The East-West Shrine Bowl is the oldest collegiate all-star game in the nation. Since 2012, it's been played right in the Bucs' backyard, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. This year, Tampa Bay had a few extra connections to the game, with inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell named head coach of the East team. He has Bucs offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El on his staff as wide receivers coach, as well as Bucs assistant strength and conditioning coach Chad Wade. Fellow assistant strength and conditioning coach Mike Stacchiotti handled S&C for the West team under former Bucs' tight ends coach Ben Steele, as well.
The game and its precluding practices provided coaches to get a look at some top talent from around the country ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft. Below are a few of the standouts the coaches got hands-on experience with from the week of practices at the Trop.
East Team Standouts…
CB Nevelle Clarke, UCF – Wherever there was an incomplete pass, Clarke never seemed to be too far. He had a great couple of days not only getting his hands on balls but also on receivers, wrapping them up immediately at the catchpoint. Made some really acrobatic plays and definitely showed off his athleticism.
CB Parnell Motley, Oklahoma – He's only 5-11, 180lbs but he's a physical corner that I saw some good closing speed from. He also places an emphasis on the ball, routinely trying to rip it out of a receiver's hands after the catch.
OLB Cameron Gill, Wagner – This was a guy that got himself noticed throughout each practice. On Wednesday, he got his hands up and batted down a ball at the line, showing his ball awareness. He was also good in one-on-ones, routinely getting the best of tackles he was lined up against.
DT Mctelvin Agim, Arkansas – The 6-3, 300-pound interior defensive lineman stood out to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, who had this to say, "Every year, there's a guy like that at this game that jumps out; he's the guy this year. If you're looking for a battlefront promotion guy (late invite to the Senior Bowl), that might be the guy." And he truly did stand out for his physicality at the line and the way he was able to move blockers in one-on-ones.
OT Jack Driscoll, Auburn – I loved the way this guy finished his plays. Even in one-on-ones, he went right through the whistle and just absolutely mauled defenders using his strength and hands. At 6-4, 300 pounds, he may be a little undersized for a tackle but could potentially translate to a guard at the NFL level.
OT Matt Womack, Alabama – One guy who fit the mold of an NFL tackle was of course the player from Alabama. Womack stood out (literally) for his size at 6-7, 325 (official weigh-in).
OT Charlie Heck, North Carolina – Yes, that Heck. The son of current Kansas City Chiefs offensive line coach, Heck started all 11 games he played this past season for the Tar Heels at right tackle. He also has a diverse athletic background, playing all over in high school – even tight end. His 6-7, 307-pound size and familial pedigree suggests that he could be a solid player with some more development at the pro level.
WR Keith Gavin, Florida State – Bucs offensive assistant and East wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El had good things to say about Gavin's ability to go up and make plays. He's a big, long receiver at 6-2, 208lbs that is meant for the outside. Randle El mentioned he could use some work on the nuances of his route running and alignments but once he's in the right spot, he's dangerous.
WR Diondre Overton, Clemson – We got a limited look at Overton, given he was playing in the National Championship Monday night and joined the East team (understandably) late. Wednesday he showed off his skills learned from WRU with an impressive back corner of the end zone catch over top of his defender. He may be in the Shrine Bowl, but he undoubtedly is somewhat a victim of talent oversaturation at Clemson in his position group.
QB James Morgan, Florida International – The East was definitely stacked with the quarterback talent. Both Morgan and Princeton's Kevin Davidson showed a lot of good things. Morgan had the edge, though. His pocket presence and comfortability stood out – especially with unfamiliar receivers. He was accurate and had great arm strength, too.
Other QB notes…
Davidson may be one of the more interesting guys. Just a one-year starter at Princeton, he was coached by Marcus Peters' father and apparently regularly hangs out with Marshawn Lynch. He comes from the same program as Bucs' practice squad quarterback Chad Kanoff, too.
There was also quarterback Tommy Stevens, from Mississippi State. Like his former teammate and Bucs' practice squader, Nick Fitzgerald, Stevens is also super mobile. I saw him tuck the ball and scamper into the end zone for a touchdown in red zone drills during practice.
Also, #GoCats DE Joe Gaziano (yes, my Northwestern bias is showing)