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East-West Shrine Game Primer

The East-West Shrine Game is the oldest All-Star game in college football. @ReflipeWThenuz breaks down some of the more interesting players in this year's game.

Long looked upon as the lesser of the college Senior All-Star games, the East-West Shrine Game has nonetheless played host to scores of dynasty-relevant players. Players such as Brett Favre, Steve Smith, and Jimmy Garoppolo have taken the field in this charity contest on their way to NFL careers. This year will be no different than past years as scores of players with NFL dreams take to the field to showcase their skills and improve their draft stock. Coaches for the game are drawn from the ranks of NFL teams, with this year’s headmen being Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Arthur of the Falcons. This is notable since the Patriots dipped into last year’s Shrine Game to make several selections. Tyquan Thornton (2nd round), Jack Jones (4th round), Pierre Strong Jr. (4th round), and Sam Roberts (6th round) participated in the 2022 Shrine Bowl. Without further ado, let us look at some of the players you will want to monitor during the practices leading up to the contest and during the game itself.


Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA) 6’1″ 205lb

My personal top quarterback to monitor ahead of the Shrine Game is UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson. He is a dual-threat playmaker with a decent enough size for the position. During his final season at UCLA, he accounted for 39 total touchdowns. You can see his numbers below.

You can see from his numbers above that Dorian packed the stat sheet on his way to back-to-back second-team All-Pac 12 selections. When you watch him play, you immediately find several things to like. His work in the read-option system will make him an excellent candidate for teams like Chicago, Baltimore, and Philadelphia that make extensive use of these plays.

Thompson-Robinson offers some nice zip on his passes. When you watch him throw, it is clear that he has enough arm strength to make the throws at the next level. You can see a couple of examples of his zip on the ball, as well as his touch on deep passes.

I fully expect Dorian Thompson-Robinson to be on an NFL roster next season. Whether or not he enters the league as a late draft pick or a priority-free agent will likely depend on how he performs in the East-West Shrine game and pre-draft testing. I am looking forward to seeing his athleticism on display in this year’s installment of the oldest college All-Star game.

Aidan O’Connell (Purdue) 6’3″ 200lb

Aidan O’Connell is not one of the biggest names among the incoming 2023 draft class. The Senior signal-caller has a nice arm and a decent size for the position. He is not likely to be viewed as a starter by any team, but then again, neither was Tom Brady. The first thing you notice when you see O’Connell play is his arm strength. He has a nice delivery and the ability to fit balls into tight windows and loft deep passes for receivers to track, as you can see below.

O’Connell was able to put up decent numbers at Purdue. It is certainly true that his numbers dipped a bit from his junior to senior seasons at West Lafayette. However, much of that can be attributed to the loss of David Bell. His play was, however, good enough to help the Boilermakers win the Big-Ten West and a spot in the Conference Championship game. You can see his career numbers below.

O’Connell will likely have a decent role on gameday for either the East or West roster. There will surely be some new commits by other quarterbacks in the coming days and weeks, but Aidan’s early commitment will surely place him as one of the leaders in the clubhouse. Check him out on gameday on February 2nd.

Running Back

Mohamed Ibrahim (Minnesota) 5’10″ 210lb

Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim is probably the player I am most excited to watch in this year’s Shrine Game. The 5’10 ball of knives has been a fun player to watch during his time at Minnesota. He leaves the Golden Gophers as the All-Time leader in numerous categories. He capped off his career with an incredible year, as you can see below.

1,665 yards and 20 touchdowns is a great season by any standard. These numbers earned Ibrahim 1st Team All-Big 10 and second-team All-American honors in 2022. When we look at what Ibrahim does well on film, his power and contact balance immediately jump out. You can find him repeatedly bouncing off the first tackler and falling forward for extra yardage.

Ibrahim’s biggest deficiency is his lack of use in the passing game. At this point, we don’t know if it was simply Minnesota’s system or some hole in his game. Hopefully, the East-West Shrine game will help to shed some light on this part of his game. Having NFL coaches like Bill Belichick put him through some drills should help to give us a better overall view of his skill set.

As it stands, many analysts have Mohammed Ibrahim pegged as a mid to late-round draft pick in the coming NFL draft. There have been some players who have come out of those rounds in recent years who have made an impact on dynasty football teams. Look no further than last year, where Tyler Allgeier, Dameon Pierce, and Isaiah Pacheco put up quality numbers as Day 3 draft picks. I, for one, will be keeping an eye on Mohammed Ibrahim throughout the Shrine Game week, and I suggest you do the same.

