2020 East-West Shrine Bowl Winners and Losers
Monday, January 13, we started the collegiate All-Star game circuit with the kickoff of the East-West Shrine Bowl practices. For the more than 100 athletes making up the rosters of the 2020 East-West Shrine Bowl, this was the final opportunity to make an impression on NFL teams via a practice week and game day setting. For a large portion of the players this collection of talent represents the highest level of competition they have ever faced, so putting together a good tape for scouts, coaches, and GMs is paramount to their grade heading through the draft process.
If executed correctly players can go from essentially an unknown to a mid-round draft pick. At the same time, if executed poorly a player can go from having high expectations to more question marks than they came in with. Ahead we will take a look at a handful of players who won the week with their overall performance and then a handful of players who lost out on the opportunity to improve their draft stock.
Binjimen Victor (WR – Ohio State)
Victor had a great week from Day 1 of practice through the game Saturday afternoon. He had an excellent weigh-in coming in at 6’3″ 196 lbs and demonstrated the ability to use his length to create separation and win jump ball situations. All week in practice corners struggled to stick with him during 1-on-1 drills and in the game, he put it all together during one of the highlight plays of the day. He used his size to go up and attack the ball on a flea-flicker TD pass while being double covered. Victor showed off his excellent body control and hands and finished the game with 2 receptions, 50 yards, and the TD. He definitely helped himself this week and climbed a few spots in a deep 2020 receiver class. So much so that I could see him getting his name called early on Day 3 of the NFL Draft.
Malcolm Perry (WR – Navy)
Perry came into Shrine Week prepared to make a position change. At Navy, he played QB but essentially was an RB. During Shrine Week, Perry made the move to receiver in the hope to maximize his traits. Based on reports and video coming out during the practice week it paid off. Perry’s compact build, 5’9″ 182 lbs, and great agility made him one of the cleanest route runners of the receivers in attendance. When it came to the game, Perry showed off his burst and speed when he took the direct snap, burst through the hole, and raced to the endzone on a long TD run. In the game that was his only touch, but he showed how dangerous he was with the ball going 1 carry for 52 yards and the score. Perry definitely left scouts and coaches intrigued with his raw abilities and projects to fill a Wes Welker type slot role for a team. Just like Victor, I see Perry making his way into the early Day 3 discussion at a position he doesn’t have a ton of experience at.
— East-West Shrine Bowl (@ShrineBowl) January 18, 2020
James Morgan (QB – Florida International)
Morgan was the best QB the entire week of practice and in the game Saturday. He checked in with NFL size at 6’4″ 223 lbs and displayed an arm that could make all the necessary throws. On game day he started and showed that he could lead a team and manage a game. Morgan finished the day going 9/14 for 116 yards and 1 TD. After this strong week, I’m confident that Morgan went from likely undrafted to Day 3 target. I would also keep an eye on him as he could be a Senior Bowl target if a QB ends up pulling out for any reason. Lastly, Morgan also received the Pat Tillman award this week; an award that is given to the player who exemplifies intelligence, sportsmanship, and service.
Alex Highsmith (EDGE – Charlotte)
Alex Highsmith left Shrine Week as the best pass rusher on the field. He had a ton of hype coming into the week after finishing third in the nation in sacks during the 2019 season and he held up to the expectations throughout the week of practice. He checked in well at 6’3″ 247 lbs. with good arm length. Throughout the week Highsmith showed his bend and flexibility in drills and during the game really showed off his burst off the line. Highsmith has a very high chance of being the first player from the roster drafted in April. I think he locked himself into a top 100 pick after this week.
James Robinson (RB – Illinois State)
The final winner of the week to highlight is RB James Robinson of Illinois State. He measured in at 5’9″ and a thick 222 lbs. Coming into the week, Robinson had a lot of questions about his burst and overall speed. He wasted no time addressing those questions with his performance during the week. Several times Robinson took the handoff, stuck his foot in the ground to make one cut, and then shot through the running lane. He then carried this over to the game Saturday. He put it all together on a 63-yard touchdown where he burst through the left side of the line and then outran everybody on his way to the touchdown. Coming in I didn’t really know of James Robinson. He made a name for himself this week and I think he could slip into the 6-7th round or at worse be a priority free agent post-draft.
Mason Fine (QB – North Texas)
Mason Fine had an average performance and didn’t really do anything that would hurt him dramatically, however, his weigh-in probably ended any hopes of getting drafted before he even played. He checked in at a severely undersized 5’9″ 189 lbs. This is a huge red flag for teams. No player has ever had success at the NFL level at this size. Even the shorter QBs like Russell Wilson check in with a much thicker build and bigger hands. Fine also checked in with a hand measurement under 9″. I think with that check-in Fine hurt any odds of being drafted late pretty severely. His best chance would be to change position if he is able to show some nice athletic traits at his pro day. Other than that I don’t see how he can have much of an NFL career.
John Hightower (WR – Boise State)
Hightower had a decent week overall, however, coming in many draft pundits had him highlighted as possibly the best receiver there and had a chance to go in the 5-6th round range with a chance to rise with a great week. During his weigh-in, he checked in with pretty good size and weight at 6’1″ 185 lbs, but he also checked in with 9 ¼” hands. Hand measurements aren’t going to kill a player’s draft stock by themselves, but having issues that link to the measurements will. During the first couple of days of practice, Hightower reportedly had a very hard time catching easy passes. He would win the 1-on-1 battle, but then couldn’t finish it by making the catch. He did improve as the week went on, but then on game day only was able to make one catch for 12 yards wrapping up an overall underperforming week especially with players like Binjimen Victor having a great week. I think we see Hightower slip down to a 7th round target for teams now.
Luq Barcoo (CB – San Diego State)
Luq had a ton of interest around his name entering Shrine Week after leading college football in interceptions during 2019. I expected him to come in and lock down the top receivers of the week. That didn’t come to fruition though. Barcoo was consistently beaten in 1-on-1 and was much slower than expected. Speed is king at the next level so Barcoo looks like he will have trouble making the transition to the next level. I would suggest maybe a position change to safety, but he only checked in at 6′ 172 lbs. He would need to put on nearly 30 lbs to fit the body type of an NFL position. That wouldn’t be a good plan for a guy who already struggles with speed. Coming in I thought Barcoo would be drafted. After Saturday it looks like he might just receive a camp invite thanks to his high interception numbers.
Cohl Cabral (OG – Arizona State)
Cabral had one of the roughest weeks of any player. He struggled severely with his play strength and anchor. He couldn’t create any sort of push in the run game and was not able to set his anchor versus the strong interior defensive linemen in pass rush drills. Cabral has a lot of work to do to get his strength to an NFL level. Based off what he displayed in drills this week I don’t see any reason why a team would spend draft capital to acquire him. He will have to make it as a camp invitee.