The National Football Post will be out in full force starting next week for the 85th East-West Shrine Game in Orlando on Jan. 23. We’ll be posting daily practice reports, rumors we’re hearing and offering our takes on some of the nation’s top NFL prospects. Here’s our first look at the East team with players who are worth watching:
The East breakdown
Rosters from Shrinegame.com
Head to head
Some of the most anticipated one-on-one battles to look forward to next week during East practices:
Iowa OT Kyle Calloway vs. NC State DE Willie Young
This is a real contrast of styles as Calloway relies on his power and overall grit off the edge, while Young is a long, coordinated athlete who isn’t real physical but has the body control to slip blocks and close on the football. It will be interesting to see if Calloway’s size and toughness are able to wear down Young, or if Young’s combination of length and lateral quickness is too much for Calloway in space.
Virginia Tech OG Sergio Render vs. Purdue DT Mike Neal
Render and Neal are big, powerful interior linemen who have the ability to win most of their individual matchups with pure brute force. However, Neal is also a good athlete who has the first step to get up the field and lose opposing linemen with his initial burst. But he needs to do a better job defeating blocks with his hands. He always seems to put himself in position to make plays but too often fails to shed quickly inside. His matchup with the “sticky” Render should prove to be quite a battle.
Mississippi State LB Jamar Chaney vs. Penn State TE Andrew Quarless
At one time Chaney looked to have the makings of a starting-caliber middle linebacker at the next level. However, after missing most the 2008 season with a broken leg, he has yet to fully display the kind of burst and closing speed he possessed previously. Watching him match up with a tight end who has the athletic skill set of Quarless is a great way to see if Chaney has the range to hold up in space at the NFL level.
Michigan State WR Blair White vs. Western Illinois CB Patrick Stoudamire
White’s combination of size, coordination and sneaky straight-line speed gave opposing cornerbacks fits all season. This is a great matchup for a small-schools guy like Stoudamire to come in and make a strong first impression. Stoudamire is an explosive athlete and is the type of corner White will likely have a tough time separating from at the next level. It comes down to how polished and technically sound Stoudamire is in his drop when asked to play in man coverage.
Prospects who need a big week:
SS Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech
A SS/OLB twenner who displays great size and overall power inside the box but lacks fluidity in coverage and struggles whenever he’s asked to redirect and play in space.
DE Greg Hardy, Mississippi
When the motor is running and he wants to get after the quarterback, Hardy does it as well as any prospect. However, he’s had his troubles with injuries throughout his career and doesn’t always seem to be as invested in the game as he should.
DE Lindsey Witten, Connecticut
A sack machine last season who absolutely dominated poor offensive tackle play. He wasn’t much of a factor any time he went up against a legitimate NFL prospect and needs to prove he can be effective vs. the big boys.
WR Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green
The guy feasted on poor cornerback play and defenses all season. It will be key for him to show well for himself against better competition next week.
Prospects whose draft stock could soar:
CB Stephan Virgil, Virginia Tech
A talented ACC cover man who showcases good fluidly in space with the range to close on the football. He missed the Hokies’ bowl game for academic reasons, but he has a chance to redeem himself in a big way in front of scouts.
DE O’Brien Schofield, Wisconsin
We know the guy can get after the passer as a down lineman, but if he’s able to prove he can handle the nuances of being a rush linebacker in only one week, he opens up a lot of new doors as an every-down player.
QB Jarrett Brown, West Virginia
The skill set is there for this guy to develop into a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL. He needs time, but a strong week of Shrine practice could launch his draft stock toward the top of the senior QB class.
QB John Skelton, Fordham
Another intriguing senior QB prospect who possesses a live arm, a big frame and the potential to move up draft boards with a strong showing next week.
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Want more NFL Draft coverage? Check out this mock draft from Bleacher Report.