Monday, January 25, 2010

East-West Shrine Game Re-Cap A La Dolphin

I know what happened.  Some of you probably decided to watch the East West Shrine Game for the first time in your lives this year, got about 4 minutes into the 3rd quarter, and promptly fell asleep.  I don't blame you.  I struggled to keep my own eyes open after a late night and a morning filled with extravagant LEGO architectural planning and utterly incompetent construction.  

The first 3 quarters of the game were completely dominated by both defenses.  The East, in particular, completely shut down the game, led by South Florida's Kion Wilson, Connecticut's Lindsey Witten, and the pair of free safeties, Virgina Tech's Kam Chancellor (pictured above taking off the helmet of BYU tight end Dennis Pitta) and Eastern Carolina's Van Eskridge - but it was the West who finally broke the scoring drought in the 4th quarter and looked to have it all but wrapped up after blazing performances by a trio of tight-ends - namely, Pitta, Eastern Washington's Nathan Overbay, and UCLA's Ryan Moya.

Then, despite the low-scoring affair and the rough and tough front four that both teams had shown all game, the true purpose of the game itself came to light.  The scouts don't attend the games, they attend the practices, before packing up and moving on the the Senior Bowl, but they do watch the game tape, particularly to see competitiveness on the field.  And this year they will see a young Quarterback who may have just played his way onto an NFL team's draft board with his game-winning drive that showed he had nerves of steel and lots of potential.  Northwestern's Mike Kafka (pictured below) took possession of the ball with 1:49 left on the clock trailing by four points, and led his team on a 10 play drive that was capped by the game-winning touchdown pass to Penn State tight end, Andrew Quarless, with 6 seconds remaining.  During that time he showed excellent management of the clock, and he knew who to throw to when the game was on the line - Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes.  He also made an incredible escape from a sure-sack.  It reminded me a bit of Big Ben.

It was a thrilling end to an otherwise unthrilling game.  However, there were several stand-out performances that should get some notice by the NFL.  Here are my risers and fallers:


  • Freddie Barnes, WR - Barnes showed his route running is immaculate and he's as sure-handed as they come.  Despite a lack of respect from the various Draft websites, Barnes is one of the top-tier receivers in the draft.  there's a reason this guy caught 155 passes in 2009.
  • Kion Wilson, LB - Wilson hasn't been mentioned anywhere in the linebacker conversation, but like another South Florida linebacker a year ago (Tyrone McKenzie), the guy just gets downhill in a hurry and makes plays.  His size will hurt him, but he made the first 3 tackles of the game and showed he can play MLB.
  • Mike Kafka, QB - I'd never seen this kid play before Saturday, and he was the only QB in the game who didn't look overwhelmed at times.  Romeo Crennel rotated the QBs twice, so no one had a great chance to get in a rhythm, but he definitely took advantage and learned from his 1st set of reps.  
  • Lindsey Witten, DE - This UConn defender was constantly in the backfield and showed that a 6'4", 250lb player can stay on the D-line.  He made a wise choice not to switch to OLB like O'Brien Schofield did.
  • Andrew Quarless, TE - He didn't get quite the opportunities and exposure as the West's tight-ends, but what Quarless did do was flex his muscles and show that he was the physical specimen of the game.  He and Darryl Clark must be absolute gym freaks up at Penn State.  And of course, showing your red zone prowess and composure is ultimately what he was there to do, and he did.

  • Jamar Wall, CB - Wall looked cocky after every play, but he was making those plays, so he can talk.  He just entered the conversation.  I think I had him rated about 15th position-wise, but he showed even at 5'10" he can be disruptive and may have crept up to about 12th
  • Van Eskridge, FS - Another player who was not really on my radar before the game.  Watch the highlights and see the way he plays 'center-fielder' for the INT.  He made a couple of good plays after that one as well.
  • Rahim Alem, DE - Alem showed real corner-turning speed and ability in getting to the QB.  Fortunately for him the scouts will be watching official game tape instead of the TV presentation, as Alem made at least two big plays while the commentators were talking about Brian Griese's  illustrious career or the fact that there was nice weather in Orlando, FL.
  • Kam Chancellor, FS - the knock on Chancellor was that he was too big to play safety.  He proved he can play safety, can cover, and, excuse my language, can knock the shit out of people.  He reminded me of why I liked him so much in 2008 with two bone-cracking hits and a redzone leaping deflection that forced a 4th down.
  • Blair White, WR - There's a load of college WRs that get labeled as 'slot' receivers the second they enter the draft.  White showed he could line up outside, work the sidelines, and well as get underneath in zone coverage.  He led all receivers and backs with yards from scrimmage
  • Torrell Troup, DT - Troup's name didn't get called a lot, but he absolutely destroyed any chance of the West running the ball up the middle.  On one play he just burst up the middle in about a millionth of a second to get to the running back in the backfield right at the moment of the handoff.  It's fair to say he was one of the main reasons the East's defensive ends look so good throughout the game.  
  • All of the running backs.  They just couldn't get any running games going in this one.  I think QB scrambles accounted for 90% of the rushing totals.  Andre Dixon, Chris Brown and Javarris James were the only recognizable names, but they didn't impress.  James suffered from having Clark as the QB, who failed to connect with James on two screen passes.
  • The QBs not named Mike Kafka.  Other than a little glimmer of hope from Max Hall on his final drive, his favoring his college tight end, Pitta, showed that he was afraid to go elsewhere with the ball.  Clark showed his inaccuracy, at one point missing an open Freddie Barnes on the goal line, resulting in a near INT instead of a sure TD.  Todd Reesing played horribly (though he was the top rusher in the game) and came into the game weighing 188 lbs.  His chances of a pro-career are just about shot.
  • Joe Pawelek, LB - My 6th ranked LB failed to impress.  With both the East and West defensive lines owning most of the game, it was surprising to not see more big plays from linebackers.
You may have noticed I didn't put Dennis Pitta in my 'Risers' section despite him having probably the best game of any offensive player.  Well the reason for that was I already had him ranked as the 4th best TE in the draft.  I feel he played as well as that and thus doesn't drop or rise on my board.

