Among postseason All-Star Games, the East-West Shrine Game doesn’t get quite as much attention as the Senior Bowl, but it consistently features future NFL players. Recently that includes the likes of Geronimo Allison, De’Vondre Campbell, Javon Hargrave, Brian Poole, Justin Simmons, Joe Thuney, Deatrich Wise, and several others.
This year will be no different. The Shrine Game airs on NFL Network at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday from St. Petersburg, Fla.
Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis (East): Ferguson is arguably the best quarterback in this year’s Shrine Game. At 6’4 and 210 pounds, he has some nice tools and will press the ball down the field. In two seasons at Memphis, Ferguson threw for 7,955 yards and 70 touchdowns. Ferguson will get drafted at some point, and how he plays here could determine how high he goes. After Ferguson, expect Sam Houston State’s Jeremiah Briscoe to get a lot of attention among the quarterbacks.
Ralph Webb, RB, Vanderbilt (East): Webb finished put together a nice career at Vanderbilt, where he was the team’s lead running back for four seasons. He finished his college career as Vanderbilt’s all-time leader in yards rushing (4,178) and touchdowns (32). Webb could stand out in this setting. He’s renowned for his freaky athleticism and reportedly bench presses more than 400 pounds.
Greg Senat, OT, Wagner (West): I have to admit that I’ve never watched Senat play, but he’s a fascinating player. At Wagner, Senat played basketball for four seasons, and started two seasons on the offensive line on the football team. He’s listed at 6’8 and 290 pounds. Because he’s a basketball player, you have to imagine Senat has quick feet. He could be a player a team drafts late to stash and develop him on a practice squad.
Jordan Thomas, TE, Mississippi State (West): It’s not often you see a 280-pound tight end, but that’s Thomas. A massive presence at 6’5, was third on Mississippi State in receptions this season with 22 and yards receiving with 263. Teams will want to see just how athletic Thomas is in space and if he can stick inline and block.
Cole Reyes, S, North Dakota (West): No player needs a good Shrine Game than Reyes. Coming into the season, Reyes had the potential to secure a spot in the top 100. However, an injury limited his season to just four games. He is expected to be healthy now, and teams will be looking to see how well he moves around. In 2016, he was the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year.
Chad Thomas, DL, Miami (East): At 6’6 and 275 pounds, Thomas is built to play end in a 3-4 or at three-technique on the inside. His production never quite came, but he still finished his career with 26 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.
Poona Ford, DT, Texas (West): Texas has been an up-and-down team for several years, but Ford has been a consistent presence up front. The Shrine Game lists him at 5’11, but with shorter defensive tackles like Aaron Donald and Grady Jarrett finding success, Ford should get a legitimate shot. The Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year this season, Ford finished with 34 tackles and eight tackles for loss. Teams will want to see how quick he is on the inside.
Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech (East): After a stellar freshman season at Virginia Tech, some thought Facyson had a future in the first round of the draft. But a series of serious injuries have left his draft future in doubt. After snagging five interceptions as a freshman, Facyson had a stress reaction in his shin that required a bone graft. He played just three games in 2014 before reaggravating the injury. He was back in Dec. 2014 but broke his leg. Facyson also had to sit out spring practice in 2016 with a knee injury. It’s been a long road, but if Facyson can prove he’s healthy, teams will love his ability to make a play on the ball as a 6’2 cornerback.
Damon Webb, S, Ohio State (East): Webb was often overlooked on a loaded Ohio State defense, but he had some impressive moments last season. He was third on the Buckeyes in tackles with 61, and was the team leader in interceptions with five. Teams needing a pure coverage safety will look at Webb as a dime coverage player. It will be interesting to see if he gets looked as a cornerback in practices this week.
Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, DE/OLB, Arkansas State (West): Part of the all-star process is players moving to different positions and seeing how they fare. That’s the case for Rolland-Jones. He was a stat stuffer at Arkansas State, finishing his career with 43 1/2 sacks and 63 tackles for loss. He did most of that playing end with his hand down in a four-man front. At the Shrine Game, he’s listed as a linebacker, and teams will be looking to see how well he moves in space.