East-West Shrine Game Practice Report: West Team (Day 2)

Day two of East-West Shrine Game practice kicked off this morning with the West squad taking the field. Tony Pauline tells us who stood out today.

Today’s afternoon practice for the West at the East-West Shrine Game was a lot shorter than yesterday’s marathon that went almost three hours. Yet like Monday’s session, it was the defensive linemen who again ruled the day. Here’s a breakdown of day two for the West team.

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Quarterbacks and Running Backs

Once again, Kelly Bryant flashed ability and made some beautiful throws in both the short and intermediate field. Mason Fine threw the ball much better and showed he has the ability to spin it inside of 30 yards.

James Robinson was again the top running back of the day and had several nice carries. Most all in attendance believe Robinson should have received a Senior Bowl invitation and if a spot opens up, they expect him to be in Mobile next week.

Reggie Corbin of Illinois had a solid outing. He showed great quickness and footwork. On a number of carries, his ability to immediately cut back against the grain then fire through the open lane was impressive. Corbin also caught the ball extremely well out of the backfield, better than any running back from the West today.

The Skill Players

None of the tight ends stood out on a consistent basis today. For all his wonderful blocking, Parker Houston of San Diego State cannot run. Ben Ellefson had a few nice receptions.

If there’s a Mason Kinsey type of receiver on the West squad – a smaller pass catcher with great quickness, route-running ability, and consistent hands – it would be Johnathon Johnson of Missouri. He runs scissor sharp routes and like Kinsey, easily separates from opponents and catches the ball well. Johnson may have short-area quickness that’s slightly better than Kinsey.

Nick Westbrook of Indiana made several nice deep receptions, including an over the shoulder grab 35 yards off the line, with defenders draped on him. Westbrook was graded as roster fodder by scouts coming into the season but now rates as a priority free agent.

Jordan McCray of Oklahoma State made several nice grabs and John Hightower built on the momentum he started during the second half of yesterday’s practice and had a really nice day.

A different group of OL stepped to the forefront

Calvin Throckmorton moved to center and stayed there most of the day, doing a really good job. I did not see a single snap hit the ground.

Drew Richmond of USC showed a good amount of skill and ability at left tackle. He was terrific in one-on-one drills and looked good in pass protection. I don’t know if Richmond will be selected in the 2020 NFL Draft but you can see the tools are available to work with.

Except for one play, Jared Hilbers of Washington had a good outing. He’s a fundamentally sound blocker who shows good strength, intelligence, and toughness.

Branden Bowen of Ohio State rebounded and had a solid day. He looked surprisingly effective at left tackle.

Defensive linemen once again rule the day

I don’t want to be redundant so I won’t – today’s performance by the defensive linemen on the West mirrored yesterday. Bravvion Roy could not be stopped, Khalil Davis was unblockable at times, Bryce Huff displayed a lot of pass-rushing skill, and Derrek Tuszka tormented opponents. I would add in LaDarius Hamilton of North Texas, who was also unstoppable at times.

Mykal Walker leads linebacker group

Several of the linebackers had solid days, none more than Mykal Walker of Fresno State. As I tweeted, he was used as both a 3-4 OLB – his natural position – and 4-3 MLB, the position he moved to in 2019.

Walker is a good athlete with solid instincts. He showed the ability to make plays in space at OLB and more importantly, stayed with his assignment rather than mindlessly chase the ball around the field. He’s going to be under-drafted this April.

Kyahva Tenzino looked real good stuffing the run and Casey Toohill made a few nice plays up the field.

The West’s Secondary

Jordan Glasgow of Michigan had several major hits and plays in the secondary as did David Dowell of Michigan State.

I was not impressed by Luq Barcoo of San Diego State, who struggled all day. His hip turn is slow and ineffective and Barcoo was relegated to playing catch-up then struggling to defend passes. He showed some ability when they ran a zone scheme and he faced the action.

Tony Pauline is Pro Football Network’s NFL Draft Analyst and Insider. Follow him on Twitter @TonyPauline. Follow PFN on Twitter @PFN365.

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