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XFL’s Legit Following

The XFL Following is Something We’ve Never Seen Before
Alex Marinoni, FBGP Reporter

The sporting world came to an abrupt halt last Wednesday, due to the Coronavirus international pandemic. The NBA, MLB, NHL and other professional/collegiate sporting leagues across the country, suspended operations and will look to figure out plans to continue their seasons. The XFL (one of the last leagues to confirm) waited until the end of day Thursday, to not just postpone their inaugural 2020 season, but, end the season entirely. The XFL doesn’t have the luxury of waiting out their season and picking up at a later date because they understand that they need to do right by the players. Not only did every player get fully paid out for their preseason and five weeks of service time, but the teams allowed their players out of their contracts earlier to seek other potential opportunities awaiting them in both the NFL and CFL. It was an easy decision that Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck didn’t have to make, but just like how they’ve handled every decision this season, it was the right one.

It is a big reason why the XFL, in such a short period of time, did something we have never seen before in the sporting world; create a following and build a sustainable culture in just half a season.

Week after week, the XFL was dominating the TV ratings on Saturdays and Sundays, and the attendance at the games met or exceeded expectations. Despite the naysayers, who were quick to remind everyone that the ratings were decreasing slightly every week, they still averaged well over one million viewers every game. Attendance in some cities seemed to hit their peak, but other cities like St. Louis, were on the verge of putting 45 thousand fans in the Dome. Days leading up to games, through days after games, the XFL was trending on Twitter and this was without the help from the Adam Schefter’s and Ian Rapoport’s of the world. A collection of up and coming and eager reporters, like me, were the ones getting the stories, visiting team practices, interviewing players and coaches, as well as hosting cable TV shows and Podcasts. If you followed the XFL at all this year, then you are more than familiar with the names like Konnor Fulk, Bailey Carlin, Mike Mitchell, Jai Stokes, Danny Jones, Allison Koehler among MANY others. Did you know these names before week 1? These names, and the many others, were part of the reason why the XFL community as a whole flourished the way it did.

How can this happen in just five weeks?

All these people, including myself, and the rest of the Football Gameplan crew, believed in what the XFL represented: a chance. For a lot of these players and coaches, it was a first chance. Players like Jordan Ta’amu, Donald Parham,PJ Walker, Cavon Walker, and coaches Jonathan Hayes and Pep Hamilton got their first chance at the professional level to play for, and/or lead a franchise. Then there were the guys who got a second chance; the likes of Matt Jones, Cameron Artis-Payne, Will Hill and Jim Zorn. Players and coaches who have spent significant time in the NFL looking for a chance at a second football life. Lastly, there were the guys who were on their last chance, guys like,Josh Johnson, Matt Elam and Kevin Gilbride. These, among many other players and coaches who were the guys that the NFL didn’t need any more and if not for a league like the XFL, we may have never seen in the professional football world again.

Now, you might be thinking, “how does this gain the following the XFL was able get?”

Through three paragraphs of this article, I have not once said the words “CBA,” “Money,” “Super-Team,” “Rules,” “Antiquated-Ways,” “Arbitration,” Etc… These are just some of the words used to describe the problems going on in American sports today that fans are just sick of. The NBA has a Super-Team problem. MLB has many problems that can all pretty much be summed up in one word: antiquation. Between the rookie contracts, arbitration process and the terrible job they do of marketing their star players, MLB has felt more like the old grumpy grandpa having a hard time adapting to the times. The NFL… HA! Where do I begin?? They have more problems to figure out than both NBA and MLB combined. I will just use words like CBA, Franchise Tag, Holdout, inconsistent officiating, inconsistent discipline measures, among many others.

