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Top prospects stepping up at Shrine Game

1/17/2012

Scouts Inc. is taking in practices and evaluating NFL prospects ahead of the 2012 East-West Shrine Game, and here's what they're seeing early on Day 2:

East team

Ups and downs for RBs

Tennessee's Tauren Poole showed the best lateral quickness and vision in the morning session, locating seams well and hitting them hard. Florida Atlantis's Alfred Morris impressed with his ability to contribute in the passing game, snatching the ball out of the air nicely on a couple of occasions, while Maryland's Davin Meggett looks a bit out of shape and didn't show great patience. He didn't follow his blocks long enough and left yards on the field because he was often too eager to turn upfield rather than gain the corner.

Poole is a mid-round prospect at this point, while Meggett grades in the later rounds and Morris on the fringe.

Turnaround at TE

Miami's Chase Ford got off to a rough start on day 1, but he turned things around a bit on Tuesday. Ford caught the ball well and showed focus when he held on to a pass after taking a big hit over the middle. He can find open areas against zone coverage, but Ford struggles to separate from man coverage and is strictly a positional, wall-off blocker who slid off too many blocks on Day 2. At this point, he remains a fringe prospect.

Emil Igwenagu (UMass) and Evan Rodriguez (Temple) looked better than Ford in terms of blocking, but both fought the ball as receivers. That's part of the reason we evaluate them as fullbacks rather than tight ends in our rankings, and Igwenagu is currently No. 1 at that position while Rodriguez is No. 5.

Tough transition for Lindsey

Pittsburgh's Brandon Lindsey played linebacker early in his career before transitioning to defensive end, and given that experience we were interested to see how he would fare dropping into space this week. Lindsey looked uncomfortable on Day 2, showing some stiffness and a lack of quickness/explosiveness that makes it tough for him to recover from false steps. And even when he did make a good coverage read and get to the spot, Lindsey was seen allowing the ball to bounce off his hands.

His lack of size (6-2⅛, 253) means he'll be an outside linebacker at the next level, and while he has some pass-rush skills Lindsey must be better in space to hold down a spot in the fourth round.

Upside at QB

Chattanooga's B.J. Coleman continues to show the most upside among quarterbacks on the East roster. Coleman has all the physical tools you look for, including the arm strength to make all the throws, and he flashed good ball placement on Day 2. He as seen at one point driving the ball well on a back-shoulder fade down the field. We also like his demeanor and positive attitude.

He still needs to learn to take some heat off the ball at times, and he need to develop his ability to change the trajectory on his passes. Coleman is also a bit robotic at times and remains a late-round developmental prospect, but his accuracy was better on Day 2 and his ceiling is high.

As for Austin Davis of Southern Miss, his limited tools hold down his potential. He struggles to drive the ball down the field, though he is a decent athlete who can find passing windows and create some things with his legs. Overall, he's a late-rounder who won't be able to boost his stock much.

Florida's John Brantley threw a few good deep balls, but his lack of poise and mobility are major concerns. He drops his eyes and watches the rush too much when bodies are flying around him, and his lack of foot speed in his drops leads to sloppy mechanics and bad decisions at times. Brantley is no more than a fringe prospect.

Wideouts continue to wow

Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham continued his strong start with a great showing on Day 2. His top-end speed is a question mark, but Cunningham makes up for that with good route-running skills. He shows the savvy to set up defenders within his stem and create separation out of breaks, and he caught everything thrown at him on Day 2. He popped up after absorbing a big hit and hanging on to the ball, plucked the ball naturally, and looks like the best receiver in St. Petersburg this week.

A.J. Jenkins of Illinois also had a good day and showed smoothness in his routes. Jenkins is sudden out of breaks, has a natural feel for routes and knows how to get on top of the coverage. He worked outside and in the slot, showed good hands, and transitioned upfield well after securing passes.

If Cunningham and Jenkins carry their momentum through the week, they could start improving their third- and fifth-round grades, respectively.