Postseason All-Start Game Breakdowns
With the National Championship game now a couple of weeks behind us and players either committing to return to college for another year or renouncing their remaining eligibility and entering the 2022 NFL draft we can turn our attention to the upcoming All-Star games. For some it’s just the first step on the road to immortality and for some it’s hoping to be able to continue playing a game and be well paid for it. Whatever the situation, it begins with playing in one of the postseason All-Star games. Whether it’s the East-West Shrine Game, the Senior Bowl, or the relatively new NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, players will be exposed to NFL coaches and coaching and showing them just what they can do.
A number of players will be playing in more than one game as the games all take place on different days; also there are almost always last minute injury replacements as well and those may not be noted in the final article.
2022 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
Date/Time – Jan 29th @ 6P EST
Location – Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, CA
Broadcast – NFL Network
Prospects to watch-
Cade Mays – OT – Tennessee – Started a combined four years at Georgia and Tennessee and played all five offensive line positions. Projects as a guard but I think he may have the ability to kick out and play right tackle in a pinch. Plays with a nastiness that you like seeing in your OL. Ends up on the ground a bit too much, though as an interior lineman that could just be part of the position. Also scheduled to play in the E-W Shrine game and the Senior Bowl.
Jack Coan – QB – Notre Dame – Transferred to Notre Dame after starting at Wisconsin for a year and change. Has good size and though not thought of as a mobile QB, his original sport was lacrosse so I have to believe there is some athleticism there. Has a live arm and is decisive. Will likely be selected as a developmental project. Also scheduled to play in the E-W Shrine game.
Obina Eze – OT – TCU – Prototype size (6’8”, 315#) that he has relied on to a large degree to shut down college EDGE rushers. Has a lot of room to grow as a blocker though it remains to be seen if he will or not. Most evaluators see him as a LT project, I feel he may be better off as a RT where he can use his size and length to his advantage against less twitchy pass rushers. Also scheduled to play in the E-W Shrine game.
Samuel Williams – DE – Ole Miss – Smallish for a DE EDGE, Williams usually played as a standup OLB for the Rebels. In the run game he comes heavy and can set the edge, but he’ll make his money in the pass game attacking the passer. Some evaluators think he can play in either as a 3-4 OLB or a 4-3 DE; I feel that he’d be better off on the line as he looks stiff in pass coverage and would be a liability in the NFL.
Markquese Bell – S – Florida A&M – A player I mentioned in the Mid-season prospects report; I feel that if Bell were in the 1996 draft we’d be talking about him as a high second round player or maybe even a low first rounder. Things have changed in the NFL and safeties in the Ronnie Lott-mold
are almost a liability. As it is, he may be able to take on a role similar to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and play as a light linebacker; if not he may be relegated to duty on early downs and obvious running situations.
2022 East-West Shrine Game
Date/Time – Feb 3rd @ 2P EST
Location – Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, NV
Broadcast – NFL Network
Prospects to watch –
Alec Lindstrom – OC – Boston College – A legacy player at BC where his father, uncle, and older brother all played. The upside for Lindstrom is that he’s a technician who wins with placement, leverage, and timing. The downside is that he’s not the type of player who can just overwhelm you with physicality. He’s likely to be drafted, but as a later round pick and someone to be developed.
Ty Chandler – RB – North Carolina – a Tennessee transfer before the 2021 season, Chandler has potential. A good sized back who has speed and quick feet as well as the ability to be a receiver out of the backfield. Not the greatest blocker, though he does make a good effort. His ceiling would be a spot starter who you can trust if your #1 back is injured.
Jaxson Kirkland – OT – Washington – Another player that I’ve touched on in past articles, Kirkland has experience (39 career starts), good athleticism, the ability to get to and make blocks at the second level, and has the temperament (nasty) you want in your offensive linemen. On the downside, he doesn’t have the power to drive defensive players off the ball consistently and his hand placement is very inconsistent.
