The NFLPA Collegiate All-Star Game was another opportunity for NFL Draft hopefuls to display their talents to scouts and teams around the league. This was a defensive game that saw a handful of forced turnovers and defensive stops on downs. The game was also full of former NFL Coaches and current College Coaches trying to help players improve their game for the next level. The National team was led by former Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis, while the American team was led by former Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher. Both coaches ran a hard week of practice for their teams and their teams showed it.
Each team had players impress scouts during the week of practice, but we know it all matters if they could transfer it to the game. Here are players from each team who caught my eye during the game.
- Jonathan Ford DT, Miami (6-5, 338lbs) – Ford was dominant on the defensive line during the game. He continually penetrated the offensive line and was able to put pressure on the quarterback. Ford also helped the run defense by filling gaps and rerouting the running back in his path. He will need to work on playing with more leverage to compete with NFL offensive linemen. Ford may be a late-round pick in the draft, but he brings some great qualities as a player.
- Cole Kelley QB, Southeastern Louisiana (6-7, 248lbs) – Kelly was the savior of the National team. He came in when his number was called and was able to execute the offense when the team needed him the most. During the fourth quarter, Kelly led a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was finished off with a five-yard run by Coastal Carolina running back Shermari Instead of going for the tie, Head Coach Marvin Lewis decided to go for the two and take the lead with just under 2 minutes left in the game. Kelly made Lewis look like a smart man as he found Indiana tight-end Peyton Hendershot in the end zone for a successful two-point conversion. Kelly was named game MVP and finished the game 12-17, 150 yards, and one touchdown.
- Zachary McCloud LB, Miami(6-2,251lbs) – McCloud flew around the field and found his way to the ball multiple times. In pass coverage, he showed awareness of where the ball was going and tried his best to get there. McCloud showed off his closing speed when he chased down the running back coming out of the backfield. He also recovered a fumble that led to a touchdown drive. McCloud could sneak up some draft boards with a good performance at his pro day.
- Roderick Perry DT, Illinois(6-1,312lbs) – Perry was another defensive lineman that lived in the American team’s backfield during the game. He made an impressive play during the 1st quarter when he beat the offensive linemen with a swim move and caused the running back to lose yards. Perry showed he was able to generate a pass rush from the interior defensive line multiple times which rushed a handful of passes. He could hear his name called during the mid-rounds of the draft.
- Jarrid Williams G/T Miami(6-6,322lbs) – Williams was listed as a tackle on the roster but lined up at guard most of the time for the National team. He performed well in both the run and passing game. He opened holes for the running backs, showed his physicality at the point of attack, and his ability to use his long arms to defend incoming pass rushers. Williams may have helped his draft stock by showing he is able to play both guard and tackle. In my opinion, he may need to stick to guard with his impressive frame.
- Jack Wohlabaugh C, Duke(6-2,302lbs) – Wohlabaugh had buzz surrounding him the whole week of practice. It transferred to the game where he displayed his great technique, Football IQ, and leadership skills. When Wohlabaugh’s offensive line unit was on the field, the offense was productive, and the quarterback was protected. He dominated during one-on-one blocking situations and showed awareness to help his teammates with blocks when he needed to. I can see his name being called on Day 2 of the draft.
- Mychal Cooper WR, Navy(6-4,213lbs) – Cooper along with Dai’Jean Dixon, and Jequez Ezzard put on a show for the American Team. As for Cooper he showed that he was not just a blocking receiver coming out of the Navy. He displayed the ability to make contested catches, run an expanded route tree, and create separation. Cooper was nearly over 100 yards receiving, which shows how important of a target he became. He really helped his stock with this performance. I see him as a late Day 2 pick.
- Dai’Jean Dixon WR, Nicholls State (6-2,203lbs)– Dixon was just uncoverable to any defensive back who tried to line up across from him. He either made the tough contested catch, blew by the defensive back, or ran a good route to create separation. His size is impressive along with his athleticism and toughness. Dixon caught a touchdown pass from Alabama A&M quarterback Aqueel Glass where the ball was put in a tight window while the free safety was beaming down on him to make contact. For the game, Dixon finished with six receptions for 131 yards and one touchdown. I think he is another Day 2 pick with a high ceiling.
- Jequez Ezzard WR, Sam Houston State(5-9,194lbs) – Ezzard was used in any and every way during the All-Star game. He lined up in the slot and on the outside many times. It was hard to know where he was going to be at the snap of the ball because he would be put in motion often. As a receiver, Ezzard caught some meaningful passes. He finished with 42 receiving yards, a touchdown reception, and he contributed as a return man totaling 42 return yards. He was sort of used in the Deebo Samuel-like role where the team was creating ways to get him the ball. Ezzard’s explosiveness and playmaking abilities can help boost his draft stock.
- Aqueel Glass QB, Alabama A&M(6-3,233lbs) – Glass looked comfortable while at the helm of the offense. He may have had his college offensive coordinator Duane Taylor, who is an up-and-coming star in the college coaching ranks, but he seemed to adapt and blend with the new weapons he had. As mentioned earlier, Glass was responsible for a touchdown pass where he fit the ball in a tight window with the safety beaming down on his receiver. It showed his accuracy skills have improved. He also displayed his timing and anticipation on some throws to hit receivers in rhythm. Glass is still a work in progress, but any team that takes a chance on him won’t regret it.
- Chase Garbers QB, University of California(6-2,218lbs) – Garbers had a rough start to Saturday’s game with the offense turning the ball over on the first drive of the game via fumble. He showed his resiliency by responding with a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive where he hit Jequez Ezzard for the score. Garbers finished the game 10-3, with 119 passing yards, and one touchdown pass. He also showed off his mobile skill and ran for a total of 25 yards. Garbers is another developmental quarterback that can contribute if he is given the time to develop his game.
- James Houston lV Edge, Jackson State University(6-0,241lbs) – Houston was the one defensive player that caught my eye on the American Team. His relentless motor skills and quick first step caught my attention. Houston is great at utilizing his speed on the edge. He displays the ability to beat tackles around the corner, he even has a counter move if the tackle beats him to the outside. Houston can wreak havoc as a 3-4 pass rusher and be disruptive in the run game. He also can play off the ball if he needed to. Coming from a Deion Sanders-led team, I expected Houston to play all out with lots of energy.