The 90th annual East-West Shrine Game takes place this Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The game featuring many former ACC standouts can be seen at 4 PM on NFL Network. 16 ACC prospects will take the field Saturday, with 14 suiting up for the East squad, while two players, Florida State OL Bobby Hart and NC State Kicker Niklas Slade, will dress for the West squad. Here’s the rundown of the participants and what their draft prospects are, heading into Saturday’s game.
EAST SQUAD: OFFENSE
Jamon Brown. OL- Louisville.
At 6’5″ 350 lbs, Jamon Brown has been a mammoth tackle for the Louisville Cardinals. NFLDraftScout.com lists Brown as the 19th OT in this year’s class and projects Brown to be drafted in the 7th round. During practices this week Brown’s biggest strength is proving to be his biggest weakness. Brown’s tremendous size and strength are attractive for NFL scouts, but he has shown a severe lack of mobility that the tackle position requires at the professional level. I believe Brown could make an NFL roster, but his future is much brighter as a mauling run-blocking guard rather than at tackle.
Jon Feliciano. OL- Miami.
Feliciano is a versatile prospect, having played both left guard and right tackle during his career at Miami. Feliciano measures in at 6’5″ 316 lbs, and while he is lighter than Jamon Brown, he also struggles with fluidity and mobility. The news is not all bad for Feliciano, however, as Mel Kiper has him listed as the No. 8 Guard. NFLDraftScout has Feliciano listed as the 15th Guard prospect and a potential 7th round pick. As you can see there is a wide range of opinions, but his value as a tremendous run-blocker with the versatility to play multiple positions could be what sets him apart from other players. With a good performance this weekend, Feliciano could move closer to the 4th and 5th rounds and away from the 7th-undrafted category.
Sean Hickey. OL-Syracuse.
Sean Hickey has positioned himself very well during practice this week. The 6’5″ 300lb OT prospect has been singled out as the most consistent lineman all week by CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler. His main position this week has been right tackle, but there are murmurs that Hickey may move inside to guard in the NFL. NFLDraftScout lists Hickey as the 16th OT and projects him to be taken in the 6th round, though with the impression that Hickey has made this week, his stock should be on the rise.
Shane McDermott. OL-Miami.
Shane McDermott has work to do the rest of this week and into Saturday’s game if he wants to be drafted. He’s a smart player with good technique, but doesn’t quite measure up athletically. He has typical size for NFL centers at 6’4″ 300lbs, though scouts are unsure of whether his best position is in the middle of the line or at guard. Currently he is listed as the 10th best C and on the 7th-undrafted bubble overall.
John Miller. OL-Louisville.
John Miller enters this week positioned better than any of the other linemen thus far. Scouts are beginning to take notice of the pure power Miller possesses giving him positive momentum heading into Saturday. Standing 6’2″ 325 lbs, Miller is an impressive specimen at guard, who not only engulfs defenders when run-blocking, but also has great pop in his hands when pass-blocking. NFLDraftScout has Miller as the #9 OG, and projects him to go somewhere between the 4th and 5th rounds.
Gerald Christian. TE-Louisville.
At 6’3″ 244lbs, Christian is an athletic TE who runs smooth routes. The knock on Christian is that he possess average hands and struggles to consistently finish tough catches. Scouts also wish he were a couple inches taller. Slated as the 13th TE and projected to be a 6th-7th round draft pick, Christian may have to prove himself on special teams in order to make an NFL roster, but if he can stick for a year and work on those hands, the NFL will always be interested in an athletic TE.
Darren Waller. WR-GT.
NFLDraftScout has Waller listed as the 53rd WR. The last projected draft-worthy WR they list is Washington’s Kasen WIlliams at 41. Clearly NFLDraftScout is not very high on Waller, but I think they are missing the boat completely. All prospects need to do is create just enough buzz to get one team interested or intrigued enough to take a chance. Darren Waller may have done just that this week. Formerly listed at 6’5″ 232lbs, Waller checked in at the Shrine Game with a height of 6’6 5/8″. The updated listing should show Waller as almost 6’7″ and 242lbs, and that has caught the eye of a lot of scouts. Waller is not an NFL WR, but he could prove to be a valuable weapon as a pass-catching TE for a team willing to take a chance and show some patience as he learns the position. I believe if Waller shows a good pair of hands in Saturday’s game and capitalizes on the attention he’s receiving this week, Waller could get a phone call from his new coach come day 3 of the draft.
Dominique Brown. RB-Louisville.
