The East-West Shrine All-Star game has pushed away from the NFLPA Collegiate All-Star game as the better pre-Senior Bowl game/week collection of talent event, and it is also making some strides at out-scouting the Senior Bowl in some of its player invites. The East-West week of practices and game is becoming a must-observe event for scouts.
Last season, the East-West game featured some solid (and one ‘great’) 2018 rookies such as Phillip Lindsay, DaeSean Hamilton, Bilal Nichols, P.J. Hall (eventual #57 pick for OAK), Jordan Thomas, Justin Jackson, Avonte Maddox, Chase Edmonds, Tre Flowers (day one starting CB for Seattle) among others.
I think there might be a deeper talent pool of prospects at the East-West event in 2019 than were at its vastly-improved 2018 event. For sure, the number of potential ‘high-end’ prospects appears better at the E-W game this year. There are some prospects at the East-West game in 2019 that (to me) are like ‘wow’…and that’s coming from a guy who has covered this game week for about 7+ years now. It used to be a waste of my time (mostly inconsequential NFL prospects)…now, it’s becoming a game I’m excited about this year.
I would especially like to point you towards the WR group here – an amazing collection for the East-West Shrine week. A few who should be in Mobile, and one WR prospect the Senior Bowl already poached from an East-West commitment a few days ago and possibly a second that they are trying to grab. Based on this East-West WR group and what I’ve seen of the Senior Bowl WR class – the NFL is about to be overrun with WR talent, as it has been for a few years building up – 2019 might be the tipping point in the oversupply/saturation of quality WR prospects for the NFL.
In addition to the WR group, the East-West event has a few defensive players that look like legit top 50 draft picks, maybe even first-round prospect hopefuls.
For my East-West (and Senior Bowl) preview scouting, I am watching 20-45 minutes of player’s tape and looking over their performance numbers at a glance and making notes – not running anything through our computer scouting models yet (except some of the QBs). Until I have the measurables, I only have half the picture I want to scout on the non-QBs. This is my best effort to preview scout, without diving deep into their backgrounds, looking at the computer comparisons, etc. (that’s all to come). These grades are obviously subject to change, and sometimes a wild change based on their pre-Draft workout times, etc.
This is just a preview to get to know the group, give a first impression, and start to build towards grading this entire 2019 group draft prospects as well as we possibly can.
With that, here’s our first impressions via my preview scouting…
*Listing by worst to best grade order by the position we’re looking at.
Scheduled release of previews…
1/15: RB and WR previews
1/16: QB and TE and LB previews
1/17: DL and DB previews
DT Chris Nelson, Texas (6’0”/305) *Preview Scouting Grade = D-
More of a traditional bodied DT…a plugger up the middle. Weak burst off the snap, sluggish feet in general. Didn’t love this preview.
DT Ricky Walker, Va Tech (6’1”/310) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
Not a bad player…has some bounce to his step, but not an athletic playmaker – just a solid, high-effort big body that can fill the middle pretty well. Has the body type that looks like he’s 20+ pounds overweight. He’s not sleek or muscular, or even ‘fat’…he’s just big without a lot of definition in his arms/midsection. More space eater than playmaker.
DT Terry Beckner, Missouri (6’3”/293) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
Pretty good movement skills for his size. Too easily blocked against better competition and tends to stand upright a lot, looking into the backfield vs. driving into the backfield – which helps him play the run and get some cheap sacks when the play heads his way but also doesn’t make him a ‘wrecker’ on the D-Line…just useful.
DT Kevin Wilkins, Rutgers (6’2”/300) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
A try hard run-of-the-mill looking DT prospect. He may not have the eye-popping size or athleticism, but he makes the most of it. A really affable kid, with a heartbreaking/warming background of 14 foster homes, and an eventual adoption and rise to top wrestler/football high school player…now, NFL Draft prospect.
DT Chris Slayton, Syracuse (6’2”/315) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+
Really big body up the middle. Was a mass of humanity to try to block. When he got some steam going, he was tough to hold ground on for interior OLs. The downside is Slayton is not that nimble, so he was not in on plays as much…more so a disruptor/a plugger not a playmaker at this stage.
