The process leading to the 2024 NFL Draft is heating up quickly and the practices for the 2024 East-West Shrine Bowl are upon us.
This year’s Shrine Bowl is particularly interesting because the New York Giants have three coaches working with the players. Not only is offensive coordinator Mike Kafka the West Team head coach, offensive assistant Angela Baker is serving as the West Team’s tight ends coach. New special teams coordinator Michael Ghobrial is serving as the East Team’s special teams coordinator.
That gives the Giants the unique opportunity to have eyes on both rosters on the practice field and in the meeting rooms. Likewise, it also gives them multiple points of contact to build relationships with potential undrafted free agents.
So let’s take a look at some of the players the Giants’ coaches will be working with.
Big name prospects
Ja’Tavion Sanders (TE, Texas) - West Team
Sanders could well be the best pass catcher on the property this week, and has a very good chance to be the second tight end drafted in April.
Sanders isn’t quite as big as a “classic” Y tight end, but he’s very athletic and has the versatility to move around the offensive formation. He needs to work on his blocking, and having both Kafka and Baker instructing him could give the Giants real insight into his upside in that area. If they like what they see, Sanders could give the Giants another versatile pass catcher and some badly needed depth.
Christian Mahogany (OG, Boston College) - East Team
If there’s one player Giants fans are going to be watching at the Shrine Bowl this week, it will probably be Mahogany. The Boston College product is one of the best guards in the draft, and while he certainly has his flaws, he has tremendous upside as well. Mahogany is a surprisingly good athlete at 6-foot-2, 318 pounds, has experience at both left and right guard, and is scheme versatile as well.
He needs to clean up some inconsistencies in his game, but Mahogany has the traits to be a good starting guard in the NFL.
Leonard Taylor III (iDL, Miami) - East Team
Taylor will be going against Mahogany in practice and the division rivals should be must-watch reps in the East Team practices.
Taylor is a long and athletic interior defender who could fill the void left by Leonard Williams. Williams was as an explosive interior rusher for the Hurricanes, using his length, flexibility, and some solid pass rush moves to attack gaps and penetrate into the backfield. His usage at Miami was confusing at times (they frequently played him at nose tackle), and that could have impacted his production.
Teams will likely be watching how he plays in run defense, but whoever drafts Taylor will be doing so for his disruptiveness behind the line of scrimmage.
Edgerrin Cooper (LB, Texas A&M) - East Team
It was a coup for the Shrine Bowl to land the player who was pretty widely regarded as the top off-ball linebacker in the draft class. Though, it should be mentioned, that this isn’t a particularly highly regarded linebacker class.
Cooper is probably the stand-out second level player in this class and has just about every trait a team could ask for in a modern linebacker. He has good length, the athleticism to drop into coverage, good instincts, and the ability to get after the passer on interior blitzes. He’ll likely be a Day 2 pick and could be a starter immediately in the NFL.
Under the radar
Malik Washington (WR, Virginia)
Washington is something of a “one year wonder” at wide receiver. He started his career at Northwestern but transferred to Virginia prior to the 2023 season, where he caught 110 passes for 1,426 yards, and 9 touchdowns.
Washington doesn’t have the size (at 5-foot-8, 192 pounds) to compare to guys like Marvin Harrison Jr, Rome Odunze, Keon Coleman, or Xavier Legette. However, his agility and fluidity make him very dangerous after the catch. He could be a real steal if he lands in the right situation.
Taulia Tagovailoa (QB, Maryland)
The younger brother of Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, Taulia is probably the top passer playing in this game. And his name will certainly garner attention, but he’s definitely “under the radar” with respect to the quarterback class as a whole.
The younger Tagovailoa is undersized at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, but he’s a springy athlete and has “enough” arm strength to operate an NFL offense. Much like his brother, he doesn’t have a “rocket” arm, but can deliver the ball with accuracy and the requisite velocity to challenge tight coverage windows. Taulia an experienced and smart quarterback, and could be in the mix as a late round pick for a team looking for an effective backup.
Mohamed Kamara (edge, Colorado State)
Kamara has been a menace off the edge for Colorado State this year, racking up 14 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, and 38 pressures. He isn’t a physically intimidating pass rusher at just 6-foot-1, 250 pounds, but his quickness, natural leverage, and motor make him a headache.
Teams will always be attracted to big, long edge defenders, but we’ve seen “undersized” speed rushers have a real impact in the NFL. Kamara could do a lot for his draft stock
Steele Chambers (LB, Ohio State)
First and foremost, Chambers might be the captain of the “All Name Team”. With a name like ‘Steele Chambers’, this young man had two choices in life: Linebacker or Pro Wrestler. He obviously picked linebacker and went to a school that’s been producing good ones.
Chambers is (as many of these prospects) an undersized linebacker at 6-foot, 220 pounds. But he makes up for his size with good athleticism and competitive toughness. Chambers has the feet and hips to drop into coverage as an off-ball linebacker, and even hang with tight ends and running backs down the field. He also has upside as a blitzer, using that same burst and agility to attack interior gaps before linemen can get into position. Chambers is likely a (later) Day 3 pick right now, but he could work himself up boards with a good showing this week.