Day two of practice at the East-West Shrine Bowl saw many players continue to impress, led by South Dakota State’s Mason McCormick who showed the versatility to play multiple positions. Florida State linebacker Kalen DeLoach also had a strong day, and proved he is one of the more athletic linebackers in the 2024 NFL Draft.
East-West Shrine Bowl Day 2 notes
West Winner: The biggest winner of Shrine Bowl week so far is likely South Dakota State’s Mason McCormick. Going into the week I had an undrafted free agent grade on him but that changed for several reasons after seeing him perform in Frisco. One of those reasons is he showed he has the power to shut down FBS talent, and should be a natural fit in a gap-blocking scheme. The second reason is that he showed good versatility playing center on day two. Yet another reason why I think he improved his stock greatly is that he plays with impressive intensity down after down.
East winner: While Mason McCormick was the most impressive player on the West team, linebacker Kalen DeLoach stood out on the East team. What was so impressive about DeLoach was how athletic he was. He is by far the most athletic linebacker at this game and will likely test out as one of the more impressive athletes in the 2024 NFL Draft. He shows fluid hips and does a great job of opening up in coverage. He also shows tremendous speed and great range overall.
Most impressive play: The most impressive play of the day came in one-on-ones when Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas blew by Penn State offensive Caedan Wallace. On this play, Thomas showed a great get off and overall athletic ability. If Thomas can perform like this on a down -to-down basis he should be able to make an impact in the NFL.
Consistent performance: One of the more consistent players at this week’s East-West Shrine game was center Matt Lee. He didn’t have a single bad snap that I saw and played with good technique overall. He also showed good mobility, which is why he will likely fit best in a zone-blocking scheme.
Don’t overlook Washington: Even though Virginia wide receiver Malik Washington comes in at only 5-foot-8 he proved he belongs in the NFL. He consistently showed strong hands and made several spectacular catches over the past two days. He also showed good hips when breaking down on his routes which was displayed both in team settings and also in individual periods.
Arizona paying close attention to wide receivers: One position the Arizona Cardinals seemed to focus on a lot during the West practice was wide receiver. One player on the squad that would be a good fit for them is USC’s Tahj Washington. Washington is one of the better playmakers in the 2024 NFL Draft and also can help out on special teams.
One of the more underrated players: Going into the season I named Pittsburgh cornerback MJ Devonshire to my All-Underrated team and now that I have seen him person I stand by that pick even more. Today he showed fluid hips and was sticking like glue to the receivers he was covering. One more benefit with Devonshire is that he has been one of the better punt returners in college football, having been named second-team All-ACC as a return man in 2022.
Not just a blocker: Going into the East-West Shrine Bowl I viewed Illinois tight end Tip Reiman as one of the best blocking tight ends in the 2024 NFL Draft. What I was unsure about was how good of a receiver he was. During the week though he showed me he can make the tough catch in traffic. He also has shown on game film he is tough to take down once he makes the reception. While I still have questions about his speed and how much he can gain separation he should at least be a good mid-range passing target.
Stiff: One reason Indiana linebacker Aaron Casey might go undrafted is his lack of agility. His stiffness showed up when asked to drop into coverage, as did his lack of range. He also had trouble turning the corner when running the hoop in individual drills. On the positive side, Casey is a good run-stuffing linebacker who picked up 109 tackles this season.
Impressive vision: One trait that stood out to me about Memphis running back Blake Watson, was his impressive vision. He found open running space on several plays when the original hole was clogged with a defender. In addition, to displaying this trait he also made several impressive catches which combined with the 53 passes he caught this season shows he is a reliable passing target out of the backfield.
Press corner: Texas cornerback Ryan Watts is a player who has intriguing measurables. The 6-foot-3 206-pound corner could be an ideal fit in a cover-two scheme that loves to press its corners. He could also switch to safety which is the position the East-West Shrine game lists him at.
Switching positions: One player who moved positions since arriving at the Shrine Bowl is TCU’s Andrew Coker. Coker played both right and left tackle in college but was moved to offensive guard in this game. This move makes sense as he lacks the quick feet to play tackle at the next level.
A rough day: One player who had a rough day was Kansas safety Kenny Logan. He was beaten in coverage multiple times including once by Furman tight end Mason Pline for a touchdown. He also didn’t make a tremendous impact against the run and at times seemed a step slow.
Missing in action: One player that unfortunately could not take advantage of the Shrine Bowl was Kansas quarterback Jason Bean. According to his agent, Bean came down with the flu which forced him to opt out of the Shrine Bowl. This is unfortunate for Bean as he could have shown he had the skill set to operate a pro offense and possibly have even taken some snaps at wide receiver.