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Published: Jan. 12, 2017 at 12:04 p.m.
Updated: Jan. 19, 2017 at 08:19 p.m.

Top 10 prospects playing in 2017 East-West Shrine Game

All-star game season is upon us, beginning with the East-West Shrine Game. Practice begins on Monday, and NFL Network will provide exclusive coverage of the game on Jan. 21 at 3 p.m. ET.

The 92nd edition of the Shrine Game has more than a few potential NFL starters on its roster. A few of the top players from last year's game are already making an impact at the next level. Offensive linemen Joe Thuney (third-round pick of the Patriots) and Graham Glasgow (third round, Lions), and CB Anthony Brown (sixth round, Cowboys) started 10 or more games as rookies. WR Geronimo Allison (Packers), safety Justin Simmons (Broncos), and CB Cre'von LeBlanc (Bears) are among the other alums of the 2016 game. Prior to them, Cardinals WR John Brown and Redskins CB Josh Norman used the Shrine Game to launch their NFL careers.

Here are my top 10 players to watch in this year's contest.

10 Photos Total

  • Skipper (6-foot-10) is the tallest offensive tackle, and possibly the tallest player at any position, in this year's draft class. That height has not been an issue for him, however, when dealing with quicker ends and blocking in space, so SEC coaches selected him all-conference the past two seasons. He was a first-team All-SEC pick in 2016, starting all 13 games at left tackle for the third straight year. He also set a school record with three blocked field goals. 10

    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    10. Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas

    Skipper (6-foot-10) is the tallest offensive tackle, and possibly the tallest player at any position, in this year's draft class. That height has not been an issue for him, however, when dealing with quicker ends and blocking in space, so SEC coaches selected him all-conference the past two seasons. He was a first-team All-SEC pick in 2016, starting all 13 games at left tackle for the third straight year. He also set a school record with three blocked field goals.

  • There was fear that Coley would be caught up in an NCAA investigation into improper car rental benefits before the 2016 season, but the star receiver was cleared to work with quarterback Brad Kaaya this fall. In fact, Coley caught the pass that made Kaaya the school's all-time leader in passing yardage. The past two seasons, Coley was named third-team All-ACC because of his playmaking abilities. He led UM in receptions with 63 this year, covering 754 yards and scoring nine times. Coley was a part-time starter in each of his first three seasons, as well (33-591, 7 TDs in 2013; 23-184 in 2014; 47-689, 4 TDs while fighting a hamstring injury in 2015). 9

    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    9. Stacy Coley, WR, Miami

    There was fear that Coley would be caught up in an NCAA investigation into improper car rental benefits before the 2016 season, but the star receiver was cleared to work with quarterback Brad Kaaya this fall. In fact, Coley caught the pass that made Kaaya the school's all-time leader in passing yardage. The past two seasons, Coley was named third-team All-ACC because of his playmaking abilities. He led UM in receptions with 63 this year, covering 754 yards and scoring nine times. Coley was a part-time starter in each of his first three seasons, as well (33-591, 7 TDs in 2013; 23-184 in 2014; 47-689, 4 TDs while fighting a hamstring injury in 2015).

  • Going into Moreau's 2015 season, his head coach, Jim Mora, called him a first-round talent. Three games into the season (eight tackles, one pass breakup), the Florida native's season ended with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. He bounced back in 2016, receiving honorable mention All-Pac-12 notice by leading the Bruins with 10 pass breakups, to go along with two interceptions. Moreau built his reputation with an honorable mention All-Pac-12 season as a sophomore (51 tackles, four PBU) and second-team all-conference effort in 2014 (53 tackles, three for loss, one INT, eight PBU). Moreau made the switch from offense to defense during his first year with the Bruins, making five tackles as a reserve defensive back and on special teams. 8

    Ric Tapia/Associated Press

    8. Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA

    Going into Moreau's 2015 season, his head coach, Jim Mora, called him a first-round talent. Three games into the season (eight tackles, one pass breakup), the Florida native's season ended with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. He bounced back in 2016, receiving honorable mention All-Pac-12 notice by leading the Bruins with 10 pass breakups, to go along with two interceptions. Moreau built his reputation with an honorable mention All-Pac-12 season as a sophomore (51 tackles, four PBU) and second-team all-conference effort in 2014 (53 tackles, three for loss, one INT, eight PBU). Moreau made the switch from offense to defense during his first year with the Bruins, making five tackles as a reserve defensive back and on special teams.