Kellen Diesch – OT – Arizona State – Has played as a LT for the bulk of his time as a Sun Devil, but will need to add strength and bulk to cut it as a tackle in the NFL. Not explosive or strong at the point of attack, but has good balance and football IQ. His length may help him find a spot as either a rotational player or as a right tackle where he would be playing against fewer speedy pass rushers.
Micah McFadden – LB – Indiana – A three-year starter for the Hoosiers, McFadden won’t be the stud middle of your defense in two years, what he will be is a good backup and important part of your special teams units. He has good size and a nose for the ball, but lacks the length to avoid being swallowed up by blockers at the second level. He also doesn’t have the pop at the point of attack to defeat those same blockers. Is OK-to-adequate in coverage but not the most fluid linebacker.
2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl
Date/Time – Feb 5th @ 1:30P
Location – Hancock-Whitney Stadium in Mobile, AL
Broadcast – NFL Network
Prospects to watch – This is THE post-season All-Star game, the alumni list looks like a roll call for the NFL Hall of Fame and virtually every year there are 8-10 First-Round picks playing in this game. Because of the sheer number of players who will be high picks (Including five of the top 6 QBs), I’ll be focusing on players who I feel have a real shot to move up from the 4th-5th round to the 2nd or 3rd round.
Christian Watson – WR – North Dakota State – If Watson was playing at a Blue Blood program at the FBS level, his measurable alone (6’5”, 210lbs, expected 40 time in the low 4.4s) would have most teams slotting him in the mid-First round; as it is, Watson will have to prove himself in practice and at the game and assuming he does, he’ll have done it against expected First Round picks Coby Bryant and Rodger McCreary. Watson has home run speed and a physicality at receiver that reminds me of Terrell Owens (another small school star).
Tyler Badie – RB – Missouri – There were a lot of question marks surrounding Badie taking over as the starting RB prior to 2021 and through the season, he answered every single one of them. He ran the ball, caught the ball, blocked, was a workhorse (6 games with 25+ touches), and was the lynchpin of the offense (18 TDs). Since he had more touches in 2021 than he’s had in the prior three years, it’s easy to see that he’s got plenty of tread left on his tires. I would compare him to a Kareem Hunt or Austin Ekeler as a player that can hurt you in multiple ways.
Haskell Garrett – DT – Ohio State – A 2020 All-American, Garrett and the Buckeyes both had a bit of a come-down season with the defense struggling early and relying on the offense through most of the season. Haskell has adequate length for a tackle but probably not enough to play as a 3-4 end, couple that with him struggling against double teams or with two-gap responsibility and you have a classic one gap DT who would be ideal in a Tampa 2 defense. Has exceptional strength in his hands and an explosive first step that can cause problems for guards and centers. He also has good flexibility and an array of hand-fighting moves that keeps offensive linemen off balance.
Chris Paul – OG – Tulsa – A four-year starter for Tulsa, Paul and the Golden Hurricane played Ohio State in an early season game and despite losing, Paul looked good against the Buckeyes linemen playing right tackle. A “high character” player, Paul is an academic standout (currently finishing up his MBA) and is involved with a number of off-field groups. Will likely end up inside at guard in the NFL with the ability to be an emergency fill-in at tackle. He’s competitive but not “nasty”, has good length for a guard but not a tackle, good hand use and power at the point of attack.
Jalen Tolbert – WR – South Alabama – Playing the Senior Bowl on the same field that he played for South Alabama has be a thrill for Tolbert. After leading the Jaguars in receiving the last two years (and very nearly in his sophomore season as well), Tolbert has to prove that he can do it against the big boys. That shouldn’t be a huge issue, though you do always wonder; regardless, Tolbert is 6’3”, just shy of 200lbs and with the ability to work the intermediate routes or take the top off the defense he should prove that he can be a very good #2/above average #1 receiver.
The first of these postseason All-Star games kick off on Saturday with the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at 6P; so pay attention and enjoy the last bits of “college” football until next August.