There are two things American sports fans love in this country: football and watching really talented people play football. The XFL doesn’t have contract or CBA problems; they have the opposite of an antiquated problem, as they’ve innovated many new ideas on the field; and the parity in the league through five weeks was about as close at it could be. There wasn’t any background noise, political statements or agendas being pushed across on fans. Every Saturday and Sunday for five weeks, all we got was eight teams playing for the love of football. The XFL took out the BS and listened to the fans, and laid out a product that not only they wanted to see, but what the players wanted to see too. When the Coronavirus struck the US and the XFL was forced to close its doors on the season, you could see and feel the utter disappointment at all levels. The fans felt devastated, but, thankful. The up and coming media personalities are sick as we consumed the XFL like no other, but, were thankful. And no one was hurting more than the players as not only was their first, second and final chance at playing football came to an unwarranted pause, but, were thankful.

The community and foundation that was built in five weeks is something no league could have ever accomplished, especially with the failures the Spring Leagues before it suffered. The following the XFL garnered is real, and is among the many reasons why the XFL will be here to stay.

Comments? Questions?
Tweet: @amarinoni10
Email: marinonia10@gmail.com

Being Fair to the XFL Quarterback Play

XFL Quarterback Play is Actually Right on Schedule
Alex Marinoni, FBGP Analyst

After week 2 of the young XFL season, things are still looking as high as they were in Week 1 with
excitement from football fans across the country, and the solid turnouts.

However, the critics have started to creepily make their ways through the social media waves in Troll-like fashion over one subject: The Quarterback Position.

The gameplay all together has been surprisingly good to some, even the critics, but for some reason those same skeptics seem to be exceptionally critical of the quarterbacks across the league. Understandably, quarterbacks are scrutinized more than any other position in all of sports. It’s arguably the most important, and most difficult position to play. There is a reason, in terms of market value, why Quarterbacks are typically paid in a category all by themselves. No other sport has a position whose market value is greater than any other position on the field. So sure, it comes with the territory that all the extra eyes and criticisms are on them; But what the critics are forgetting, that unlike
the other positions on the field, in terms of the XFL, the Quarterbacks are probably the rustiest players on the field.

When you look around the league, names like Kony Ealy, Deandre Thompkins, Eli Rogers, Matt Elam and so on, are names of players that not only played in the NFL, but had prominent roles on some very accomplished teams. Even for the guys that didn’t get ample playing time in the NFL; the practice squad guys who were constantly being cut and traveling team to team; they still have had the opportunity to play the game. Sure, it may not be in the “every down” fashion that they are used to from high school and college, but these guys are still out there competing. This isn’t the same for the quarterbacks. As mentioned before, the quarterbacks have a much greater responsibility on the field. They are the guys that ultimately dictate the pace of the game, and must be the on-field manager for the whole team. If anyone needs reps, it’s these guys! But when it comes to guys like Cardale Jones, Landry Jones, Josh Johnson, Matt McGloin, Aaron Murray and PJ Walker, they have been on NFL rosters and have gotten some practice reps, but only three of them have gotten real NFL exposure. It’s no surprise that most of these quarterbacks have been the most consistent early on this season, but still not the sharpest.

Even with some of the NFL experience, it still doesn’t dictate when the last time these
quarterbacks have taken “real snaps.”

Let’s start with the guys who have played in real NFL games, who are starters in the XFL: Matt McGloin, Landry Jones, and Josh Johnson. McGloin took his last professional snap in 2016, where he appeared in 3 games and started one for the Raiders. In 2017, Landry Jones also played in three games with Steelers, but also only started one. In 2018 Josh Johnson played in four total games and started the final three for the Washington Redskins that season. So, the last time these quarterbacks took professional snaps in the NFL were over three, two and one year ago, respectively. Not one was ever seen as “The Guy” for their teams.

Next, you have the NFL guys who really didn’t get on the field in Aaron Murray, Cardale Jones and PJ Walker, who last time they started a game was for their colleges in 2013, 2015 and 2016 respectively. For a position that is so important like the Quarterback position, the XFL’s “Best” is being led by players who haven’t been the real leaders of their teams in years. Again, these are the “experienced” guys. Now, imagine the Dragons and Vipers who so far this season have trotted out Brandon Silvers, BJ Daniels, Taylor Cornelius and Quinton Flowers; players that are even farther in development than those listed above. Unfortunately for the XFL, these four, on top of a putrid performance from McGloin and the Guardians, were the highlight of Saturday. Now, does this mean that most of these quarterbacks are not capable of leading their teams this season? Absolutely not. Let’s try to remember that THIS IS FOOTBALL. It is early and just like in every league on every level, the offenses typically start slower than the defenses.

