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MORSE: East-West Shrine Practice Reports, Players To Watch in Senior Bowl, and HBCU Combine

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
February 1, 2022 at 8:32 am ET

MORSE: East-West Shrine Practice Reports, Players To Watch in Senior Bowl, and HBCU Combine(PHOTO: Raj Mehta - USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 8 minutes

East-West Shrine Game Practice reports

The East-West Shrine game is Thursday at 8 on the NFL Network.

The most famous Patriot player to play in the East-West Shrine game was Sebastian Vollmer.  “Sea Bass” didn’t get an invite to the Senior Bowl, nor to the Combine.  He did get invited to the Shrine Game, and fortuitous for him the O line coach was Dante Scarnecchia.   The rest is history.  The Patriots usually take at least one player from this all-star game or sign them as UnDrafted Free Agents.

Several online sources have been used to provide these thumbnail reports from the practices.  For the most part, I will highlight the players that have had positive results.  Some will be mentioned more than once as they impressed on both the 1st two days of practice and have been mentioned by multiple sources.

Overall from all of the sources, the opinions have been that the QB play is very poor in general.  That may make it difficult to evaluate the WRs and DB’s. 

Tony Pauline Pro Football Network

Treston Ebner RB, Baylor

Teams have come away impressed with Ebner, going as far as comparing him to Tony Pollard of the Dallas Cowboys. Ebner’s pass caching has been brilliant all week. His footwork, as well as the ability to elude defenders, has also been impressive.

Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State

Pierre Strong Jr. was the top ball carrier of the day. He runs hard on the inside, is tough to bring down, and shows a lot of foot quickness and the ability to change direction.

Kyle Philips, WR, UCLA

Kyle Philips struggled at the onset but finished strong. He’s super quick, runs good routes leaving defenders in the dust, and laid out to make several nice receptions.

Charleston Rambo, WR, Miami (FL)

If there was one “wow” performance for me today, it was from Charleston Rambo. From the onset, he ran great routes and was applauded by coaches.

Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE, Maryland

Chigoziem Okonkwo was the best tight end on the field today. As I tweeted earlier, he looks like a possession wideout playing tight end with his ability to get down the field and effortlessly come away with the catch.

Dareke Young, WR, Lenoir-Rhyne

Except for one bad drop, it was a terrific day for Dareke Young, who competed, caught the ball well, and consistently found ways to get open. Here’s the thing about Young, which may draw red flags — he’s a muscle-bound guy with the lower body of a running back, not a receiver.

Kyler McMichael, CB, North Carolina

Kyler McMichael had several outstanding moments, coming up with multiple nice pass defenses.

Jermaine Waller, S, Virginia Tech

Jermaine Waller was one of the better, if not the best, safety I watched today. What really stood out were his ball skills — he competed in the one-on-ones and defeated opponents more times than not.

Ty Chandler, RB, North Carolina

Ty Chandler had several nice runs and caught the ball well out of the backfield during today’s Shrine Bowl practice.

Kyler McMichael, CB, North Carolina

Kyler McMichael was good on Saturday, yet near dominant today. He was one of the best DBs in drills, shut down his man in the scrimmage, and he also came away with a nice interception. It was an easy decision to place him on our Shrine Bowl Risers list today.


Cam Mellor Pro Football Network

Kyler McMichael, CB, North Carolina

Making the best play of any defender during the first practice, Kyler McMichael put his name on the map officially. During team drills, McMichael closed space between him and his receiver on a post route from off coverage. He closed the space, jumped the route, and made a dramatic pass breakup that sent the defensive sidelines into a frenzy.  McMichael showcased great feet in agility drills and sure hands in individual sessions. The production on very limited snaps in team drills is something to take note of for McMichael here. He was on point all session long.

Charleston Rambo, WR, Miami (FL)

Unguardable for essentially the entire practice, Miami (FL) WR Charleston Rambo was dominant all over the field. Whether it was the release drill off the line that he continually won or sure hands during passing drills, Rambo absolutely turned heads.

But Rambo’s best moment came in team drills where he made the best play of the day for the offensive units. Beating his defensive back off the line of scrimmage, Rambo adjusted his route on a deep go ball, tracked it perfectly, and made a leaping snag in between two defenders. It would have been called back in a real game due to an illegal motion, but the catch was nonetheless spectacular.

