This week marked the start of the draft circuit. The circuit is a series of four events that are held for front office personnel to evaluate collegiate players hoping to be drafted in April. This week is the East West Shrine Game, followed next week by the Senior Bowl, then the Scouting Combine in February, and finally individual school pro days. While everyone participates in the combine and pro day workouts, only seniors participate in the Shrine Game and the aptly named Senior Bowl.
The Shrine Game is seen as the least significant of all the events, as the seniors not invited to the Senior Bowl go there. This game likely does not get the attention it deserves, however, as roughly fifty percent of all attendees will get drafted, with many more getting signed as undrafted free agents. Also, Alan Burge pointed out that several of the recently drafted Texans played in the senior all star game. The Shrine Game holds even more possible scouting value to Houston this year because Wade Phillips is coaching the West team and therefore will get valuable evaluation time during practices and in the game itself.
For both the Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, coaches get several practice sessions throughout the week which scouts and the public are invited to watch. This year there were two outdoor practices and one unique practice in a hotel ballroom when weather forced them indoors. As expected from fringe prospects, most players received mixed reviews, but there were some players who caught the attention of scouts. For more information on these players follow the jump.
Marvin Austin – DT – UNC: Austin was widely viewed as a possible first round pick coming into the 2010 season at North Carolina, but was suspended for accepting gifts from an agent in the form of paid trips to Miami. Austin apparently did a great job staying in shape and dominated in 1-on-1 drills this week. He did very well in 11-on-11 drills as well, but is occasionally criticized for getting to high and losing leverage. At 6’2" and 312 pounds, Austin might fit into the undersized NT role you’ve heard so much about, but as opposed to someone like Stephen Paea, Austin can be had around the third round, maybe the late second.
David Carter – DT/DE – UCLA: Scouts expected Austin to do well at the Shrine Game, but were pleasantly surprised by David Carter from UCLA. Carter showed great athleticism all week, with a better than expected pass rushing ability. At 6’4", Carter is long enough to set the edge as a 5 technique (DE in the 3-4), but also can play inside for the occasional four man looks. Also, Carter apparently has the room to add weight to his frame, which is still slightly narrow at the top.
Terrell McClain – DT – USF: McClain showed great quickness in 1 on 1 drills, but disappeared often during team scrimmages. McClain is undersized for a DT and plays like it, but does well penetrating the gaps in the middle. McClain will probably be drafted around the 5-6 round range, most likely by a 4-3 team in the under tackle role but you never know.
Brandon Bair – DE – ORE: Bair weighs roughly 275 despite measuring 6’6". NFL teams will likely try to add some weight to Bair’s frame in order to shoehorn him into a five technique role. Bair is often lauded for his incredible work ethic, and scouts say he never gives up on plays.
Justin Rogers – CB – RICH: Rogers is shorter than your ideal corner, but has a deceptive vertical to make up for his 5’10" height. While Rogers won’t time exceptionally well at his 40 yard dash at the Combine, Rogers wastes very little movement in turns and backpedaling, which allows him to keep wide receivers from separating. Rogers also did very well in press coverage near the goal line which is something he wasn’t asked to do often at Richmond.
These are just a few of the players that will hope to cap off the week with strong play in today’s East West Shrine Game. The game will be nationally televised today at 3:30 p.m. EST on NFL Network. I’ll have more up next week for the Senior Bowl, which is covered more in depth by the media.