In the NFL, we watched the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson struggle. After week 1, the Buccaneers were the 25th total offense, Vikings 26th , 49ers 27th , Seahawks 29th and Packers 31st . At the end of the year, Jameis Winston of the Bucs finished first in passing, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo finished in the Top 10 in passer rating and the Vikings, 49ers, Seahawks and Packers all won playoff games with San Francisco going to the Super Bowl.

The point is, sometimes teams just start slow.

Also, consider the fact that the NFL had just celebrated their 100th League year. All these quarterbacks noted have been the
franchise quarterbacks for no less than 2 years, with Wilson and Rodgers coming near and over a decade. These are established guys at the highest level, who are playing with guys or, are in systems that they have played with, and together for years.

Now imagine what the quarterbacks of the XFL are going through.

They have been together with their teams for maybe two months before the season, in a brand-new system, with brand new coaches, in a brand-new league, with new rules; major obstacles, right?? Factor in the fact, as mentioned earlier, that these guys are not established guys, but players who are still developing. Throw in a couple of curveballs like camp injuries to players like Landry Jones and Josh Johnson, that limits their reps in the short offseason; what would you expect the results to be??

Considering all these obstacles, to get the gameplay we have gotten from these eight teams, it is obvious that they are well above where “experts” expected. All around the league, we are seeing a better product from an officiating standpoint, and players are making a name for themselves. With the obstacles the quarterbacks are facing, it should make you appreciate what PJ Walker, Jordan Ta’amu and Cardale Jones have provided so far. Landry Jones and Josh Johnson are just getting back, and could provide top level play along with the big three.

Instead of wasting the time trolling, let’s try to enjoy what these five have been able to do and hope to see the Brandon Silvers, Quinton Flowers/Aaron Murray/Taylor Cornelius’ of the world continue to develop and make a real name for themselves.

THIS IS NOT THE NFL, but the XFL can be a damn good thing, if given the chance.

Question? Comments?

Tweet: @amarinoni10
Email: marinonia10@gmail.com

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2020 Senior Bowl Practice Report – Day 2

Pace picks up on Day 2 in Mobile

As always, on the 2nd day of any collegiate all-star game event, the pace of the practices see an uptick in speed. It coincides with the fact that the players were in full pads on Wednesday.

Here’s a look at some of the standouts and some observations from Day 2 here at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

North Team Practice Standouts/Observations

  • WR Quartney Davis (6’2 200, Texas A&M) has a great deal of burst and acceleration for a bigger receiver. He was able to get separation a lot during 1-on-1 drills.
  • QB Jordan Love (6’3 225, Utah State), in my opinion, is the most consistent QB on the North Team. He gets great velocity on his passes, which allows him to push the ball at all levels of the field with ease. He’s been driving the ball really well so far this week.
  • WR Denzel Mims (6’3 215, Baylor) may not as explosive of an athlete as former Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant, but he definitely plays with the same level of both dog & aggressiveness that #88 used to play with.
  • LB Joshua Uche (6’2 250, Michigan) seems like a problem to block for opposing players. He’s a heavy-handed, brickwall rolling downhill on both ends of defense,
  • DL Bradlee Anae (6’3 265, Utah) was impressive in Team periods. He is so darn quick off the ball, that it puts OL in a constant bind.
  • RB Joshua Kelley (5’11 216, UCLA) has been excellent so far this week. It’s hard not to take notice of how explosive he is as a runner. His vision also has been on display as well, ‘seeing it’ as it is opening up, which yields itself to him constantly finding the ‘right’ hole.
  • I’ve been impressed over the 2 Days with Notre Dame safeties Jalen Elliott (6’0 210) and Alohi Gilman (5’10 202). Both guys play with great instincts, and take great angles to the ball.
  • WR James Proche (6’0 193, SMU) definitely plays bigger than his size. He has no fear going over the middle of the field, and is able to do a great job of focusing in on the football when it comes his way.
  • OL Hakeem Adeniji (6’5 300, Kansas) had himself a strong day during 1-on-1 drills; showed some George Foreman-like power during the period.
  • Again, this is a strong TE group for the North Team. Adam Trautman (6’5 253, Dayton), Charlie Taumoepeau (6’3 245, Portland State) and Brycen Hopkins (6’5 245, Purdue) have been really good.