DT Courtez Broughton, Cincinnati (6’2”/285) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+
Watched him get 4.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks on opening day 2018 vs. UCLA…and he was on the verge of 10.0 TFLs and sacks the way he was playing. He was surging the O-Line, blowing his blocker back into the backfield almost at will. Only double teams could stop him. He doesn’t ‘look’ like a stud at first glance, but the tape I saw was great…but may have been his best game. Need to see more, but wow did he dominate UCLA.
DT Daniel Wise, Kansas (6’2”/290) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+/B-
Played 3-4 DE in the preview I watched, but looks like he could be a sweet 4-3 DT. He’s got that bigger DT body…bigger stomach, big all over – but he’s jarringly nimble. You see a still frame of him and you think ‘plugger’ and then you watch the live action tape and go ‘how is he moving like this?’ Very interesting prospect – could have the best three-cone of the 290+ DLs at the NFL Combine.
DT Armon Watts, Arkansas (6’5”/310) *Preview Scouting Grade = B+
Has the look of an NFL starter prospect. You can see it in one second. Carries his 310 pounds like it’s 275. Well put together, tall…plays like a schooled DE, but started as a 4-3 DT this year and went from three seasons of nothing to #10 in the SEC in sacks (7.0) and #5 in forced fumbles (3).
Watts is raw but has the body type you’d kill for in your DT. If he has hot NFL Combine workout numbers, he’s going to fly up draft boards.
DT Michael Dogbe, Temple (6’2.5”/280) *Preview Scouting Grade = B+
He looks like a DE…tall/sleek, not the floppier big body DT look. You want to think he’s just a DE thrown into DT and making chaos, but he looks like he’s 280 pounds and could go to 285+ with his frame. He moves much quicker than most all DTs you’ll see…kinda like a 3-4 scheme DE movement. He’s so impressive at DT with his athleticism and movement skills…had two games with 3.5 TFLs this season. 7.0 sacks as a DT, occasionally as a DE.
I love him for his quick DT potential, but I fear he might get put to 3-4 DE in the pros, which is fine but not as great for IDP/fantasy upside.
DE Kyle Phillips, Tennessee (6’3”/255) *Preview Scouting Grade = D-
Kinda sluggish-looking DE. Has the lower body look/movement of a DT, but is just 255 pounds. Played some DT for Tennessee. Good effort but did not look like an NFL DE in my first viewings.
DE Mathieu Betts, Laval (6’2”/250) *Preview Scouting Grade = D
Dominated in the Canadian college ranks. Not so sure that translates to excitement in our college play or in the NFL. Very hard worker. Dedicated weight trainer but his body doesn’t jump out as special. Looks like a regular dude who works out often but doesn’t take it ‘that’ seriously. In Canada, I guess he’s a top prospect…but I didn’t see it in his tape or with his body/frame/face. I could be proven wrong after more looks.
DE Joel Van Pelt, Calgary (6’3.5”/260) *Preview Scouting Grade = D
Hard to get a feel for. I watched some bad footage of him in games in Canada. He looks like he has a good spring in his step, but he’s playing in such a low level of competition he looks like a speedy giant when it’s probably more the backdrop.
DE Wyatt Ray, Boston College (6’2”/245) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
Speed rusher off the edge in college. Looks more like a 3-4 OLB than a 4-3 DE for the NFL. Good burst and closing speed. Was not wowed by his tape. A lot of wasted movement, too much giving up too early on plays. Just didn’t get a great vibe off this first introduction.
Had a 4.0 sack game against Wake Forest in 2018 and watching that tape…almost was 5-6 sacks. Had moments but I did not see domination, just a good college rush end on my first look. I could be wrong here.
DE Derick Roberson, Sam Houston State (6’3”/250) *Preview Scouting Grade = C
Wiry, rangy DE prospect…moves and plays a bit like an OLB more than DE. 15.0 sacks and 5.0 forced fumbles in 11 games in 2018 at a lower level of competition. Tape was tough to find/scout, so I need to see more for sure. Looked like he has good athleticism and closing speed.
