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 Edmunds, 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
(East) RB Jordan Ellis, Virginia (5’8”/215) *Scouting Grade F
Most of his games/stat lines he’s running for 3-4 yards per carry…weak for an NFL Draft hopeful. The tape shows his low ypc output is not a fluke – a short, squatty runner with poor speed. I really don’t see how he’ll ever matter in the NFL after my first preview. I felt like I was watching slower, less physical Branden Oliver.
(West) RB Nick Brossette, LSU (5’11”/218) * Preview Scouting Grade = D
He might hang around for a cup of coffee in the NFL. He’s a ‘try hard’ RB who will block and run tough, but he’s not huge, physically, and he does not show NFL starter athleticism. He’s probably a 4.6+ runner. He’s capable…he’ll block, he has decent hands, he runs between the tackles OK. He won’t embarrass anyone, but he’s not a hidden gem.
(East) RB Darnell Woolfolk, Army (5’9”/235) *Preview Scouting Grade D+
He has an NFL future, but more as a fullback. As a tailback, he’s limited…a big, blocky guy who worked great in short yardage for the Army run game – straight ahead and near impossible to tackle for a loss at 235-pounds with decent speed for his size.
Woolfolk is a forgettable short yardage specialist in an RBBC, or he adds 5+ pounds of muscle and might be a Pro Bowl FB who can run the ball here and there as a goal line weapon. He’s definitely a tank running the ball but needs to hit the weight room to hang in the NFL. Big frame, but not a lot of muscle definition. If he adds 5-10 pounds of muscle, he’ll be a legit NFL prospect as a fullback.
(West) RB Darrin Hall, Pitt (5’11”/218) *Scouting Grade D+
I was really excited when I saw the basic data before throwing on the tape – 7.5 yards per carry on 153 totes in 2018. However, the tape was a letdown. Good instincts as a runner but limited athletically. Tough but not a monster. He’s just a good college RB. Thin lower body, especially thin legs/calves will turn off scouts. The more I watched, the more I realized – he’s a product of the Pitt O-Line. I don’t know who the prospects are on that O-Line, but that OL coach did a helluva job giving Hall all kinds of room to work untouched.
(West) RB Qadree Ollison, Pitt (6’0”/225) *Preview Scouting Grade D+
He’d be OK in a spread offense as a straight-ahead runner with size, but never will be a star or three-down feature in the NFL. He looks to be lacking in burst and agility but runs OK straight with a head of steam. Kinda like a smaller Gus Edwards. He might make the NFL as a special team’s player.
(East) RB Marquis Young, U Mass (5’11”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = C
A really nice-looking prospect as an Alvin Kamara-type RB…but he’ll probably get overlooked and scrap just to make a roster.
Good vision as a runner…maybe the best vision/instinct of any RB prospect in the E-W game. Solid hop/jump cuts through traffic. His speed is lacking a bit…gets caught from behind a bunch. Really nice hands as a receiver…long arms to snatch passes. Young can do a bit of everything…run between the tackles, be a 3rd-down RB, and return kicks. He’s just a sound football player but not sure he’ll get a real shot in the NFL – he’s like a lesser Chase Edmonds. Overlooked small school guys.
(West) RB Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska (5’11”/225+) *Preview Scouting Grade B-
Might be the most NFL-ready RB, physically, at the East-West game. He’s powerfully built and runs with power…very hard to tackle with his thick lower body. Tacklers tend to bounce off him, and he’s pretty athletic and leaps over many low tackle attempts.
Ozigbo has a nice burst for his size and can punch up a 2nd-level speed in the open field. He also has really nice hands in the passing game. A very ready-to-go NFL runner, physically and from what I can see instinctually. He reminds me of C.J. Anderson – nothing amazing, but solid enough at everything, strong-like-bull runner that gets the job done. An NFL talent for sure.
(East) RB Ty Johnson, Maryland (5’10”/205) *Scouting Grade B-
A real NFL talent at RB for this game…the one with the best NFL aspirations. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry his entire 4-year career at Maryland…and misused/suppressed by how bad Maryland’s program was. Johnson was capable of bigger numbers.
Has NFL burst and second-level speed to go along with a nice toughness for him 205-pound frame. He plays bigger and tougher than he looks at a glance. Show good hands in the passing game. Made some terrific cuts as a runner – NFL shift ability. Very impressed. He’ll be a sleeper RB from this draft. He’s an NFL worker…not a main carry/carry the team on his back type of back, but a guy you want to pair in a nice RB rotation – like he’d be a perfect Eagles or Colts RB for their desired RBBC stylings.
I can’t conjure up a great image of ‘who he’s like’. A faster/better Devonta Freeman or Dalvin Cook? Matt Breida with better instincts as a runner? The Breida thing…that’s the one. I just thought of it after the first comp thought of Freeman-Cook.
(East) WR DaMarkus Lodge, Ole Miss (6’1”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = D-
I watched most of the WR prospect’s preview tape before I got to Lodge, and it was such a downer. I felt like every WR that I moved to next was better than the last and so many of them really grabbed my attention – Lodge was like a record-needle scratch, halting the momentum. Killing the buzz.
