Top 5 Fantasy Prospects at the 2017 East-West Shrine Game
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The East-West Shrine Game is a college all-star game for prospects and scouts that is often the ignored/less covered game by the football media and fans. The Senior Bowl has successfully sucked all the air out of the room when it comes to postseason all-star showcases. Most prospects pray for a tap on the shoulder to go to Mobile for the Senior Bowl, and ‘settle’ for the East-West Shrine. The tide might be changing on this – in the East-West game’s favor. The Senior Bowl has ‘the name’ and can easily lure some of the more obvious prospects, but the East-West Shrine is very quietly doing stellar scouting work and finding a lot of hidden talent that the Senior Bowl is missing.
Last year, the East-West Shrine had WR Robby Anderson, CB Anthony Brown (terrific rookie season/sleeper for Dallas), WR Tajae Sharpe (which led to a late invite to the Senior Bowl), OG Joe Thuney (semi-shock Patriots #78 pick and instant rookie starter), DT Javon Hargrave, WR Geronimo Allison, LB De’Vondre Campbell to name a few notables. I think the East-West talent level has taken another step forward with their 2017 invites.
I’ve covered this game the past few years and this is the most intriguing East-West Shrine group I can recall from a skill position standpoint. There are several players to look at in this game for dynasty rookie draft/fantasy football purposes ahead. I’ve gone through every player on the East-West Shrine roster and looked over their college output as well as watching about 15–30 minutes of preview tape on each prospect.
*Next week, I will be writing a game recap for FantasyPros on what I observed in this game. To be released Monday.
My prospects to watch are listed in order of who I am most captivated by for dynasty-fantasy purposes, at this early point in my 2017 NFL Draft studies – subject to change as I dive deeper into them over the next few weeks/months. See more of my scouting reports on 2017 prospects (and past five years of archived scouting reports and statistical grades) geared towards dynasty GMs and dynasty rookie draft prep at CollegeFootballMetrics.com.
Jalen Robinette (WR – Air Force): No. 9 West Team – 6′4″/220
35 catches for 959 yards and six TDs seems like a yawn, but they might be the most impressive numbers of any WR prospect in 2017.
Robinette played in a flimsy Air Force passing game. His 35 catches represented 50.7% of the team’s completed passes in 2016…I’m not kidding. This is a wishbone offense somehow with an incredibly talented wide receiver. His 959 receiving yards accounted for 54.7% of all the passing yards for Air Force in 2016. Robinette scored six of the team’s 14 passing TDs.
Robinette is a physical WR prospect; 6′3″– 6′4″/220. He’s physical with good hands and what looks like 4.5+ speed. His tape instantly reminded me of scouting Tyrell Williams at Western Oregon with some Josh Doctson mixed in there.
I don’t see many scouting services with Robinette in their top 20 WR prospects for 2017 as of now. Most mainstream NFL Draft websites don’t have Robinette in their top 40 WR prospects. It won’t be long before they awaken to him. His size and fluidity will attract them. If Robinette has a nice showing here, he is likely the first late-addition WR prospect for the Senior Bowl, and I have to believe he will get an NFL Combine invite.
It’s hard to contextualize how good Robinette is as a technical receiver because the Air Force offense allowed him to pop open by surprise since defenses were lulled to sleep by their constant run game. Physically, it appears Robinette has ‘it.’ The more detailed part of playing wide receiver, no one knows for sure, because he didn’t run in a normal passing game in college. This East-West Game represents a chance for him to show off that side of his game and ignite his NFL prospects.
DeAngelo Yancey (WR -Purdue): No. 88 East Team – 6′2″/217
49 catches for 951 yards and 10 TDs is a solid but not eye-popping season from a college wide receiver, but he did account for 40% of his team’s passing TDs and led the Big Ten in yards per catch in 2016 (19.1 ypc).
The output numbers didn’t catch my attention, but the tape did. Yancey is a prototypical pro-style wide receiver prospect at my first glance. He has the size and toughness of a workhorse NFL wide receiver. He can work over the middle, but also catches the deep ball well. His ability to run medium-deep routes and get open and then track long, air-it-out passes is terrific. Has great hands and snatches passes with ease. Appears to have solid speed-agility but excels in route-running and catch ability.