Next up is the Senior Bowl which includes 3 dozen players from my Top Ten lists.  One of them, Alabama's Terrence Cody, has just weighed in at 370 lbs, thus has already made my 'Fallers' list before the week even gets going.


  1. The Knight who says Ni!January 25, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    370 lbs. at what, 22 years old? He's not going to have a long career if he stays that big. I can't see him going top 20 at that weight.

  2. Not a very smart move by Cody. Someone should explain to him that this year the 1st round of the NFL draft is on Thursday night, and the 2 and 3rd aren't until the next day... and yes, Terrance, this will affect the number of zeros on your paycheck.

    Anyway, I'm still thinking we see Dan Williams name come off the board if McClain is gone at 12, but I have to be honest and say I'm really starting to like what I hear about Terrel Troup (and not just because he's a UCF guy)! Apparently the Steelers are really high on him as well as he's getting a lot of talk on their blogs. Very interestied in seeing where he goes in the draft.

    Anyway, thanks for the summary Tin. Can't wait to see your notes on teh Senior Bowl next week too.
    Oh and BTW, did you see that the Jets got the 29th pick in the draft AND since they made it past the first round the are now 1 of 8 teams that have restrictions in FA this year (they can't sign another teams FA unless they lose one of their own, also have spending limits too!)

    So basically, we beat them twice, they trade away 2 picks for B.E. and they're restricted on what free agents they can sign, and draft 17 spots behind us! It's anice ending to a difficult year if you ask me.

  3. The Knight who says Ni!January 25, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    Dan Williams would be a major reach at #12.

    I doubt he Steelers scouting department or coaches has said anything about Terrell Troup or any other prospect, it's just fans and the media talking on a blog. Teams don't talk about who they like in the draft at this time.

  4. Thanks for the game update, Tin. I see us moving down if McClain isnt there. Williams would be a major reach that early and we could easily get him later. I like the 21st and 50th option Tin has listed above. We could still get Spikes, probably Williams(or if not Troupe) and a very good WR. Homerun IMO. Cody may get picked late in the 1st but he will disappoint wherever he is taken. Later all.

  5. Knight, I'd be shocked if the Steelers scouting department or front office have come out and said anything positive about any player in the draft let alone Troup. What I was saying is (and yes, maybe i didn't express this correctly before) is his name is circulating a lot amongst Steeler fans and beat writers. You know kind of like what Dolphin fans did last year with Conor Barwin....

    And yes, we could probably get D. Williams lower than 12, but he does appear to be an impact type player and of course I'd prefer if we trade down to get him (or spikes).

  6. and of course we know what happened with all the Barwin talk... he ended up going to Houston...

  7. The Knight who says Ni!January 25, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    I hear ya on Troup. No one knows if Dan Williams can play NT.

  8. Dolphins | Bell added to Pro Bowl
    Mon, 25 Jan 2010 09:02:06 -0800
    The Miami Dolphins announced Monday, Jan. 25, that SS Yeremiah Bell has been added to the AFC Pro Bowl roster in place of Indianapolis Colts FS Antoine Bethea.

    Dolphins | May be interested in Dumervil
    Sun, 24 Jan 2010 10:36:02 -0800
    Adam Schefter, of ESPN, reports the Miami Dolphins may be interested in Denver Broncos impending free-agent DE Elvis Dumervil during the offseason.


    I can understand the interest in ELVIS w'our needs,NOLAN being our new DC,and his 09 coach!!

    He's an IMPENDING UFA,but the DAMN CBA's gonna make it unlikely minus a blockbuster trade...

    06 4th rndr coming off a career/probowl yr,he'd be an expensive acquisition!! 
    ( 2nd rndr plus plyrs ???)

    TIN(you cap guru you),What do you think the cost might be,
    and can we get him cheaper/in the same neighborhood 
    that an UNPROVEN o10(PRE CBA AGREEMENT)2nd rndr would cost us??

    I KNOW he's gonna require a pretty hefty contract/more than a 2nd rndr(NOT SURE of the exact particulars),
    but MAYYBEEE he LUVs NOLAN and hates McDanials...???!!! 

  10. And YESSS I KNOW he's a Lil short for BPs parameters,
    (but he blows the doors on our youngsters @OLB),
    who are very close to having to become starters w'the age/contracts of JT/JP!!

    ELVIS and WAKE could be the EVENTUAL 2nd coming of an in their prime JT/JP duo,
    (had there been a 1st coming)..??
    Add a STUDDD ILB or two,$$$ @ LB till @least 2015 !!   

  11. ON NOW (Mon 1-25, 9pm est) Saints vs FINS on NFLN (film session)!!!

  12. How farrr offf can we possibly be???
    (3 minutes away from DOMINATING VICTORIES)
    OVER BOTH of the ELITE SUPERBOWL participants!!!

    SO, I'd guess we're just a few 60 minute gyz away from prominance and those 57th minute falters!!! GOFINS!!