LAS VEGAS -- The 97th East-West Shrine Bowl kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network. The game is being played in Las Vegas for the first time at Allegiant Stadium, home of the Raiders.
The NFL has partnered with the game and is providing coaches with development opportunities, selecting deserving instructors from teams that did not make the playoffs. Baltimore Ravens defensive backs coach D'Anton Lynn is the head coach of the East team, while Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady's assuming the role for the West squad.
Here are six players who flashed at Monday's practices.
Kyle Philips, WR, UCLA
No player in Vegas is generating more buzz than Philips. His ability to get in and out of breaks quickly has impressed, and he's catching everything thrown his way.
Philips was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection by the coaches this past season, leading the conference with 10 touchdown receptions two years after setting UCLA's freshman record with 60 catches back in 2019. Teams looking for a slot receiver in the Hunter Renfrow mold will be studying Philips, as the two wideouts have almost identical measurables:
- Renfrow (2019 Combine): 5-foot-10 1/4, 184 pounds, 29 1/8-inch arms.
- Philips (2022 EW Shrine): 5-11, 186 pounds, 29 3/4-inch arms.
Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State
Strong is generating solid buzz around the game with his ability as both a rusher and receiver. The first-team FCS All-American is proving the enhanced competition is not a problem. He is up to the task. In the red zone, Strong caught a swing pass from former Miami/Houston QB D'Eriq King and found the end zone.
Later during the team period, Strong was able to stretch a run to the left sideline, and when it looked like he would be forced out of bounds, he cut back, found a lane and managed to gain 15 more yards to hit paydirt. His vision on plays like that will impress talent evaluators.
Samori Toure, WR, Nebraska
Toure has flashed an ability to get out of breaks and separate quickly. It has shown up in one-on-one and red-zone drills, allowing Toure to haul in passes throughout the sessions.
Toure is an older prospect, transferring to Nebraska after four-plus years at Montana, where he had 1,495 yards and 13 TDs in 2019. But Montana did not play in 2020 due to COVID-19. In his lone season at Nebraska, he led the Cornhuskers in receptions (46), yards (898) and touchdowns (5).
Jack Coan, QB, Notre Dame
Coan stands out at practice and had a couple nice TD tosses, including one to Virginia TE Jelani Woods (more on Woods below) down the seam during the team red-zone period. Coan waited a beat to let Woods clear the second level before hitting him with a strike.
Later during team period, Coan let one loose downfield to Maryland TE Chigoziem Okonkwo for a touchdown of 50-plus yards. The defense bit on the underneath out route, and Coan hit Okonkwo deep over the middle for the score.
Coan was 11-2 in his lone season with the Irish after transferring from Wisconsin, where he missed the 2020 season after breaking his foot before the campaign kicked off. In 2019 at Wisconsin, he finished seventh in FBS with a 69.6 completion percentage to go with 18 TD passes against five interceptions. Coan measured in at 6-3, weighing 217 pounds with a 9 1/2-inch hand size, checking off those boxes for evaluators, as well.
Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia
Woods stands out first for his size. At 6-6 3/4 and 259 pounds, he is quite physically imposing. And the man can move. Woods not only caught the aforementioned red-zone TD from Coan, but the first-team All-ACC selection also impressed throughout the rest of practice.
Woods led all ACC tight ends in receiving yards (598) and touchdowns (8) in 2021 after spending the four prior years at Oklahoma State. While he appeared in 34 games (starting 28) for the Cowboys, he logged just 31 total receptions, as his size was used more in a blocking role. Woods showed this past season -- and is doing so again in Las Vegas -- that he is a legit threat in the pass game.
Derrick Tangelo, DT, Penn State
The 6-1 5/8, 304-pound DT has been disruptive this week. Every time you look up, he seems to be in the backfield. Tangelo transferred to Penn State for the 2021 season after four years at Duke, where he started 27 games.
Tangelo has shown the ability to get off quickly at the snap and either shed blockers or shoot the gap. He's been a problem for the O-line prospects this week.