Xazavian Valladay (Arizona St.) 6’0″ 198lb

Another intriguing running back prospect set to take the field in the East-West Shrine Game is Arizona State’s Xazavian Valladay. The talented runner parlayed his early career success at Wyoming into a final season in the Pac-12 with the Sun Devils. He was a star transfer and even found himself on the pre-season Doak Walker watch list. You can see his career numbers below.

Unlike Ibrahim, you can see from the numbers above that Valladay was a somewhat accomplished pass catcher at both Wyoming and Arizona State. He is a decent hands catcher, and that comes through when watching the film, as you can see below.

Another trait that Valladay brings to the table is pure speed. Valladay was a big play waiting to happen during his entire college career. It didn’t matter if it was Mountain-West competition or the Pac-12. If he got a crease, he had the speed to take it to the house.

While Valladay is not a bruiser by any means, he does possess enough physicality to run between the tackles. He can run through arm tackles and has nice contact balance to force defenders to wrap him up to get him on the turf.

Overall I think Xazavian Valladay is a decent prospect. He brings an elite speed talent to the table that will surely have him on an NFL team next season. When I watch him, I see something of a poor man’s Travis Etienne. Give him a look during the Shrine Game, and keep your ears peeled for any news out of practices leading up to the game.

Tavion Thomas (Utah) 6’2″ 221lb

The final early commit running back at the East-West Shrine game I am interested in is Utah’s, Tavion Thomas. The fifth-year junior struggled through his final season in Salt Lake City. He dealt with both personal tragedy in the loss of his aunt who raised him, and injury on the field. In his case, it is also very important to look back on his 2021 campaign. During that season, he was a dominant force for the Utes on his way to First Team All-Pac-12 honors. You can see his career numbers below.

When you dive into Thomas’ film, the first thing you notice is his power. He is a bruiser of a running back. As you see below, he does a good job of running behind his pads and fighting through first contact.

One of the more surprising traits I noticed while studying the film on Thomas was that for a big man, he has loose hips. On numerous occasions, you will see him bounce a play to the outside, plant his foot in the ground, and get upfield. He has a decently smooth gate for such a large back. You can see a couple of examples of this below.

After doing a preliminary scouting look at Tavion Thomas, I see a player who can contribute at the next level. I do not envision him as an All-Pro rusher, but he could be able to make an impact on Sundays. The player he reminds me of is former Chicago Bears 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Howard. He has nice size and just enough speed. He does not appear to be a natural pass catcher but could score you some fantasy points if he finds himself in the right situation. Check him out on February 2nd.

Wide Receiver

A.T. Perry (Wake Forest) 6’5″ 206lb

Former Wake Forest wide receiver A.T. Perry will be one of the easiest players to spot at the Shine Game. The Demon Deacon standout is a tower of a player at 6’5″. He put up very nice numbers at Winston-Salem. Coming off of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, he is easily the highest-ranked player on the Dynasty Nerds Devy rankings at the Shrine Game this year. You can see his numbers below.

One of the most obvious areas Perry uses his size is the end zone. Over the course of his last two seasons, he secured 26 touchdowns. He will present a difficult cover for even the best NFL corners when it comes to the end zone. You can see a couple of examples below of him effectively using his size to bully smaller corners.

Not only does Perry have a huge frame to help shield defenders, but he also has an exceptional pair of hands. When you watch him play the position, he extends his arms away from his body to make the catch instead of allowing the ball to get in on his chest. This makes him much more difficult for defenders to cover. You can see a perfect example of this below.

Due to his height, Perry has more build-up speed than explosive burst to his game. However, this did not prevent him from frequently getting behind defenders. He uses his exceptionally long stride to get on top of defenders and leave them behind, as below.

Perry has a game that will transition well to the NFL. He will be an excellent outside presence for some NFL staff. When I watch him play, I see a player in the mold of former New Orleans receiver Marques Colston. I expect him to go in the middle rounds of the upcoming NFL draft. Anywhere from the third to the fifth round of the draft feels like the proper range for Perry, depending on how he tests at the combine. The nice thing for us as dynasty owners is that we will get another chance to scout him at the East-West Shrine Game.

Zay Flowers (Boston College) 5’10″ 177lb

Zay Flowers is the next receiver up on my scouting board. The speedster out of Boston College is a much different type of player than Perry. At just 5’10, he is much more suited to play in the slot at the NFL level. During his time at BC, he got better and better each season, as you can see below.

