RB De’Veon Smith, Michigan – Had a good week of practice and some nice runs during the game, but really struggled in short-yardage situations. Smith failed on two third & short runs and two critical fourth & one situations. Two of the runs were inside the opponent’s five-yard line and on one of them, Smith lost a fumble.
On the bright side, Smith showed good leg drive and burst through the hole, but couldn’t make anything happen when there wasn’t a hole there for him. Perhaps that’s unfair, but four failures in short yardage situations don’t look good for a big back that relies on his power. Another positive in Smith’s favor is that he was named a team captain by the Shrine coaches.
WR Gabe Marks, Washington St – One of my favorite players coming into the game, but really struggled with drops on Saturday. Marks started the game with a nice catch but dropped two easy ones in traffic. His biggest mistake was a muffed punt late in the game that was recovered by the other team. For a guy like Marks, who lacks ideal size and speed, reliable hands are crucial and his drops during the game may have hurt his draft stock significantly.
TE Eric Saubert, Drake– Had a great week of practice, but struggled in the game Saturday with multiple drops including one on 4th down of the last drive of the game. He dropped a catchable pass that effectively ended the East’s chance of tieing the game.
Saubert was also knocked back off the line of scrimmage on at least two running plays. He flashed some NFL athleticism but needs to get strong as a blocker and improve his concentration on catchable passes.
WR Kermit Whitfield, Florida St – Explosive speed with the ball in his hands, but struggles to catch the ball consistently. Whitfield led all players in targets but dropped a couple of easy ones. He has elite speed but needs to prove that he can catch the ball. Whitfield failed to do that during the game or practice week, but will still get drafted at some point due to his speed.
QB Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati – The former top-rated college recruit blew another chance to prove that he’s an NFL caliber quarterback. Despite having ideal size and arm strength, Kiel was inaccurate and showed a serious lack of pocket awareness. He fumbled on a sack but was lucky to recover it. Some team may still take a chance on Kiel’s measurables but I’d be surprised if he gets drafted.
WR Deangelo Yancey, Purdue – Had a solid week of practice and has good size, but made a couple of bonehead plays during the game. First, he fair-caught a punt at the three-yard line for some reason. Then with less than a minute left in the game, Yancey made a catch for a first down but threw the ball up in the air to celebrate(?). With time running out and every second critical, Yancey’s celebration of a routine catch cost his team almost ten seconds. Both plays showed a disturbing lack of situational awareness.
WR Tony Stevens, Auburn – Has the physical traits needed to be an NFL receiver, but Stevens has struggled with inconsistency in his career. It was more of the same at the Shrine Game with a sweet one-handed grab in traffic but also a drop that hit him right in the numbers.