ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- De'Veon Smith became known for power more than speed and agility during his career at Michigan, but the former Wolverines running back has more to offer NFL clubs than broken tackles, and Smith showed it Monday as East-West Shrine Game practices began.
Smith and other Shrine Game players are looking to impress a gathering of NFL scouts this week in their first formal chance to enhance their draft status since the football season ended. The East-West Shrine Game will be played Saturday at Tropicana Field at 3 p.m. ET, and broadcast exclusively on NFL Network.
"I thought De'Veon Smith had a good first day. I was impressed with him that, in the passing game at 228 pounds, how quick-footed he was," said NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock. "He did a nice job against some linebackers in one-on-one drills. When they're in shorts and it's one-on-one pass drills, the running back should win on a linebacker. But you try to look at the skill set, the traits, and what I saw was quick feet and change of direction. And he has that at 228 pounds. He's got quick feet and showed soft hands."
Smith had his most productive college season for the Wolverines in 2016, rushing for 846 yards on 181 carries and 10 touchdowns, primarily in a between-the-tackles role for Michigan that featured his power.
Drake TEEric Saubert: "I haven't watched his tape yet, but I thought he popped a little bit today. A big-bodied kid, and very athletic with good hands."
Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel: "He's got some zip on the ball."
Vanderbilt OLWilliam Holden: "I liked him in pass protection. He was a tackle, and they kicked him inside to guard, and I liked him there."
Utah OTSam Tevi: "He is a another kid who could kick inside. He's quick-footed and I liked the way he shot his hands. I liked him a lot."
Toledo TEMichael Roberts: "He's 6-5, almost 270, and he runs better than that. He's got surprising speed and hands. I liked him on tape and I liked him out here today."
Here are five other things we learned Monday from Shrine Game practices.
More than the Buckeyes? Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh predicted in the fall that the Wolverines would have 10-plus players selected in this year's draft. Michigan OL Erik Magnuson believes UM might even top Ohio State's total of 12 draftees from 2016, which was two short of matching a record Ohio State set in 2004 for most players drafted from one school in a single year.
"I think we should. We have a deep senior class, and with Jabrill (Peppers) going out early, I think 10 could get done pretty easily, and we can probably beat out Ohio State," Magnuson said.
There are seven Michigan players at the East-West Shrine game, the most of any school: Smith, Magnuson, OL Kyle Kalis, DB Dymonte Thomas, CB Channing Stribling, DB Lano Hill and DT Matthew Godin.
Quotable: "All those guys are so instinctive, and athletic, I'll be surprised if they're not all first-round draft picks. Foster, especially, he can run from sideline to sideline and he'll hit anyone." -- Alabama WR Gehrig Dieter on three of the Crimson Tide's top draft prospects, DE Jonathan Allen, LB Reuben Foster and CB Marlon Humphrey.
Johnson too handsy. Clemson DB Jadar Johnson was among the most athletic players on the field for the West in the afternoon practice, although an NFC scout said Johnson was putting his hands on receivers a bit too much downfield. Johnson is the only player from Clemson's national championship team participating in the East-West Shrine Game.
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:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Colorado LB Jimmie Gilbert
Carolina Panthers: Toledo TE Michael Roberts
Los Angeles Chargers: Youngstown State DE Avery Moss
*Minnesota Vikings: Florida DE *Bryan Cox
*Philadelphia Eagles: Penn QB *Alek Torgesen
*Buffalo Bills: Temple CB *Nate Hairston