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East-West Shrine Game - NFL Draft prospects to watch

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Draft season kicks off for real with the Shrine Game. Who could the Giants be looking at?

Devon Kennard: Giants linebacker and Shrine Game Alum
Devon Kennard: Giants linebacker and Shrine Game Alum
Elsa/Getty Images

The East-West Shrine game might be something like the "Little Brother" of the Senior Bowl, but that doesn't mean there aren't prospects to watch. The Shrine Game tends to get less well known prospects than the Senior Bowl, but there are always guys who make scouts and teams take notice.

Last year, the New York Giants' own Jay Bromley and Devon Kennard both had strong showings in the Senior Bowl and practices.

Before that, Devin Taylor, Sio Moore, and Christine Michael all had excellent performances in the Shrine Game.

This year, there are quite a few prospects to keep an eye on, and who could even be selected on the second day of the draft.

East Team

Daren Waller (WR, Georgia Tech) - Waller is a gigantic receiver, measuring in at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds. Playing for Georgia Tech, Waller never saw the ball much, finishing his college career with a whopping 51 catches. However, he finished his college career on two very strong games, totaling 187 yards and two touchdowns in the ACC Championship and Orange Bowl. While he isn't quite the freak athlete that Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas are, he is adept at using his size to his advantage and his long strides eat up field. He will need to work hard on his route running, but his raw skills and potential are definitely intriguing.

Devin Gardner (WR, Michigan) - Gardner is one of the more interesting stories in the Shrine Game. He played quarterback throughout his career at Michigan. However he is transitioning to wide receiver at the Shrine Game. He has a fantastic frame for the position at 6-4, 215, and is a good athlete. Reports out of the practices say that he has improved each day, which is encouraging.

Sean Hickey (OT, Syracuse) - Stop me if you've heard this one before: An undersized, but smart, athletic, and tenacious offensive tackle from Syracuse might have to bank on versatility to improve his draft stock. In fact, Sean Hickey is Justin Pugh's successor at left tackle for the Orange. Hickey doesn't appear to be as talented as Pugh, but he should make an NFL roster, and could eventually work his way into a starting role in the right system.

John Miller (OG, Louisville) - Miller is a big, strong road-grader of an offensive guard. He isn't the best athlete, but he is an efficient technician. Despite having just average feet, he wastes little to no movement and uses leverage to his advantage. He has been a standout in practices, and improved in pass protection throughout his senior season.

Za'Darius Smith (DE, Kentucky) - [Prospect Profile] Smith is the defensive player everyone will be watching. He has a prototypical size and build for a 4-3 defensive end. He doesn't have an elite burst of the snap, but a high-revving motor and plenty of power help to make him disruptive.

Anthony Chickillo (DE, Miami) - Another DE to keep your eye on. Chickillo was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, but never quite lived up to the hype in college. He became a better run defender than coaches thought he would be, but his pass rush skills have lagged behind. He has a prototypical frame and plays with passion and a great motor, so he should be a guy to keep an eye on.

Jake Ryan (LB, Michigan) - Unlike Gardner, this Michigan product isn't changing positions. Ryan is most likely suited to playing the WILL linebacker position in the pros, and has a reputation as a smart, instinctive linebacker and the leader of his defense.

Edmond Robinson (LB, Newberry College) - Who? Well, with Corey Washington on the squad, maybe the Giants keep an eye on his former teammate. I'll admit, I haven't seen him play, but his frame -- 6-4, 245 -- screams "Giants linebacker." He is getting recognized for his athleticism and work ethic in practices, fitting in well despite coming from a Division II school.

Detrick Bonner (S, Virginia Tech) - Do the Giants go back to that VT well? Bonner might intrigue them. He is an explosive athlete with a knack for making plays. He started his career at cornerback, but later moved to free safety. At 5-11, 200 pounds he has good size for the position. Bonner started every game the last three years, and finished his college career with 23 pass breakups, five interceptions, and 3.5 sacks.

West Squad

Blake Bell (TE, Oklahoma) - Another quarterback changing position, Bell at least spent the whole season at tight end. Bell has a prototypical frame for an NFL tight end at 6-6, 260 pounds. He is a good athlete and has been getting strong reviews from practices.

Ezell Ruffin (WR, San Diego State) - Ruffin is one of the best receivers the Aztecs have ever had, but thanks to the school and an injury he is flying below the national radar. Ruffin has solid size for a wide receiver, good speed, and reliable hands. After scouting Nat Berhe last year, the Giants might have kept tabs on Ruffin.

Chucky Hunter (DT, TCU) - Hunter is an underrated prospect at defensive tackle. He is a bit undersized at 6-1, 305, but like everyone else on that TCU defense he is well coached and plays with great technique. He shows great quickness in getting through the line of scrimmage, and plays with strength and leverage in the run game.

Taiwan Jones (LB, Michigan St.) - Jones is a big, solid, old-school MIKE linebacker. He always makes offenses feel his presence and might be the most physical player on either defense. He isn't much for coverage, but he is a force coming down-hill.

Tony Washington (LB, Oregon) - Washington is an intriguing prospect. Big, long, with lots of athleticism, he is the kind of player scouts drool over. The Ducks ask him to do a lot: drop into coverage, play the run, rush the passer ... But, the mental side of his game needs some work. Given the Giants' needs and preferences at linebacker, Washington could be a guy to keep an eye on.

That is just a quick overview of some of the prospects the Giants could be interested in. There are a lot more who are starting the biggest job interviews of their lives, so somebody could surprise and jump off the screen.

Game Details

Time: Saturday, Jan. 17, 4 p.m. EST

TV: NFL Network.