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What we learned Monday at East-West Shrine Game practice

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Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press
A former opponent of Paxton Lynch came away impressed with the Memphis QB's play.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Count South Florida defensive back Jamie Byrd as a believer in Memphis' Paxton Lynch, the star junior quarterback who has announced his intention to enter the 2016 NFL Draft. Byrd, who is trying to catch NFL scouts' eyes as a safety at the East-West Shrine Game, knows exactly why Lynch has already done so after facing him twice in his college career.

"He's a great quarterback. I feel like he's the best quarterback I played against in two years. He's very patient, and I feel he's NFL-ready right now," Byrd told College Football 24/7. "He stood out, man, with the way he sees the field and the way he checks it down to the right guy. He can make every throw."

Date: Saturday, Jan. 23
Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network


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There is little doubt Lynch's physical skills are exactly what NFL coaches and scouts look for. But coming from a Group of Five program like Memphis, he didn't face the highest level of college competition on a weekly basis. That could make his transition to the NFL a bit tougher, but it's no wonder Byrd sees something special in Lynch.

With Byrd roaming the secondary, Lynch completed 20 of 33 passes for 305 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 24-17 win over the Bulls on Oct. 2. The previous year, Byrd and the rest of the South Florida pass defense surrendered 18 completions in 23 attempts to Lynch in a 31-20 Memphis win. Lynch is vying with the likes of Cal's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz to be the top quarterback prospect in the 2016 draft.

"The guy can just do it all," Byrd said.

Lynch will get the chance to show that on a crucial stage next month at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Here are some other things we learned from Monday's practices for the East-West Shrine Game:

2. Reviews glow for Glasgow.  After Michigan pounded Florida, 41-7, in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day, coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters that center Graham Glasgow, a former walk-on, would not only play on Sundays but had a chance to be drafted on a Thursday.

"Graham Glasgow, what an amazing player," Harbaugh gushed. "He could be a first-round pick, the way he played, the way he's played all year."

No doubt, Harbaugh was using coaching hyperbole. But Glasgow did stand out on Day 1 of practice, catching the eye of NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock.

"He was the guy who really stood out to me," Mayock said. "It's a strong year for centers, but he looks like an NFL starter. Very strong. He could compete at the Senior Bowl."

Seniors Ryan Kelly of Alabama and Nick Martin of Notre Dame are considered the top two centers in this year's draft, followed by another 7-8 with draftable grades. Glasgow now should be firmly in that latter category, and could move up to mid-round status as the draft process continues. He's off to a good start, and it never hurts to have guys like Harbaugh and Mayock in your corner.

3. Reynolds returns. Don't assume Navy QB Keenan Reynolds' only hope of making an NFL roster is at running back. He's also going to work on returning kicks before the draft to make himself more appealing to pro scouts, and in fact was pulled away by Shrine East team assistant coach Troy Brown on Monday to catch some punts after practice. Brown returned 252 punts and 87 kickoffs in his NFL career, so for Reynolds -- who never returned a kick at Navy -- Brown isn't a bad place to start for tutelage.

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"I have a lot of catching up to do," said Reynolds, who finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

A four-year star as a triple-option quarterback, Reynolds is now transitioning to running back and was even used as a read-option quarterback out of the shotgun during the East practice Monday. If the NCAA career record holder for touchdowns (88), doesn't make an NFL roster, it won't be because he wasn't willing to try something new.

4. Passing the eye test. Nobody looked more impressive physically at the West practice than Minnesota LB De'Vondre Campbell, who is listed at 6-5, 239 pounds, but looks like he could easily carry 260. He runs very well and is easily one of the best athletes on the West team defense.

5. Turning heads. The ability to defend the pass separates a lot of linebackers when it comes to the NFL draft, and FSU LB Terrance Smith practiced Monday like he knows it. Smith broke up a couple of short passes in coverage during the East practice and looked as good as any of the East linebackers in that regard.

6. Breaking barriers. One of Charlie Weis' assistant coaches on the East squad is Katie Sowers, who played for the U.S. Women's National team and has been an offensive coordinator at the junior-high level. She'll assist Weis with the East offense this week.

7. Bloodlines. West OL Ted Karras of Illinois is the great nephew of former Detroit Lions OL Alex Karras, who made four Pro Bowls. ... East LB James Burgess, Jr., of Louisville, is the son of the former San Diego Chargers linebacker of the same name.

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8. In shape at 320. Colorado OT Stephane Nembot might be a raw prospect with lots of technique still to learn, but nobody can say needs to get in better shape. Born in Cameroon, Nembot (6-7, 320) is so lean, he practiced Monday with the front of his jersey tucked under his shoulder pads like running backs often do. He laughed about it, but takes pride in it just the same. "It takes a lot of work to stay like this, and I know what to put in my body," Nembot said.

9. Who's talking to who? Much like at the Reese's Senior Bowl, NFL clubs interview East-West Shrine Game players on the field immediately following practices. They happen too quickly, too randomly and too far apart for a complete look at which clubs are talking to which players, but here are some of the conversations College Football 24/7 took note of following Monday's practices:

Atlanta Falcons: UCLA OL Jake Brendel, South Carolina State DL Javon Hargrave

Carolina Panthers: Notre Dame DE Romeo Okwara, FSU LB Terrance Smith

Chicago Bears: Miami (Fla.) WR Rashawn Scott

Dallas Cowboys: Notre Dame DE Romeo Okwara

Denver Broncos: Utah State WR Hunter Sharp, Penn State DL Anthony Zettel

Los Angeles Rams: Illlinois CB V'Angelo Bentley, UCLA LB Aaron Wallace, Miami (Fla.) DB Deon Bush

Miami Dolphins: Florida LB Anthony Harrell

Minnesota Vikings: UCLA OL Jake Brendel, Michigan State LB Darien Harris, South Carolina OT Brandon Shell, FSU LB Terrance Smith

New York Jets: Navy ATH Keenan Reynolds, Wisconsin QB Joel Stave

Philadelphia Eagles: Colorado CB Ken Crawley, Cincinnati OG Parker Ehinger

San Diego Chargers: Virginia Tech DL Luther Maddy, Bowling Green OG Alex Huettel, Nebraska OT Alex Lewis, Arizona State LB Antonio Longino, North Carolina State DE Mike Rose

San Francisco 49ers: Oregon QB Vernon Adams

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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