At DLF, our slogan is: “There is no off-season.” The reason for that, other than the fact we are all degenerates who can’t get enough, is because the NFL really is a year-round endeavor.
This past week saw the beginning of draft season. College players begin their transition to paid athletes as the NFL begins to sort through who is worthy enough to land a life-changing payday. The first step in that process is the East-West Shrine game.
Now, let’s be clear. While the Shrine Game does contain potential draft picks, many of the game’s participants will be selected outside the top 100, if they even get picked at all. For the players, the most important parts of this week are two-fold: meetings with team representatives, and the practices. For the draftnik, unless you have media credentials, these are the parts that you’ll never see. Luckily, there are plenty of media outlets out there reporting on the practice sessions during the week.
This all culminates in a game on Saturday, Today, we’ll take a look at the offensive skill position players who either helped- or in some cases, hurt – their draft stock.
Daylon Mack, DT Texas A&M
The former five-star recruit looked anything but during his first three seasons for the Aggies. This past season was a different story though, and Mack carried that into the Shrine Game, cementing himself as the most dominant player there He wrecked every offensive lineman he came in contact with. His strong play earned him a call up to the following week’s prestigious Senior Bowl.
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Daniel Wise, DT Kansas
The Jayhawks are exactly a national football powerhouse, but Wise was their best player by a country mile. Playing alongside Mack, the duo wrecked shop all week. Wise demonstrated power bullying interior offensive linemen back into the quarterback’s face.
BJ Blunt, LB McNeese State
Ok, real talk. Blunt probably isn’t an IDP asset. He’s probably a special teams guy who might sub in on obvious passing situations. But by all accounts, he was the leader of the West defense, which was spectacular. He did finish as the team leader in tackles for the West and recovered a fumble and had a diving interception. He’s loud, energetic, and a ton of fun to watch. He’s just a little small for today’s NFL linebacker.
Justin Hollins, EDGE Oregon
He ended up being named the game’s defensive MVP. He had nine solo tackles, one assist, two sacks, two hits, and three tackles for loss while utilizing an inside rush move that he had been killing linemen with all week in practice. The roster listed him as an outside linebacker but NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks noted on Twitter following the game that Hollins is much better with his hand on the ground attacking the quarterback.
Jordan Brailford, DE Oklahoma St
Some players just play better when the lights come on. Brailford showed he was one of those during the week. Reported as having an up and down week, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound pass rusher, shone brightly during Saturday’s contest, garnering two sacks and making life miserable for the East offensive tackles. With the premium the NFL places on rushing quarterbacks, Brailford might have pushed himself into the end of day two of the NFL Draft.
Sione Takitaki, LB BYU
He is a name you will hear a lot about during the draft process thanks to his fascinating backstory. Takitaki was the most consistent linebacker during practices and showed good range during the game.
Ulysses Gilbert, LB Akron
Gilbert had a strong week of practice and continued to show his ranginess and ability to make plays during the game. It was noted during the game that when he gets his hands on an interception, more often than not he finds his way to the end zone. That’s a skill you can’t teach.
Michael Dogbe, DE Temple
Dogbe seemed to be in the right place at the right time during the game, ringing up a couple of very nice tackles.
Michael Jackson, CB Miami
He came into Shrine week as the biggest name amongst the corners. However, he consistently got roasted during practices. He ended up not playing in Saturday’s contest due to injury, but that may have been for the best.
Khalil Hodge, DE Buffalo
Hodge really needed a big week to push himself up draft boards. Hodge was just ok during practices, but never got his name called during the game. Odds are, he’ll go very late, if he’s drafted at all.