After attending all four days of Shrine Game practices, here are the winners of the week.
Brian Allen, OL, Michigan State
Michigan State’s center is very likely to be the first interior linemen from this game to get his name called. He’s slightly bigger and naturally strong through the legs than his older brother Jack, a Saints reserve player. His quick hands, easy leverage and smart tenacity showed on every rep, even if he’s not an exceptional athlete for the position. I do prefer him at center, and I know at least one NFC West team does too. I expect him to be a fifth or sixth-round pick.
Dejon Allen, OL, Hawaii
The Allen on the West squad isn’t as accomplished on the field as Brian Allen was in the Big Ten, but he might wind up being a better NFL prospect. He’s certainly stronger in the upper body and just as impressive on the move on pulls and traps. The Hawaiian has experience playing all over the line. An AFC South scout, whose team is definitely interested in his services, sees him as a left guard on Day Three. He probably earned himself a round promotion with his solid week of practice.
Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa
Fountain was one of the few players entering the week I had not seen play before, not even in a highlight clip. You’d better believe I’m looking for whatever I can find on the well-built Panthers wideout. His crisp routes, strong open-field stride and soft hands made him stand out in an otherwise nondescript group of wideouts on the East. He appeared quicker than expected off the line and can eat cushion better than I was led to believe he’d be. Fountain reminds me some of a slightly slower and smaller Kenny Golladay, the Lions’ 3rd round pick last season who played well as a rookie.
Brad Lundblade, OL, Oklahoma State
When watching interior linemen, I like to look for two qualities. Is there balance to use either arm or be effective in either direction, and is the technique consistent? Lundblade answered both those questions affirmatively in all three days of heavy practice. He is not a sexy athlete, but his polished technique and versatility to play guard or center should keep him in the league for years.
Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh
I have a noted soft spot in my football heart for plucky slot corners, so I’m probably predisposed to liking Maddox. But he backed it up time and again during East practices. He’s confident, tough and mitigates his lack of size with outstanding leaping ability and timing. I came here liking Deatrick Nichols from USF more, and he had his positive moments too, but Maddox proved to me he’s a better NFL prospect. I can see him starting as a rookie from the fifth or sixth round.
Greg Senat, OT, Wagner
A basketball player for the Seahawks, Senat took up football two years ago. Good decision. Blessed with long, powerful arms and the footwork to play power forward, he’s adapting quite well to the gridiron. He still needs work on keeping his weight down while engaged and at firing his arms out into the defender’s chest and not the outside of his shoulders, but there is a lot to work with here. He’s got a much higher ceiling than 2017 Texans’ 4th-round pick Julie’n Davenport, another FCS prospect.
Kentavius Street, DE, North Carolina
If your team runs a 3-4 front or hybrid attack along the line and needs pass rush help, Street is a great middle-round value for you. He earned a lot of scouting praise along the sideline, especially early in the week. Street was unblockable with his quick first step and violent hands, and he is a coordinated and well-toned athlete at 285 pounds.
Brett Toth, OT, Army
Toth excels at the intangible assets. His length and strength are outstanding. Much like Nate Solder and other 6-8 or taller tackles, his movement skills are limited. But being that tall makes him that much harder to get around, and Toth was very good all week at using his off arm to help recover. Unfortunately he’s not a natural knee bender and tends to be too upright when he’s in space, and the military commitment is a factor too. When he got both hands on his blocking mark, the defender was consistently erased from the play.
Damon Webb, S, Ohio State
Webb did two things well throughout the week which bode well for his NFL future. He’s really good at sniffing out running back wheels, screens and outlet passes and making quick plays. Secondly, he was fantastic in special teams drills. Backups need to play special teams, and the twitchy Webb can slide right in. His Buckeyes tape doesn’t merit drafting, and it’s foolish to bump a guy that much in one week of an all-star game practices, but Webb showed glimpses here of an NFL future.
Others who flashed positively:
Jeff Badet, WR, Oklahoma, who would have made the above list if not for a couple of ugly drops.
J.T. Barrett, the best QB here but that’s more about the other guys around him, unfortunately.
Bryce Bobo, WR, Colorado. He shined in Monday’s practice but never got back up to that level.
P.J. Hall, DT, Sam Houston State. Didn’t do much until they allowed him to play the shaded nose, and then he dominated all comers.
Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern. Does nothing exceptional but has no real holes to his game. Strikes me as the kind of guy who will be a backup RB for a very long time, and that’s a compliment.
Cole Reyes, S, North Dakota. Probably belongs in the above list but the honest truth is I didn’t watch enough of the West safeties to get that comfortable with how much he impressed me.
Chad Thomas, DE, Miami, looks the part and anchored well in team drills.