HOUSTON – The hard work put in last week at East-West Shrine Game practice allowed more than 200 NFL scouts to observe prospects who ranged from solid Day One selections to guys fighting for the right to put the pads on one more time.
This year's group of players arrived to find some very famous names walking the sidelines starting with the two head coaches, Don Shula and Dan Reeves. Players also found themselves treated to using NFL footballs and being evaluated under the comfort of the Houston Texans' practice bubble, so the 30-degree, rainy weather had no effect on the daily practices.
Texas running back Selvin Young (quad) and Tennessee wide receiver Jayson Swain (left ankle) were the only players to miss time with injuries. Both got hurt toward the end of the week and were held out of Saturday's game, which the West won 21-3.
The daily practices also drew the attention of several prospects who have been training locally, including Nebraska defensive end Adam Carriker, Houston defensive tackle Marquay Love, Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb and Texas A&M running back Courtney Lewis.
Here's a closer review of both rosters:
Michael Coe, defensive back, Alabama State – He's one guy who jumped out most often in the East team's practices. He possesses ideal size and an aggressive streak to match his straight-line speed. Coe will be one of the prospects whose grade will soar since most non-NFL outlets have him listed as a late-round choice. More than likely he will go in the first three rounds.
Jacoby Jones, wide receiver, Lane College (Tenn.) – He showed terrific acceleration in the open field and caught the ball very well. Jones also became the star of the Shrine game's annual awards banquet when he presented the game watch given to him to one of the Shrine hospital kids.
Daren Stone, defensive back, Maine – He was noted several times for being in good position and also put on a few big hits during the week.
Tyrone Moss, running back, Miami (Fla.) – He appeared to be fresh and crisper throughout the practice week. He also said he weighed in at 233 pounds, as he looks to work out at next month's scouting combine at around 225.
Zak DeOssie, linebacker/deep snapper, Brown – He has very good size. He was a little stiff in space but helped his grade by having ideal velocity and accuracy on all his snaps.
Mario Henderson, offensive tackle, Florida State, and Doug Free, offensive tackle, Northern Illinois – Both displayed good size and ideal body type and routinely were noticed for their performances during practice. An interesting side note on Henderson: He carries a backpack with all of his games on DVD so he can watch and evaluate himself on a nightly basis.
Baraka Atkins, defensive lineman, Miami (Fla.) – He clearly the most athletic of the East team's front-four defenders. Most evaluators saw him as a high second-round choice.
Daniel Bazuin, defensive lineman, Central Michigan – His high motor and no-nonsense style and approach were evident in practice. He carried those qualities into the game and had 2½ sacks.
Clifton Ryan, defensive lineman, Michigan State – His versatility also was apparent in practice. He made several key plays, even when he lined up across Oregon's Enoka Lucas.
Justin Durant, linebacker, Hampton – He has a wide range in terms of his current draft grade. Some say it's as high as the third round; others think his average size might limit his success at the next level.
Travarous Bain, cornerback, Hampton – He came up to make two very good tackles in the game. That was key for Bain because tackling has been considered his primary weakness.
John Beck, quarterback, BYU, and Jeff Rowe, quarterback, Nevada – All three of the West's quarterbacks had their moments, but Beck was the most consistent. Rowe flashed very good arm strength and nice touch on his deeper throws, connecting on a 79-yard touchdown pass with Fresno State wide receiver Paul Williams in the first half.
Jackie Battle, running back, Houston – Battle has shed nearly 20 pounds since the start of his junior campaign and transformed himself from a possible fullback to an ideal one-back. He also smiled with great confidence when asked the type of 40 times he expects to run at next month's combine. Battle is training in Florida with the same trainer (Mike Gough) who coached Joseph Addai to sub-4.4 times at last year's combine.
Brad Lau, fullback, Boise State – He was given ample opportunity to show off his ball skills, as Reeves gave him several early carries and a few passes out of the backfield (one resulted in the team's first touchdown). Lau might not be that old-fashioned, head-knocking blocker, but he has soft hands and better-than-advertised speed. He could be a good complementary back in a West Coast-style offense.
John Wendling, safety, Wyoming – He looks very athletic but a little shorter than advertised. He showed very good range.
Melvin Bullitt, safety, Texas A&M – Like Wendling, he displayed very good range. He stood out several times with big hits and aggressiveness against the run.
Sabby Piscitelli, safety, Oregon State – The play of Piscitelli might have raised the most eyebrows. He has tremendous natural ability (6-foot-3, 220 pounds, 4.50 in the 40), but it was how he played in the game that turned heads. He was aggressive against the run and stout in his tackling, making scouts take note of him several times.
C.J. Wilson, cornerback, Baylor – He had the best size/speed combination among the West's corners. He was able to stay stride for stride with every receiver and accelerated to the ball during positional drills. Wilson also raised his stock by making a leaping interception in the game.
Quincy Black, linebacker, New Mexico – He was fluid in his drills and showed up several times during 7-on-7s. He was noted by several evaluators as being more impressive in person than expected.
Desmond Bishop, inside linebacker, California – He comes up hard against the run, but he must make scouts believe he can make plays consistently from sideline to sideline due to his questionable overall speed.
Kyle Shotwell, linebacker, Cal Poly – The Buck Buchanan Award winner was worked hard by coach Mike Singletary during positional drills but then drew praise from the Hall of Fame linebacker, who said Shotwell was one of the hardest working kids he has seen the past few years. Shotwell also was awarded the third annual Tillman Award during Friday night's banquet.
Tala Esera, offensive lineman, Hawaii – The West offensive line featured a few strong performances, and Esera led the way. His nimble footwork helped set him apart from the other interior linemen being evaluated.
Enoka Lucas, center/guard, Oregon – Lucas looked better in the practices as he lost his man to a quick inside move a few times in the game. He, like Oregon State offensive tackle Adam Koets, helped his grade.
Robert Turner, offensive guard, New Mexico – He showed better footwork and quickness than expected for his size, but he also announced he was having left wrist surgery Monday to correct a three-year-old injury. The surgery will sideline him for up to four months, but a complete recovery will mean that he can have a long, successful NFL career without further incident.
Justin Medlock, kicker, UCLA and Sean Douglas, punter, Washington – Medlock showed very good distance on his kicks and power on his field goals. Douglas boomed a number of punts, one that covered more than 70 yards and another that skimmed the rooftop inside the practice bubble.