South Team Practice Standouts/Observations

  • QB Jalen Hurts (6’1 218, Oklahoma) had a better Day 2 than Day 1 from a consistency standpoint. Where he stood out on Wednesday is during the 7-on-7 and Team periods. He consistently took chances down the field, putting the ball in spots that the other QBs were afraid to attempt. I felt like the other QBs during 7-on-7, immediately sought out the check down or low crosser. That’s not the purpose of the drill. Hurts used that drill to take chances and made some impressive throws.
  • LB Akeem Gaither-Davis (6’2 215, Appalachian State) is the type of linebacker you want on your team. He’s instinctive, explosive, and aggressive. He was all 3 on Wednesday.
  • S Kyle Dugger (6’2 220, Lenoir Rhyne) plays fast and explosive in all directions. On Day 2, he looked like your ideal ‘matchup piece’ on defense. He has looked extremely strong and comfortable in man-to-man coverage. Also, his explosiveness and speed downhill shows up positively in the run game.
  • Small College Tackles Alex Taylor (6’8 305, South Carolina State) and Ben Bartch (6’6 305, Saint John’s) have more than held their own against the pass rushers from the upper levels. Taylor’s footwork and hand technique has been consistent. Bartch anchors well and is able to both reset-and-redirect really well also.
  • OL Logan Stenberg (6’6 322, Kentucky) had a banner day in 1-on-1s. His game fits the description of a ‘mauler’.
  • C Lloyd Cushenberru III (6’4 315, LSU) has been stellar that past 2 days. He’s able to absorb, anchor and stymie defensive linemen. You can almost see the will to compete leave their body after his stops their initial and subsequent counter move.
  • TE Stephen Sullivan (6’5 242, LSU) has quietly shown the ability to get deep and separate from defenders. He was on the receiving end of one of Jalen Hurts dime throws, which Sullivan showed a good deal of athleticism to haul in the grab, getting both feet down in bounds.
  • The Texas Longhorn WR duo of Collin Johnson (6’5 220) and Devin Duvernay (5’11 210) just continue to impress. Both guys have been able to stack great days on top of each other. Duvernay has some Deebo Samuel in his game.
  • DL Terrell Lewis (6’5 252, Alabama) has been solid both days. He uses length & power better than most EDGE players on the South Team. He’s been an excellent run defender so far.
  • WR Van Jefferson (6’2 197, Florida). Good luck getting a handle on his technical savvy at the position. He’s one of the purest route runners out there, with the toughness to make plays; Very AJ Green-like in that regard.

2020 Senior Bowl Practice Report – Day 1

Reese’s Senior Bowl Gets Underway in Mobile

In what was a very cold day in the Gulf South, the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl began its week, as the final college all-star game on the schedule before the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off in February. Aside from the weather, the performances on the field took center stage on Tuesday, as there were a lot of impressive starts to the week.

