St. Petersburg, FL --** Wednesday was the final day of full-pads practice as the East and West squads prepare for Saturday's contest. It was also the first time both teams participated in full contact drills on the same day. The majority of the stars from this day of practice were found on the defensive side of the ball.
Tre Boston/S/North Carolina: Boston, 6-0, 198, turned in a terrific practice for the East on Wednesday. Effective in both seven-on-seven drills as well as full scrimmage, he displayed top-notch ball skills and the ability to make plays out to the sidelines. Besides breaking up several passes, Boston played with discipline, instincts and did a terrific job recognizing routes when lined up in zone coverage. Leaving the final day of full pads practice, there's no doubting Boston improved his stock in a draft weak at the safety position.
Ross Cockrell/CB/Duke: Cockrell, 6-0, 183, was, in my eyes, the top cornerback on the field for either team on Wednesday. He made several outstanding plays in man coverage both in the short and intermediate field. Cockrell did a great job locating the pass in the air then positioning himself against receivers to defend the ball. After a slow start to the week, Cockrell really stepped up his game as practices closed out.
Beau Allen/DT/Wisconsin: Allen was highlighted during our preview of the Shrine Game on PhildelphiaEagles.com and he lived up to the hype on Wednesday. The massive 6-foot-2, 333-pound interior lineman displayed great power, constantly bull-rushing blockers off the line of scrimmage. In full scrimmage, he made a number of ball carriers reverse course as his ability to take on double-team blocks clogged the running lanes. Allen, stamped with a free-agent grade prior to the season, leaves Shrine practices heading towards the middle rounds.
Will Clarke/DL/West Virginia: Clarke, 6-6, 277, continues to impress people with his combination of size and athleticism. He explodes off the snap and is quick getting up the field. His ability to bend off the edge and remain on balance throughout the play is also a positive. Clarke still needs work as he struggles to finish plays and seems to miss out at the end. Regardless, it was evident to all at Shrine practice that he's a prospect with great upside potential and that he could be a future starter in the NFL once he pulls together a complete game.
Derrell Johnson/LB/East Carolina: Johnson, 6-1, 248, was used in a variety of ways on Wednesday and proved to have a complete game. He showed a lot of athleticism along with the ability to quickly close to the action. Johnson was fast getting to the ball, both in a straight line and laterally. He was even asked to stand up over tackle in pass rush drills and flashed skill there. Granted, Johnson needs to get a bit stronger, but his Shrine practice performance proves he possesses the underlying ability to play in the NFL.
Erik Lora/WR/Eastern Illinois: Despite being vertically challenged, the 5-foot-10 Lora plays big and showed toughness as well as natural pass-catching skills on the final day of full-pads practice. He's exceptionally quick and does a tremendous job separating from defenders then snatching the pass from the air. Watch for Lora during the game on Saturday; if he displays run-after-the catch-skills, he'll likely slot into the final rounds of the draft as teams project him as a slot receiver with potential as a return specialist.
Max Bullough/LB/Michigan State: Bullough tipped the scales at a hefty 265 pounds during weigh-ins on Monday. That's 10 more than his playing weight, yet he showed surprising athleticism on the final day of practice. Bullough is an imposing figure on the field and he throws his weight around, stacking against the run to stymie ball carriers. Late in practice, Bullough, 15 yards off the line of scrimmage, surprised scouts by making a terrific interception of a Keith Wenning pass. After Saturday's game, Bullough heads towards the NFL scouting combine, where he hopes to wow scouts with a surprising workout.
For more of Tony's draft insights, check out DraftInsider.net.