DE Landis Durham, Texas A&M (6’2”/250) *Preview Scouting Grade = B-
Quick feet, nice muscular build, high-energy/motor player. Very nice, quick pass rusher. Often double-teamed out of defensive respect. Will be interested to see just how fast/agile he is at the NFL Combine.
DE Markus Jones, Angelo State (6’2”/250) *Preview Scouting Grade = B-
D2 Lineman of the Year 2018. Two-time Conference Defensive Player of the Year. 15.0 sacks, 34.0 TFLs in 2018…not a typo.
Like watching a D2 Khalil Mack. An SEC body and athleticism playing at a D2 level…unfair. Hard to properly scout because he was unblockable at the low-level of play. Looks like a legit NFL prospect for the draft but have to see him playing at East-West to get a better feel for him vs. better blocking.
CB Ka’Dar Hollman, Toledo (6’0”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = F
Skinny frame. Not very fluid in his movements…choppy, arms flapping all over as he moves. Grabby in coverage. Not much for tackling. No, thanks.
CB Rashad Fenton, South Carolina (5’11/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = D-
Not a fan. Stiff mover side-to-side. Plays hard, moves OK straight-ahead, too stiff in his agility…worried he’ll get torched in NFL training camps.
CB Keisean Nixon, South Carolina (5’10”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = D+
Nothing special jumped out. OK size. Solid college corner, not sure he has enough juice to be a legit NFL starter-type corner. Most interesting thing on him is his youth football coach was Snoop Dogg.
CB Montre Hartage, Northwestern (5’11”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = C
Solid cover corner. I thought I’d see better tape based on some hype I read ahead. He’s solid enough in coverage, didn’t ‘wow’ me. He has good closing speed and will hit ball carriers. He almost feels like a safety more than a corner, but he can cover. This grade could rise (or fall) with more look at him during the E-W practices and his Pro Day numbers.
CB Jordan Wyatt, SMU (6’0”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
11 INTs in his college career, 4 returned for TDs. The stats look impressive but watching his picks on a highlight reel – a lot of passes thrown way off/right to him. Others he got a good break on the ball but was guessing heavy…he could get torched by that in the NFL. Takeaway his turnovers from the tape, and he wasn’t all that special in coverage…played more like a free safety than a cover corner.
He may just have a nose for the ball, and I’m seeing it wrong at this stage…but I think he’s more lucky than great at first glance.
CB Donnie Lewis, Tulane (6’0”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+
Good size, longer arms/reach. Willing hitter. Solid in coverage. There’s an upside lurking in his preview grade.
CB Jimmy Moreland, J. Madison (5’9”/175) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+/B-
You look at him at first, and are left thinking…”Are you kidding me?” 5’9”+/175, but then you watch him play and he’s like a WR playing cornerback…a fast, fearless, anticipatory WR playing CB – with great hands. 13 INTs and 48 pass breakups over three seasons, 3 INTs returned for TD last season.
Exciting preview tape, but now you want to see what he does against D1, bigger/better athletes. Very intriguing.
CB Isaiah Warton, Rutgers (6’0”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = B-
Probably the best technique cover corner at the E-W game. Has size, aggression, and plays with a smart style…tends to always find/gets his hands on passes coming his way. Looks great covering receivers flashing deep but was a little iffy keeping up with interior routes and quick cuts…I’m worried the agility scores will be weak and take some of his prospect status away.
CB Michael Jackson, Miami (6’1”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = B
Really great build for the NFL. He’s a tough/physical corner who looks like a strong safety. Played pretty well in coverage on the tape I saw. Some lapses/lost account of where the ball was but wasn’t bad. Made smart plays with his hands to distract the WR when he did get turned around. If he has NFL+ speed, and I’m not sure he does, he could be a top 100 prospect for sure.
CB Derrick Baity, Kentucky (6’1”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = B
Thin frame, thin legs, but very quick…nice burst. With a 6’1”+ (maybe) length with the nice pop in his legs…he’s a very nice cover corner prospect. Mirrors nicely. Can run with WRs. Can tackle, but usually focuses on coverage. The tape I watched – the QBs stayed away from this side at all costs. Very solid prospect.
