2016 Shrine Game Preview: East Roster, Led By Three of the NFL Draft’s Top Small Schoolers


Coached by former NFL/college football head coach Charlie Weis, the East roster has a fantastic blend of former NFL standouts coaching and intriguing developmental prospects.

The 2016 Shrine Game East roster boasts a highly intelligent quarterback (Blake Fronhapfel), a former option quarterback turned running back (Keenan Reynolds), and three of the 2016 draft’s best small schoolers (Paul McRoberts, Victor Ochi and Javon Hargrave).


  1. Blake Fronhapfel, UMass

The former Marshall transfer who was a two-year starter at UMass, Frohnapfel thrives as a velocity control passer who’s patient and relies on timing in the UMass offense. His top-end velocity is just average, and he’ll likely have some trouble cutting the wind on downfield power throws, especially if his footwork issues flame up. He’ll look to leave St. Petersburg as the game’s top passer.

  1. Jake Rudock, Michigan

The former Iowa transfer developed substantially in his one season with Jim Harbaugh, especially in pocket maneuvering and timing in reads. Though he wasn’t often displaying ideal placement, particularly on vertical throws, he epitomized “good enough” for a Michigan offense that relied on their defense. His footwork development, pocket maneuvering and relatively safe style of play could make him a possible late-round pick.

  1. Joel Stave, Wisconsin

One of the most puzzling Shrine Game invites, Stave’s best traits as a passer are his natural size and arm skill. He meets the ideal size thresholds, has an adequate release point and can maintain high velocity on the perimeter. But his placement certainly fits the “erratic” criteria, his feel for pressure is lacking at an NFL level and he’s been far from efficient in his college career.

Running Backs

  1. Keenan Reynolds, Navy

Reynolds is the NCAA leader in rushing touchdowns for a career, and he’ll be making the position switch from option quarterback to full-time running back at the Shrine Game. While slot receiver may also be an option for him, playing running back can be the most immediate needed to fill. He’ll have some issues in taking handoffs and read-reacting to holes initially, but finding space and navigating through traffic shouldn’t be an issue.

  1. Josh Ferguson, Illinois

It’s difficult to firmly evaluate Ferguson during his career at Illinois, because he’s played in a lackluster offense with minimal support from his offensive linemen in college. The low-built, laterally quick runner who offers pass-catching upside as well, Ferguson’s biggest knock is his lack of great vision and anticipation, but that may be due to his offensive linemen issues. Ferguson’s burst and body control may remind a bit of Ronnie Hillman, but he’ll need to prove that his vision issues in college stem from a lack of trust in his college offensive linemen.

  1. Devon Johnson, Marshall

Built similar to Latavius Murray of the Raiders, Johnson dealt with injuries this year that limited his senior season and his explosiveness. A power back who has some upright tendencies, Johnson can still sink low through contact and work through even bigger linebackers. He’ll need to impress in the game to really make the Shrine week worthwhile.

Wide Receivers

  1. Paul McRoberts, SE Missouri State

McRoberts will be playing (and impressing) at both the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, as his combination of smooth athleticism, plus-ball skills and fluidity as an open-field runner should push him towards the top of the senior receiver class. How he can separate from Shrine Game (and eventually Senior Bowl) cornerbacks will be key, but he should impress in his ability to finish against physical cornerbacks and in team drills.

  1. Tajae Sharpe, UMass

Catching passes from his teammate Fronhapfel all week, the lean vertical receiver will need to prove he can work in the mid-field and get through physical cornerbacks in the all-star circuit. Quick-twitch to separate on the perimeter and a plus-ball tracker, Sharpe should be the best vertical threat of the Shrine Game receivers.

  1. Rashawn Scott, Miami (FL)

Consistency is the issue with Scott, as the explosive vertical threat has the burst at top of his route and when working downfield in double moves, but issues with separation and drops. A bit of a body catcher and a tendency to get knocked off his route on the perimeter, Scott will thrive in one-on-ones in the mid-field. He’ll need to prove he can finish away from his frame and work through more physical cornerbacks.

  1. Robby Anderson, Temple
  2. Chris Brown, Notre Dame
  3. Cody Core, Ole Miss

Tight Ends

  1. Kyle Carter, Penn State

Carer appeared to be one of the most promising tight ends in the country early in his Penn State career, but slowly became utilized less and less as his college career progressed. Built well for an NFL tight end and a motivated blocker, Carter should end up offering dual-tight end value for teams, and should leave St. Petersburg as the clear top tight-end from the event, and one of the safer late-round, roster-worthy tight ends.

