St. Petersburg, Florida is the site of the collegiate East-West Shrine Game, which is the unofficial kickoff of NFL Draft season.
Over 100 prospects will be on showcase in the four days of practices and the game Saturday.
The Detroit Lions have a presence down in St. Petersburg, like they do every year. Last year, safety Tracy Walker out of Louisiana-Lafayette caught their eye and ended up being their third-round pick.
There are some guys at the East-West Shrine Game that will go in the top 100 picks in the draft, but the majority of the prospects are rounds 4-7 guys, or be players to be signed immediately following the draft. It’s those players that build the depth and foundation of the roster.
Can some of these prospects put themselves into the conversation on Day 2 of the draft? Can others solidify their place on Day 3?
Here’s a look at 10 players to watch during the East-West Shrine Game:
Blace Brown, CB, Troy
He’s got good genes being the nephew of Herschel Walker. Brown tore his ACL in the final game of 2017 and wasn’t back to totally being himself until the end of 2018. NFL evaluators like his size (6-0, 188) and instincts, and the fact that he has 12 career interceptions.
Michael Jackson, CB, Miami
Another corner with plus size (6-2, 195). He didn’t have a stellar senior season from a statistical standpoint, which is probably why he chose to play this week. He's a physical tackler, but will have to show off the proper technique and footwork. The one-on-one battles in practice and his performance Saturday will be key to jump starting his pre-draft process.
Devine Ozigbo, RB, Nebraska
A downhill, physical-style runner who amassed 1,082 yards (7.0 average) and 12 touchdowns for the Cornhuskers this past season. He also caught 23 passes. He’ll hope to show teams this week that he can be a short-yardage and goal line option in the middle rounds, with the possibility to expand that role.
Jordan Brailford, EDGE, Oklahoma State
Brailford lined up at both defensive end spots and all three linebacker positions in his time with the Cowboys. Teams place a value on players coming into the league they think can play multiple roles and offer different skillsets. A second-team All-Big 12 selection, Brailford (6-3, 250) recorded 57 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks this past season.
Markus Jones, EDGE, Angelo State
Jones (6-3, 260) is one of the more interesting prospects in St. Petersburg this week. He was named the winner of the 2018 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year award and was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy (DII Heisman). Jones’ 2018 stat line jumps off the page. He recorded 84 tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks, 17 quarterback hurries and four forced fumbles.
Derick Roberson, EDGE, Sam Houston State
A transfer from Texas, Roberson has a long frame (6-4, 254). His 20.5 tackles for loss, 15.0 sacks and five forced fumbles show there’s something to work with there. He’s pretty raw as a pass rusher, but teams can’t teach the physical traits. For a mid-to-late-round pick, someone will take a chance at trying to refine his game.
DaMarkus Lodge, WR, Ole Miss
The Lions are in the market for a third receiving option and some depth behind Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. Lodge has a tall frame, and showed the ability to separate from defenders in the SEC. He’s a good vertical threat, which is one area where the Lions seriously regressed in 2018.
Terry Godwin, WR, Georgia
Godwin’s numbers were down this past year (22 catches, 373 yards, 3 touchdowns) from a terrific junior campaign (38, 639, 6), but he has a ton of experience (44 games with 36 starts) and speed with good shiftiness in the slot. Detroit is expected to be on the lookout for playmakers on offense, and could use one in the slot.
Lamont Gaillard, C/G, Georgia
Gaillard started all 14 games at center this past season as the leader of a Bulldog offensive line that has paved the way for an SEC-leading 238.8 rushing yards per game. He’s started 42 games throughout his career. A strong showing in pass protection and run drills this week could improve his stock considerably for teams looking for interior line help this offseason.
Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State
With Matt Cassel headed toward free agency, and Jake Rudock signing a futures deal with Miami, the Lions could be on the lookout for another young quarterback to develop in this draft. Stick is a proven winner with 49 career victories under his belt. He has good size (6-2, 221), and led the Bison to the FCS championship by completing 62 percent of his passes for 2,752 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. He also rushed for 773 yards with another 17 touchdowns.