Matthew Butler, DT, Tennessee

Proving to be too quick and too strong for most that stood in front of him, Matthew Butler won with a variety of pass-rush skills during the first practice. Butler was strong when he needed to, blowing up anchor attempts from the offensive line.

Yet, he was also speedy enough to use a push-and-pull move where he gave a strong arm, pulled back, and ran right by linemen at times as well. It was a dominant showing, perhaps the most dominant of the defensive linemen who played specifically on the interior during the practice.

Bamidele Olaseni, OT, Utah

Arguably the biggest riser of the whole day, Utah’s Bamidele Olaseni was dominant all session long. He worked at both right and left tackle spots in one-on-one drills. Bam also rotated into both guards spots at certain times, showing his willingness to put his skills on display.

He already made headlines with his massive 88′ 3/8″ wingspan and backed that up with stellar performances in every drill. Olaseni’s feet were particularly impressive as he never lost balance or looked out of control. He contacted defenders first and even spent time honing his craft when not in the action. It was a commanding showing.

Kyle Philips, WR, UCLA

It’s apparent that no one can really keep up with UCLA WR Kyle Philips at the Shrine Bowl. He’s turned defensive backs in circles and has sped past linebackers with ease. His routes are crisp, and his hands are soft. Philips’ ability to separate at the catch point has made everyone take notice.

He isn’t the biggest guy, but Philips doesn’t have to stand tall to play big. The former UCLA WR hauled in the biggest play during team drills, finding a hole in the zone coverage that he scooted for a touchdown. It was a bright spot for the passing game that saw very little of it yet again from the quarterbacks.

Kyler McMichael, CB, North Carolina

The best play from any defender during team drills on Day 2 belonged to UNC CB Kyler McMichael. Staying in the hip pocket of his receiver, McMichael was in the perfect position to grab an overthrown, tipped pass on the boundary. He nabbed an interception and ran it up the sidelines for what would have been a pick-six for the defense.

McMichael has terrific hips and feet in and out of his backpedal during individual drills. He utilized those skills all across the practice sequence all the same. This marks the second time in as many days that he finds himself on our Shrine Bowl Risers list. He’s impressed everyone in attendance.

Thomas Booker, DL, Stanford

The single most dominant set of pass rushes from the individual drills in the trenches belonged to Stanford DL Thomas Booker. The big man who can play a bevy of defensive line positions had terrific balance in and out of contact on the line. And his hands were top-notch, clearly taking to the coaching he’s receiving.

Booker’s quick wins and impressive get-off during one-on-ones certainly receive praise. But his ability to take coaching from his outstanding positional coaches at the Shrine Bowl has paid off. He’s been the fastest to implement what he’s being coached and execute at a high level so far this week.

Cordell Volson, OL, North Dakota State

Arguably the biggest play of the day’s Shrine Bowl practice came when Cordell Volson pancaked a defensive lineman during one-on-one drills. Volson lifted his defender in the air and flipped him inside for the dramatic pancake block. Making it even more impressive, Volson did that on his lone snap from the right tackle spot as he rotated in and around the offensive line.


Pro Football Focus


Pierre Strong RB South Dakota St

Josh Johnson WR Tulsa

Bamidele Olaseni OT Utah

Luke Wattenberg OC Washington

Matt Butler DT Tennessee

Marquan McCall NT Kentucky

Charleston Rambo WR Miami



10 Players to watch in the Senior Bowl Practices.

Look for Senior Bowl practices to be broadcast on the NFL Network starting today.  Weigh-Ins were today

I don’t list any of the QB’s because they will get all the attention anyway.  I just list some players that I am curious about.


1. Cameron Thomas DL, San Diego State (American)

We know he can be a hand-in-the dirt defensive end and shift inside. Can he stand up and rush and play in space? He might be asked to do that some this week. Thomas has position flexibility at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds. He notched 71 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, and force a fumble this past season.


