Every year, I get the list of East-West Shrine prospects and go through each one for a 15-30 minute tape and initial data scouting session. I then slap an initial (school) grade reaction on each prospect and write a few lines about my first reaction to my preview study on them – to publish during East-West Shrine week to get ready for the E-W practice week and game.
I’ll get a better feel for these players after we get their Combine and/or Pro Day numbers and run our scouting analytics and do deeper research on some of them, but for now he’s a first reaction preview of the players going into their East-West week (ranked by lowest-to-highest initial reaction grades)…
ILB Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State (6’0”/235) *Early Preview Grade: C-/D+
A solid brick wall ILB…short and squat/thick. Hits like a linebacker should. 126 tackles in 2018 (13 games). 99 tackles in 2019 (13 games). I see Tezino guessing/run blitzing more than making plays all over. College LB prospects can head fake impressive numbers by making some plays on blitzes while no traditional stats track how many times they guessed wrong or were out of position. Tezino felt more like a guesser than a truly great ILB (see Scooby Wright’s college career, if you remember when he was making like 300 tackles a year in the PAC-12). Tezino has some prospect hope but may be more NFL backup level kinda guy.
OLB Michael Pinckney, Miami, Fla. (6’1”/226) *Early Preview Grade: C-
Good instincts. Real nice reach/long arms to make some plays that others cannot. There was some promise here on tape. Aggressive. Decent burst to chase down ball carriers or drop into coverage. I liked what I saw here, but statistically he was erratic…not consistent or dominant in his play purely by the numbers. There’s some upside/hope here.
LB Mykal Walker, Fresno State (6’3”/230) *Early Preview Grade: C
Looks like a prototypical 4-3 OLB body…lean/muscular with reach. Nice pursuit skills. Aggressive tackler. A real NFL prospect at outside linebacker and special teams. Not sure that he has star attributes, but we’ll see at the Combine/Pro Days.
LB Malik Harrison, Ohio State (6’3”/240) *Early Preview Grade: C
Has moments where he looks great but too often just not a factor. Has nice burst and pursuit/chase skills. Played a lot of middle linebacker, where he looked ‘just OK’. I liked him more when he was playing outside or on the edge and using his athleticism. He might be a B+ or better athlete as an OLB, but not a B+ football instinct or reader of plays. He’s better suited running around and trying to make athletic plays than stuck in the middle.
OLB Casey Toohill, Stanford (6’4”/247) *Early Preview Grade: C+
A future New England Patriot… He’s listed as an OLB, but I saw him playing mostly 4-3, hand-in-the-dirt DE. Looks like a pass rusher…quick, tall, reach, but he also moves around well to play the run or drop into coverage. He’s got NFL tools and could be a starter in the right system, if his measurables come in as good/well as I think they might. He might not be a star, but just a great piece of the puzzle player who can play multiple positions.
ILB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami, Fla (6’1”/241) *Early Preview Grade: B-
I’ve been a big fan since previewing him this summer. I see great instincts and athleticism moving towards ballcarriers. And he’s a good-great tackler – when he hits RBs they tend to stop or go backwards. Most prospect tapes on any defenders here, they get to ballcarriers and ride them down. Quarteman stops runners cold…a gift that not many prospects have. 107 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, 5 PDs in 13 games in 2019 season. In the argument for the best defensive (and overall) prospect in this game.
OLB Rashad Smith, Fla. Atlantic (6’2”/220) *Early Preview Grade: B/B-
A terrific ball hawking college ILB that is built to be an OLB or strong safety or SAF/LB hybrid in the NFL – he gets to the ball and had great feet to not get juked by ballcarriers…he’s like a proverbial cheetah pouncing on a gazelle a lot of times – he just seems to always make the play. 96 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, 5 fumble recoveries in 12 games in 2019. Six career INTs. He’s arguably the best defensive prospect for the NFL here…because of his versatility in how he can be used.