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10 Shrine Game Players To Watch


After a full week of practices in front of NFL scouts on their quest to improve their draft stock, the prospects at this year's East-West Shrine Game finally take the field on Saturday afternoon for the game itself (4 PM, NFL Network). Tony Pauline has taken us through the daily winners during the practices, but which players should you keep an eye on during the live action this afternoon?

Keeping in mind head coach Chip Kelly's "Big People Beat Up Little People" mantra, here's a glimpse of 10 players who could intrigue the Eagles come draft time in early May, listed in alphabetical order.

Safety Tre Boston – The Eagles will surely keep a close eye on secondary prospects throughout the draft process, which is convenient since it was probably the deepest position group at this year's Shrine Game. At safety, North Carolina's Boston was a standout throughout the week. At 6-0, 198, Boston is the most physically impressive of the safety crop this week. He was able to consistently flash in the passing game and proved willing to be physical against the run.

Defensive end Will Clarke – The tallest defensive player at the Shrine Game, Clark, 6-6, 277, is one of the more physically intriguing players of the group. Clarke could project as a pass-rushing defensive end for the Eagles and he surely has the length the team covets.

Cornerback Ross Cockrell – Four cornerbacks make our list here, and it's no accident that they're the only four who measured in over 6-feet tall. Cockrell, 6-0, 183, played both cornerback and safety for Duke, and he showed those skills this week. His willingness to be physical could open some eyes on game day.

Cornerback Pierre Desir – Perhaps the most intriguing player heading into the week, the small-school Desir, out of Lindenwood, needed to prove he could handle an uptick in competition this week. Though the wide receivers at this year's Shrine Game may have left a little to be desired, Desir, 6-1, 197, held up reasonably well. He's the longest of the Shrine cornerbacks and he has a shot to be the first one drafted come May.

Cornerback Phillip Gaines – At 6-1, 195, Gaines is another in the third of the four long cornerbacks at the Shrine Game. He did have a few rough moments during the week of practice early on, but the Rice product bounced back as the week went along. Comfortable in press coverage, Gaines is another mid-to-late round prospect.

Defensive lineman Josh Mauro – At just under 6-6, 276, Mauro is a physically impressive lineman with the pedigree of the impressive Stanford defense. Like Clarke, he would fit best for the Eagles as a defensive end. Mauro's competitive streak was on display all week and it would be no surprise to see him make plays in the backfield this afternoon.

Cornerback Shaquille Richardson – A four-year starter at Arizona, Richardson will be plenty familiar to Kelly after his production in the Pac-12. At 6-0, 194, Richardson had as good a week as any player in St. Petersburg. He made plays on the ball all week long, both coming forward and on deep balls. A reliable tackler, Richardson could make sense in the Eagles secondary.

Tackle Jeremiah Sirles – The only offensive player listed here, Sirles, 6-6, 315, can play both tackle positions and proved to be a reliable blocker this week. The second biggest tackle behind only Belhaven's Matt Hall (6-9, 323), Sirles probably projects as a late-round pick. Absent here are the skill position players, though Coastal Carolina wide receiver Matt Hazel (an Eagles fan) and Tennessee running back Rajion Neal had noteworthy performances this week.

Safety Hakeem Smith – A shade taller than Boston, Smith, 6-0, 186, played at Louisville alongside Calvin Pryor, the likely first or second safety to be selected come May. Smith, though, is no slouch and is a very willing tackler coming into the box. Wake Forest's A.J. Marshall was very impressive throughout the week, but he's a bit smaller at 5-11, 197.

Linebacker Tyler Starr – Unheralded out of South Dakota, Starr started slowly this week, perhaps as he adjusted to the level of competition. But he came on strong as the week progressed, highlighted by a three-play stretch in which he broke up a pass at the second level, then made a beautiful one-handed interception as he read a rolling-out quarterback, followed by a tackle for loss in the backfield. At 6-4, 249, Starr would seemingly have the kind of size the Eagles may be looking for at outside linebacker.

Pass rusher Larry Webster – We'll leave Webster without a specific position, though he projects best for the Eagles as an outside linebacker. At 6-6, 249, the Bloomsburg product is certainly raw, especially with his hand-usage, but he showcased the kind of speed around the edge that could have teams dreaming of long-term benefits.

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