The conference championships may not be until tomorrow, but draft season is in full flight.
The East-West Shrine Game (NFL Network, 4pm ET) and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl (NBC Sports, NOT NBC, 6pm ET) are both on tap today, featuring dozens of day 2 and day 3 prospects. You might want to just keep the rosters open during the game to be able to check jersey numbers (Shrine Game, Collegiate Bowl). And the Mocking the Draft game notes are always a must read (Shrine Game).
Neither game provides prospects on par with the Senior Bowl (next Sunday), but they're showcases nonetheless and could help a couple players jump up a few rounds.
After the jump, some notes and my players to watch.
East-West Shrine Game
As Dan noted in the MTD notes, the last two contests have featured four second-rounders, so there's talent to be scouted here. More interesting is that the Shrine Game is the first look scouts have of Canadian players versus American competition.
The most notable Canadian import this year is DT Akiem Hicks, a former LSU Tiger signee who ran aground of NCAA violations related to housing and finished his collegiate career in Regina. Keep an eye out for him today.
Along with Hicks, the East team has two of the more notable WRs in today's game - Michigan St.'s BJ Cunningham and (calm thyself, Brick Top) Illinois' AJ Jenkins. Cunningham exploded in his senior year, exceeding his sophomore and junior yardage totals combined. Jenkins, leaner and faster, had a similar jump in production in his final year. Of course that lean frame comes at an expense - he's just not strong enough to force his way into certain situations. His ceiling is somewhere in the Brandon Lloyd range, but he'll need to find a system that allows him to work as many zone routes as possible.
Lastly, get a look at Baylor NT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste. He's got a monstrous frame, and without a sufficient bowl game performance, he'll need a strong showing to help him get back into the early day 3 mix.
On the West, Rams fans should definitely be eying Arkansas WR Jarius Wright and Iowa CB Shaun Prater. Jarius Wright might be a great value consolation prize for teams who miss out on Baylor WR Kendall Wright. He's not the most athletic or crisp wideout, but you can't teach pure speed. And Jarius Wright's teammate, WR Greg Childs, has to show scouts he can stay healthy throughout the draft process to warrant a day 3 grade - keep that name in mind, Rams fans.
Prater's a nice physical corner who tackles well and plays smart defense, though limited by a lack of athleticism. Given their alma maters, Bradley Fletcher would be a decent comp...except that Fletcher's a good two inches and ten pounds bigger.
Another name on the West team that should be of interest to Rams fans is Wisconsin FS Aaron Henry. He's got a solid nose for the ball and looks comfortable as a help defender for cornerbacks.
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
I'll update this story with some info in a little bit. Gotta put the daughter to nap.