The star of the East-West Shrine game was Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams, who led the West to a 29-9 win over the East. Adams finished the week strong in practice and carried it over into the game. Adams caught fire in the second quarter. First, he made a nice throw to Colorado State tight end Kivon Cartwright for a touchdown. Adams had a nice pump fake to help open up his target, and Adams showed his strong arm to fire a strike into the end zone.
After getting the ball back, Adams scrambled and found a wide open receiver in busted coverage by Boston College safety Justin Simmons, who lost Purdue wide receiver Danny Anthrop standing by himself in the middle of the field. After a pass of about 50 yards, Anthrop out raced the defenders to the end zone for a 93-yard score.
Adams added his third touchdown with a bullet to Illinois wide receiver Geronimo Allison with a quick slant. It was a great route and catch by Allison with a perfect play by Adams to move the safety with his eyes.
Adams was 6-for-9 for 191 yards with the three touchdowns. He did his job to give NFL teams something to think about. Adams has a quality arm with mobility and is a gamer. His field vision and eye movement in the game was very impressive. He could be a day-three developmental pick. Perhaps some team looks at him and thinks he could be the next Russell Wilson.
Allison was one of the best players at the East-West and his dominant week really helped his draft stock. In the third quarter, Allison got open running a quick out and caught a short touchdown for his second score. Aside from those plays, Allison used his tall frame to make a pretty sideline catch, but a poorly placed pass turned pushed Allison out of bounds. In the first half, Allison had some good plays and bad plays as a blocker, but he showed potential in terms of the latter. With his strong East-West Shrine, Allison looks like a day-three pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
One of the players who helped himself tremendously was Stony Brook edge rusher Victor Ochi. In the game, Ochi was terrorizing the defensive tackles. Early on, he beat Nebraska left tackle Alex Lewis for a near sack. That set the tone as he was consistently getting pressure on the quarterback. Ochi then burned Arizona left tackle Lene Maivava with a speed rush around the corner for a sack. Ochi looks like a day-three pick who could be a valuable situational pass-rusher before long.
Another defender who made some money with his All-Star game performance was South Carolina State defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. He beat interior lineman with a quick burst and also had a powerful bull rush to crash the pocket. He batted a pass and had a number of pressures on the quarterback with multiple near sacks on Saturday. Hargrave (6-2, 295) is an undersized speed-rushing defensive tackle who could use more strength for the NFL, but he has natural pad level to go along with speed.
I was told that some in the draft media at the East-West Shrine praised Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty during the week, but I was unimpressed. He doesn’t have a NFL arm and lacks size. His game performance was very ugly. Early on, Doughty forced a throw into double coverage and was intercepted by Florida linebacker Anthony Harrell. At the end of the first quarter, Doughty forced a pass at the goal line and Florida cornerback Brian Poole jumped the route. He raced 98 yards for a touchdown. Doughty completely stared the route down and telegraphed his throw. Doughty looks like an undrafted free agent and a training camp arm to compete to be a third quarterback.
Doughty wasn’t the only quarterback who struggled, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave telegraphed a throw, and Wisconsin teammate Mike Caputo jumped the route for an interception. Michigan’s Jake Rudock also didn’t impress, as he threw an interception to Caputo as well. Rudock had a pass sail on him and it fell into Caputo’s arms. Both Rudock and Stave look like future undrafted free agents.
Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld looked the best in practice this week, but he had some missed throws in the game. He was slow to make decisions and didn’t seem to be trusting his eye. He also had some poor ball placement on some throws. Sudfeld did look good firing a bullet to Geronimo Allison for a short touchdown. Of all the quarterbacks at the East-West, Sudfeld is the only one who truly has the skill set of a potential NFL starter.
UCLA center Jake Brendel had a solid game. He had an impressive block to spring Storm Woods for a 14-yard run. Brendel could be a late-round pick who turns into something.
Illinois guard Alex Karras and Nebraska left tackle Alex Lewis had some nice blocks. Karras lacks a great skill set, but is a tough fighter with some nastiness to him. Lewis should start out as a developmental swing tackle backup.
Manitoba (Canada) defensive end Ebuka Onyemata had a strong week with power and speed to get the better of offensive tackles. That continued in the game, as he had a sack and multiple hits on the quarterback. Onyemata was impressive in St. Petersburg.