Had Brown been born 20 years earlier, he very well may have been a 2nd-3rd round draft pick. Unfortunately, the NFL is placing less and less value on the running back position these days. Brown is another athlete with interesting size at 6’2″ and listed at 240 lbs. Brown’s production dipped during his Senior season, scaring off a lot of scouts. Others feel Brown is a good player but doesn’t have a position. Versatility should never be seen as a bad thing. The more you can do, the more you should be worth. Brown has proven to have good hands out of the backfield, in addition to being a capable ball carrier. When I look at Dominique Brown, I think of Michael Robinson who last played for the Seattle Seahawks. Robinson found success as a do-everything Fullback who could block, carry the ball, and catch passes out of the backfield. In a league that is all about match-ups, having a guy like Dominique Brown could be worth a couple of first downs per game. NFLDraftScout projects Brown as a 5th-6th round pick. Look for Brown to be picked up by one of the smarter more creative teams in the league, i.e. the Patriots.
Anthony Boone. QB-Duke.
The game-plan for Anthony Boone on Saturday is simple, set the world on fire, or start looking for another career path. Scouts don’t have a great deal of interest in Boone. They don’t like his size, arm strength, or even his accuracy. This may be Boone’s last chance to change those opinions. His pro day may not mean much at all if he fails to deliver a substantial performance this weekend. For the record, I hope Boone comes out and lights up the scoreboard, but I don’t know how likely that is. At the end of the day he has a degree from Duke, so no matter his career choice, he’ll probably do far greater things in life than most of us.
EAST SQUAD: DEFENSE
Anthony Chickillo. DL-Miami.
Anthony Chickillo checked in at 6’4″ 275lbs. Chickillo doesn’t have the size to be an effective every-down defensive tackle in the NFL, and his pass rush skills aren’t up to par with what you would expect from defensive end. Chickillo might best be suited as a 3-4 end as he seems to be a solid run stopper. He has the frame to bulk up should there be a team bent on playing him at tackle, but in a 4-3 scheme, he would be a liability on 3rd down as a defensive end. NFLDraftScout has him projected in the 5th-6th round.
B.J. Dubose. DL-Louisville.
B.J. Dubose needs to make good use of his opportunity in the Shrine Game. He’s been a bit of a late bloomer and the more eyes that see him this weekend the better. Dubose, who stands 6’5″ and weighs 263lbs, has shown this season that he is capable of getting penetration. He has to continue to impress scouts this weekend to improve his chances of being drafted as before this season he wasn’t on the radar for most scouts.
Deiontrez Mount. LB-Louisville.
Mount is another Louisville defender with something to prove this weekend. At 6’5″ 243lbs, Mount is the classic tweener in the NFL, too small for defensive end, not quite the athlete for OLB in the 4-3 scheme. I would imagine Mount will end up as a pass-rushing OLB in a 3-4 scheme. The question is whether Mount has done enough to get drafted, or will he have to go the route of undrafted free agent, and scratch and claw his way up through the depth chart.
Quayshawn Nealy. LB-GT.
Quayshawn Nealy has a lot of work to do to prove his is draft-worthy. However, I don’t think there is any question that he will get picked up as an undrafted free agent. Nealy had a productive career at GT with 287 tackles and was selected to the All-ACC Second Team by the media at the end of this year. At 6′ and 235 lbs he is a bit undersized for the NFL, but Nealy should be more than capable of making a roster as a special teams contributor.
Detrick Bonner. Safety-VT.
Detrick Bonner is a three and a half year starter for Virginia Tech, who does not excel in any one area, but does a lot of things pretty well. As of right now, he’s probably on the outside looking in, when it comes to the NFL Draft, with the recent history of Virginia Tech defensive backs having success in the NFL, Brandon Flowers, Kyle Fuller, and most notably Kam Chancellor, a team could give the nod to Bonner in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle. What Bonner may lack in ideal size, 6’1″ 205lbs, he makes up for in athleticism and range. A good showing this weekend will help cast Bonner in a positive light, but with 4 seasons of tape, most scouts should know Bonner well enough by now.
WEST SQUAD OFFENSE
Niklas Slade. K-NC State.
I doubt there is any way Niklas Slade gets drafted, but he is an ACC player in the Shrine Bowl, and thus, he deserves a mention. May the wind be at your back on Saturday Niklas, and maybe you’ll get a few camp invites to prove your worth.
Bobby Hart. OL-FSU.
Bobby Hart likely will go undrafted as well. Hart is 6’4″ 320lbs and is rated as the 29th OG by NFLDraftScout and 492nd overall. Hart would have to do some pretty phenomenal things Saturday to increase his stock, but if Kurt Warner can go from a grocery store to NFL MVP, anything can happen.
Tune in to the East-West Shrine Game Saturday at 4 PM on NFL Network and cheer on our ACC athletes as they take another step in trying to make their NFL dreams a reality.