  1. Darion Griswold, Arkansas State
  2. Steven Scheu, Vanderbilt

Offensive Linemen

  1. Parker Ehringer, OG, Cincinnati

Ehringer entered his senior season with high expectations from NFL evaluators, but he lacked dominance in his senior year and is limited to a more phone-booth role as an NFL blocker. He’s a bit slow to the second level as a run blocker, and has a tendency to bit a bit off balance when he loses the first hand positioning. But he’s active with his feet to re-adjust his positioning and hand placement, and does a great job protecting his inside shoulder. Not an overly sexy prospect, Ehringer could be a long-time starter at the NFL level.

  1. Brandon Shell, OT, South Carolina

Shell is a massive presence that is a polished pass protector and is athletic enough to pick up quick pass rushers on the edge. He’s a bruiser upfront excelling in both the run and pass game as he anchored an underwhelming Carolina offensive line. With 324 pound size and a legit 6’5 frame, Shell bends and slides well enough to be considered a startable NFL prospect with a strong impression during practices.

  1. Taylor Fallin, OT, Memphis

A plus-athlete in space and a still-developing offensive tackle, Fallin flashes great control in space but struggles with his inside leverage protection and against counter rushes. Neither his positioning nor hand placement are at an NFL-level yet, but teams may feel he’s not far off from becoming a capable swing tackle at the NFL level.

  1. Keith Lumpkin, OT, Rutgers

Flashing top-100 upside throughout his Rutgers career, Lumpkin didn’t take the next step as a senior to merit his upside expectations this year. A massive tackle prospect who was often beaten on the perimeter thanks to slow feet and misplaced body positioning to fire his hands effectively, he’ll need a strong Shrine Game showing to even merit a draft pick, despite his ideal NFL body type.

  1. Donovan Clark, OG, Michigan State
  2. Fahn Cooper, OT, Mississippi
  3. Graham Glasgow, OC, Michigan
  4. Joseph Thuney, OG, NC State
  5. Robert Kugler, OC, Purdue

** Sean McEwen, OC, Calgary
** Charles Vailancourt, OG, Laval

Defensive Line

  1. Javon Hargrave, South Carolina St

Hargrave doesn’t boast elite size (hovering just below 6’2 and around 290 pounds), but his production, pass-rush refinement and ability to stay low should allow him to thrive against top-tier offensive linemen. Posting 13.5 sacks in his senior season, Hargrave played an interior penetrating role for South Carolina State, showcasing unique quick-twitch athleticism for a defensive tackle and ripping, swimming and sidestepping blockers with remarkable consistency. He’s a bit overly aggressive, leading him to suffer in the run game and containment, but as a pass-rusher, he’s one of the 2016 class’ best.

  1. Victor Ochi, Stony Brook

Ochi has produced at a high level at Stony Brook, primarily relying on a tremendous first step, bend as an edge-rusher and body control to adjust on the perimeter and in traffic in pursuit of the ball-carrier. Still raw in his pass-rush repertoire, Ochi relies almost entirely on his flexibility and initial explosiveness to produce. He was too often pushed to the perimeter and neutralized due to a lack of a counter rush move, something he’ll need to develop at the next level. But Ochi’s raw athleticism, explosiveness on the perimeter, and smoothness in space makes him a worthwhile developmental edge-rusher who could fit perfectly in a “LEO” role that the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars utilize.

  1. Anthony Zettel, Penn State

The unquestioned leader of the Penn State team and a uniquely impressive athlete, Zettel had a letdown senior season, finishing as arguably the third best prospect on his defensive line. Explosiveness off the snap wasn’t an issue, but he struggled to disrupt pockets with upfield push, and was too often neutralized in run support despite plus-team support. He’ll need a strong Shrine Game showing to get back in the good graces of teams. I was told earlier in the year that he’s closer to an undrafted prospect than a second-rounder, but I’ll still hold out hope Zettel can earn an NFL starting opportunity in time.

  1. Dean Lowry, Northwestern

With an ideal NFL motor and steady development between his junior and senior season, Lowry is the type of try-hard rusher teams want to have on their roster. His lack of athleticism will stand out against longer, more adept pass-blockers, and while he’s gotten quicker at counter rush moves, he’s still neutralized too easily in his chestplate. He could flash in individual drills early, but by week’s end, he may be figured out by the Shrine Game offensive tackles.

