The East-West Shrine Game wasn’t the most exciting contest I’ve ever watched, however, any time spent watching football or listening to the insights of Mike Mayock is time well spent. Defense dominated the game, as is the case in most All-Star type events. Offenses just don’t have the time in practice to develop the kind of chemistry and timing necessary to be successful. I didn’t watch the game hoping for a thrilling contest (that would be taken care of on Sunday by the Seahawks). I tuned in to watch the rather large group of ACC players taking part, hoping to see a few great performances by our guys and see them elevate their draft stock. That’s exactly what happened, and two guys in particular, Anthony Chickillo and John Miller, jumped multiple rounds based on their work throughout the week of practice and their performance in Saturday’s game.
DE-Anthony Chickillo, Miami
During the game, Chickillo was interviewed on the sideline, and when asked what he wanted to accomplish on the day his response was, “I want to show people I’m more athletic than they think I am”. Well Anthony, consider that mission accomplished. Before this week, I was unimpressed by Chickillo and his lack of production at Miami. I questioned his athleticism and lack of a position in the NFL. After seeing his performance, I fully believe Anthony Chickillo will be a valuable DE in the NFL. I think he needs to be in a 4-3 scheme to fully utilize his talent, but Chickillo showed a get-off and motor that just didn’t show up on game film from Miami.
Mike Mayock raved about Chickillo all day, mentioning how Chickillo had a much better burst than originally thought. The analysts also talked about how impressive he was during the week of practice, and how there were numerous “ooh-aah” moments when Chickillo would shoot off the line of scrimmage. Chickillo will hear his name called on draft day, and the 4th round is now a realistic possibility.
OG-John Miller, Louisville
John Miller had an outstanding game on Saturday. He consistently drove his man five yards off the line of scrimmage on run plays and proved to be a solid anchor on pass plays. He has tremendous strength, yet still maintains agility and flexibility to get underneath defenders and move them wherever he chooses. After clearing up any concerns about pass protection this week, Miller now projects as an extremely valuable run-blocking guard in the NFL. He was another guy that Mike Mayock gushed about throughout the telecast, at one point saying that he thought Miller had worked himself all the way up to the 3rd round. It looks as though Miller made some serious cash this week.
OT-Jamon Brown, Louisville
Jamon Brown was one of the biggest players at the Shrine Game. His athleticism also was in question heading into the week, and while he didn’t make the kind of leap that Louisville line-mate John Miller made, he showed enough during the week to solidify his stock as a draftable prospect. He was even listed as one of the top four players on the East squad on the NFL Network’s “Made Money” graphic. Paired with John Miller, the duo dominated the line of scrimmage. Jamon Brown proved that he belongs in the NFL, and with some expert O-Line coaching Brown could develop into a steal after a few seasons.
HB-Dominique Brown, Louisville
If this trio from Louisville came as a package deal, there would be quite a few NFL teams lining up to buy. Brown had a solid day rushing for 70 yards on 19 carries and was the only player to see the endzone. Brown created positive momentum, not so much by his production on the day, but with the way he ran the football. Brown punished defenders all game, running through arm tackles, running over defenders, consistently initiating contact, and violently finishing off each run. Brown earned comparisons to a young Brandon Jacobs. That’s quite a compliment and if it’s accurate, Brown should find his way to an NFL backfield next season.
If teams aren’t interested in his running ability, East head coach Mike Singletary was filmed on the sideline saying, “I’d make him a linebacker. He’d be a good linebacker.” That bodes well for Brown who may have to be a special teams standout to get his foot in the door, but once that happens, he has the tools to be an effective short yardage/goal-line smasher.
S-Detrick Bonner, VT
The last guy on the list is Detrick Bonner. On the opening drive, Bonner was lined up close to the line of scrimmage. I don’t know if Bonner was supposed to blitz on the play or not, but there was a bad snap, which Bonner immediately reacted to, penetrated into the backfield, and without knowing if the QB was going to hand the ball off or scramble in desperation, Bonner attacked both jumping into and eventually over the running back, and taking down the QB as well. Bonner also showed tenacity in coverage, constantly applying pressure and earning a shout-out for both himself and Virginia Tech Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster from analyst Charles Davis. Bonner also caught Mike Mayock’s eye during practice. The Shrine Game experience was a good one for Detrick Bonner.
This year’s edition of the East-West Shrine Game was very good to the ACC participants. Guys potentially made a lot of money this week, and they should be proud of their performances. They represented both themselves and the ACC very well.