Thin-framed WR who I rarely saw getting any separation. Capable college WR, but likely a UDFA/wash-out WR for the NFL Draft. Nothing about his tape interested me…not very athletic and looks like he might have ‘iffy’ hands as well. Moving on.
(East) WR Ryan Davis, Auburn (5’10”/180) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
Hard to piece him all together in a preview. He was lined up in the slot, as a flanker, as a tailback…a lot of pizzazz/different alignments without any real interesting things happening from them. He lined up all over, but never did anything radical…mostly caught bubble screens and short sit-down routes over the middle, all as a WR. He was never carrying the ball as a tailback or in motion.
Great hands, that I saw. But a very slow/heavy-footed off the jump. Took him a few steps to get going and then was OK. There are NFL tools here, but no real ‘star’ qualities…except he might be a very reliable+ WR and that lessens concerns over his play making ability after the catch.
(West) WR KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State (6’1”/190) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
Good, capable WR…but nothing really stands out as ‘wow’. He’s on the skinnier side for body type, can add muscle and change that. Not an explosive athlete, didn’t see him getting open with ease…just solid, and made catches with good+ hands. Part of the problem scouting him properly is he played with a limited passer at QB…everything they did was fairly simplistic.
He needs to run a sub-4.55 40-time to be taken seriously for the draft/to even have a chance to get drafted. I’m not sure he’s that fast.
WR Ron’Quanvion Tarver, Utah State (6’3”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade = C-
*Late fill-in/add to the E-W roster
Big, tall, skinny/gangly WR. Has some WR skills – decent athlete and soft hands displayed. However, I did not see him separating well from coverage – his big move is catching tosses thrown ‘up for grabs’ using his superior size to make plays. It worked in college, but not as unique in the NFL.
I worry he’s more of a 4.6+ runner, and that his thin frame is going to hurt him getting open quickly in the NFL – to easy to jam. However, he has a body and skill to work with at the next level…not sure NFL teams will be that patient. There’s hope and concern here.
(East) WR Terry Wright, Purdue (5’10”/175) *Preview Scouting Grade = C
Reminds me a little of DaeSean Hamilton…doesn’t grab you at first glance, the numbers are not off the charts – but then you watch him play and everything changes. Everything changes as a scout looking for ‘things’…and Wright’s thing is very fast feet/agility. Great quickness of the snap means he can get open at will.
My question is – his size is troublesome…hard to be an inside receiver at that size, but not out of the question. I’m also wondering why Purdue didn’t push the ball to him more, but Purdue went all in on a freshman WR who dominated the targets/output. Wright got left behind but I don’t think it was because he’s not talented. Requires more investigation.
There are signs of something good here, and some things that make you scratch your head.
WR Brody Oliver, Colorado Mines (6’2”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = C
*Late fill-in/add to the E-W roster
Spectacular hands…wow. He vacuumed in everything thrown his way…like a Larry Fitzgerald of small-college football. How does 26 TDs in 13 games as a sophomore strike you? How about 57 TDs in his last three seasons/32 games? He’s unreal on tape.
The issue being…he’s playing against far superior competition. He may be a ‘good hands’, slower-skinnier WR if he were playing in the SEC…versus a small-college all-timer. Tough to say because the defenses he faced are so lowly by comparison to try to project. But his production is off the charts almost like none other at that level and his tape just pops displaying his hands. All I know is – I want to see more, see him against better coverage to see how he holds up. Intriguing.
(East) WR Jesper Horsted, Princeton (6’3”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade = C
Might deserve a great higher than this. Great size, great hands. Seems a little slower in burst/speed than the other big, impressive WRs at this game. In prior years, Horsted might be the best WR prospect in this game…but this year is loaded. Feels like a skinny, less-impressive Jordy Nelson/Adam Thielen/Justin Watson-type.
Dual-sport star, baseball and football…could wind up going a baseball route?
(West) WR Shawn Poindexter, Arizona (6’4”/200) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+
Might be a ‘B’…another very interesting, smart prospect invitee by the East-West committee. The class of WRs they have here is stunning, to me.
Poindexter is a former college volleyball player turned WR…6’4”+ with ‘hops’. It took him a few years to figure things out, barely making noise his first two season, but in 2018 – 11 TDs in 12 games…9 TDs in his final five games (with four 2-TD games in-a-row).
Poindexter is obviously ‘getting it’, but he’s still learning…he’s just coming into his own. He shows a lot of potential – great size, athleticism, hands improving -- I am starting him out as a ‘C+’, but he might be a ‘B+’ or better by the time we see him East-West week and see him at the NFL Combine.
(East) WR Terry Godwin, Georgia (5’11”/175) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+/B-
Great hands, nice burst…reminds me of a poor man’s DeSean Jackson. The downside…fairly small, thinner-framed. Is going to project ‘injury prone’.
Overall, I like what I see. He’s going to fall through the cracks in what might be an overloaded WR class.