2. John Ridgeway DL, Arkansas (American)

Is a tall, long-armed NT.  He stands 6’5”, 325 lbs, and can handle the double team blocks.  Ridgeway transferred to Arkansas after starting for three years at Illinois St.  He was also the Illinois HS state champion in wrestling.


3. Quay Walker LB, Georgia (American)

He is flying under the radar for a lot of people that don’t know him.  He was overshadowed by teammates in that Georgia defense.  He might just be the best of the bunch.  Walker is a rangy and speedy linebacker with great size at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds. He totaled 65 tackles with 5.5 for loss. He also had 1.5 sacks and three passes defended. He’ll be tested this week to prove just how versatile he can be.

4. Jalen Tolbert WR, South Alabama (American)

Tolbert caught 82 passes for 1,474 yards and eight touchdowns for the Jaguars this season, his second consecutive 1000-yard season. Tolbert is a long-framed (6-3, 190) receiver who averaged 18.0, 17.0, and 19.3 yards per reception the last three seasons.  He also has impressive speed for a big man at 4.42 (e) 40.


5. Jermaine Johnson II EDGE, Florida State (American)

The former Georgia transfer got a chance to play at Florida State this past season and he did not disappoint.  Johnson has terrific size (6-5, 260) and is a productive prospect along the edge. He recorded 70 total tackles (33 solo), with 17.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.


6. Devonte Wyatt DL, Georgia (American)

Wyatt was overshadowed a bit by teammate Jordan Davis, but he finished with 39 total tackles, which was tops among Georgia’s interior linemen. He also showed some pass-rushing prowess with 27 quarterback pressures. Teams will have a close eye on him during one-on-one pass-rush drills this week.


7. Joshua Williams CB, Fayetteville St (DII)

He is the only D II player playing in the Senior Bowl.   Can he hang with the big boys?  He is a big corner at 6’3”, 197 lbs, and may be better at FS.  He has run an estimated 4.52 40 so he has the speed.


8. Jahan Dotson WR, Penn State (National)

Dotson had 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 scores in 2021, including six touchdowns in his final four games. He’s an explosive deep threat, but a savvy route runner as well. His speed should stand out this week.  A sleeper that might just pop into the 1st round.


9. Trey McBride TE, Colorado State (National)

McBride caught 90 passes for 1,121 yards in 2021, but only had one touchdown. That’s a lot of production for a tight end entering a league like the NFL that loves versatile pass-catching tight ends.


10. Devin Lloyd LB, Utah (National)

Lloyd had a huge season for the Utes, totaling 111 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, four interceptions (two pick-sixes), and a forced fumble. He’s versatile and has been drawing early comparisons to Tampa Bay’s Devin White. He’ll likely be the first inside linebacker taken in the draft.



Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Combine


As part of the Senior Bowl week, Jim Nagy and the directors of the Senior Bowl came up with the idea of conducting an NFL Type Combine for select players from HBCU schools that would not get invited to the NFL Combine and a few players came shining through.

Will Adams S Virginia State – 6’1” 186, 4.57 40, 40.5” Vertical, 10-3 Broadjump, 6.88 3-cone, 21 reps at 225Lbs (very high for a DB).  Looked good in every drill.  He stole the show and had every scout talking about him.  He should be on the Patriots’ radar with that 3-cone time.

Ezra Gray RB/WR/KR Alabama State – 5’ 7” 174 lbs, 4.3 estimated 40, 38.5 V, 10-3 BJ.  He didn’t run the 40 because of a slight hamstring pull and will run it at his pro day.  Gray caught the ball very well and played some as a slot receiver.  He could contribute immediately as a KR.  Gray was the second athlete in school history to be a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete after graduating with a 4.0 grade-point average.  Patriots scouts don’t miss things like that.  Scored a 99 yard KO return TD versus Auburn.  That was the one and only time they kicked to him.

Jah-Maine Martin RB North Carolina A&T –  5’10” 215 (waiting to test at Pro Day) Most fluid pass catcher out of RBs.  Downhill, one-cut runner.

Keenan Forbes OG Florida A&M – 6’2” 330 lbs, 5.37 40  Scott Pioli had high praise for Forbes saying he was “Loose in the hips, bent well, and had good change of direction”.

The HBCU All-Star game is scheduled for February 19th.

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About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.

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