  1. Romeo Okwara, Notre Dame
  2. Connor Wujciak, Boston College
  3. Mike Rose, NC State
  4. Nile Lawrence-Stample, Florida State
  5. Trevon Coley, Florida Atlantic



  1. Terrance Smith, Florida State

Not up to the standards of past Florida State linebacker prospects, Smith is a bit reckless in his pursuit angles. He struggled to break out after Florida State lost some of his better teammates in the 2015 draft, and his explosiveness wasn’t enough to make up for it. Still entering the week as the best linebacker, he should be able to impress in in-space drills during the week.

  1. James Burgess, Louisville

A shorter, slower linebacker who’s relied on power and physicality to embrace blocks and hold his ground, Burgess could really impress against the more undersized guards at the event. He’s had success at Louisville with a strong lower half, low pad level through contact and the ability to adjust as a tackler off his block. He’ll look to do all three during practice.

  1. Joe Bolden, Michigan

One of many Michigan linebackers to step up this season, Bolden especially thrived in run support for the Wolverines. Bolden showed looseness in run game navigation, forcing runners away from the initial lane and finishing on the interior. Limited range and finishing ability on the perimeter are question marks he’ll need to answer during practices.

  1. Anthony Harrell, Florida
  2. Darien Harris, Michigan State
  3. Antwione Williams, Georgia Southern


  1. Cre’von LeBlanc, Florida Atlantic

A highly active, quick-footed cornerback, LeBlanc was one of the more impressive prospects I didn’t anticipated valuing highly entering the game. He doesn’t get turned around easily, playing with patience in his steps vertically. His recovery speed and hip turn against faster receivers will be the two prime question marks he’ll need to answer during practices. 

  1. Brian Poole, Florida

Playing both safety and cornerback in his senior season at Florida, Poole is listed at cornerback for the Shrine Game. He’s a bit slow to react in run defense from both his cornerback and safety alignment, taking delayed and poor angles in pursuit. His hand use in coverage allows him success in short-area coverage, and if his hip fluidity isn’t an issue against the Shrine Game receivers, he could thrive during practice as a press cornerback.

  1. Anthony Brown, Purdue

Brown’s been a good, not great cornerback in the Big Ten, offering plus-ball skills in mid-field and short-area routes. He’s controlled in his pedal and doesn’t get baited vertically too easily, but does have some issues with bigger-bodied receivers in the mid-field and can be beaten deep as he tries to play the ball too soon. He did have three interceptions in a game this year (against Nebraska), so he’ll hope to reclaim some of that thunder.

  1. Justin Burris, NC State
  2. DJ White, Georgia Tech
  3. David Mims, Texas State


  1. Deon Bush, Miami (FL)

Playing as both a strong and free safety in the Hurricanes defense, Bush flashes high-end hitting ability in coverage and strong underneath ball skills. Explosive in his transition upfield and to the sidelines, Bush can be a bit late to react but rarely misses tackles on the perimeter thanks to positioning. His lack of great extension as a tackler won’t be an issue until potentially the game, but he can show the rest of his explosive skill set during drills this week.

  1. Justin Simmons, Boston College

Simmons has played both cornerback and safety in his career, though clearly best suited as a safety. He was asked to play single high, but also transition into a strong safety spot, and gets work as nickel and outside cornerback. Good, not great burst upfield, Simmons gains speed quickly but plays a bit high and can be knocked off balance too easily at time. Adequate change of direction at safety, key area that stunted his cornerback upside, but limits him a bit in read-react from non-center field safety positioning. He’s decisive in centerfield reaction, attacking on perimeter well and finishing as a tackler. He can be contained too easily by WR blockers. His best NFL position may be as a free safety in a Cover-3 defense, and can offer nickel corner upside.

  1. Elijah Shumate, Notre Dame

Lacking great adjustment quickness in coverage, Shumate is more of an in-the-box safety that will hope to fill a role similar to Arizona’s Deone Bucannon. Shumate is a strong tackler and adjusts off second-level blocks well to track down and finish as a tackler. He may have some success against tight ends in coverage drills, but he’ll need to show a lot more in order to secure a firm draft selection.

  1. Jordan Lomas, Iowa
  2. Jamie Byrd, South Florida
  3. Andrew Williamson, Vanderbilt
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