South Team Observations and Standouts

  • CB Darnay Holmes (5’10 198, UCLA) was highly impressive all throughout the day. He started off stellar in 1-on-1s, being both competitive and physical, breaking up numerous passes intended for the receivers. He finished up his day being equally as impressive during team periods.
  • WR Devin Duvernay (5’11 210, Texas) is built like a running back and plays like both RB & WR. I thought he had an excellent 1-on-1 period, using his physicality to win vs tight coverage.
  • CB Dane Jackson (6’0 190, Pitt) was another one of the standout corners on Day 1. He’s very fluid in his transition and did a great job of playing the ball. During 1-on-1s, is where he did his best work.
  • Both Florida Gator WRs Van Jefferson (6’2 197) and Tyrie Cleveland (6’2 205) looked excellent running routes on Tuesday. Jefferson has a different level of quickness that was very noticeable when he got in and out of his breaks; excellent body control.
  • OT Alex Taylor (6’8 305, South Carolina State) showed how when skill and size are on the same street, great things can happen. During OL/DL 1-on-1s, he more than held his own throughout the period.
  • DL Jonathan Greenard (6’3 263, Florida) I felt like was one of the few DL to give the OL fits during 1-on-1s. He found ways to win with both power and leverage.
  • DL Marlon Davidson (6’3 278, Auburn) was another DL with a variety of ways to get to the QB. I thought he did a great job of using the 1-on-1 period to showcase/work-on multiple moves.
  • Both players wearing #2, RB Lamical Perine (5’11 218, Florida) and CB Kindle Vildor (5’11 190, Georgia Southern) stood out during Team-vs-Team. Perine’s explosiveness is what caught my attention, and Vildor’s ability to click-and-close on receivers was also very impressive.
  • I thought the South Team QBs each had their moments in practice. Colorado QB Steven Montez’s arm looked the strongest, considering the brisk wind that whipped around Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Oregon Ducks QB Justin Herbert was probably the most consistent, and Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma, started out slow, but had impressive 7-on-7 and Team-vs-Team periods.
  • DL Terrell Lewis (6’5 252, Alabama) did a great job during team-vs-team in defending the run, as well as pressuring the QB.
  • OL Terence Steele (6’6 310, Texas Tech) had himself a strong showing in the run blocking department during team periods.

North Team Practice Observations and Standouts

  • WR Denzel Mims (6’3 215, Baylor) plays bully ball…and I LIKE IT! He was physical in WR/DB 1-on-1s, but also showcased his ability in WR/DB blocking drills. You can tell he definitely takes pride in that aspect of his game. Also, he plucks the ball out of the air with aggressiveness, ala Dez Bryant,
  • It was a great day for North TEs Charlie Taumoepeau (6’3 245, Portland State) and Adam Trautman (6’6 253, Dayton). Taumoepeau has a solid RAC skills, resembling Alge Crumpler running down the field. While Trautman’s speed and fluidity made him a very tough cover throughout the day. I thought a lot of defenders slept on his acceleration as well.
  • CB Troy Pride Jr. (5’11 194, Notre Dame) looked solid in 1-on-1s. I thought his mirror-and-match ability was where it needed to be.
  • WR Antonio Gandy-Golden (6’4 220, Liberty), came into the week with a great deal of fanfare, and showed why on Day 1. He’s very comfortable catching the ball away from his body, and shows good stack-and-accelerate ability running deep downfield.
  • RB Joshua Kelley (5’11 219, UCLA), to me, had the most impressive day for the RBs. He consistently found openings and showed and explosive burst once he planted his foot in the ground to head north and south.
  • DT Mctelvin Agim (6’3 300, Arkansas) was a call-up from the Shrine Bowl, and just picked up right where he left off in St. Pete. During the Team-vs-Team periods is where his disruptive nature started to show itself again.
  • OL Matt Peart (6’7 303, UConn) had an impressive showing during OL/DL 1-on-1s. I liked how his footwork and hand placement stayed consistent.
  • DL Jason Strowbridge (6’5 285, North Carolina) was the most disruptive defensive lineman during the OL/DL period. Quicks, explosiveness, burst and technique were all on display for the former Tar Heel.
  • DE Alton Robinson (6’4 260, Syracuse) was as good as advertised. It wasn’t just his reps during 1-on-1s, I thought he had a strong showing in Team-vs-Team as well.
  • DL Davon Hamilton (6’4 310, Ohio State) was the standout in my eyes during the Inside Run period. He showed his ability as a one-gap penatrator throughout the period.
  • OL Charlie Heck (6’8 315, North Carolina) was another Shrine Bowl call-up who showed out on Day 1. For a taller offensive tackle, I felt his knee bend was solid, and got his hands up, and on the defender pretty quickly.
  • WR James Proche (6’0 193, SMU) and QB Jordan Love (6’3 222, Utah State) connected on a beautiful intermediate crossing route in-between two defenders during 7-on-7s. I thought Love was the best QB on the North squad during Tuesday’s practice.
  • CB Michael Ojemudia (6’1 200, Iowa) stood out consistently during 7-on-7 as well. Broke up a nice ball on a comeback route, showing good burst out of his break.

