Top prospects to watch at the East-West Shrine Game: West edition
With the East-West Shrine Game scheduled to play on Friday, I’m sharing which potential future NFL players I’m keeping an eye on. Today we take on the West (check here for five players to watch from the East):
David Morgan II, TE, Texas San-Antonio: +36.2
Perhaps unfortunate not to receive a senior bowl invite, David Morgan has a real chance to impress at the Shrine Game. His grade in 2015 was almost double the second placed TE. As a run blocker, his +32.5 grade was easily the best we’ve seen in two years in the FBS. While Morgan might not test very well and isn’t the most athletic TE in this class, his +6.9 receiving grade is solid enough. It places him seventh at the position and, with numbers of 45 catches for 566 yards and five TDs, his receiving ability shouldn’t be understated. Morgan will likely go lower than a number of other prospects whose production pales in comparison but he may well curve out a niche for himself as a pro.
Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky: +42.4
The West’s crop of QBs are all intriguing prospects in their own right but Brandon Doughty’s production in 2015 sets him apart. He’s not a college QB who depends on his legs either, recording the fourth highest pure passing grade at the position this year. Doughty actually led all QBs in completion percentage (71.1) tossing 392 completions from 551 attempts for 5,000 yards, 48 TDs and just nine picks. He was the only QB with an accuracy percentage of higher than 80 in 2015 (81.4) and was second in QB rating (121.4) behind only fellow West roster QB Vernon Adams Jr. Doughty can make every throw, passing for 15 scores and just two picks on deep targets, as well as posting some impressive numbers under pressure. In this QB crop with few clear standouts, Doughty might be worth taking a punt on.
Daniel Lasco, HB, California: +3.7
Lasco struggled through an injury-plagued senior season, including missing the last three games, putting added pressure on his Shrine Game performance. He might feel he should have declared a year ago after a season in which he rushed 212 times for 1121 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and scored 12 touchdowns. Lasco also averaged 2.8 yards after contact per attempt and broke 37 tackles, finishing the year with a rushing grade in the top 20 (13.3). He still recorded a decent stat line of 65 carries for 327 yards (5.0 average), 3 TDs and 10 broken tackles despite being hampered by the injury. The Cal running back does need refining in the passing game, where he’s dropped six passes from just 41 catchable targets, but he’s proven he can hold his own in pass protection, allowing just one hit and a pair of hurries in 154 snaps.
Cory Johnson, DT, Kentucky: +27.8
Johnson’s production on a per-snap basis the past two years has been phenomenal. As a junior, he recorded a +13.8 grade despite taking the field for just 171 snaps in a specialised pass rushing role. Amongst 3-4 DEs with at least 100 pass rush snaps, he was number one in pass rush productivity with 24 combined pressures (three sacks, seven hits and 14 hurries from 114 snaps). Johnson’s role changed as a senior requiring him to defend the run as well as get upfield. He displayed his versatility, recording the 12th overall grade amongst 3-4 DEs. While still generating pressure (+9.2 pass rush grade), Johnson was able to adapt his game to defend the run as well, ending the year with a +17.1 grade in that facet of play.
Michael Caputo, SS, Wisconsin: +13.8
After ending his junior season as our sixth overall safety (+19.1), Caputo suffered a slight drop off as a senior. He excels at aggressively attacking the line of scrimmage to make plays in the run game, finishing with 62 stops over the past two years. Caputo is at his best close to the line of scrimmage but can make plays in coverage. He allowed just 28 receptions on 53 targets for 325 yards, two scores, two picks and six pass deflections (68.5 QB rating) as a senior. Few college safeties have bettered Caputo’s +32.9 combined grade over the past two years. His range of skills should set him up well for converting to the pro game.