Despite his slight stature, Flowers displayed a nose for the end zone. His quickness off the line of scrimmage makes him a tough cover for defenders in small spaces. With 31 total touchdowns to his credit, he will find a role at the next level. You can see a couple of examples of his quickness in the red zone below.

Despite appearing to have more quickness than long speed, Flowers has flashed the ability to burn defenders deep. He does a good job of using his quickness to create separation both off the line on his release and in his breaks. Once he has the ball in the open field, he can hurt a defense. You will note that in the second clip, he also displays excellent body control when going up to attack the ball.

I feel Flowers’ game will translate well to the next level. His size will likely limit him to slot duties. However, given the right situation, he could thrive in the right system on the right team. Players like Hunter Renfrow and Darnell Mooney have shown that you can win in the current NFL at a smaller size. Give him a look and keep your ears peeled for news out of Shrine Game practices on him. In particular, Bill Belichick has used numerous players with the same skill set.

Jalen Cropper (Fresno State) 6’0″ 180lb

The final receiver I would like to highlight ahead of the Shrine Game is Fresno States’ Jalen Cropper. He is a player who steadily got better each season at Fresno. He has the ideal size and speed for the next level. You can find his final college stats below. 

When diving in on his film there are a couple of traits that pop out to me. The first thing that caught my attention was that he has excellent body control. He can make plays along the sidelines as well as control his body while making leaping catches. 

While I certainly wouldn’t call Cropper a speedster, he does have enough speed to play at the next level. He made a number of big plays at Fresno. Once he got behind the defenders they had very little chance to catch him from behind. 

Jalen Cropper has a decent skill set at his disposal. His game doesn’t pop off the screen, yet it is hard to find many holes in it as well. He has a decent overall profile that will give him a chance to play on Sundays. I for one will be keeping an eye on him.

Tight End

Luke Schoonmaker (Michigan) 6’5″ 250lb

The tight end group at the Shrine Game is one of the weaker skill groups at this year’s game. Of all the early commits to the game, the name that stood out the most to me was Michigan’s, Luke Schoonmaker. He has excellent size for the position. In addition, he got better during his time at Ann Arbor. In particular, he had an explosion of sorts in his final season, more than doubling his career stats which you can see below.

When scouting Schoonmaker, it can be tough to accurately judge his fantasy-relevant skills. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh asked him to do quite a bit of blocking. This will be a valuable skill for his NFL team. Nearly every team can use a tight end that is a quality blocker—especially one with a soft set of hands like the ones Schoonmaker displayed below.

While he will never be confused for Mike Gesicki or Noah Fant, Luke Schoonmaker does display some ability to gain yards after the catch. You can see a decent example below as he picks him way down the sideline into the endzone.

Luke Schoonmaker will almost certainly hear his name called on draft day. He has shown enough at Michigan in a Pro-Style system to get his name out there. He is a quality blocker who will be a perfect TE2 on an NFL team. Once on the team, he will be given a chance to develop his pass-catching game. Stranger things have happened than for a player like Schoonmaker to develop into a dynasty asset. A similar trek has recently been blazed by Dallas tight end Dalton Schultz. Keep an eye on the Michigan kid through the Shrine Game and the combine. A nice showing in both would help boost his mid to late-round draft stock.


This year’s East-West Shrine Game is no different than any other year. There will be plenty of players gracing the field who will be drafted to NFL squads later this year. While this game has often been somewhat of an afterthought compared to the Senior Bowl, it is an excellent contest nonetheless. The Shine Game not only has the distinction of being the oldest college all-star game, but it also benefits Shriners Hospitals. As a Shriner myself, I would like to make a pitch to our readers to consider donating to Shriners Hospitals. These facilities are 100% free to Children and their families. There is no more noble cause than helping children in need. The fact that we can get some All-Star football on top of that is also pretty special. Do yourself a favor and check out the latest installment of the East-West Shrine Game. You might find the next great sleeper.

Thank you for reading this article! Please be sure to join the #Nerdherd, so you don’t miss out on any of the amazing things we have to offer Use my promo code DynastyHolliday for a 15% discount. You will get rankings, extra podcasts, and access to our rookie film room. For just a couple of bucks more, you can get access to our revolutionary DynastyGM tool. So much for so little. Why miss out on all the fun? Also, you absolutely must check out our new mock draft tool. Find it in your Apple & Android app stores. Follow me @ReflipeWThenuz for more dynasty content and other musings.

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