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Jimmy Garoppolo's big week begins in East-West Shrine Game

Bradley Leeb / Associated Press
Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo will play in the East-West Shrine Game as well as the Senior Bowl.

Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has a chance to send his draft stock through the roof over the next eight days, starting with the East-West Shrine Game on Saturday (4 p.m., NFL Network).

Garoppolo (6-foot-3, 222 pounds) went from an interesting sleeper during the season, in part because he attended the same school as Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo and was inevitably tagged as the "Next Romo," to the standout in practices ahead of the game in St. Petersburg, Fla.

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks praised Garoppolo's ability to adjust to NFL-passing game concepts during practices after playing in a spread offense, where he amassed 5,050 passing yards and 53 touchdowns as a senior.

And after accepting the sixth and final slot for a QB in next week's Reese's Senior Bowl, another round of strong performances could see Garoppolo vault above other more prominent senior signal-callers from big-name schools.

But Garoppolo has to deliver in the Shrine Game first, facing off with three intriguing Pac-12 prospects across all three levels of the West defense. Cassius Marsh (6-4, 260) was an underrated player at defensive end in UCLA's 3-4 alignment, contributing 60 tackles with 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Marsh has also been featured on offense at tight end in certain situations, and he is athleticism enough that a permanent move is not out of the question at the next level.

USC linebacker Devon Kennard (6-3, 255) played a lot of positions for a lot of position coaches and coordinators but found his natural role as a senior in Clancy Pendergast's modified 3-4 scheme. Coming off the edge, Kennard offered a pass rush presence with a team-best nine sacks among his 13.5 tackles for loss.

Arizona cornerback Shaquille Richardson (6-1, 188) is another standout from the week. With his size and athleticism -- his acrobatic dive to tip Oregon QB Marcus Mariota's pass back in-bounds where it was picked off by linebacker Scooby Wright showed his unreal body control -- Richardson has earned another look, Brooks said.

One player to keep an eye on in the East secondary is rising Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir. Desir (6-2, 206) has the physical attributes that are so en vogue thanks to the Seattle Seahawks' "Legion of Boom" secondary with the production to match, intercepting 13 passes over the last two seasons.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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