(West) WR Cody Thompson, Toledo (6’1”/205) *Preview Scouting Grade = C+/B-
Excellent WR prospect – well-schooled on route running and quite athletic to make cuts/fakes that leaves CBs in his wake. I like everything I see here – the hands, the fast feet off the snap (best I’ve seen among the E-W group so far), the breakaway speed. He’s a legit NFL prospect, but like a Justin Watson last year – likely overlooked and undervalued and will have to fight for NFL existence. The NFL scouts like flashy WRs, not ‘pro’s pro’ guys that can win you games/championships – the scouts want to find the next Odell Beckham, etc. There’s not a ton of money in pushing for guys like Thompson. Hopefully he has a great E-W week and gets an NFL Combine invite.
Three of more TDs in a game for him four times in his college career.
(West) WR Jonathan Duhart, Old Dominion (6’2”/220) *Preview Scouting Grade = B+
The stud WR prospects just keep coming from the East-West scouts. Every time I turn the tape on for the next name…another WR grabs my attention, in a big way – and this is the East-West Shrine…either they did a better job scouting than the Senior Bowl or the WRs in Mobile are all going to the Hall of Fame.
Jonathan Duhart is terrific. 74 catches for 1,045 yards and 9 TDs…which was a huge ‘share’ of the passing game for Old Dominion in 2018. ODU upset Virginia Tech this season and Duhart went for 9 catches, 142 yards, and 3 scores. His final TD catch vs. VT was with a CB literally pulling his jersey off in front of the referee (no call) on an end zone heave.
Size, hands, confidence, bounce in his step…wow, what great WRs in this game – the kind that will make the QBs look better than they are. Very excited to scout Duhart some more. Possible ‘A’.
I would need to study it deeper, but the head coach of Old Dominion…the players he’s bringing in/the talent – he might be one of the next good/great college head coaches but feels like a future pro head coach.
(Gone) WR Keelan Doss, Cal-Davis (6’2”/210) *Preview Scouting Grade = B+
*Late Breaking News: Doss was called up to the Senior Bowl last week after accepting East-West invite. Will be at the Senior Bowl.
This FCS star looks legit to me…like another WR here that should be at the Senior Bowl.
Played against two D1 teams this season…13 catches for 106 yards vs. Stanford and 11 catches for 85 yards vs. San Jose State.
Doss is a good (possibly very good) athlete with NFL size, but what caught my eye is his toughness and confidence. Catches the ball all over the place and will go into the middle right into danger and make catches not focusing on the hit he’s about to take, but then you can just throw it for grabs to him and he’ll come down with the catch. I’m looking forward to deeper studies, but I really liked what I saw here. Possible ‘A’.
(East) WR Jamal Custis, Syracuse (6’4”+/220) *Preview Scouting Grade = B+/A-
Ummm…’wow’. So far, one of my favorite players of my early 2019 scouting previews. That includes bigger name receivers like Kevin Harmon or any of the RBs/QBs. Right up there with Iowa ‘wow’ TE Noah Fant. I need to see more and study deeper, but ‘wow’ – I felt like I was watching a young Calvin Johnson-ish prospect here.
He has legit size. Wiry, muscular strong. A bounce in his step. A confidence is his catching ability…and he makes spectacular catches with ease. Great pop in his legs after the catch. How he’s not at the Senior Bowl is a mystery. Straight-line speed looking like 4.55+ is one thing that makes me pause from shouting ‘superstar’.
I need to really dig in here because I see that he’s a bit ‘raw’ as a WR, but in a good way…like there is upside. So many raw physical tools but doesn’t know how to harness them all…but I also need to see if there might be some issue catching the ball consistently. He’s had some drops noted, but people love to scream ‘drop’ anytime a guy gets his hands on the ball – Custis is working wide, deep, bubble screens, over the middle…he isn’t playing it safe, and he sees a lot of targets, so he’ll have a drop occasionally in traffic/in the danger zone. I see way more ‘wow’ than I do any concerns.
Impressed from the first snap I watched.
???? (Invited/Accepted/Pulled out?) WR Xavier Ubosi, UAB (6’2.5”/215) *Preview Scouting Grade = B+/A-
*Was on the initial E-W roster and is now gone from it – and I have seen no information about why/what happened.
I thought that Jamal Custis would be untouchable as the best WR prospect East-West preview I watched. Custis was the first WR that I watched and was in love quickly. Didn’t think it could get better…then I saw a flurry of really nice WR prospects, but Custis still the best. Near the very end (because of alphabetical order), I watched Ubosi…and now I’m not is sure Custis is the best. Bravo to the East-West committee for this WR group – it’s LOADED, and Ubosi may be the best of them all.
You want to see the picture definition of a legit NFL WR, watch Ubosi’s highlight tape. Size, muscular, speed, hands, gets open – he does it all. Looks like an Allen Robinson or Davante Adams type WR.
The difference for me leaning Custis over Ubosi, and it may be wrong to do, but I only previewed them – I saw Custis making catches all over the place. My watch on Ubosi was him just torturing everyone deep – part of the issue is Ubosi’s QB/passing game wasn’t very good, so that may be part of the issue why I don’t see as much inside route running, etc.
What I did see of Ubosi…wow.
What I’ve seen of these East-West WRs is the potential sign this WR class is going to be special.