2020 Shrine Bowl Takeaways – Day 2

Tuesday kicked off the second day of the 2020 East West Shrine Bowl. The energy and intensity was the same on Day 2 as it was on Day 1, and many guys got after it, under the bright lights at Tropicana Field.

East Team Day 2 Observations

Skill Positions 1-on-1s

Standouts:

RB Tavien Feaster – 5’11 222, South Carolina
WR Ja’Marcus Bradley – 6’1 195, Louisiana

LB Michael Pinckney – 6’0- 225, Miami: Pinckney had one of the best coverage days by any of the linebackers so far on Tuesday. He looked fluid in mirroring the RB, and showed really good athleticism in breaking on the ball.

CB Parnell Motley – 5’11 180, Oklahoma

Team-vs-Team

This section was broken up into two parts: Team Run and Team-vs-Team

Standouts

OL Cameron Clark – 6’4 300, Charlotte
RB Adrian Killins Jr. – 5’7 164, Central Florida
RB Benny Lemay, Jr. – 5’9 216, Charlotte

QB Kevin Davidson – 6’4 225, Princeton: Davidson has been nothing short of spectacular so far this week. He’s got such effortless throwing mechanics and is able to drive the ball with both velocity and accuracy to wherever he wants to throw it on the field. He’s looked decisive as well, as if he’s been in this offense for years.

OC Luke Juriga – 6’3 296, Western Michigan
CB Parnell Motley – 5’11 180, Oklahoma
LB Shaquille Quarterman – 6’1 238, Miami

Offensive Line vs Defensive Line

Standouts

OL Cameron Clark – 6’4 300, Charlotte
OL Jon Runyan – 6’4 319, Michigan
OL Jake Benzinger – 6’7 296, Wake Forest
OL Matt Womack – 6’7 335, Alabama
OL Luke Juriga – 6’3 296, Western Michigan
OL Michael Onwenu – 6’2 350, Michigan

DL Agim Mctelvin – 6’3 300, Arkansas: McTelvin has been the most explosive DL here so far. I really came away impressed with his burst and ball get off. He won the majority, if not all, of his reps today in 1-on-1s. Every year there is an DL that just stands out above the rest, and this year it has been the former Arkansas Razorback.

DL Kendall Coleman – 6’3 251, Syracuse
DL James Smith-Williams – 6’3 255, N.C. State
DL Auzoyah Alufohai – 6’5 328, West Georgia

West Team Day 2 Observations

Skill Positions 1-on-1s

Standouts:

RB Tony Jones – 5’11 225, Notre Dame: I’ve been very impressed with how natural of a receiver Jones has been this week. For a RB, he runs very good routes, shows the fluidity to make many different receptions, and has a good burst to accelerate past defenders.

RB LeVante Bellamy – 5’9 191, Western Michigan
WR Johnathon Johnson – 5’9 179, Missouri
WR Binjimen VIctor – 6’4 199, Ohio State
S David Dowell – 6’0 206, Michigan State
CB Keith Washington II – 6’0 177, West Virginia
CB Chris Williamson – 6’0 198, Minnesota
LB Mykal Walker – 6’3 225, Fresno State

CB Luq Barcoo – 6’0 175, San Diego State: Barcoo has kept up with the tradition of excellent corners coming out of that Aztecs program. He’s got top notch COD skills, and knows how to play the ball through the receiver without drawing a flag.

