2020 East-West Shrine Game Preview

by Selyan Lonqueux
2020 East-West Shrine Game

Finally the best time of draft season: the scouting events. The 2020 East-West Shrine Game week kicked off yesterday showcasing some of the top prospects in the nation and serving as a precursor to the Senior Bowl.

I'll break down seven interesting prospects to keep an eye on throughout the week as they look to impress NFL Scouts, as well as naming the top performers I've seen from Day 1.

The East-West Shrine game is often overlooked by inexperienced scouts as most of the prospects invited project to be Day 3 or UDFA selections. But history shows, a lot of talent comes through Tampa every January.

Two years ago, I discovered Phillip Lindsay during Shrine Week.

Not only do these guys have a chance to showcase their talent, but they are also still in contention for a Senior Bowl call-up.

Scouting the East-West Shrine game is much more difficult than the Senior Bowl if you're not in Tampa. If you're like me, you'll have to resort to hunting for practice clips and footage on Twitter, Reddit and Youtube to collect any insight from one of the most important weeks of the year.

If you're not familiar, the talented analyst Emory Hunt shares clips of practice sessions through his Football Gameplan website, along with prospect interviews. It's a tremendous tool to use during the next 2 weeks.

Nevertheless, enough chit chat and let's break down the 2020 East-West Shrine Game.

2020 East-West Shrine Game Preview

Charlie Heck - OT - UNC

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This season couldn’t have gone better for Mack Brown, on his welcome back season in Chapel Hill. Ok, maybe it could have, had they finished the almost-upset of Clemson. But they still finished the season with a 7-6 record, 3rd in the ACC Coastal and a big Bowl win against Temple.

Charlie Heck was a major part of what made the Tar Heels’ season such a success protecting promising freshman quarterback Sam Howell. For one, Heck will standout the moment he lands in Tampa. Listed at 6’8”, the former tight end is a specimen.

From his tape, he can look stiff at times in pass protection, and ability to redirect is a concern. He makes his biggest impact in the run game, with a nice anchor and ability to seal the edge. This is a big week for Charlie Heck, to stand out in a talented tackle class.

Myles Dorn - S - UNC

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I’ve had my eyes on Myles Dorn since early September, when I watched the Wake Forest game, and he hasn’t ceased to impress me all year. Dorn impacts all phases of the game on defense. He’s physical in the box, has tremendous instincts in coverage and it shows in his range. He’s a modern NFL free safety in my opinion.

Following his good season, I had him shortlisted as a potential Senior Bowl invite in my notebook, but he didn’t get the offer and instead gets to prove his point in Tampa at the East/West Shrine. Surprisingly, Scout circles are worried about Dorn’s speed, but he does a great job hiding it with great anticipation and football IQ.

He may not test like a top athlete in the class and it may hurt his stock, but his tape is too impressive to ignore. He could end up being a Day 3 steal for some team.

Malcolm Perry - WR - Navy

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Remember the quarterback/athlete that tore up the Army defense early December, ending the losing streak for Navy? I know right… Magician.

Well, guess what? Malcolm Perry has been invited to the East/West Shrine to try out at receiver and I am way too excited. At 5 foot 9 and throwing the ball as little as he does, there was no way Perry would get a look at QB at the next level.

His athleticism, quickness and speed earned him a chance to show what he can do out wide!

Perry is tremendous with the ball in his hands and I can’t wait to see how his agility translates into his route running. The big question mark is how are his hands. Oh, and strap-in for all the Edelman comps and mocks to the Pats…

Alex Highsmith - EDGE - Charlotte

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I hadn’t watched Highsmith all season, until two weeks ago while preparing the Shrine Game. It really hurt when I saw what I had been missing out on. Highsmith is silently 3rd in sacks across college football with 14 on the season, behind only Chase Young and promising freshman Gregory Rousseau.

From the two games I’ve watched so far (Clemson and Buffalo), Highsmith shows a good burst and get-off at the snap. He has an extremely strong upper body and it shows in his club strength. His hands are active, strong and accurate. He wins a lot with the outside rip move and does a good job setting himself up against half-man.

I’d like to see him flatten quicker, and be more explosive to the QB. He struggled getting home early against Clemson, failing to shed his blocker when flattening to the QB.