CB Jamal Peters, Miss State (6’1.5”/217) *Preview Scouting Grade = B+
Size and attitude of a safety but moved to corner and looked very comfortable there in the preview tape I saw. Every time I watched him off the snap, he’s usually on his WR like a shadow. Impressive…impressive for his size. A dual prospect in that he could be a legit safety if teams don’t work him at CB. Impressive athletic specimen.
CB Blace Brown, Troy (6’0”/185) *Preview Scouting Grade = B+/A-
Really liked this tape. Plays bigger than listed size. A very good tackler, almost like a safety playing CB. Really nice, fluid movement in coverage. Reminded me of a better Marcus Peters – plays way off the WR but closes fast. Played/covered D.J. Chark well in a 2017 Troy upset over LSU. Really impressive first impression here.
SAF Sheldrick Redwine, Miami (5’11”/195) *Preview Scouting Grade = F
Very thin frame. Aggressive, attempts to be a hitter but has such a lack of mass in his body he hits and then has to grab and hold on for the tackle too many times. Maybe he moves to CB and is a better prospect, but as a SAF – no, thanks.
SAF Tyree Kinnel, Michigan (5’11”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = D-
Not impressed. Solid college safety but doesn’t not give the appearance of a real/desired NFL safety prospect. Not overly fast and a so-so tackler. He’s likely to be outshined in this game but most of the SAF group.
SAF Evan Worthington, Colorado (6’2”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = D-
Feels like a free safety prospect, and not a great one. Has listed size but he didn’t look that big. Not a lot of muscle definition or thickness in his body…a little wiry for a safety and not that great a hitter from what I saw.
SAF Zedrick Woods, Ole Miss (5’11”/204) *Preview Scouting Grade = D
Hard to scout. The tape I watched he was barely in the screen to watch. Definitely not an impact or standout player on the games I cherry picked to watch. Seems like an OK athlete, but I need to see more. Was easily blocked and not near plays in my viewing.
SAF Saquan Hampton, Rutgers (6’1”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = D+
Late edition the E-W game. Has the size. Seems to have solid instincts and tackling form. Nothing jumped out, but he might deserve a better grade than this.
SAF Adarius Pickett, UCLA (5’11”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+
Aggressive strong safety-type…good tackler, seems to find his way to the ball. Takes on TEs in the passing pretty well. A very all-around solid prospect. I don’t know if the athleticism is NFL-starter level expectation, but his tape shows a sound ball player.
SAF Lukas Denis, Boston College (5’11”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+
Smart, aggressive, solid in pursuit of the play…but I’m not sure the speed/agility is enough to be a coveted NFL prospect. 7 interceptions in 2017. I watched tape of him vs. Notre Dame/Josh Adams, and Adams was killing BC up the middle and Denis was not stopping it.
SAF Delvon Randall, Temple (5’11”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = B
Impressive. The kind of player NFL coaches will love – a big hitter, but a good form tackler who has good hands making picks (12 INTs in this career). Not sure his speed-agility numbers warrant a ‘B’ level grade, but if they do – he’ll be an NFL starter for sure someday soon. He could be an ‘A’ with the right Combine measurables.
SAF Chris Johnson, No Alabama (6’2”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = B/B+
I really thought Johnson would wind up at the Senior Bowl. Great size and great feet…possibly a 4.4+ runner at 6’2”/190. He played safety for North Alabama, and he is a solid tackler with great closing speed on ballcarriers and in-flight passes, but all I could think was, with his feet and size – MOVE HIM TO CB. That’s where the real money might be for Johnson, perhaps.
SAF Andrew Wingard, Wyoming (6’0”/209) *Preview Scouting Grade = B+
Love him. A really fun player to watch – plays SAF and SAF/LB hybrid like an old school middle linebacker. One of the best hitters here, if not the best. He’s got an old school toughness but is really pretty athletic…great burst and anticipation, and fearless. Easy to find on the field with a long blond tail of hair coming out of the back of his helmet. 100+ tackles in a season his first three seasons at Wyoming.
23 career games with 10 or more tackles in a game. He’s the kind of defensive prospect that kinda jumps off the screen at you.