This will be my 7th season covering the NFL Draft “professionally.” It’s been a learning experience, including the understanding that seven years is not a long period of time. Most importantly, I’ve learned to not be certain about an uncertain subject. Early on I would dig my heels in, convinced what I saw in a prospect was fact. You learn to loosen the parameters of your certainties, and to identify different avenues that arrive at multiple answers. To me, that is improving process.
Time to close the book at East-West Shrine week. As I’ve learned, my goal when attending Shrine week practices is to identify the 15 or so prospects to monitor for the rest of the process, the names that have the best chance of making a real impact in the NFL. That isn’t to say others won’t get drafted. They will, but these are the 15 that stood out to me in terms of watching them before the week and during practices.
QB Easton Stick, North Dakota State – It wasn’t a good week of practice for Stick. I wouldn’t call it bad either, yet Stick entered with the expectations of outshining some of the Senior Bowl passers who take the field next week. With multiple seasons as a starter, Stick has answered every question on the field. He works in shotgun and from center. He wins off play action and creates time/space outside of structure with mobility. He hits every level of the field, both in the middle and outside the numbers.
QB Brett Rypien, Boise State – If Taylor Heineke, Alex Tanney and others can be backup quarterbacks in the NFL, so can Rypien. He will carry out exactly what a team wants from him inside of structure.
RB Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska – My favorite prospect of the roster before the week, my favorite prospect after the week. There’s so much to love about his game: Footwork in the backfield to hit open lanes. Speed to maximize yards blocked for him. Balance on contact to create on his own. I bet he tests like a great athlete. I haven’t completed this class, just Shrine and Senior Bowl rosters, but I’d be stunned if Ozigbo isn’t a top 75 player of mine. We will hear his name during the 2019 season.
RB Nick Brossette, LSU – His greatest skill is in pass protection. We see so many running backs enter the league and be liabilities in the passing game. Brossette won’t be. Where others have questions, he offers an answer. With that said, he’s not a dynamic runner or receiver, but is stable in both areas.
WR Terry Godwin, Georgia – The best receiver during the week of practice. At Georgia, Godwin didn’t see a ton of looks – 38 receptions in a season was his highest total. Many of his standout plays were difficult catches in the endzone and along the sideline. During Shrine week, Godwin could not be covered, creating more and more separation with each break. He likely makes his home in the slot.
WR Shawn Poindexter, Arizona – Poindexter could ultimately turn out to be a third-day selection who fizzles out, which makes sense after posting limited production in college. Or the pieces align and you land yourself a tall, fluid outside receiver who can separate versus man or find open areas against zone. There is a longer conversation here, but I’ve surmised that “height” has fallen down the list of critical factors for the receiver spot. Statues don’t make it in the NFL anymore.
T Oli Udoh, Elon – His week was so good that Udoh earned a Senior Bowl call up. Just a mountain of a man at 6-foot-6, 328 lbs with 36-inch arms and an 85-inch wingspan. He looks most comfortable at right tackle, and that size is difficult to work around. But on top of that, Udoh seems to have the movement to mirror when blocking on an island, doesn’t bend at the waist and creates movement in the running game.
EDGE Mathieu Betts, Laval – It was a shock to see Betts show up around 260 pounds, as he looks maxed out in person. But Betts’ agility is great, as he can put offensive tackles off balance and reaching before contact is engaged.
EDGE/DL Michael Dogbe, Temple – I always check out Bruce Feldman’s freaks list, especially for defensive linemen. This is how I explain having a bias towards athlete along a defensive front: There are few true 1 on 1 matchups on a football field, and many of them happen along the offensive and defensive line. At its most basic level, wouldn’t it be an advantage to be more athletic than your opponent? Dogbe made that Freaks list, and has made an impact on the edge and from the interior.
DL Daniel Wise, Kansas – Along those same lines, Wise has the potential to be a real difference maker in the NFL. He is disruptive, explosive and tenacious. The brother of Deatrich Wise Jr. and son of Deatrich Wise Sr., both NFL players. For such a big human, he moves so fluidly. There’s a lot of room for growth, as Wise looks lost and takes himself out of plays too often due to not obtaining backfield vision.
DL Daylon Mack, Texas A&M – If Dogbe and Wise offer athletic foundations, Mack offers anchor. I am totally against drafting an interior player whose calling card is run defense earlier than the third day. But on the third day, Mack has a clear area where he wins.
DL Chris Nelson, Texas – Expect Nelson to be a round 5 through 7 defensive tackle who flashes getting up the field and disrupting while also offering a solid anchor.
LB Sione Takitaki, BYU – A late addition to the event, and immediately became the best linebacker on the roster. Takitaki has the speed to be a run and chase player. He has the toughness to be the hammer on runs directly at him. In its simplest form, that’s a great foundation for a linebacker prospect.
CB Michael Jackson, Miami – I know you all have watched American Idol. You know the contestants who have a tremendous audition but fail to live up to that bar with each successive performance? That is Jackson, and his 2017 season was the high note. Jackson was so good in press that year, but his 2018 season and this week of practice did not match that level of play. Still, that type of talent just doesn’t disappear.
CB Montre Hartage, Northwestern – Possibly the best defensive back all week. He looked good in tight space in the slot and disruptive when on the outside.
Source Article from http://rotoworld.com/articles/nfl/85831/60/shrine-week-15-to-remember