These small school prospects are what make pre-draft scouting events so exciting. They have the chance to match up against top competition they may not have faced during the season and show they have what it takes. A big opportunity for Highsmith to put his name in Day 2 consideration.

Michael Divinity Jr. - EDGE/LB - LSU

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Divinity may be the most "under-the-radar" LSU prospect this season. He started off the season hot for the Tigers, serving as an outside linebacker opposite to Chaisson. He recorded 3 sacks, 22 tackles and forced a fumble in only 5 games to start the year. But Divinity’s biggest task of the week may not be on the field but off the field.

He should face his share of interrogation from NFL scouts regarding his time at LSU. Divinity failed 4 drug tests over his four seasons and was suspended for 9 games in 2019.

LSU declared Divinity as eligible and active for tonight’s National Championship matchup vs. Clemson. He’ll surely have an impact as his on-field skill set is not in question. But he’s got the toughest job interview of his life ahead of him this week.

Tyler Johnson - WR- Minnesota

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I’m very surprised Tyler Johnson didn’t receive an invite to the Senior Bowl this year. During his time with the Gophers, Johnson broke almost all receiving records. He’s the leader in school history in career yards (ahead of Eric Decker) and touchdowns, and second place in receptions behind Decker.

While Johnson has the build to play on the outside, he projects more as a technician in the slot at the next level. He’s a crafty route runner that creates separation with ease, Johnson doesn't have blazing speed but his agile and accurate footwork suffices. He’s a fun prospect to keep an eye on in one on ones. He could break a couple of ankles.

Darryl Williams - IOL - Mississippi State

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Darryl Williams was in my top 30 prospects entering the college football season following a very impressive 2018 season at center for the Bulldogs. It’s been 3 straight years that Mississippi State sees one of their offensive linemen get selected in the NFL draft. It started with Justin Senior in 2017, Rankin in 2018 and Elgton Jenkins last year who found himself a starting role on the Packers’ offensive line. Darryl Williams is next in line.

Darryl Williams wasn’t a strong finisher or body mover for the Bulldogs but he won with good leverage, a very strong anchor and textbook execution. He wasn’t as performant with his strengths this season leading him to drop out of my top 50 as the season went along. I didn’t see that same anchor as in 2018 and will hope to see some of that during the East/West Shrine week.

Top Day 1 Performers

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Obviously, as I was not at Tropicana Field for the day of practice and had to settle for an hour or so of video clips, the thoroughness of my assessment is limited. But the following players definitely made a big splash in my eyes:

  1. Khalil Davis – IDL – Nebraska
    1. Bend, great pad level, power, hands, explosiveness and a quick first step... I saw it all from Davis yesterday, definitely a player I'll have my eye on during the next 4 months.
  2. Kevin Dotson – IOL – Louisiana
    1. Dotson was a true candidate to finish as the top player for Day 1. I saw great reps both pass blocking and run blocking. He's got a great anchor and understanding for running schemes. He also made a huge splash opening a truck-sized hole during Run Skeleton. Can someone please get me a clip of Khalil Davis vs. Kevin Dotson?!
  3. Binjimen Victor – WR – Ohio State
    1. NASTY FEET! Victor looked unguardable in 1-on-1s. He attacked corners' leverages very intelligently, no false steps and explosive out of his breaks. He showed meticulous hands and great route savvy, he should carry that all week long.
  4. Reggie Corbin – RB – Illinois
    1. Lil Sa-quads. Seriously, have you seen how he showed up to the first day of practice? If not, I posted a snap bellow. Keep not skipping leg day Reg'. Corbin looks like a comfortable receiver exploding out of his break and catching comfortably. If he keeps showcasing his quickness and receiving ability out of the backfield, he will earn himself some serious dinero.
  5. Malcolm Perry – WR – Navy
    1. I was looking forward to Perry at receiver and he didn't disappoint. He looked as smooth as anyone running routes. The only issue: drops.
  6. Keith Washington – CB – West Virginia
    1. Keith Washington looked like a lockdown corner on all the clips I saw (except vs. Binjimen). He's agile, quick on his feet and shows good hand-eye coordination and timing to make plays on the ball.

Click here to view my Top-75 Big Board.

Click here to view our 2020 NFL Mock Draft

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