Last year I mentioned how while the Shrine game doesn’t have the same hype as the Senior Bowl,they have had their share of big name players such as Jared Allen, Greg Jennings, Marques Colston and Wes Welker. Participants from last year’s game are already having an impact on their team’s as well. Mike Thomas and Sammie Stroughter both gave their teams a spark as slot receivers and return men while Sebastian Vollmer who was an unknown to many on draft day played very well for the Patriots at both tackle positions. Here are some players to watch for in this year’s game.
Daryll Clark QB Penn State: Going into the year, Clark was projected as one of the top senior quarterbacks in the 2010 draft. Now you don’t hear much about him but with a big performance he could shoot his way up draft boards. Clark has a solid build, and a good arm to go with his athleticism. With a solid showing here, Clark could end up going in the 3rd or 4th round and be groomed by a team to become their quarterback of the future.
Javarris James RB Miami(FL): After a freshman season where he averaged 4.6 yards a carry, scouts were expecting James to become the next great running back from The “U”. Between the emergence of Graig Cooper and an ankle injury that sidelined him for four games in his junior year, Edgerrin’s cousin is flying under the radar. James has solid size and has NFL pedigree so don’t be surprised if he goes in the 4th or 5th round and receives the “could be a better pro than college player” tag that Andre Brown received last year.
Freddie Barnes WR Bowling Green: Going into the year chances are if you weren’t a Bowling Green fan you wouldn’t know who Barnes was. After a year in which he had over 150 catches for 1770 yards and 19 touchdowns, that isn’t the case anymore. Those numbers weren’t put up against the greatest competition, but they were impressive enough to make him a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award that is handed out to the Nation’s best receiver. Barnes may not have the timed speed you look for in a receiver, but he has great hands and is a very smooth route runner. He could end up being an excellent value in the later rounds as could immediately contribute on third downs as a possession guy and eventually develop into a number two receiver.
Dennis Pitta TE BYU: To most he as known as the inspiraton to the many “I Pitta the fool” signs seen at BYU games. To scouts, he is seen as a tight end who can make a big impact at the next level. At 6’5 with soft hands, Pitta emerged as Max Hall’s favorite target after the emergence of Austin Collie. The big question facing Pitta is that some feel that he has already reached his ceiling as a player and he could improve on his blocking. Regardless of those two factors, Pitta is a sure handed receiver and with his big frame, is a very good value in the 4th or 5th round.
Greg Hardy DE Ole Miss: Before the year started, Hardy was projected by most to be at least a top 15 pick and to be in the discussion when debating the draft’s best pass rusher. After a year where his season was cut short due to surgery on his wrist, Hardy is no longer in the discussion of best pass rushers in the draft but a big game could change that. At 6’5 275 he still has great size and has room to improve as a player. If Hardy plays up to his top ten billing he was receiving at the beginning of the season, he could be a steal for somebody in either the 2nd or 3rd round.