  • Playing fullback on an eight-man football team in rural Iowa won't get you noticed in recruiting circles. Schult won't be overlooked on his trip to the next level, though, as his strength and relentlessness will earn him comparisons to starting Minnesota Vikings end Brian Robison. Northern Iowa was the only Division I school to offer Schult, and under the tutelage of former NFL pass rusher Bryce Paup, he's become one of the top players in all of college football. Schult won the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defender in the FCS, as well as the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He led the FCS with 17 sacks on the year and finished second with 24 tackles for loss, while also forcing two fumbles, blocking a kick and being credited with a safety. The two-time first-team Academic All-American was a national standout as a junior, as well, ranking among division leaders with 23 tackles for loss and 15 sacks among his staggering 82 total stops. 7

    Steve Dykes/Associated Press

    7. Karter Schult, DE, Northern Iowa

    Playing fullback on an eight-man football team in rural Iowa won't get you noticed in recruiting circles. Schult won't be overlooked on his trip to the next level, though, as his strength and relentlessness will earn him comparisons to starting Minnesota Vikings end Brian Robison. Northern Iowa was the only Division I school to offer Schult, and under the tutelage of former NFL pass rusher Bryce Paup, he's become one of the top players in all of college football. Schult won the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defender in the FCS, as well as the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He led the FCS with 17 sacks on the year and finished second with 24 tackles for loss, while also forcing two fumbles, blocking a kick and being credited with a safety. The two-time first-team Academic All-American was a national standout as a junior, as well, ranking among division leaders with 23 tackles for loss and 15 sacks among his staggering 82 total stops.

  • Dimick led the state of Utah in sacks as a high school junior and senior, so it's no surprise he's managed to chase quarterbacks in the Pac-12 using brute strength and pure hustle that coaches love. He earned honorable mention notice as a sophomore, but injured his shoulder in 2015, missing six games (14 tackles, seven TFL, three sacks in seven games). Calling his senior year a bounce-back year would be an understatement. Dimick finished third in the country with 14.5 sacks, and among the national leaders with 20 tackles for loss. He was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection for his efforts. 6

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    6. Hunter Dimick, DE, Utah

    Dimick led the state of Utah in sacks as a high school junior and senior, so it's no surprise he's managed to chase quarterbacks in the Pac-12 using brute strength and pure hustle that coaches love. He earned honorable mention notice as a sophomore, but injured his shoulder in 2015, missing six games (14 tackles, seven TFL, three sacks in seven games). Calling his senior year a bounce-back year would be an understatement. Dimick finished third in the country with 14.5 sacks, and among the national leaders with 20 tackles for loss. He was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection for his efforts.

  • Like many all-state players coming out of Ohio, there's often a choice to make: Stay to play with the Buckeyes or go to one of those "teams up north." Smith decided to travel for his collegiate career, showing everyone in The Big House he can patiently wait for a cutting lane to open up, lower his pads to work through contact and accelerate once in the open field. He played in four games as a true freshman (26-117) and then had a larger role in 2014, starting twice (108-519, six touchdowns). Smith was a regular starter in 2015, leading the team with 753 rushing yards and six touchdowns, as well as 19 catches for 159 yards and one score. He set his career high in rushing yards in 2016 with 846 and rushing touchdowns with 10, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten notice. 5

    Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

    5. De'Veon Smith, RB, Michigan

    Like many all-state players coming out of Ohio, there's often a choice to make: Stay to play with the Buckeyes or go to one of those "teams up north." Smith decided to travel for his collegiate career, showing everyone in The Big House he can patiently wait for a cutting lane to open up, lower his pads to work through contact and accelerate once in the open field. He played in four games as a true freshman (26-117) and then had a larger role in 2014, starting twice (108-519, six touchdowns). Smith was a regular starter in 2015, leading the team with 753 rushing yards and six touchdowns, as well as 19 catches for 159 yards and one score. He set his career high in rushing yards in 2016 with 846 and rushing touchdowns with 10, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten notice.

