LAS VEGAS — On Day 2 of the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl practices, a pair of wide receivers and linebackers showed out above the rest. Who are today’s risers and sliders, and what kind of impact will it have on their NFL draft stocks?
2023 Shrine Bowl West Team | Risers
Jake Bobo, WR, UCLA
While Jake Bobo has the luxury of playing with his college quarterback during Shrine Bowl practices, he’s established himself as one of the better and bigger receivers in attendance. He uses his hands very well to separate from defenders, consistently finds ways to come free, and always catches the ball away from his frame.
Bobo displayed strong hands and snatches the ball out of the air. While he’s not a true vertical threat, Bobo displays solid speed and quickness for a bigger wideout.
Tyrus Wheat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Tyrus Wheat has done a little of everything here during Shrine Bowl practice and looked exceptionally effective on Sunday standing over tackle. He’s a big guy weighing just under 270 pounds, yet super athletic and easily moves about the field with speed and quickness.
What stood out today is the way Wheat sheds the blocks of offensive linemen and then arrived to the action with a great closing burst. His ability to make plays in every direction was impressive.
Isaiah Moore, LB, North Carolina State
Isaiah Moore was both physically and intellectually impressive on Sunday. He’s a nice-sized linebacker who played assignment football in the scheme implemented by the Patriots coaching staff, displaying patience and discipline.
Moore correctly read plays, then effectively used his hands to ward off blocks and quickly got to the ball carrier. He made several impressive tackles during scrimmage and held his own in coverage drills.
Starling Thomas V, CB, UAB
Starling Thomas V may be short in stature, as he measured in under 5’10”, but he plays big football. Thomas showed terrific ball skills and did not back down from any challenge.
He’s very quick, stayed with receivers all over the field, and had several nice pass breakups. Thomas did get outmatched on occasion but displayed enough ability today to get late-round consideration as a dime back.
2023 Shrine Bowl East Team | Risers
Jalen Moreno-Cropper, WR, Fresno State
Jalen Moreno-Cropper displayed himself as both a lethal underneath receiver and legitimate downfield threat today. He beat opponents off the line with quickness and was tough to cover on crossing patterns or intermediate outs with his scissor-sharp routes.
On a number of occasions, Cropper got behind defenders and made a few outstanding deep receptions. He has a bit of a slender build at 5’11” and 171 pounds. Cropper’s hands are also a tick over 8.5 inches, which will raise red flags. Yet, the ability to separate and his consistent pass-catching skills make Cropper perfect as a slot receiver for the next level.
Anfernee Orji, LB, Vanderbilt
Anfernee Orji has been one of the most consistent and productive linebackers these past two days. Once again, he was very active during Sunday’s practice and was constantly around the ball.
Orji flowed well laterally to the action, quickly diagnosed plays, and was very efficient. He made plays against the run as well as the pass and displayed a lot of athleticism on the field.
AJ Finley, S, Mississippi
AJ Finley looks the part and really played to it on Sunday. He does a great job staying with his assignments and keeping the action in front of him while showing a ton of toughness.
During scrimmages, Finley made a pair of terrific interceptions, displaying both the ability to track the pass in the air and excellent hands. Finley has next-level size, measuring 6’2″ and 202 pounds, and was always a good run defender in college. The ball skills he’s displayed during Shrine Bowl practice will only help his draft stock.
Nehemiah Shelton, CB, San Jose State
Nehemiah Shelton has had a rough go of it the past two days. He’s shown no ability to stick with opponents and has given up a lot of receptions. He’s late breaking on the pass and consistently gives up inside leverage, which has resulted in opponents easily coming away with the catch.
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