The 2015 East-West Shrine Game will be played Saturday and below are just a few draft hopefuls that fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers might want to pay close attention to.
OLB James Vaughters – 6017 – 258 – Vaughters recorded 51 total tackles in 2014 for Stanford to go along with 6.5 sacks. He has experience rushing from both down and standing up and dropped into coverage quite a bit at Stanford. It will be interesting to see how he plays against the run in this game in addition to watching how he does as a pass rusher. NFL Media analyst Charles Davis said this past week that Vaughters is “the best-looking cat out there” among the linebackers that will play in this game.
DT Derrick Lott – Tennessee at Chattanooga – 6042 – 299 – Lott, a Georgia transfer, is probably best suited to play defensive end in a 3-4 defense at the NFL level. He reportedly moves well for a player with his size and is explosive to boot. He recorded 41 total tackles in 2014 to go along with six sacks.
CB Damian Swann – Georgia – 6003 – 180 – Swann, a three-year starter at Georgia, recorded 65 total tackles in 2014 to go along with four interceptions, eight pass breakups and four forced fumbles. According to several people that observed the practices this past week he’s shown well and is expected to stand out Saturday.
CB Cam Thomas – Western Kentucky – 6002 – 195 – Thomas certainly has the size and build, but apparently he was used mostly as a press corner in college. While his technique leads a lot to be desired according to several reports, he does apparently play the run fairly well. It will be interesting to see how he plays off Saturday. He had 45 total tackles, two interceptions, five breakups and seven passes defensed in 2014.
CB Bobby McCain – Memphis 5097 – 192 – Due to his size, McCain is probably best suited to play the nickel at the NFL level. In 2014 McCain recorded 46 total tackles, five interceptions, four pass breakups and nine passes defensed. Not only will I will be watching to see how his play in coverage is, I’ll also be looking at how he attacks the run. He looks like he’s put together well and like Swann, he reportedly has had a good week of practice.
S Detrick Bonner – Virginia Tech – 6000 – 203 – A converted cornerback, Bonner has solid measurables and that includes an impressive a 38-inch vertical jump. Like several others on this list, he’s reportedly had a solid week of practice leading up to the game. While he only recorded one interception and one forced fumble in 2014, he did have 72 total tackles of which 41 were solos.
FS Fritz Etienne – Memphis – 6012 – 215 – Because of his size, Etienne shouldn’t be hard to miss when he’s patrolling the secondary for the West squad. He only played two years at Memphis after transferring from a community college, but did manage to record 47 total tackles and three interceptions in 2014. In 2013 he was primarily used on special teams, so he doesn’t have a lot of playing experience.
RB Kenny Hilliard – LSU – 6000 – 235 – Hilliard should be fun to watch Saturday and he has a great back story that everyone should read up on. During his career at LSU he rushed for 1557 yards and 27 touchdowns on 302 carries. He’s not known for being a receiver, but he can pass protect. A shoulder injury sidelined him for the final two games of college career, but after a good week of practice he’ll look to help his draft stock Saturday.
RB John Crockett – North Dakota State – 5116 – 217 – Crockett rushed for over 4309 yards in college and scored 41 rushing touchdowns. He also caught another 43 passes for 485 yards and a score with 30 of those grabs coming in 2014.