SHRINE GAME 2019 Attention Getters
Just as some players disappoint in the public eye at All-Star games in January, there are also some who aren’t household names, yet they step up and stand out. After rewatching the Shrine Game telecast and reviewing practice notes, I have a group of such players I wanted to highlight for you.
TYLER JONES OG NC STATE 6’3/298
JONES played outside at LT for the Wolfpack, because his skills out there were the best the coaches saw on their team, but his height dictates a move back inside to OG as a pro, so that is where he played in the Shrine contest. He showed the same fundamentally sound footwork and hand usage inside at that venue. He’s not the massive people mover that many around here were in St.Pete, but his skills set him up to succeed more often than not. He’s not small, just a tad short. At an interior OL spot, his 10″ hands and 33 3/8″ arms are more than adequate by NFL standards. I see him as a Day 3 Draftee, with at least the chance to be a solid multiple OL slot back-up. He could get a chance to compete for a staring job as a pro, perhaps as a Rookie.
ULYSEES GILBERT LB AKRON 6’0/228
The highly athletic GILBERT was an eye-catcher from Day One at the Shrine venue. An inch taller and 10 pounds heavier, and he’d be a household name in the Draftnik community. After a solid collegiate career as a ZIP, GILBERT was all over the field for the Shrine East team. He filled multiple Special Teams roles for the East, and he certainly has the speed and quickness to excel in those roles as a pro, which is oh so important. He also hits hard, which showed up in every role he filled. His ability to drop into coverage from his LB spot is of paramount importance for today’s NFL. Purely and simply put, he was one of the most active and versatile players on the East team Defense all week. In the game, he was credited with 5 tackles and 1 pass defended. He left St. Pete with a draftable grade from me, pending outcomes at the Combine and/or a Pro Day.
MICHAEL DOGBE DL Temple 6’3/286
Though not blessed with an elite DL prospect, the Shrine featured a very deep and talented DL group for both teams. My most pleasant surprise within that position group was DOGBE. Playing against blockers who all tipped the scales at 300 lbs. plus, DOGBE was almost unblockable. He may have been credited with only 2 tackles, one a TFL, in the game, but he held his ground at the line of scrimmage against the run, and pursued with a lot of energy for his weight. To my eyes, he should make a very effective DL rotation player at the next level, no matter what the base defensive scheme is.
LANDIS DURHAM DE/ER TEXAS A&M 6’02/249
DURHAM is one of those old-fashioned “tweeners” when you look at his measurements, but he is very effective penetrating into his opponent’s backfield. He uses multiple moves, and just flat out quickness, to find and shoot gaps and disrupt the pocket. He’s not stout enough to set the edge against the run, nor is he fluid enough to drop real well into coverage, but he uses his 9 3/4″ hands to move blockers around and get leverage. His stat sheet looked pretty modest, with one tackle, but in watching him, I felt he was affecting what the opposing offense was able to do on many occasions. I think he may put up some nice workout numbers at his Pro Day.
MARKUS JONES DE ANGELO STATE 6’3/252
I felt this small school standout tried to make an impression too hard, from the first snap of practice on Monday. Accordingly, he looked awkward, got frustrated, and accomplished very little. By Wednesday, and on Game Day, he was in a groove and just playing football, and the result was some solid play. He’s quick, and uses his 9 1/2″ hands effectively to move folks around. He’s quick enough to give OT’s a hard time, and pursues all over the field. He reminds me a lot of the kind of guys the RAMS D, under Wade Phillips, employ out on the edge to disrupt offenses. Quickness drills and his 40-time will mean a lot at workouts for him. On game day, he was credited with 6 tackles, 3 solo, 1/2 sack, and 2 QBH’s.
B.J. BLUNT LB/S McNEESE STATE 6’0/203
It seems as if we always have a vocal leader out on the field somewhere. BLUNT was that guy this year. He’s a verbal, high energy guy who exudes confidence, and the athleticism and desire to back it up. He also is willing, and apparently able, to handle just about any assignment the coaches give him. He excelled on Special Teams every day with hustle and high energy. He was also around the ball constantly on defense. He was also the cheerleader out on the field, urging on his teammates, as well as himself. In the game, he demonstrated excellent ball awareness and sure hands. I see this player as a potential solid fit for a NICKEL-LB role in the NFL.
MONTRE HARTAGE DB NORTHWESTERN 5’11/187
I think this player may be vastly underrated by a lot of folks. I’ve watched him multiple times this past season, and have been impressed with his play and seeming leadership. He showed it again during Shrine Week. He’s an unselfish team player, who leads the secondary, and seems to have a high FBI. He does not have the quicks to be an NFL press-corner, but he is more physical than you might expect for his size. He is also smart enough to not let himself be moved out of position. I think he can earn himself a spot in Nickel and Dime secondary packages, and excel on Special Teams at the next level.
There were higher ranked pro prospects at the Shrine than most of these guys, and many of them will be considered ‘tweeners, or outliers, by NFL Scouts, but I’d luv to have them on my team’s Training Camp roster as Day Three Draftees, or URFA’s.