The annual East-West Shrine game is a chance for college players to put their talents on display, showing professional teams what they have for the upcoming NFL Draft. There alumni players with that same perception that helped improve their stock. Jordan Cameron and Dannell Ellerbe are recent examples. The 89th East-West Shrine Game is worth watching this Saturday (Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. on the NFL Network). Here are a couple of players, in no particular order, on my list of possible prospects.
Quarterback: Jeff Mathews 6'4 225, Cornell
According to multiple reports, Jeff Mathews has looked better than a second-tier player, hitting on all of his throws, running the offense with command with the appearance of leadership. At Cornell, Mathews has shown accuracy and a willingness to stand in the pocket to deliver a good ball. If he steps up during Saturday's game with a solid performance, don't be surprised if his name begins rising on draft boards. He wont be a round-one pick, but neither was Tom Brady or Russell Wilson.
Cornerback: Ross Cockrell 6'0 183, Duke
Don't let this little guy's size fool you. Cockrell plays big with nice effort that led to multiple interceptions this year. The cornerbacks' position are one of the strongest groups in this years' Senior Bowl and Ross Cockrell is one of the better players. While he doesn't specialize in anything, he's good at everything and a solid depth guy.
Center: Gabe Ikard 6'3 290, Oklahoma
If you wanted a center to replace Kyle Cook, who brings the smarts, leadership and experience, Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard is solid. He has good size with quick feet. Ikard is four-year starter and the winner of multiple collegiate honors including; the Wuerffel Trophy, Selmon Spirit Award and Don Key Award. Ikard might be the only player in this game who is legitimately considered in the top-three at his position in this draft.
Safety: Hakeem Smith 6'0 186, Louisville
If the team's history provides insight on the type of safeties that the team likes, Hakeem Smith fits that bill: big, can move, hit and cover ground. Smith will be a late-round pick, but if the Bengals can grab him late in the NFL draft, it could end up being a major steal. With four interceptions in his career (according to SR/ College Football), Smith could fill a special teams and develop into a solid defender.