  • One of the better right tackles in the nation, Magnuson is a strong player with good enough lateral agility to stay with better pass rushers. He finished his Wolverines career with a first-team All-Big Ten season, starting every game. Magnuson garnered third-team all-conference notice as a junior, his first starting outside (12 games) after starting seven at right guard as a sophomore and five at left guard the previous season. 4

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    4. Erik Magnuson, OT, Michigan

    One of the better right tackles in the nation, Magnuson is a strong player with good enough lateral agility to stay with better pass rushers. He finished his Wolverines career with a first-team All-Big Ten season, starting every game. Magnuson garnered third-team all-conference notice as a junior, his first starting outside (12 games) after starting seven at right guard as a sophomore and five at left guard the previous season.

  • Coming out of St. Charles, Missouri's Francis Howell High School, Munson had the choice of playing college football or going into minor league baseball as a 31st-round pick of the home-state Cardinals. He chose to follow his father's footsteps in football (Kurt was a defensive lineman at Oregon State), and is now a legitimate top-100 talent because of his instincts, strength and quickness. He was the team's Defensive Player of the Year and an honorable mention All-Mountain West pick with 83 tackles, 10.5 for loss, four sacks and four interceptions (one TD). His production increased as a junior, and he garnered first-team all-conference honors as a result (98 tackles, 15 for loss, 9.5 sacks, two INT, two forced fumbles). Munson repeated those accolades in 2016, leading the team with 116 stops, 11 for loss, and 4.5 sacks. 3

    Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

    3. Calvin Munson, LB, San Diego State

    Coming out of St. Charles, Missouri's Francis Howell High School, Munson had the choice of playing college football or going into minor league baseball as a 31st-round pick of the home-state Cardinals. He chose to follow his father's footsteps in football (Kurt was a defensive lineman at Oregon State), and is now a legitimate top-100 talent because of his instincts, strength and quickness. He was the team's Defensive Player of the Year and an honorable mention All-Mountain West pick with 83 tackles, 10.5 for loss, four sacks and four interceptions (one TD). His production increased as a junior, and he garnered first-team all-conference honors as a result (98 tackles, 15 for loss, 9.5 sacks, two INT, two forced fumbles). Munson repeated those accolades in 2016, leading the team with 116 stops, 11 for loss, and 4.5 sacks.

  • A&M has become a place that scouts look for offensive linemen, as the Aggies have produced first-round picks on the line in the past four drafts. Gennesy might not be selected that high, but his mobility and toughness made league coaches vote him first-team All-SEC at the left tackle spot. He won a national junior college title at East Mississippi Community College (where he won a national title), then spent a redshirt year in College Station. Once a starting spot at left tackle opened up in 2015, he stepped up to start every game at that spot. 2

    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    2. Avery Gennesy, OT, Texas A&M

    A&M has become a place that scouts look for offensive linemen, as the Aggies have produced first-round picks on the line in the past four drafts. Gennesy might not be selected that high, but his mobility and toughness made league coaches vote him first-team All-SEC at the left tackle spot. He won a national junior college title at East Mississippi Community College (where he won a national title), then spent a redshirt year in College Station. Once a starting spot at left tackle opened up in 2015, he stepped up to start every game at that spot.

  • People in Ruston will tell you that they loved having Woods on their team for four years, and Conference USA coaches thought enough of his talent to name him first-team All-Conference USA each of the last three seasons. Woods was highly productive in his 2015 (56 tackles, 7.5 for loss, three INT, three PBU) and 2016 (89 tackles, 6.5 for loss, five INT, 6 PBU) all-conference campaigns. While he's not the tallest of defenders, he's strong and athletic, willing to hit and create the turnover -- and he's a future NFL starter. 1

    Jim Cowsert/Associated Press

    1. Xavier Woods, S, Louisiana Tech

    People in Ruston will tell you that they loved having Woods on their team for four years, and Conference USA coaches thought enough of his talent to name him first-team All-Conference USA each of the last three seasons. Woods was highly productive in his 2015 (56 tackles, 7.5 for loss, three INT, three PBU) and 2016 (89 tackles, 6.5 for loss, five INT, 6 PBU) all-conference campaigns. While he's not the tallest of defenders, he's strong and athletic, willing to hit and create the turnover -- and he's a future NFL starter.