Even though our Packers are going to beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the majority of the NFL is now looking forward to the offseason, and adding talent to their football teams.
Next week really begins the #DraftSZN with the start of the more prominent All-Star games. The East vs. West Shrine Game is the second most prestigious All-Star game on the Circuit, right in front of the NFLPA Game in California, and right behind the Senior Bowl in Mobile. A lot of times, Shrine Game guys are the 4-7th round guys who are crucial to filling out teams, so these guys aren’t always as flashy, but there is a lot of #value to these games.
Here are some guys to watch on the East Roster when the squads of college Seniors take the field in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, January 21st at 3 PM Eastern:
I’Tavius Mathers, RB, Middle Tennessee State, 5’11” 205
A former Ole Miss recruit, Mathers made his one year of production count. Mathers rushed for 1,561 yards and 17 touchdowns, good for 6.7 yards per carry. He was also very capable out of the backfield, hauling in 66 catches for 633 yards and 3 scores. Mathers was a machine for the Blue Raiders, and while he’s a bit diminutive in stature — and he might not really be 205 — he’ll provide someone with a nice outlet on 3rd down and a change of pace back in the mid to late rounds.
Stacy Coley, WR, Miami (FL), 6’1” 195
A former highly touted recruit, Coley has been the best wide receiver for the Hurricanes for a few years, but has been a bit handcuffed by their offense. A guy with legitimate 4.35-4.40 speed, Coley was used a ton on tunnel screens and bubbles. With a more diverse route tree in the pros, he can use that speed to gain separation. He had 63 catches for 754 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2016.
Scott Orndoff, TE, Pittsburgh, 6’5” 255
Full disclosure, every time I see Scott Orndoff’s name, I think of the old pro wrestler “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorf. And while that’s neither here nor there, it may be fitting. Orndoff is old school in every sense as a tight end. He’s got great size, reliable hands over the middle, and is a good blocker. He was recruited by Paul Chryst to Pittsburgh, you know that’s what Chryst had in mind for Orndoff to be. He’ll make a team real happy in the mid-rounds, in a league that’s desperate for tight ends that can both catch and block.
Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas, 6’10” 325
Dan Skipper will be the tallest player in the draft this year, and while he might not really be 6’10”, 6’9” is absolutely realistic. #nice. He’s improved drastically as his career has developed, and he’s gotten to the point where he could potentially start at right tackle. The issue with players this big is that they generally are right tackle only due to their inability to play guard at this size. Skipper is likely a mid Day 3 pick, but I do think he’s an NFL blocker.
Kyle Kalis, OG, Michigan, 6’5” 305
A very highly recruited guard coming out of high school, Kalis turned into a much better player once Jim Harbaugh got to Ann Arbor. Weird how that works, right? Kalis is likely a mid-to-late round selection, but a good week here could potentially put him in line to be a Senior Bowl alternate. A high profile name from a big program could catapult him in this draft process.
E’Juan Price, EDGE, Pittsburgh, 5’11” 245
Last year in this game, Victor Ochi of Stony Brook blew up, and Price has a similar build. Price is going to give tackles, in particular Dan Skipper, issues in practice. Being so squatty, he’s got natural leverage against taller linemen. Price is a 3-4 outside rusher only, unless he proves he can play off the ball. Two things really stand out when watching Price: 1. His motor is absolutely relentless. 2. He wears the smallest pair of pants in football. They maybe get halfway down his thighs. Clothes are so restricting, aren’t they?
DeAngelo Brown, DL, Louisville, 6’0” 310
Think Mike Daniels light. Brown is built so thick and compact, he’s a chore for offensive linemen to block because he wins the leverage battle on almost every snap. He’ll be a stud 1-tech in any scheme due to his ability to hold his ground in the run game. He doesn’t offer much more than pushing the pocket as a pass rusher, but he’s a player I look forward to evaluating more. He’s likely a round 4 guy.
Jarrod “Chunky” Clements, DL, Illinois, 6’3” 295
Although Clements won’t play in the game due to an injury, he’s as underrated as any prospect in the country for my money. An extremely disruptive 3-technique in Illinois’ Tampa 2, he paired with Duwuane Smoot to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines. Clements has to continue to add strength, but he could be a starter in the NFL. Some team will be real happy with him in the middle rounds.
Channing Stribling, CB, Michigan, 6’2” 182
Stribling was one of the most impressive Michigan defenders this season, and with the amount of talent they had on that unit, that’s saying something. He’s a bit slight in build, but his long arms allow him to play bigger than his body is. He’s a chore to throw passes over down the field due to his arm radius. He’ll be a solid pick in the mid-rounds that could potentially become a starter.
Anthony “Fish” Smithson, S, Kansas, 5’11” 195
To be frank, there haven’t been many bright spots for the Jayhawks in recent years, but they’re on the right track, and a big part of that turnaround was Fish Smithson. Along with having one of the best nicknames in the country, his ballhawking play at safety was a huge asset for Kansas. He had 111 tackles in 2015, and followed it up with a 93 tackle, 4 interception season in 2016. Smithson played some really good football for a bad team, but he’ll make his impact in the NFL.