ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Wednesday was the third day of practice for Saturday's East-West Shrine Game, and NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah has already been impressed with several prospects this week.
Here are three players who have stood out to him from the first three days.
William & Mary WR Tre McBride: Jeremiah said McBride (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) has stood out because he is "a smooth athlete who tracks the ball well." McBride doesn't have blazing speed, but he does almost seem to glide at times, moving easily in and out of cuts. McBride also has return skills and seems a lock to be the first William & Mary wide receiver drafted since 1973 (David Knight was an 11th-round pick by the New York Jets). McBride, who is from the Atlanta suburbs, finished his career with 196 receptions for 2,753 yards and 19 touchdowns. He would be the first offensive player from the FCS school drafted since 1992 and the fifth overall from the school this century.
Louisville LB Deiontrez Mount: Jeremiah says the most appealing thing about Mount (6-5, 246) is his size, and Mount looks as if he could add a few more pounds without hampering his quickness, too. Mount is athletic -- he qualified for the state finals as a high school senior in Florida in the 110-meter hurdles -- and had five sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss this season. Mount never was a full-time starter for the Cardinals; he made 13 starts, including five this season, in his career. This was his first season as an outside linebacker. He had been an undersized end in a 4-3 set but was moved when Louisville switched to a 3-4. He is raw with his technique and needs to become a better-rounded player. But Mount can move for a guy his size.
Kentucky DE Za'Darius Smith: He was Kentucky's other end this season, playing opposite star Bud Dupree. But while Smith (6-5, 265) isn't as highly touted as Dupree, he still can play. Jeremiah touts his "explosiveness" off the snap, and there were a handful of times Wednesday when he embarrassed the tackle trying to block him with that quickness. One selling point with Smith, in a weird way, is his inexperience: He has played just five seasons of football (one in high school, two in junior college and two at Kentucky), and with his athleticism, he certainly has an upside once he polishes the rough edges. The question, of course, is whether those rough edges can be smoothed. Smith had 10.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and 119 tackles in his two seasons with the Wildcats.
Five other things we learned from the third day of practice at the Shrine Game:
» Chip Kelly was in attendance Wednesday. One day after Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson attended practices, the Philadelphia Eagles' coach did the same. Kelly attended the national championship game Monday night in Arlington, Texas (he signed a good portion of the Oregon team), was at the NFLPA Bowl practices Tuesday and was in St. Pete on Wednesday. Kelly pressed the flesh at both practices and signed autographs at the East practice Wednesday morning for some students at Shorecrest Prep, where the practice was held. Among others in attendance have been former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, former Ohio State and Arizona State coach John Cooper, and Jeff Tedford, the former California coach who recently was named head man for the CFL's BC Lions.
» Howard Mudd was spreading his gospel. Mudd, a former longtime NFL offensive line coach who turns 73 on Feb. 10, is coaching the West's team offensive line, and despite getting around gingerly -- and with a cane at times -- he has been quite active the first three days. He was both patient and impatient with the West linemen Wednesday, gently explaining how they can better improve their leverage and footwork but also not so gently asking for repetitions when the players didn't do what he wanted. Mudd last coached in the NFL with the Eagles in 2012.
» The two "imports" are interesting prospects. There are two players from Canadian colleges in the game, DT Daryl Waud (6-5, 290) of Western University-Ontario and WR Addison Richards (6-5, 210) of Regina University. Both offer good size, but both also are raw in their technique and are definite developmental prospects. Waud could stand to add some bulk and strength, but he has flashed at times in the one-on-one drills and seemingly has surprised some offensive linemen with his quickness. Richards is going to have a steep learning curve, but his size is a big positive, and he has shown good hands, as well.
» Oregon LB Tony Washington was a late arrival. Washington has been on the roster for a while, but he didn't get on the practice field until Wednesday. He had a good excuse, of course -- he was playing in the national title game. Washington arrived in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon, too late to partake in that day's practice. The Shrine Game players wear their college helmets, and for those wondering, Washington sported a silver Oregon helmet.
» The West linebackers have looked good. Kansas' Ben Heeneyhas been a hit with some scouts. Michigan State's Taiwan Jones might be the most physical player in the game and has the look of an old-school middle 'backer. NFL Media analyst Charles Davis says Stanford's James Vaughters is "the best-looking cat out there" among the linebackers. And Utah State's Zach Vigil has been both vocal and active in drills and scrimmages. All of them play for the West.