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2019 NFL Draft: East-West Shrine Game Preview

Everything you need to know about the unofficial first scouting event of the season...

East West Shrine Game Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The 2019 East-West Shrine Game kicks off on Saturday afternoon from St. Petersburg, Florida.

Created in 1925, the East-West Shrine Game was the nation’s first college all-star football game, committed to supporting Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Today, it is gives lesser-known NFL prospects another chance to showcase their skills before the testing and interviewing portion of scouting season begins.

Some interesting facts about the Shrine Game courtesy of The Draft Network’s Joe Marino:

Don’t sleep on the significance of the Shrine Game and the NFL talent that is on display. 70 participants from the 2018 Game made final NFL rosters last season. More than 300 East-West Shrine Game alumni are on NFL rosters on a yearly basis. The Shrine Game has produced 77 Pro Football Hall of Famers.

TV Info

When: Saturday, January 19, 2019

Game start: 3pm EST

Broadcast: NFL Network

Venue: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida

Jon Robinson and College All-Star Games

The college all-star games have proven to be significant scouting events for the Titans the last few years. At least two draft selections in each year of Jon Robinson’s tenure—even last year with only four total picks—have been featured in either the Shrine Game or the Senior Bowl, if not both.

Tennessee Titans Shrine Game Alumni

  • LeShaun Sims, 2016
  • Tajae Sharpe, 2016
  • Aaron Wallace, 2016
  • Dane Cruikshank, 2018

Tennessee Titans Senior Bowl Alumni

  • Austin Johnson, 2016
  • Kevin Byard, 2016
  • Tajae Sharpe, 2016
  • Sebastian Tretola, 2016
  • Taywan Taylor, 2017
  • Jonnu Smith, 2017
  • Luke Falk, 2018

That’s ten players (Tajae Sharpe played in both games) of Robinson’s 23 draft selections that played in one (or more) of those two major college all-star games.

The Titans’ scouts are already present for the 2019 Shrine Game practices, which began on Monday and will continue all week. They’ve even met with a couple of prospects.

While these meetings may not mean much, it is interesting to note the positions the Titans are talking to. On Monday, it was an offensive tackle and a cornerback. I’ll be keeping an eye on these meetings as they’re reported throughout the week.

For player previews, Chad Reuter of NFL.com put out a list of 10 prospects to watch, which is worth reading ahead of the big game on Saturday. And The Draft Network has all kinds of reading material, including 5 Prospects Primed to Shine, Top Prospects by Position, and practice notes for both the East and West teams.

You can check out the full East Roster here, and the full West Roster here.

A few players I’ll be watching closely this week based on the Titans’ needs include...

  • DaMarkus Lodge, WR, Ole Miss — The 6-2 Rebel receiver is one of the most highly-touted players in this year’s Shrine Game, and he’s currently projected as a second- or third- round pick. His contested catch skills and deep speed stand out on tape, as well as his ability to beat press coverage. Lodge is also an excellent blocker but sometimes struggles with concentration drops. Still, his downfield playmaking abilities make him a tantalizing prospect and a guy I would love to see in two-tone blue.
Here, Lodge gets a clean release off the line and then works upfield to gain outside leverage. He then adjusts to an underthrown ball, times his inside-arm chop perfectly to shed the defender’s hands and high points the football, eventually securing it away from the ground and the defender for a huge play.

Later on Saturday, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will take place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, kicking off at 5pm EST, and will be televised on FS1. This game is not as well known as the Shrine Game but will showcase another group of players trying to impress NFL scouts.

While the Shrine Game may have a handful of day two prospects, keep in mind the majority of the players in that and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will be day three picks or wind up as UDFAs.

The Reese’s Senior Bowl will take place the following Saturday in Mobile, Alabama, with a full week of scouted practices leading up to that game, as well.

We’ll have Shrine Game coverage this weekend and lots more to come in preparation for the 2019 NFL Draft in April.