East-West Shrine Game 2013 Preview: West Squad

Matthew Holst

The second part of this East-West Shrine Game preview focuses on prospects playing for the West team.

Offense

Kerwynn Williams - RB - #25 - Utah State - 5'8" / 190

I am a huge, HUGE fan of Kerwynn Williams, who finally got a chance to shine as a senior after having to bide his time behind Robert Turbin and Michael Smith (both 2011 draft picks; if you watched the Atlanta/Seattle game yesterday, you saw Turbin flash immense potential). At just 5'8" and 190 pounds, Williams won't be a feature back in the NFL, but he has the skill set to be an excellent change-of-pace complement and lethal receiver out of the backfield. In fact, it's my opinion -- given his athleticism, soft hands and considerable participation in the Aggies' passing game this season -- that he is the best receiver of any RB prospect in the 2013 draft. Kerwynn is a quick-twitch, sudden runner with explosive speed in and out of the hole and when turning the corner (even when defenders take good angles they get left in the dust). He also shows deceptive lower-body power -- roll tape, you'll be shocked how many tackles he breaks for his size -- which, when combined with what will surely be 4.4 (or under) speed, makes him even more of a truly electrifying talent who poses legit home-run ability with every touch. Given the Eagles depth at the RB position, I'll say it's 99.9% likely he won't be a draft pick of theirs. But I'll also say this: Whoever does select Kerwynn Williams (likely on Day 3) will be getting a major steal. I expect him to have an immediate and significant impact as a rookie.

Jasper Collins - WR - #8 - Mount Union - 5'11" / 190

Collins was the most talked-about offensive D3 prospect all season, but I didn't get a chance to watch him in live action. I saw reactions from amateur talent evaluators/draft writers who watched the semifinal and championship on TV or were in attendance. The stats Collins put up in the playoffs were simply silly; in fact, he virtually equalled his regular season output (except for yards) in half the games. In 5 playoff games, he had 43 catches for 795 yards and 11 TD, while in 10 regular season games, he had 49 catches for 899 yards and 11 TDs. Interested to hear/read how Collins performs against D1 talent.

Keenan Davis - WR - #6 - Iowa - 6'2" / 215

I'll be honest, Keenan Davis isn't a player I intended to include on this list when I first started writing it. Then I watched the Iowa/Central Michigan game from earlier this season to get a look at CMU SS Jahleel Addae (featured later). It was Keenan Davis who made the biggest impression on me. He's got the size and speed, and the plays he made against Central Michigan showed off a combination of athleticism and strength, including one that made my jaw drop (his first catch, which was of the diving, full-extension variety) and one that had me nodding my head in admiration (hanging on to a throw while taking a jarring hit a split second later). Davis's stats are pedestrian at best, but I also know, thanks to my Twitter timeline over the course of the college season, that he was working with a QB in James Vanderberg who, how can I put this gently... sucked. I still have to watch more Iowa tape to figure out how I feel about Keenan Davis, but he's definitely got my attention.

Joseph Fauria - TE - #88 - UCLA - 6'7" / 255

Former NFL TE Christian Fauria's nephew and a Notre Dame transfer, Joseph has the size and ability teams lust after for the new breed of athletic freak at the position. While his blocking leaves a lot to be desired both in effort and execution, there's no denying Fauria's talent as a receiver and the utility he provides in that capacity. Fauria lumbers a little bit off the snap, takes some time to get going and doesn't have long speed, but he still definitely fits the enticing athletic profile. Though an enormous target in the middle of the field who can get down the seam, and a tremendously effective red zone target who scored at least one touchdown in 10 of 14 games this season, Fauria's pass-catching can be inconsistent because he'll let the ball get into his body.

Blaize Foltz - OG - #66 - Texas Christian - 6'4" / 315

I haven't studied Foltz closely enough to give a thorough, informed opinion, but I can glean from research that he's a mauler type in the throwback mold. Also, this: He can bench 580 pounds, squat 800, incline bench 520 and clean jerk 430. TCU coaches said Foltz do more, but they wouldn't let him. Dude's a bona fide beast.

Kirby Fabien - OT - #50 - Calgary - 6'6" / 305

Fabien is Canadian, played collegiately at the University of Calgary and was the 7th overall pick in the 2012 CFL draft. He has NFL size, for sure. Oh, and his name is Kirby. Cool.

