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2024 East-West Shrine Bowl Preview

Players to watch Thursday in Las Vegas

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Colgate at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The East-West Shrine Bowl will be Thursday, February 1, at 8:00 EST on the NFL Network. The game has been played since 1925 to benefit Shriners Children’s and is one of the first opportunities people will have to take a look at 2024 NFL Draft prospects. A lot of talented players are hoping to stand out in this game and become NFL superstars. Some current players who have been featured in this game are Trey Hendrickson, Za’Darius Smith, and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Below are a few prospects the Commanders should watch closely because of their potential to contribute to the team. The roster for both teams can be found here. Feel free to mention additional prospects that will play in the game in the comments.

East Team Offense

Jack Plummer, QB, Louisville

While this game won’t feature the highest-rated quarterback prospects, there are some developmental players that might be worth a late pick of UDFAs. Jack Plummer is a tall QB at 6’4” that played for head coach Jeff Frohm at Purdue and Louisville. You see him do things QBs have to do at the next level like throw with anticipation. He’ll have to improve his decision making as he had some head-scratching plays this season.

Isaac Guerendo, RB, Louisville

A Wisconsin transfer, Isaac Guerendo has ideal size - 5’11”, 220 lbs - and rumored 4.3 speed. He’s not shifty or elusive, but he uses good vision to find holes and hit them fast. More of a one-cut runner that does best going north and south, he’d be a good fit in a zone-heavy run scheme.

Tejhaun Palmer, WR, UAB

At 6’1”, 210 lbs, Palmer has ideal size for a wideout. What’s surprising is Palmer’s speed at that size. Reel Analytics has his top speed during the season at 21 mph. He has also shown an ability to make contested catches. Agility and route running are areas where he could improve. A similar player on the West Team is Bub Means from Pittsburgh.

McCallan Castles, TE, Tennessee

I’m not sure if McCallan Castles will ever be a TE1 in the NFL. His long frame at 6’4”, 249 lbs, moves easily and creates a large catch radius. He moves well, but doesn’t look to be more than just an average athlete. He uses his size well as a blocker, which might be his best attribute.

Walter Rouse, OT, Oklahoma

Teammate Tyler Guyton will be the earlier pick, but left tackle Walter Rouse has some attributes that should give him a chance to stick on an NFL team. At 6’5” and 319 lbs, he has good size with strong hands he uses to control blockers. He has good mobility and will locate and neutralize defenders in space. He will need to improve his anchor in pass protection and lateral quickness to make an impact at the next level.

Christian Mahogany, OG, Boston College

After missing the 2023 season with an ACL tear, Christian Mahogany is looking to re-establish himself as one of the best guard prospects. What stands out most about Mahogany is his power, but a close second is his ability to block in space. When he gets his 6’2”, 318 lbs frame moving, he is a terror pulling or working to the second level of the defense. His temperament would be welcome along the Commanders’ offensive line. He just needs to stay healthy.

East Team Defense

Mohamed Kamara, DE, Colorado State

One of the nation’s sack leaders, Mohammad Kamara did it by having one of the best get offs in college football. Explosiveness, power, and motor are the hallmarks of his play. My concerns are how he’ll deal with the length and athleticism of NFL tackles. A creative defensive mind could get a lot out of Kamara.

Easton Gibbs, LB, Wyoming

The East Team has a ton of linebacker talent I like: Aaron Casey, Edgerrin Cooper, and Jackson Mitchell (all players I’ve highlighted in Future Hogs). Easton Gibbs, 6’0”, 231 lbs, is another highly productive player in the group. The replacement for Chad Muma, Gibbs stood out by having a nose for the football and making tackles when he got there. He also has good instincts against the run and pass. He’ll need to rely on those instincts because he isn’t the fastest player.

Jarrian Jones, CB, Florida State

Jarrian Jones is a long corner at 6’0”, 192 lbs. That length really helps him to play trail technique and still get his hands on the ball. He has the speed to carry receivers deep downfield and the ability to track the ball and make a play on it. Jones’ closing speed and change of direction allows him to stay in phase with receivers all over the field. His teammate, Renardo Green, is also a talented CB to watch in this game.

Jaylon Carlies, S, Missouri

At 6’2”, 231 lbs, Jaylon Carlies is bigger than many of the linebackers in this game. He has the ability to play near the line of scrimmage like many of them as he shoots gaps to get to runners on the edge. He also has enough speed to play deep safety, but I would not say he is a true free safety. If Washington continues to use interchangeable safeties, Carlies is an intriguing prospect.

