The 94th edition of the East-West Shrine Game is quickly approaching. The annual all-star game will take place on Saturday, January 19th. The contest will broadcast from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida at 2 pm (CST) on NFL Network.

The Shrine Game isn’t as highly thought of like the Senior Bowl. However, this does not mean the game is bereft of prospects.

In the third of a four-part series, I will break down the EAST team defensive players.

EAST DEFENSE

EDGE RUSHERS

Kyle Phillips                           Tennessee                          6'4                273
Wyatt Ray                              Boston College                  6'3                255
Mathieu Betts                      Laval                                      6'3                250

Zach Allen and Harold Landry (last season) drew the headlines but Wyatt Ray is a tremendous edge rusher in his own right. Ray finished 2018 with nine sacks. Phillips is a scheme versatile defender. The production isn’t always there but the effort is. I know nothing of Canadian collegian Mathieu Betts. However, the folks over at The Draft Network think he has pass rush upside.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Cortez Broughton               Cincinnati                             6'2                282
Chris Slayton                        Syracuse                              6'4                309
Michael Dogbe                    Temple                                 6'3                280
Kevin Wilkins                        Rutgers                                 6'2                304
Ricky Walker                         Virginia Tech                      6'2                300

This is a solid if not unspectacular group. Ricky Walker finished his career with 30.5 tackles for loss. Michael Dogbe is a grinder. A poor man’s Aaron Donald if you will. Slayton has nice size and can be a plugger. Broughton is a tad undersized. However, he has been productive over his career. Wilkins is probably better suited to be a two-down run defender.

LINEBACKERS

Ulysses Gilbert                    Akron                                    6'1                225

Jordan Jones                        Kentucky                             6'1                221
Tre Watson                           Maryland                             6'2                236
Andrew Van Ginkel            Wisconsin                            6'4                236
Khalil Hodge                         Buffalo                                  6'0                235

This group may be the best position group amongst both teams. Khalil Hodge is awesome. In three seasons with Buffalo, Hodge posted 419 tackles. He is a sideline-to-sideline machine. Another superb MAC talent is Akron’s Gilbert. His production was down from his ridiculously good 2017 season. However, Gilbert could be a three-down backer in the NFL. Van Ginkel has some pass rush talent and can cover in space. Watson was a grad transfer from Illinois. He continued his high level of play for the Terps. Jordan Jones is the forgotten man on the Wildcats defense. While not as good as fellow linebackers Josh Allen or Kash Daniel, Jones is a solid player.

CORNERBACKS

Derrick Baity                         Kentucky                             6'2                186
Keisean Nixon                      South Carolina                   5'10              193
Rashad Fenton                    South Carolina                   5'10              184
Michael Jackson                  Miami (FL)                           6'0                200
Isaiah Wharton                    Rutgers                                 6'1                203

Rashad Fenton was higher on my board following last season. He struggled often in 2018. Fenton gets a bit handsy and often gets penalized for it. At the NFL level, he is probably more of a nickel prospect. The other Gamecocks corner, Keisean Nixon is a lesser prospect than Fenton, in my opinion. Nixon isn’t afraid to make tackles. He is also versatile enough to play safety. Wharton has nice size and decent ball skills. Baity is in the same vein as Wharton, just with more length and ball skills. Former Hurricane Michael Jackson picked off four passes in 2017 and teams didn’t test him in 2018.

SAFETIES

Lukas Denis                           Boston College                  5'11              188
Chris Johnson                      North Alabama                  6'3                200
Delvon Randall                     Temple                                 6'1                215
Sheldrick Redwine*          Miami (FL)                           6'1                195
Zedrick Woods                    Mississippi                           5'11              202

Randall is likely the top of the heap here. He and Lukas Denis are two of the better safety prospects in this game. Chris Johnson has tremendous size but I have not seen him play. Sheldrick Redwine is playing in the Senior Bowl now and is unlikely to play in this game.

SPECIALISTS

K                    Matt Gay                               Utah                                      6'0                230
P                    A.J. Cole                                 NC State                               6'4                220
LS                  Jacob Bobenmeyer            Northern Colorado          6'2                235

That concludes the preview of the EAST team defense. Next, I will look at the WEST team defense.

2019 SHRINE GAME

EAST TEAM DEFENSE PREVIEW

DEEP FRIED DRAFT