Defense

Jahleel Addae - SS - #15 - Central Michigan - 5'11" / 200

This is a long one. Here's the thing with Jahleel Addae, and why I have a good feeling about him. He's a player whose name had been on my radar ever since I started researching Central Michigan LT Eric Fisher (who I think is the best LT in the draft, by the way, with Luke Joeckel second). The first time I ever got to see Addae play was the Little Caesars Bowl versus Western Kentucky, and he impressed the hell out of me with his versatility, physicality and intelligence -- knew game situations, had a calming influence, orchestrated the defense pre-snap. Lined up all over the formation; was no doubt the captain and emotional leader of that unit. Addae's awareness and heads up ability both stood out, and the plays that cemented me as a believer came back-to-back halfway through the 4th quarter in the Little Caesars Bowl. Fast forward to 2:02:33 of this clip and watch. That's Addae, recognizing the screen at the snap, deftly shedding a would-be blocker and tripping up the RB at the line of scrimmage. Then it's Addae again on the punt block, tracking and hustling after the play to fall on the fumble, which would've been a first down for Western Kentucky had they recovered since Central Michigan players touched the ball.

Addae will jump out at you immediately for two things: his incredibly long, flowing dreadlocks that nearly cover his entire jersey number, and how hard he hits. Seriously, he blows people up, the kind of hits that would get a "WHOA!!!!" reaction in the press box (ala what happened when Trent Richardson steamrolled Kurt Coleman and popped his helmet off). What makes Addae different, however, is that he's not ONLY about administering kill shots every time and is smart about picking his spots. A lot of safeties will continuously -- recklessly -- launch themselves in an attempt to make highlight reel hits, but Addae is typically a disciplined and dependable tackler. Combine that with how well fast he closes (which you can also see on display when he blitzes), and you have a disruptive force who makes plays all over the field.

Then, as you watch Addae more, you start to realize and appreciate how good an athlete he is too. He may be listed as a SS, but he does not fill the role in a classic sense. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Central Michigan lined Addae up all over the defense. Had moments in coverage where he'd look fluid in his backpedal and then turn and run fine with a receiver, others where he'd struggle to keep up. As is the case with most safeties, Addae appeared more comfortable providing help over the top instead of matching up in single coverage. His ball skills also surprised me, much better than I anticipated (4 INT in each of the past two seasons).

As you might be able to tell, Jahleel Addae, like his teammate Eric Fisher, is a prospect I've come to adore quite a bit.

Demontre Hurst - CB - #9 - Oklahoma - 5'9" / 185

The most underrated CB prospect I've studied to this point, by a lot. Hurst is not going to turn heads with his size or speed, and given the physical style he likes to play, it wouldn't surprise me if his pro potential is widely dismissed. I'm just going to say this, though. I've now watched tape of 12 CB prospects for the 2013 draft, and Demontre Hurst is easily the most impressive tackler of the bunch. I was actually pretty blown away. His tackling was an aspect I noticed while watching Oklahoma live, which means it jumped out at me even when my focus wasn't narrowed (always a good sign). I don't care even care that Hurst is small because he plays strong and his tackling form and execution are perfect. Checking the stat sheet reflects this as well, as 148 of Hurst's 170 career tackles were solo. That's remarkable, especially for a CB. There were even a number of examples when he consciously tried to dislodge the ball from the carrier by targeting it with his helmet!

As I singled Hurst out for individual study, I found myself admiring his athleticism and coverage ability, too. Quarterbacks didn't throw at him too much, and as a result there were times when it seemed like he might've been lulled into complacency and then got burned deep. Other times he was burned deep due to overaggressiveness. Nevertheless, here's the number one thing about Hurst's game that gives me even more reason for optimism: Nascent ball skills. While he only has 2 career INT, Hurst has shown a propensity to locate the ball in the air and make a play, recording 31 passes defended over the past 3 seasons. In the spirit of TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE extrapolation, what if a few more of those passes defended could turn into interceptions just from being in position to make the play?

Khalid Wooten - CB - #2 - Nevada - 6'0" / 200

Duke Williams (also on the West roster) gets most of the hype as a pro prospect in the Nevada secondary, but Khalid Wooten is another player who intrigues me. I've been meaning to delve deeper for over a month now after doing initial research; the only time I've been able to watch him was in the New Mexico Bowl against Arizona, where his Wolfpack lost a 49-48 thriller. Wooten certainly looked the part and, if unofficial reports are to be believed, runs a sub-4.5; he made a bunch of solid tackles and missed some others, but on the whole, and especially given the craziness of the game, I thought he played well. Based on the stats alone, Wooten had a breakout 2011 season (65/73 solo tackles, 4 INT, 5 PD), and though his tackle (37/53) and interception (2) totals decreased in 2012, his passes defended increased to 14.

Keith Pough - OLB - #13 - Howard - 6'2" / 238

All I can tell you is the draft writers I follow on Twitter have raved about this guy recently. As someone who lives in DC and within a mile of Howard's campus, I really have no excuse for not going to watch Pough in live action. I feel shame.

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