As I cover the Shrine Game for a third year in a row, this year I will list players on both sides of the ball to watch for in this amazing game that raises awareness for the Shriners Hospital and its patients, plus the players that are showing the football world that they can play at the next level of football and put on a show for the people attending the game, watching the game at home, and the folks listening to the game on the radio.
I will give a small scouting report on each player listed.
Justin Lawler – DE – SMU – West Team
2017 Stats – 74 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Lawler is a run stopping machine that will most likely be better off as a 3-4 defensive end. The SMU product has played off the edge and in space, but excels at standing his ground and maintaining his gaps. Teams will give him an opportunity to be an OLB in a 3-4, but has established himself as an effective run stopper that 3-4 teams will find appealing.
Marcell Frazier – DE – Missouri – West Team
2017 Stats – 40 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 5 pass deflections
Frazier has a quick burst of the snap to get around the tackles. Also, he is long and an athletic defensive end that has potential to become a better pass rusher at the next level. If Frazier makes the best of his time before the draft, he could end up becoming a late day one pick or early second round selection. Good run stopper.
Marcus Martin – DE – Slippery Rock – East Team
2017 Stats – 26.5 tackles for a loss, 15.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Martin has been a wrecking machine at Slippery Rock. He has good measurables to play the edge position in a 3-4 defense. He could put his hand in the dirt, but his height is a question mark, but if he can put solid pressure on the quarterback then it really does not matter to me. Going to be a player to watch for sure during Shrine week.
Folorunso Fatukasi – DT – Connecticut – East Team
2017 Stats – 45 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks
Double F is well-built and relatively athletic. Also, he is a player to watch this week, but he has tons of competition at the defensive tackle position during Shrine week. Fatukasi is hard to move, as he is a block-eater and does his good well.
Deadrin Senat – DT – USF – East Team
2017 Stats – 66 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 6 sacks
Disruptive defensive tackle that can blow up interior offensive linemen. Showed solid pressure through games played in his collegiate career at USF. Good in the stopping the run too. Overall, I see Senat rising after the Shrine week.
Poona Ford – DT – Texas – West Team
2017 Stats – 31 total tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks
Ford won the Big 12’s best defensive lineman award this year. Ford has a great work ethic, as praised by his head coach Tom Herman. He might not get all the stats, but he is a disruptive force in the middle. Will be fun to watch this Longhorn roam around in Saint Pete during the Shrine game.
Davontae Harris – CB – Illinois State – West Team
2017 Stats – 57 total tackles, 43 solo tackles, 2 interceptions, 14 pass deflections, 2 sacks
Harris is an underrated cover corner. He has good speed, plus he does not shy away from contact. His vision separates him from other small school corners. You can tell he likes to study film, because he positions himself to make plays.
Heath Harding – CB – Miami (OH) – West Team
2017 Stats – 62 total tackles, 1 interception, 7 pass deflections
Harding is a willing tackler and has terrific form in doing so. Shows good speed and toughness. Very good at breaking up passes. A player to watch closely.
Deatrick Nichols – CB – USF – East Team
2017 Stats – 56 total tackles, 3 interceptions, 12 pass deflections
Loves to tackle, which is hard to fine in a cornerback. Scrappy fellow that is a ballhawk and is experienced like the other two listed above him. Nice closing speed and could be a steal in the upcoming draft, plus he could become a steady nickel corner as a rookie.
Brandon Facyson – CB – Virginia Tech – East Team
2017 Stats – 19 total tackles, 0 interceptions, 5 pass deflections
Facyson has the size and physicality to deal with NFL receivers. Facyson also possesses the speed to keep up with slots and to recover quickly. Lastly, he is great in run support. He engages blocks and understands angles. Needs to show he can be that player that we all thought before he tore his ACL a couple of seasons ago.
Malik Reaves – DB – Villanova – West Team
2017 Stats – 58 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 4 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble
Tackles in space. Versatile defender that can line up at the corner or safety spot, his position will be determined by scheme played and roster status of both groups. Physical corner like the other small school corners entering the Shrine Game. Confident player that believes he can cover anyone.
Jamar Summers – DB – Connecticut – East Team
2017 Stats – 63 total tackles, 1 interception, 7 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble
Summers is a ballhawk that has an eye for the football. Converted receiver that gives him an advantage on recognizing routes and identifying the ball in the air. Great hands to produce those interceptions. Next big thing from UCONN. Versatile defender as he can line up as a cornerback or safety.
Damon Webb – DB – Ohio State – East Team
2017 Stats – 61 total tackles, 5 interceptions, 3 pass deflections
Webb can be used as a corner or safety depending on the formation. Webb will transition easier into the NFL due to his experience and versatility. He is very active on every play. Solid open field tackler that can play up on the line of scrimmage.
Cole Reyes – S – North Dakota State – West Team
2016 Stats – 70 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 8 pass deflections
Gotten hurt in 2017, which limited his games to only four and he recorded 25 tackles. He has a starter’s combination of size and speed for a NFL safety. Good blitzer from the safety spot. Fluid in space.
Afolabi Laguda – S – Colorado – West Team
2017 Stats – 57 total tackles, 1 interception, 3 pass deflections
A physical safety that stops the run well. Has looked good so far in coverage. Versatile safety that can do either responsibility (play in the box or as an center fielder). Has been developed by a great defensive school that has had many players appear in the Shrine Game and most recently headlined by Ken Crawley, who is a key cornerback for the New Orleans Saints.
Godwin Igwebuike – S – Northwestern – West Team
2017 Stats – 78 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 8 pass deflections
A speedy and active player that covers a lot of ground. Good open field tackler and his speed helps close on the ball carrier quickly. Physical coverage safety.
Chucky Williams – S – Louisville – West Team
2017 Stats – 80 total tackles, 3 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles
Williams racks up tackles at a high rate and is always around the ball as his stats show for it. Never gives up or back down from a challenge. High motored safety.
Ja’Von Rolland-Jones – LB – Arkansas State – West Team
2017 Stats – 56 total tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
Great technician that produces on the gridiron. He is going to beat offensive linemen using his strong hands while navigating through the traffic. He often hurries passers with how quickly he gets around the corner, plus he can go right through them if he wants too. Can line up as an outside linebacker or defensive end depending on defensive scheme.
Tegray Scales – LB – Indiana – West Team
2017 Stats – 89 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, 6 sacks, 2 interceptions
A quick athlete that reacts to plays quickly. He gets to where he needs to be. His ability to cover multiple types of pass catchers should allow him to be an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on. Great player coming off the edge.
Leon Jacobs – LB – Wisconsin – West Team
2017 Stats – 60 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
Jacobs is a selfless player and will do anything for the team. Great leader. Versatile defender as he can line up inside or outside at the linebacker spot. Highly-skilled athlete that can become a good player over time.
Jason Cabinda – LB – Penn State – East Team
2017 Stats – 90 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
One of the better relentless run stopping linebackers in this game. Has average speed and size. Teams will keep an eye on him. Smart player that you want on your team.
Matthew Thomas – LB – Florida State – East Team
2017 Stats – 85 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception
Matthew Thomas has NFL level speed and size. Plays the linebacker position with a violent explosion. Great sideline to sideline player. High energy guy that runs with long, athletic strides that could convert into him becoming better in coverage linebacker.