The 2011 East-West Shrine Game is set to kick off in a few hours here, getting the college all-star game and draft season started in earnest. Kickoff is scheduled for slightly less than five hours from now (3 PM Central time, with a pre-game show starting at 2:30), and will be televised on the NFL Network. . .I believe that I erroneously said the other day that it was going to be on ESPN2, and I apologize for that error.
There are plenty of guys to keep an eye on for this one, but I'm going to narrow things down to one player on each side of the ball on each roster that I'll be watching this afternoon. The rosters can be found right here if you want a full list of the players that will be partaking in this afternoon's festivities.
East Offense - Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware
The Vikings are almost certainly going to be looking to take a quarterback in the first couple of rounds of this year's draft, and if they can't get one of the "Big Four" that I think are going to end up in the draft's first round, the next tier of players is going to feature players like Devlin. Devlin has decent size (6'3", 225) and put up some pretty impressive numbers at Delaware, completing 68% of his passes for 3,032 yards and 22 touchdown to just three interceptions. Devlin started out at Penn State, but transferred to Delaware between the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Devlin led all of FCS football in 2010 with his 68.3% completion rate, and got his team within one point of the FCS National Championship, with the Blue Hens falling 20-19 to #1 Eastern Washington. The detractors will say that he played in a very quarterback-friendly system at Delaware, but hey. . .the last guy that came out of the same offense at the same school seems to have done pretty well for himself at the NFL level thus far.
East Defense - Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
Before this season started, Austin was hyped as a potential top-5 pick in the draft as part of a North Carolina defense that was loaded with talent. I say "was" because the 6'3", 310-pound defensive tackle got caught up in the cheating scandal that saw five Tarheels suspended, and was eventually suspended indefinitely by Tarheels coach Butch Davis for matters "unrelated" to that particular incident. I'm not sure how keen the Vikings might be on drafting someone with some pretty obvious character concerns, but if Leslie Frazier is the Tony Dungy-type that he's rumored to be, he may feel that he and Karl Dunbar can keep Austin under wraps and harness his enormous talent. He could make a fine replacement for Pat Williams. . .in time. . .if the Vikings feel that he's worth the risk, even with the depth on the DL that the Vikings already possess.
West Offense - Jordan Cameron, TE, USC
Cameron started out as a wide receiver for the Trojans, but made the transition to the tight end spot this season. So, as you can imagine, he isn't the greatest blocking tight end in the world at this point, but he could very easily end up being one of those hybrid tight end types that has the ability to split out wide and create some mismatch problems for opposing defenses. A former basketball player, Cameron has very good size (6'5", 240), good speed and athleticism, and good hands. He has been receiving a lot of praise at this week's practices, and is one of those players that is moving his way up the draft boards in rapid fashion.
West Defense - Dontay Moch, LB, Nevada
The Vikings might be looking for a replacement at linebacker, and while Moch might be a bit of a project at the position, he could be a guy worth taking a shot on. Lining up at defensive end at Nevada, he set a team record as a junior with 20 tackles for loss. . .and wasn't satisfied with that, so he went out and got 22 as a senior to break that mark. At 6'1", 245, he's probably too small to line up as as defensive end in a 4-3 system like Minnesota's, and probably projects to more of a stand-up OLB in a 3-4, but he has the athletic ability to play OLB in a 4-3, too, in my opinion. He would have to learn some cover skills in that case, but I think he'd have the ability to do that.
Who will you be keeping an eye on in this afternoon's game?