Inside Run & Team-vs-Team

Standouts:

QB Tyler Huntley – 6’1 205, Utah
RB Reggie Corbin – 5’9 205, Illinois
RB James Robinson – 5’9 219, Illinois State

QB Kelly Bryant – 6’3 225, Missouri: Bryant has a live arm and that was on display during the Team-vs-Team periods. Also, during Pass Skel, Bryant looked rather sharp, completing numerous passes at the intermediate level of the field. He’s looked really good throwing the ball.

OL Yasir Durant – 6’6 340, Missouri
OL Kevin Dotson – 6’4 324, Louisiana

WR Nick Westbrook – 6’2 215, Indiana: Westbrook had a fantastic day in both Pass Skel and in Team-vs-Team. He had a couple of spectacular grabs that spotlighted his athleticism and big play ability. After practice, he was a very popular player amongst scouts in attendance.

DT Raequan Williams – 6’4 302, Michigan State
DT Khalil Davis – 6’0 305, Nebraska
LB Dante Olson – 6’2 241, Montana
LB Mykal Walker – 6’3 225, Fresno State
DE Ladarius Hamilton – 6’2 252, North Texas

S David Dowell – 6’0 206, Michigan State: Dowell just had an awesome Day 2 here at the Shrine Bowl. He stood out in both 9-on-7 and in the full team period. Good run fits, good instincts and a sound tackler.

Offensive Line vs Defensive Line

Standouts:

OT Branden Bowen – 6’7 315, Ohio State: Bowen was a brick wall to opposing defensive linemen during the 1-on-1 period. He used his length to his advantage numerous times throughout the period, escorting essentially everyone out the club. I like how consistent his POA strength is.

OL Jake Fruhmorgen – 6’6 305, Baylor
OL Calvin Throckmorton – 6’4 316, Oregon
OL Drew Richmond – 6’5 315, USC

DL Raequan Williams – 6’4 302, Michigan State: Williams was another Spartan who had a stellar Day 2. He was able to showcase on Tuesday a variety of ways to get to the QB, and gave OL fits.

DL Khalil Davis – 6’0 305, Nebraska
DL Bryce Sterk – 6’3 257, Montana State

2020 Shrine Bowl Day 1 Takeaways

The 2020 East West Shrine Bowl got underway on Monday afternoon at Tropicana Field, in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida. Sitting in the stands, and standing on the field, were scouts and personnel executives from all 32 NFL teams, as well as both CFL and XFL scouts. In what was a long first day, as it usually is, over 100 pro prospects put on a show in front of both media and scouts alike.

East Team

RB Adrian Killins Jr. – 5’7 164, Central Florida: The speed and quickness in what he displayed in the passing game, really stood out at practice.
QB Kevin Davidson – 6’4 225, Princeton: I thought he threw the ball extremely well throughout the day. Davidson also showed a lively arm, as he was able to drive the football wherever he wanted to on the field.
WR Aaron Parker – 6’1 205, Rhode Island: Impressive speed, acceleration and body control. I thought Parker was able to smoothly get in-and-out of his breaks, creating separation from the defensive back with ease. He also showcased those great hands that made him such a star at Rhode Island.
WR Malcolm Perry – 5’9 190, Navy: Perry, the former option QB, looked as natural as a receiver could look on Monday. This was impressive to see as he spent the majority of his career at QB and slot back for the Midshipmen. Perry just has a different level of explosiveness at the position.
OL Cameron Clark – 6’4 300, Charlotte: I like Clark’s ability to control a DL once engaged. His POA strength was extremely impressive.
OL Steven Gonzalez – 6’4 346, Penn State: Gonzalez had a strong showing in 1-on-1s. I thought his footwork was where it needed to be.
OL Jon Runyan – 6’4 319, Michigan: Speaking of performing well during 1-on-1s, it seemed as if it was Runyan’s drill as he won the majority of his reps in a convincing fashion.
OC Darryl Williams – 6’2 306, Mississippi State: Williams, to me, was the most impressive of the interior lineman on Monday. He dominated 1-on-1s, and was strong during both the Inside Run and Team-vs-Team periods of practice.
DT Mctelvin Agim – 6’3 300, Arkansas: I thought at times he looked unblockable. Agim has a great first step and explodes off the ball into the OL’s chest.
DE Alex Highsmith – 6’3 244, Charlotte: Explosive off the edge, showing very good body lean to dip under OTs. He started off 1-on-1s with a great example of those traits.
DE Austin Edwards – 6’3 280, Ferris State: The D2 product had a solid first day, showing a good blend of speed and finesse coming off the edge.
CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver III – 6’1 185, FIU: For a taller corner, Thomas-Oliver definitely has great body control and was in the hip pocket of receivers all day long.
CB Nevelle Clarke – 6’1 185, Central Florida: Another one of these taller corners who performed really well was Clarke. There’s no wasted movements when he gets out of his break to drive on the ball. He had an excellent day.
S Rodney Clemons – 6’0 205, SMU: Clemons show good ability in coverage vs TEs on Day 1. Didn’t panic, stayed patient and made some plays.

