The 2018 East-West Shrine Game is the first step to the NFL Draft process. The annual Shrine Game is all about finding diamonds in the rough. Every smart NFL fan knows the majority of rosters is made up of late round draft picks and undrafted free agents. Last year 100 players from the game were a part of NFL rosters in 2017.
In the past players like Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Steve Smith, and many others have participated in this event. Overall the 2018 edition was extremely frustrating to watch for a number of different reasons. The West team defeated the East 14-10 in a low scoring affair.Overall it appears to be a stacked defensive line group with some linebackers to watch. Maybe not a whole lot outside of that. Who stood out for better or worse on the East Team?
Two quarterbacks made up the East roster including Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett and Memphis’ Riley Ferguson. If you don’t know that J.T. Barrett stinks, now you know. Barrett went 5/13 for 69 yards and a touchdown. The score came on a 4-yard dump off to the fullback. Barrett couldn’t throw the ball down the field, fumbled a horrible attempted screen pass, struggled with decision making, and even had to run zone-reads when scouts were clamoring for him to throw the ball down the field. Ferguson didn’t fare much better going 4/11. He couldn’t beat out Josh Dobbs at Tennessee and was forced to transfer to Memphis. Ferguson is probably a worse version of Paxton Lynch. Both prospects should be considered undraftable.
Some guy named Ray Lawry lead the team in rushing chalking up 38 yards on 7 attempts. While he may have been the best running back, it’s probably not a good sign he wasn’t even invited to the event until an injury to Chase Edmunds occurred. D’Ernst Johnson ran for wasn’t far behind putting up 31 yards on 6 carries. The only problem was he fumbled, luckily he recovered. The starter was Ralph Webb from Vanderbilt. Webb is a four-year starter but is vastly overrated in my opinion. He didn’t help his case shooting for 11 yards on 8 carries. Again, all three players are probably undraftable.
It was challenging to scout this group when you factor in the anemic quarterback play. Daurice Fountain, the Northern Iowa product, might have had the best day of any player. He reeled in 3 catches for 61 yards. Fountain is listed at 6-foot-1, with good speed. He also won a nice 50/50 ball on the Louisville corner. The player who I saw much more of was DaeSean Hamilton. The Penn State receiver has the same measurable who showed off that vertical on a 31-yard catch. Tough to scout this group when the quarterback’s throw screen passes on every other throw. The most disappointing player to watch was Jester Weah of Pitt who I liked coming out of college but got jacked up in coverage in press.
The East is in business!
Riley Ferguson connects with Daurice Fountain for a big gain!
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The offensive line as a whole was dominated by what was a strong defensive line group for the West team. That’s not necessarily surprising considering offensive line continuity takes time to build chemistry. If you’re looking for one to watch, Brian Allen, the center from Michigan State put together a solid day. He was in a serious battle with Poona Ford as the two went back and forth. Allen’s brother, Jack, plays for the New Orleans Saints as a depth guard/center. Allen could be slightly better who showed he can get to the second level of a defense and move with ease.
Three players stood out here: Foloronso Fatukasi, Kentavious Street, and Chad Thomas. The big boy Fatukasi from UConn pushed the pocket and was a disruptor up the middle. The real story was the two bookend defensive ends with Kentavius Street and Chad Thomas. Both players had constant pressure the whole game forcing some bad throws. Thomas has a bit of reckless abandon to him which should come to no surprise considering he has been in D.J. Khaled’s music down in Miami. Street played for N.C. State where he played opposite of stud Bradley Chubb. He looks like a guy that might run a 4.6 with great first step quickness, setting a physical edge, and versiltity to play inside on third down passing situations. Both Penn State players Parker Cothren and Cutis Cothran could be on the radar except I had no idea how to pick them apart watching it.
I thought the entire starting linebacking core for the East team is filled with intrigue. Matthew Thomas didn’t do a whole lot in the game but you can see the athleticism all over him as a former five-star recruit at Florida State. The entire Seminoles underachieved this year with Jimbo Fisher bolting and getting hit with the hurricane. Thomas could be a starter in the NFL, no doubt. Chris Worley from Ohio State flew around the football field covering ground all afternoon. The 230-pound linebacker covered well in space and always found a way to be in the right spot. The star for me was Jason Cabinda who just has a bit of nasty to him that a coach will love. Cabinda embraces contact, hits hard, and really shoots the gap on run plays. Cabinda is a perfect mike linebacker to play the run and go hit someone. I’m not sure how fast he is but he has good instincts to play in the league.
Again, impossible to scout considering the dreadful quarterback play and the number of screenplays called. I thought Avonte Maddox stood out despite giving up the go-ahead touchdown. He’s undersized and probably has to be a nickel corner but is extremely quick getting in and out of breaks. The other was Deatrick Nichols from South Florida who has 11 career interceptions showing great ball skills during his college career. He dropped a pick but was the best pure cover corner.