I’ve not seen Yancey listed in any scouting service’s or mainstream draft website’s top 20 WR prospects for 2017. He’s more ranked in the No. 25–50 range. I think he’ll move into the top 25 among WR prospects but probably won’t have a shot at the top 10 unless he impresses in the East-West game and gets a late roster addition call to the Senior Bowl which can help him get an NFL Combine invite. Without the East-West game as a catalyst, Yancey is likely to fly under the radar and be a late-draft sleeper pick in 2017. Big opportunity for Yancey in this game. He reminds a little of a tougher Davante Adams.
Ejuan Price (DE/OLB – Pitt): No. 95 East Team – 5′11″/245
Here’s one for the IDPers to watch. His tape/gameplay is fantastic. He’s almost unblockable off the edge in college – very quick burst and closing speed. 24.5 sacks and 42.5 TFLs the last two seasons. He had 5.0 sacks/6.0 TFLs in a game against Louisville in 2015. Also 2.0 or more TFLs in a game 15 times in his career, and in eight of his final 12 college games.
He isn’t going to be a traditional edge-rusher in the NFL at 5′11″. The question is, can he play a more traditional linebacker role in the NFL? He reminds me a little of Jatavis Brown – who was a top 10–20 overall prospect for us last pre-draft (NFL fifth-round pick in 2016). This game might give us a glimpse of Price in another role on defense.
The downside – multiple injuries slowed his career early on. A pec injury in 2012, A back injury in 2013. A chest injury in 2014. Nothing debilitating, but all of them cost him time – two years of medical redshirts. He’ll be 24 years old his rookie NFL season. Not old, but not 21-22 either. He’s been healthy the past two seasons, both monster years, and is No. 15 in the NCAA in TFLs and No. 16 in sacks in a career (since 2005).
Michael Roberts (TE – Toledo): No. 82 West Team – 6′5″/270
If a tight end can get four or more TDs in a college season it’s attention-getting. Hunter Henry had nine TDs total in his three-year college career (and eight TDs as a San Diego Charger part-time tight end in 2016). Maxx Williams had eight TDs in his final college season (remember when he was the top TE taken in the 2015 draft?). Top 2017 TE prospect Jake Butt’s (Michigan) season high for touchdowns was four and fellow top 2017 prospect O.J. Howard’s (Alabama) best is three TDs. So, when you see that Michael Roberts grabbed 16 TDs at tight end last season it should get your attention.
You might be thinking that Roberts must be a TE/WR hybrid, emphasis on the WR part. Incorrect. Roberts looks and moves like Antonio Gates. A big, strapping tight end who uses his body to box out defenders. I didn’t see an ‘it’ factor on his tape, but I need to see more. I could see Roberts losing 10+ pounds and becoming a quicker receiver to go along with his size/mass.
Joseph Williams (RB – Utah): No. 28 West Team – 5′11″/205
In his last 12 college games, spanning two seasons and two bowl games, Williams has rushed for 1,807 yards and scored 13 TDs. He’s rushed for 120+ yards in a game eight times in those last 12 contests. He rushed for 222 yards in his last game, a bowl game against Indiana. Earlier in the 2016 season, he dropped 332 yards rushing and four TDs on UCLA. Williams is FAST. The question is how fast? Some claim he’s a low 4.3s 40-time runner while I see him more at 4.4+. Whatever speed time he ends up producing in pre-draft workouts it worked for Utah in 2015–16. Williams destroyed most opponents.
Look for Williams to possibly pop a long TD run in this game and get NFL people fired up about his pro prospects. He’s not in many scouting services’ top 10 RB prospects right now.
The QB to watch is Gunner Kiel (Cincinnati). In his college debut game in 2014, Kiel threw for 418 yards and six TDs/0 INTs against Toledo. Two games later, he tallied 352 yards passing and four TDs/0 INTs on eventual 2014 national champion Ohio State. Kiel started his career throwing 14 TDs/2 INTs in his first three games and had people over the moon about his future, and then he had a very strange journey of great and bad performances the next 2+ seasons, a benching (to third string) and then a climb back up to starter. He’s the only QB in this contest that has an NFL sensibility to his game and a pro arm to go with it. The question is – which Kiel shows up?