East Team Practice Highlights

WR/DB 1-on-1s

OL/DL 1-on-1s

Team-vs-Team

West Team

QB Tyler Huntley – 6’1 205, Utah: I thought Huntley looked sharp in Pass Skel and Team-vs-Team, putting all of his skills on display as a guy who can play on-schedule, who can improvise in the pocket, and one who can use his legs to pick up yards.
WR Binjimen Victor – 6’4 199, Ohio State: Victor had the best day of the WRs on the West Team. He’s a very fluid route runner that shows a lot of nuance in that regard. He also caught the football extremely well.
RB James Robinson – 5’9 219, Illinois State: Robinson’s game reminded me of Aaron Jones in how fluid he is running the ball. He also has very good acceleration to hit his top speed pretty quickly.
RB LeVante Bellamy – 5’8 171, Western Michigan: His speed is just different. Period. Bellamy was a tough cover in 1-on-1s, but also looked explosive during Inside Run periods.
WR Juwan Johnson – 6’4 231, Oregon: Johnson definitely passes the “off the bus” look, as his physical stature is impressive. He had a really good day catching the football.
TE Ben Ellefson – 6’4 245, North Dakota State: Every time you looked up, #81 was making a grab against a defender. Ellefson showed comfort in catching the ball away from his body, over his shoulder and while being draped by a defender.
OG Kevin Dotson – 6’4 324, Louisiana: Dotson has tremendous technique, and because of that, in conjunction with his power and explosiveness, he clears lanes in the run game. During 9-on-7 and Team-vs-Team, this was very evident. Also, in 1-on-1s, he showed great ability in mirroring DL, not giving up any pressures.
OG Calvin Throckmorton – 6’4 316, Oregon: Again, another lineman with great functional usage at the POA. No wasted movements, no wasted reps, Throckmorton looked really good in 1-on-1s and in the Team periods.
DL John Penisini – 6’1 324, Utah: I like the quickness and explosiveness off the ball shown on Monday by Penisini. He also is a great hand fighter as well, using them to quickly disengage from an OL. He had a disruptive day.
DL Bryce Sterk – 6’3 257, Montana State: I like the athleticism he showed coming off the corner. Sterk showed that he is more of a fluid athlete than given credit for.
CB Luq Barcoo – 6’0 175, San Diego State: Barcoo had himself a strong day in coverage, in all aspects of practice: 1-on-1s, 7-on-7s and Team Periods.
CB Keith Washington II – 6’0 177, West Virginia: I thought he was the best man-to-man cover guy on Day 1. Had a couple of interceptions and was plastered across receivers throughout the day.

West Team Practice Highlights

WR/DB and RB/LB/TE 1-on-1s

OL/DL 1-on-1s

Inside Run

Team-vs-Team