While the NFL Conference Championship games won’t be played until Sunday, there will be an all-star game on Saturday. No, not the Pro Bowl, but the East-West Shrine Game. This game will feature prospects who might not have been good enough to play in the Senior Bowl, but should be able to make NFL rosters.
The Shrine Game should have some players that could appeal to the St. Louis Rams. I am a little rusty on these players right now since I haven't really had a chance to scout the players as much as I would love to, so I added videos of the prospects from Draft Breakdown and also provided information from a couple of scouts that watched them.
First, let's look at some players from a list made by the lead writer of Mocking The Draft, (our sister site for draft information) Dan Kadar:
Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt
A second-team All-SEC performer this season, Hal was a two-year starter on a surprising Vanderbilt team. He's a fluid cornerback who can get physical at the line of scrimmage. While Hal may not be a No. 1 cornerback in the NFL, his ball skills will keep him on a roster. As a senior, Hal had 49 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and 15 pass breakups.
After watching the video, I like the fact that he's fluid in the hips and he can play when the ball is in the air; pressing isn't bad either. However, his tackling was horrible. Most of the time he was diving at legs and hoping he would make the tackle (he was beaten a few times). But honestly, for where he is going to be drafted (probably on the third day) he's an interesting prospect, with the potential to develop into a solid slot corner.
E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
There's a lot to like in Gaines' game. He can stick on the hip of opposing receivers and ride them up the sideline on vertical routes. He's a physical tackler and an asset in the run game. Gaines has decent hands for a corner and finished the season with five interceptions.
I don't know why, but his play reminds me of a safety. I didn't see him get burned on any routes in this game and he had pretty good coverage on the balls thrown his direction. Granted, he did hold on a couple of routes. He didn't look bad in zone when he was in the slot, and displayed solid tackling.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Even if it came against FCS competition, Garoppolo's season of 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns passing is an achievement. He is unquestionably the top quarterback in the Shrine Game this year and sure to grab most of the headlines. Garoppolo has solid athleticism for the position and a decent arm. Some team could take a chance on Garoppolo late on the second day of the draft.
The Rams aren't afraid to tell anyone that will listen that Sam Bradford is their guy. However, with the jury still out on him and the fact that he's had serious injuries throughout his career, the team would be doing an injustice not to look for a developmental player just in case.
I've seen a couple of Eastern Illinois’ games, and he's talented. He has a good arm and his mobility reminds me of Tony Romo. His biggest issues are his decision-making, taking off running when he shouldn’t, and staying in the pocket when he should move. If the Rams draft him in the 3rd or 4th round, they could have a good player.
One of my favorite draft writers, Josh Norris over at Rotoworld.com, also had a list of players. Here's a couple from him:
Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman
The tackle to guard conversion works much better on the inside. There is an argument to be made that Dozier was the only interior offensive lineman that can bend at the knees to absorb and redirect rather than at the waist. I doubt Dozier is an instant starter, but teams are looking for guards everywhere, especially ones that could potentially be a utility lineman and play multiple spots along the line.
There's no video available on Dozier. He fits the mold that Snead was talking about in a recent interview; a low round draft pick from a small school they can develop. He will be a player that I will watch for during Saturday's game.
Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
Do not typecast Ellis as a run defending nose tackle because of his size (6’1.5/351). Ellis is an upfield disruptor who wins with upper body strength off the line and lower body push to keep his opposition on skates. The Louisiana Tech product is actually quite nimble on his feet, exhibiting a variety of counter moves, including an inside spin move. The combination of the two put Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard on his back in one on one drills.
Ellis can improve with his run defense, but that will be a natural progression once his pad level and hips drop in these situations. For this reason, Ellis could play a similar role as Star Lotulelei this season if he ends up in the starting lineup: three technique in base sets and moving to the one in obvious pass rushing situations.
He might not be a great fit for the Rams because he looks more like a 3-4 nose tackle, but damn, look at his size and power. He's quick on his feet and he has a motor that doesn't quit. He chased players down the field. His biggest weakness might be that he played for a small school, but he has been impressing scouts this week. If the Rams can get him in the late rounds, he could be a good member of the defensive line.