Monday, January 18, 2010

East-West Shrine Game: Players To Watch

As the East-West Shrine Game gets set to kickoff in Orlando, we take a look at five players to watch on each side.

East Roster:

Western Illinois CB Patrick Stoudamire -- A lot of hype based on big senior campaign and plenty of Internet buzz but can that translate into a late NFL Combine invite... this week's practices will tell the tale.

Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes -- Led the nation in receptions, but all eyes will be on whether he can consistently get off the line of scrimmage and show separation and acceleration while the ball is in the air... his perceived game speed will determine his final draft grade.

Fordham QB John Skelton -- Can he follow in the footsteps of Joe Flacco and make a big splash starting at this week's practices... has a live arm, big, sturdy frame but must show he has the footwork and ability to adjust to faster game now that the level of competition increases.

Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy -- Has the ability to be one of the top pass rushers in this year's NFL Draft, but he has been injury-prone and inconsistent the past year and a half... a big week, especially in 1-on-1 drills can jump him right back into 1st round consideration.

Central Florida DT Torell Troup -- His quickness off the ball and ability to cause consistent pressure from an interior defensive line position make him a very attractive prospect... this week's big stage will allow him to put his name on the map... could be the East roster's "Fastest Riser" come week's end.

West Roster:

Utah S Robert Johnson -- Shocked and upset by his current status of not holding a invite to the NFL Combine he plans to take it out on all the opposing offensive prospects and play his way into one of the final senior spots in next month's event in Indianapolis.

California WR Verran Tucker -- Has the size/speed to wow scouts in 1-on-1's and his potential as a vertical threat could push up his final draft grade, but he needs to catch the ball consistently and run improved routes during this week's practices.

UNLV LB Jason Beauchamp -- Under-rated defender that will be closely evaluated by teams the employ a 3-4 scheme... impressive athlete with ideal size and shows an explosive burst to the QB... his name should be mentioned as one of the "Top Risers" coming off the West roster.

Texas Tech OG Brandon Carter -- Was thought at one-time to be among the top-rated interior linemen for this year's NFL Draft... he's had some off-the-field issues along the way and will need to address those when talking to scouts and show more consistency to his game during the practices on-the-field.

Eastern Washington QB Matt Nichols -- Solid career and terrific numbers posted throughout senior campaign where he lacked ideal weapons, but still managed to earn a late roster spot in this contest; big week of practices could earn him a late NFL Combine invite or at the very least improve his current grade.

*Interesting side note... in-spite of the fact that this year's game is being played at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida there are a total of only seven players who are either from the state of Florida or natives of the Sunshine state... meanwhile, there are a total of 17 players who are either from the state of Texas or natives of the Lonestar state.

Photo Courtesy of College Press Box, Dennis Hubbard