As always, PhiladelphiaEagles.com will aim to get you ready for May's NFL Draft. The lead-up to the tentpole event of the offseason begins this week with the East-West Shrine Game. We'll be on the scene all week with full coverage ...
The 90th version of the East-West Shrine Game begins Monday morning as the second half of the scouting season begins in earnest. This classic All-Star game, known for doing much good off the field, has offered players an opportunity to make their ascent up draft boards.
Last January, it was quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who put on an impressive show and was rewarded by being the second-round selection of the New England Patriots. The prior year it was offensive lineman Terron Armstead from Arkansas Pine-Bluff who caught scouts by surprise. Armstead, selected in the third round, is now the starting left tackle for the New Orleans Saints.
So which players could come out of nowhere and leave the Shrine Game with momentum on their side? Here are 15 players to keep an eye on.
Tre' McBride/WR/William & Mary -- Stamped as a potential late-round pick prior to the season, McBride responded with a career campaign which has improved his draft stock. He's a well-sized receiver with enough speed to stretch the field but scouts want to know if McBride possesses the grit and toughness necessary to compete at the next level. He's been labeled as soft by a number of area scouts, something he must disprove the next three days.
Keith Mumphery/WR/Michigan State -- Mumphery takes a backseat to teammate Tony Lippett, yet many scouts believe he'll be a better NFL receiver. He easily moves his 220-pound frame around the field, playing to his 4.4s forty speed. Inconsistency has been an issue for the athletic wide out as he's been a token player in the Spartans offense. Teams on hand at the Shrine Game want Mumphery to beat up on his competition every day in practice.
Wes Saxton/TE/South Florida -- From an athletic standpoint, Saxton is a standout at the tight end position. He's fast, fluid and offers the versatility to line up in the backfield or in the slot. Dropped passes are the biggest issue as Saxton's been plagued with inconsistent hands the past two seasons. Should he up his game during Shrine practices, Saxton could move into the middle rounds.
AJ Derby/TE/Arkansas -- Derby made a quick transition to tight end in 2014 after spending the prior season as the Razorbacks' second-team quarterback. He uses his signal caller smarts to make plays and flashed big time ability throughout the year. Derby must prove to teams he has the ability to develop into a complete player at the tight end position.
MyCole Pruitt/TE/Southern Illinois -- Pruitt has been a dominant tight end on the I-AA level totaling 221 receptions, 2,601 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns the four years he started for the Salukis. The Shrine Game will be an opportunity to prove he can play with a better level of competition. Slated as a move tight end for the next level, his ability to outrun defenders from IA schools will enhance Pruitt's draft stock.
Jamon Brown/OL/Louisville -- Brown has been a standout at left tackle for Louisville since his sophomore season. Measuring under 6-4 while tipping the scale in excess of 330 pounds, Brown is better suited to play guard at the next level. Brown's conditioning as well as his ability to block on the move will be closely monitored this week.
Tayo Fabuluje/T/TCU -- Fabuluje was a dominant lineman in 2012 before sitting out the '13 campaign due to personal issues. The big tackle returned this year and picked up where he left off, annihilating opponents as TCU's offense scored at will. Fabuluje's physical conditioning and mental stability concern scouts so he best show up in shape and say the right things.
Greg Mancz/OL/Toledo -- Mancz lined up at guard as a junior and looked like a legitimate mid-round choice. He struggled at times after moving to center this season and as a result his draft stock has slipped. Regardless, at the top of his game Manncz offers starting potential at the next level. Versatility and the ability to control the line of scrimmage are key for Mancz in practice.
Martin Ifedi/DL/Memphis -- Ifedi comes off a disappointing campaign as he struggled with injury and played in just nine contests this season. When hitting on all cylinders he's a natural pass rusher and disruptive force. Ifedi will quickly turn the tide in his favor if he's back to health beginning Monday.
Jake Ryan/LB/Michigan -- Ryan has been a stalwart for the Wolverines defense, posting 267 tackles during his four seasons as a starter. Scouts stamped him as an early-round pick entering the season but most believe he's a two-down defender with depreciating draft stock. Ryan can shut down those criticisms by displaying cover skills against many of the athletic tight ends who'll be in attendance at the Shrine Game.
Taiwan Jones/LB/Michigan State -- Mention the Michigan State defense and names such as Shilique Calhoun and Trae Waynes immediately come to mind. Yet on film, it's Jones who constantly making plays on the ball. He possesses the size, speed and instincts to line up in a variety of schemes. Expect Jones to make a statement during Shrine week.
James Vaughters/LB/Stanford -- The line on Vaughters simply reads, "great athlete, average football player." Scouts have been continually disappointed in Vaughters' play and his non-existent production. He needs to show up in a big way during Shrine week or he can expect not to be drafted.
Bobby McCain/CB/Memphis -- McCain is one of the hidden gems at the cornerback position in next April's draft. He has a solid combination of ball skills and instincts. Speed, specifically the ability to stay downfield with opponents, is a concern and something which will be monitored during practice.
Detrick Bonner/S/Virginia Tech -- As a sophomore, Bonner looked like a rising star and potentially the next great defensive back prospect from the Hokie program. But his game stagnated over the past two seasons. Is Bonner a scheme-specific strong safety or does he have the athleticism to play in the larger field? Teams want answers this week.
Tevin McDonald/S/Eastern Washington -- The one time highly touted prospect has watched his play slip since his dismissal from the UCLA program. At the top of his game, McDonald is a hard-hitting safety who can line up over the slot receiver but its been a while since he's played to that level. Shrine week affords McDonald the opportunity to right his ship.