Best Prospect In The East-West Shrine Game
By Ken Scudero
With a lot of unknowns and small school players participating in the East-West Shrine game, it may be more difficult finding the best prospect in the game rather than the most underrated ones. There is some familiar talent on both teams, on both sides of the ball. But, who is currently the best prospect?
For me, there are three players who stand out as potentially the best prospects going into the game. Two are defensive players on the West team and the third one is a quarterback on the East who has unlimited upside.
There's a cornerback who played for Missouri this season who I'm surprised is in the East-West game rather than the Senior Bowl, and that's E.J. Gaines. At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Gaines is a physical corner with great covering ability. He backpedals well with balanced strides and is a blazing fast sprinter, who has a shot at one of the top 40 speeds at the NFL Combine. Gaines can also tackle well and make plays on the ball. He picked off four passes in 12 games this past season and is a great all-around corner. I'm inclined to say he's the best defensive prospect in the game, but there's one other prospect who I'm rating the same as Gaines.
Shaquil Barrett continues to be overlooked as a linebacker prospect even after being named the Mountain West Player of the Year. He stops plays before they start, he hits hard, and he forces turnovers. Whether he's rushing the quarterback and forcing him into an interception or simply forcing fumbles and recovering them himself, he's a force on defense. Barrett's athletic ability is remarkable for his size, and his production on the field shouldn't go unnoticed.
The overall best prospect in this game has to be Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The more I see of this kid, the more I like him. I love the way he throws the ball, that quick delivery which packs more zip than meets the eye. It looks effortless when he throws, but his passes are sneaky quick. Tight spirals with impressive accuracy and power behind them are what makes Garoppolo so special. With some work on his dropbacks, it won't be long before he's a starting NFL quarterback. Look for Garoppolo to impress scouts at East-West Shrine practices as well as the game.