The first of the "Draft Bowls" gets under way this weekend with the East-West Shrine Game in Mobile Alabama. All 32 teams are in attendance, including the New York Giants.
Though the Shrine Game doesn't get nearly as much publicity as the Senior Bowl, it's a game you should pay attention to if you are a Giants fan. In recent years, the Giants have had a number of draft picks and undrafted free agents who played, and impressed, in the Shrine Game. Bobby Hart (2015), Cole Farrand (2015), Jay Bromley (2014), Kerry Wynn (2014), Devon Kennard (2014), Bennett Jackson (2014), and Cooper Taylor (2013) all played in the All-Star game.
Who is playing in this year's Shrine Game that Giants fans should keep an eye on?
Victor Ochi (DE/OLB, Stony Brook)
Will Tye wasn't just the first player from SUNY Stony Brook to play in the NFL, but he was the best rookie tight end in the league despite only playing in 13 games and starting seven. Former teammate Victor Ochi stands a chance to be the second to play in the NFL. Ochi weighed in at an undersized 6-foot-1, 244 pounds, but he has been impressing through the first practices. His size will likely dictate a move to rush linebacker, but if the Giants want a situational pass rusher, then Ochi could be worth a late-round pick or be a priority free agent.
Javon Hargrave (DT, South Carolina State)
The defensive tackle position in the 2016 draft is front to back stacked. There are going to be talented players who fall through the cracks, or don't get recognized at all with all of the big names out there. Javon Hargrave might be one of those small-school gems. He looks like a prototypical 3-technique who finished with 59 total tackles, 20 tackles for a loss (fifth in FCS) and 13 sacks (fifth in FCS). Like Ochi, he is getting praise for being unblockable in practices.
Terrance Smith (LB, Florida State)
The Giants need speed at every level of defense, and the best NFL defenses are showing the value of being powerful in the trenches and athletic at the second level. Smith is one of the "new age" linebackers who's size (6-3, 235 pounds) blur the lines between linebacker and strong safety. Smith is the kind of long, rangy linebacker the Giants lack, who can run sideline-to-sideline, or cover tight ends, H-backs, and running backs in the middle of the field.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun (CB, Minnesota)
They don't get much press, but Minnesota has a good defense and Boddy-Calhoun is a big reason why. While he is -- relatively -- small in stature at 5-11, 185, he is a tremendous cover player. The Minnesota Golden Gophers finished the year 13th in pass defense, and Boddy-Calhoun lead the team with four interceptions and 10 passes defensed. Impressively, this marks the second consecutive year he led his defense in both categories. His size and quick feet seem to point to a future as a slot corner -- which the Giants need.
Keenan Reynolds (ATHLETE, Navy)
Could the Giants draft a quarterback in 2016? Maybe, especially if the college quarterback is drafted as a running back. That's just what Navy QB Keenan Reynolds is trying to do this week at the Shrine Game, convince the NFL that he can be a pro as a running back. At 5-11, 205 pounds he has solid size for the position, and plenty of experience running with the ball in Navy's triple option offense. Scouts will want to see how he does with the other aspects of the position, like blocking, route running, and catching the ball.