's been talk of a move to linebacker. In brief glimpses today however, it was good to see him reading and reacting quickly to make a play for the ball. He's good in run support, so he needs to prove he's capable against the pass too.

Dennis Pitta (TE, BYU) showed he can be effective in the passing game and do a decent job blocking. He's not a huge guy, so his ability to block will define his stock. In this game he did enough 'not' to discount him from NFL consideration in that sense and made some nice catches.

Andrew Quarless (TE, Penn State) made a stunning one handed catch late on and scored the game winning touchdown. Great athleticism and something to work with, he could be a late rounder sleeper who manages to stick on a roster somewhere.


Anonymous said...

Rob, nice recap. I was intrigued by Chancellor and could see him as good value in the 4th round. He has Taylor Mays size, without the elite speed, but with better read and react skills. None of the QB's impressed me as more than very developmental or NFL backup caliber.

Anonymous said...

By the way, here's a link to an article on Zone Blocking Scheme including quotes from Alex Gibbs that was posted on Field Gulls and is a very good read. I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it already.

Rob Staton said...

Thanks for the link annonymous, much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob, doesn't Skelton sound eeryly similar to Joe Flacco?

Rob Staton said...

A little bit. I think the buzz around Flacco had started by now and clearly even in his raw stage Flacco was quite a bit more refined. Skelton was just firing bullets all over the place, there didn't look much else to his game. He hasn't really been tested at Fordham though, he could lean on his cannon.

Anonymous said...

Notice anything about Nichols?

Rob Staton said...

He did OK. Did well under pressure, keeping his eyes down field and creating a bit of extra room with his feet. Threw one perfect 20 yard pass on the money. Didn't flash ideal arm strength and seemed to lock on to his receivers a little too much. He's worth a late round pick based on the limited footage here, I'm led to believe he worked out well in the week. We'll see if he gets a late invite to throw at the combine.

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I met him at a convention and he is a very good speaker.

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