West Team Offense

Blake Watson, RB, Memphis

Our own Ken Johannesen reported that the Commanders met with Blake Watson at the Hula Bowl. Washington might lose Antonio Gibson in free agency, so why not go to his alma mater to select another running back. At 5’9”, 189 lbs, Watson does not have Gibson’s size, but he is more agile with similar speed in the open field. He catches out of the backfield, and does a good job of avoiding contact and breaking arm tackles. If his blocking is good, Watson could see the field as a third-down back at the next level.

Malik Washington, WR, UVA

Malik Washington is small, just 5’8” and 192 lbs, but he was insanely productive for the Cavaliers. He had the most catches in college football and the fourth-most yards. He worked every area of the field as a receiver and was hard to bring down after the catch. With Curtis Samuel set to be a free agent, the Commanders could look for a WR that is elusive and gets yards after the catch.

Isaac Rex, TE, BYU

If you look at how BYU used Isaac Rex, you wouldn’t think he was a TE. They line him up anywhere in the formation and he is effective as a receiver from any alignment. Rex has excellent concentration to corral passes and speed to get yards after the catch. Blocking is the question mark for me, but at 6’5”, 250 lbs, he has the size to do it.

Garrett Greenfield, OT, South Dakota State

The Jackrabbits are well represented in this game, but Garrett Greenfield might have the best chance of making his mark in the NFL. The 6’5”, 310 lb tackle has experience on both sides of the line. He is fairly polished with his technique which may help cover up some of his athletic deficiencies like slower feet. If he can’t handle the speed of the NFL game, he has the makings of being an effective guard.

Doug Nester, OG, West Virginia

At 6’6”, 306 bs, I worry about Doug Nester getting out-leveraged by defensive tackles. On tape, those concerns never manifested. Instead, I saw a fluid, athletic blocker that should find success in multiple run schemes. He’s not the most powerful, but he anchors well in pass protection and holds the point of attack in the run game. He also has experience at RT.

Nick Samac, C, Michigan State

Nick Samac is not the biggest center at 6’4” and only 298 lbs, but it does allow him to get out and block in space. His ability to locate and latch onto a target might be the best among players in this game. Samac has suffered a few injuries in his career, including one that ended his 2023 season early. If the Commanders aren’t sure about the center position, I like Samac as a Day 3 option.

West Team Defense

Zion Tupuola-Fetui, DE, Washington

As a prospect, Zion Tupuola-Fetui reminds me a little of a player the Commanders selected last year in the draft: K.J. Henry. At 6’3”, 248 lbs, he is a similar size to Henry. His athleticism, quickness, and bend won’t wow you, but he is powerful. Tupuola-Fetui regularly walks back blockers or uses his strong hands to shock them. His closing speed shows up on tape, too. I’d like to see him develop more pass rush moves and counters, but that can come with good coaching. He has suffered a torn Achilles tendon in his career.

Myles Murphy, DT, UNC

The Commanders have talented defensive tackles in Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, but it wouldn’t hurt to add to this group. Though not a high positional need, Myles Murphy caught my eye with how quick he was at 6’3”, 312 lbs. He uses his length, quickness, and hand usage to make it hard for blockers to get their hands on him. Once clear of the blockers, his closing speed makes a tackle all but inevitable.

Levelle Bailey, LB, Fresno State

A number of the linebackers on the West Team are better playing towards the line of scrimmage. Levelle Bailey seems to make more plays dropping back in coverage. He had three interceptions this year along with five PBUs. He easily moves in space and understands is assignments in zone. When Bailey plays forward, he is good at diagnosing plays, but he doesn’t have the best stopping power as a hitter, possibly due to his size at 6’1”, 226 lbs.

Dwight McGlothern, CB, Arkansas

A high school defensive back and wide receiver, Dwight McGlothern did a tour of the SEC West, starting his career at LSU and ending it at Arkansas. He has good length even if he is a thinly built at 6’1”, 185 lbs. His experience at receiver gives him an understanding of route concepts, excellent hands, and makes him dangerous if he takes the ball away. I’d like to see him be more physical as a defender and tackler.

Dominique Hampton, S, Washington

The appeal of Dominique Hampton is how well he moves at 6’2”, 213. He has loose hips that he uses to stick to his assignment in man or break to the sideline in zone coverage. Hampton can also come down into the box quickly and has good stopping power as a hitter. He might struggle to cover smaller, quicker players, but he could help Washington cover bigger receivers and tight ends.

Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, S, Texas Tech

He might be small at 5’10”, 189 lbs, but Dadrion Taylor-Demerson might be the best true free safety in this game. Thanks to his elite speed, he has tons of range on the backend of the defense. When it looks like he is beat, or out of position, he kicks it up a gear and gets back into the play. He is aggressive and has no problem making hits, but is a little limited in his power given his size.