Jeremiah: Four most impressive prospects at Shrine Game drills

Associated Press
Miami's Anthony Chickillo and Jonathan Feliciano both shined during four days of Shrine Game practices.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Thursday was the fourth and final day of practice for Saturday's East-West Shrine Game, and NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said four players stood out to him this week.


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Miami DE Anthony Chickillo: Chickillo (6-foot-4, 275 pounds) was a five-star prospect and a consensus national top-25 recruit in the 2011 recruiting class, one that also included Jadeveon Clowney, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Sammy Watkins, who were first-round picks in the 2014 draft. (Chickillo is one of two five-stars from the 2011 recruiting class in the Shrine Game; the other is Texas RB Malcom Brown.) Chickillo was a four-year starter at Miami, but never lived up to the recruiting hype. He had five sacks as a freshman in 2011, but that ended up being his career-high, and his total dropped every season (four in 2012, 3.5 in '13 and three this season). Still, he was a valuable player for the Hurricanes known for his high-revving motor and ended up being better against the run than was expected. Chickillo showed off his relentlessness and tenacity in almost every drill this week. "I can see him being a mid-round pick who will be around a long time," Jeremiah said.

Date: Saturday, Jan. 17
Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network


2015 NFL Draft coverage:

Miami G/T Jonathan Feliciano: Unlike his former Miami teammate, Feliciano was not a notable recruit. But after redshirting as a true freshman in 2010, Feliciano (6-5, 320) started for the next four seasons, just like Chickillo. And just like Chickillo, Feliciano is a try-hard guy who battles. He started at both guard and tackle with the Hurricanes, and that versatility will be a selling point. Unlike numerous linemen at the Shrine Game who cross-trained at different line positions this week, Feliciano has an actual track record at guard and both tackle spots.

Michigan WR Devin Gardner: Gardner (6-4, 216) famously is making the switch from quarterback to wide receiver. He played wide receiver for half the 2012 season and didn't start focusing on the position again until early December, right after the Wolverines' season ended. "He got better and better each day," Jeremiah said. Gardner has good, not great, speed but can be elusive and has good hands, especially for a guy who has been a receiver for only about seven weeks. His size also is a big plus. He should become more acclimated to the position, and his pre-draft workouts could be quite interesting.

William & Mary WR Tre McBride: Jeremiah definitely is a fan. He says McBride (6-1, 205) is "a smooth athlete who tracks the ball well." McBride doesn't have elite speed, but he does run well and moves easily in and out of cuts. McBride (whose given name is Douglas McArthur McBride III) received recruiting attention from Duke, Northwestern, Virginia and the service academies, among other schools, as a high school senior in the Atlanta area, but ended up at FCS member William & Mary. McBride is a savvy route runner with good hands.


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Six other things we learned from the fourth and final day of practice at the Shrine Game:

Take a look at 2015 NFL Draft prospects taking part in practices for the East-West Shrine Game.

» There's more love for Gardner and McBride. NFL Media analyst Charles Davis also speaks highly of Gardner and McBride. As with Jeremiah, Davis notes that Gardner seemed to improve incrementally at his new positon each day and that bodes well. "Let's see him again in a month" to see how much more improvement has occurred, Davis said, noting that he thinks Gardner is going to continue to get better. Davis also said he was impressed with McBride's ability "to create separation."

» Two former walk-ons impress. Davis also mentioned two former walk-ons as players he was impressed with this week: Kansas State C B.J. Finney and Stanford NT David Parry. Davis said he thought Finney (6-4, 312), who was a four-year starter, "probably will be drafted late, but be one of those guys who's hard to cut." Finney was a three-year captain at K-State whom Davis points out was a state wrestling champion in high school in Kansas and "understands leverage." Parry (6-2, 305) is a squatty guy who "holds up well at the point of attack. But he's not a one-trick pony," Davis said, noting that Parry has the quickness to be a disruptive inside pass rusher.

» Ex-safety praises two corners. Former NFL safety Brian Jordan, who will be part of Saturday's radio-broadcast crew, took in practice for the second day in a row and was impressed with two West team cornerbacks: USC's Josh Shaw and Memphis' Bobby McCain. Jordan praised Shaw's "good hips" and said he liked how easily Shaw was able to turn and run. Shaw plays with a swagger, and Jordan said, "I like confident players." As for McCain, who is listed at 5-11, 190 pounds, Jordan said, "His size works against him, but his aggressiveness works for him." Jordan also praised McCain's "great reaction time" and noted that he "comes out of breaks really well." Charles Davis is another who likes what he has seen from McCain, noting his "excellent feet" and good make-up speed. "I'm not seeing him get beat," Davis said. McCain was a four-year starter for Memphis who finished his career with 13 picks. McCain said his thought process was that "if the ball is in the air, it belongs to me."

College Football 24/7 Hot Topics:

» College offensive linemen need help. Former longtime NFL offensive line coach Howard Mudd, who turns 73 on Feb. 10, is coaching the West offensive line, and he says the proliferation of spread offenses in college football has led to a lack of NFL-ready offensive linemen. Mudd said that while college linemen now are well-versed in zone blocking, there are three big issues. The first: "They don't learn how to pass-protect." He said all the play-action passes used in college ball means most linemen have no idea how to truly pass-protect. The second: "They're always in a two-point stance." When it comes to getting into a three-point stance, "they don't have a clue. Seriously, they don't have a clue." The third: "They never play with a snap count." Mudd noted that college offensive coordinators frequently either signal in plays or use placards, and those come with a built-in snap count. He said that on the first day of practice, his linemen had about a dozen illegal-motion penalties. The upshot: Current NFL offensive line coaches are left to teach refined techniques that linemen used to know.

» Former teammate sticks up for Winston. South Alabama TE Wes Saxton flashed at times during the week of practice. Saxton (6-4, 235) is a good athlete who was underutilized this season, finishing with just 20 receptions one season after snagging 50 catches. He has good hands and the speed to get deep, and he could end up as an intriguing third-day selection. Saxton -- who played a lot of H-back this season for the Jaguars -- admitted he needs to become a better blocker, but noted that while he needs improvement, "I am willing to block." That wasn't a priority for him at USA. Saxton played one season of high school football with Jameis Winston at Hueytown (Ala.) High and said he keeps in touch with his former teammate. Saxton calls him "a great kid" and said that "any NFL team would be blessed to have him."

» D-II player has fit right in. Newberry (S.C.) LB Edmond Robinson (6-3, 244) is one of two Division II players in the game, joining Bowie (Md.) State TE Khari Clark. Robinson admitted to having some worries as to how he would fare this week, but said he fit in well and has come to realize that "the only difference is the logo on the helmet." Robinson said he thought he progressed well this week and picked up nuances about playing the position each day. Robinson is a good athlete and played outside linebacker at Newberry, but he was not asked to rush the passer or do much blitzing. Instead, he often dropped into coverage, and he did look comfortable in that facet of the game during one-on-one drills. Asked to provide a self-scouting report, Robinson said he needs to continue to work on his technique but also that he is "big, athletic and can cover." Robinson grew up on Wadmalaw Island, S.C., which has a land area of about 42 square miles and has around 2,600 people.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.