The Shrine Game is the first of the two primary postseason all-star games, and the Detroit Lions will be heavily represented in the four days of practice sessions to scout and interview nearly 100 aspiring NFL prospects during the week in St. Petersburg.
Most of the Shrine Game players are typically Day Three draft prospects, from the fourth thru seventh rounds. Theo Riddick, T.J. Jones and Zach Zenner are among the Lions who participated in the nation’s oldest all-star game.
I’ll be there are as well for the seventh straight year. Here are 10 prospects from the East and West rosters who I will be watching with an eye for how they might fit with Matt Patricia’s Lions.
My early pick to be the first player from the Shrine Game class to get drafted in 2019, Brown is a ballhawk who was a standout WR in high school, and he uses his receiving background to anticipate and jump routes. At 6-0 and 191 pounds, Brown has the desired size and speed components. There are several promising CBs in St. Pete, but Brown stands above them from game film.
Yes, he played right tackle for the Wolverines. But in the NFL he’s going to be a right guard, and that transformation starts with Shrine Game week. This is a good opportunity for the big man (6-6, 320) to show he can handle the quickness of better players after he missed a lot of time in his senior season. His style of play fits what the Lions want in their guards.
Hodge finished in the top 10 in the nation in tackles each of the last two seasons and was in the top 20 in 2016. Watch any Buffalo game and it’s easy to see why: his ability to scrape blocks and finish tackles with both power and an exceptional closing burst stands out on every possession. He can drop in coverage pretty well, too.
His 98-yard kickoff return at Michigan showed off his blazing speed and ability to make sharp cuts without decelerating. Johnson didn’t get a lot of opportunities to carry the load or catch passes in the Terrapins offense, but having seen Johnson play in person twice, I see a guy who can be a faster Ameer Abdullah. The RB depth chart behind Kerryon Johnson is wide open for someone like that to come in and seize playing time.
Jones won the Gene Upshaw Award as the top D-II defensive lineman thanks to his 15 sacks and 34 TFLs. He nearly won that level’s Heisman; Jones was that dominating. His size (listed at 6-3/260) is something to watch. If he’s a little bigger than that after training and doesn’t lose his quickness, Jones is very appealing. He plays with bad intentions.
A 6-2, 205-pound receiver used to playing in a complementary role for the Rebels, Lodge is someone I’m very interested in watching up close. He could make a nice long-term replacement for Marvin Jones, who would be my NFL comparison for the sure-handed Lodge.
I’ve only seen Moreland play once, so I’m excited to see more of what he can do. Anyone who picks off 18 passes and returns six of them for TDs has my attention, even at the FCS level. The one game I watched, a playoff game against Delaware, he proved he could attack in run support despite being under 180 pounds, notching 3 tackles for loss and wrapping what he hits.
Once upon a time, Roberson was a prized Texas Longhorns 4-star recruit. It didn’t work out in Austin, but transferring to the Bearkats proved a great decision. Roberson lived behind the line of scrimmage as a senior with 15 sacks and 20.5 tackles for losses that do not include his sacks. He also forced several fumbles and was simply too quick and powerful for FCS blockers to handle.
Sokol only caught 8 passes in his senior season, but his ability and potential are significantly higher-end than his meager production would indicate. A good athlete who can chip-and-release and reliably catch intermediate-range throws is something the Lions need. Sokol showed he could effectively be that guy despite some unfortunate QB play in East Lansing.
Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State
With Jake Rudock now gone and Matt Cassel about to be 37, the Lions sorely need a young, developmental QB. Stick is a proven winner, going 49-3 as a starter for the FCS-level Bison since taking over for Carson Wentz.
Stick only has what looks to be an average arm, but he’s extremely accurate and can manipulate the defense to buy an extra step for his receivers. His pocket awareness and ability to subtly move and quickly reload should translate well to the NFL as a backup with upside.