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…
RB Benny LeMay, Charlotte (5’8”/216) *Early Preview Grade: D-
Not a great size, a little bit shifty but pretty slow in burst and open field running. He just doesn’t have the ‘it’ factor for the NFL. He’d have to grind his way to a practice squad.
RB Rodney Smith, Minnesota (5’10”/208) *Early Preview Grade: D+
6th-year senior. That’s already a red flag. Decent speed. Physical runner for his size. He ‘wants it’ but I don’t know that his desire + mediocre attributes will be good enough to hang in the NFL. Smith feels like one of those guys who will get overlooked for the NFL but keeps grinding and somehow makes an NFL roster someday and has a moment or two. That’s more wishful thinking at this point.
RB Adrian Killins, C. Florida (5’7”/164) *Early Preview Grade: D+
Legit speedster (4.3-4.4 speed) but quite undersized. I didn’t see much here besides great open field speed in space. However, pretty erratic unimpressive numbers in college – like 47 kick returns and just 1 TD return. If he’s so fast and next level…he should’ve made more plays in all phases. NFL speed is here, but not sure NFL anything else is.
RB Tavien Feaster, So. Carolina (6’0”/221) *Early Preview Grade: D+/C-
Former Clemson RB who transferred to South Carolina for his senior season. Never had any great impact for either school but was solid enough. His tape looks better than his production. Has some nice get-up-and-go for his size, but it doesn’t look like he’s got a real knack for running the ball in muddy situations. Nice with a wide-open hole…but then what RB isn’t?
RB James Robinson, Illinois State (5’9”/220) *Early Preview Grade: C-
Robinson might be a ‘B-‘ prospect…or he might be a ‘D’. He’s hard to get an early read on. 1,917 yards and 18 TDs rushing are impressive output numbers in 2019…but he did that at the FCS level. He’s just bigger and badder than the defenses he faced. He shows some skills, but against FCS defenders it looks more impressive than it might really be for NFL prospect scouting. My eyes say he’s more of a 4.6+ runner and is a backup-type NFL RB prospect, but his Combine/Pro Day could reveal a better back. So, we’ll have him in the C grade range until we see more info. He was a bit of a beast-mode for the FCS level.
RB Rico Dowdle, So. Carolina (6’0”/215) *Early Preview Grade: C/C-
A nothing career at South Carolina. I looked at his stats first and thought he would be a waste of time looking at him (764 yards and 6 TDs rushing was his best season…as a freshman), but his tape isn’t bad at all. A total block of granite…very muscular with decent speed, burst, power, hands. I’m not sure why he was so ‘meh’ in his career. Split time with East-West game teammate Tavien Feaster. Dowdle rushed for 102 yards against Alabama this season. Deep sleeper RB talent I wanted to learn more about.
RB Patrick Taylor, Memphis (6’1”/222) *Early Preview Grade: C+
1,000+ yard rushing season in 2018 with 18 TDs and then his 2019 was hindered with an early injury after he ran for 128 yards and a TD against Ole Miss in the opener and he missed several games. He came back for the last five games but wasn’t at full effectiveness it appeared.
Taylor is a horse of an RB prospect…big, muscular, physical, punishing, hard to tackle. He has nice hands in the pass game. His speed is questionable…a 4.5s/4.6s runner. He has tools. He’s willing to block. There’s something here, but we’ll need to see the 40-times and three-cone to get a better picture of it.
RB LeVante Bellamy, W. Michigan (5’9”/190) *Early Preview Grade: B-
He’ll get your attention fast, when you watch his highlight reel…kinda like a little lesser Phillip Lindsay. 1,472 rushing yards and 23 rushing TDs in 2019. Lightning fast north-south, and lightning quick east-west. If he gets a seam he’s gone. A little smaller than you want in an NFL RB prospect, but so was Phillip Lindsay.
With Bellamy’s kind of speed…size issues are set aside. Could be a great 7-10 carry, 3-7 target type of NFL RB…or possibly a main carry guy like Lindsay. The NFL Combine and/or Pro Day numbers will tell the full tale. My first glimpse…definitely caught my attention. College RB prospects don’t usually have this kind of ‘+’ speed and agility. He just looks different on tape than most ‘good’ RBs…especially the level of prospects at this game.