Today, many prospective NFL players took to the field in the annual East-West Shrine Game. The players practiced all week to participate in a game that also served as a fundraiser for Shriners Children’s Hospital. Although the game was dominated by defense, there are three offensive players that Ravens fans should take note off. Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek and Houston Wide Receiver Steven Dunbar both impressed, but the day was owned by one man. University of Northern Iowa wide receiver Daurice Fountain put on a show and finished the day as the game’s offensive MVP. Wisconsin safety Natrell Jamerson also played well by making Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett look bad.
Daurice Fountain, WR, University of Northern Iowa
Daurice Fountain is largely unknown to most of the NFL. However, today’s performance should lift the fog around him. Fountain’s best play of the game was a 38-yard catch and run on a slant route. He started the route with a simple, but effective stutter step move on Linden Stephens, the cornerback from Cincinnati. By the time Fountain had separation on the play, it was too late for Stephens, as he simply could not catch up. Aside from his excellent burner play, Fountain also caught two other passes, for additional 23 yards. The FCS product’s performance earned him the offensive MVP award, along with invaluable recognition in NFL circles. His current draft stock places make him likely to be selected somewhere between the 6th and 7th rounds, with the possibility of going undrafted. His performance in the East-West Shrine Game, however, should boost his stock.
Nic Shimonek, QB, Texas Tech
Out of all the quarterbacks that participated in the East-West Shrine Game, Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek was the best. Shimonek finished the day with the highest pass completion rate (66.67%), and the greatest average yards per pass attempt (5.8). Simonek was also the only quarterback to throw for more than 100 yards in the game (105). His late-game, deep touchdown pass to wide receiver Steven Dunbar also sealed the game for the West. Shimonek’s outstanding performance in this critical exhibition of skills proves that he is able to step up to the plate in stressful situations and perform to the height of his ability. The Baltimore Ravens have already publicly discussed adding a developmental quarterback to sit behind and learn from Joe Flacco. Simonek showed massive potential and is likely on the Ravens’ radar after his stellar performance.
Steven Dunbar, WR, Houston
Steven Dunbar capped off a great contest with an even greater catch. His 34 yard, tip-toe touchdown reception, shown in the video above, gave the West the victory. Like Nic Shimonek, Dunbar proved he can come up clutch in important situations late in the game. Alienating the touchdown play, Dunbar had a pretty average day. He caught two other passes, for 18 yards combined. The touchdown, however, shows the potential that he has. His statistics from Houston also reinforce this analysis. Each year for the Cougars, Dunbar steadily improved his reception and yardage totals. In 2014, Dunbar caught just 20 passes for 286 yards. By his senior year, Dunbar caught 76 targets, for 1,070 yards, and three touchdowns. The Ravens are likely to add a wide receiver in this year’s draft, and Dunbar could prove to be a late-round option for Baltimore.
Natrell Jamerson, S, Wisconsin
Natrell Jamerson shined at the expense of East quarterback J.T. Barrett. Jamerson recorded the best play of the game, an 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown on the said quarterback. The play, along with a solid defensive performance, earned Jamerson the defensive MVP award. The Ravens may be looking to add a young safety to the roster this offseason. Veterans Eric Weddle and Laudarius Webb are only getting older, and Baltimore needs to find an heir to the veteran safeties. If the Ravens were to target Jamerson in the later rounds, he would be seen as a developmental safety, to sit behind and learn from the current starters.
SCOOP AND SCORE!
The West gets on the board first with a defensive TD!
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 20, 2018
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
Not everyone can be a winner, and today, J.T. Barrett was among the losers. I really want to like Barrett. His four years at Ohio State were phenomenal, but he always seems to slip up when scouts are watching. Whether it be his lackluster performance in the East-West Shrine Game, or in critical games for Ohio State, Barrett always seems to shoot himself in the foot. Barrett has the capability, talent, and potential to be a successful NFL quarterback, but I’m not sure if he has the mindset or mentality. Barrett started poorly in the exhibition, completing just one of six passes, for twelve yards. In the second half, Barrett improved his play. He completed four out of seven passes, throwing for 57 yards and one touchdown. Despite his second-half heroics, Barrett cannot rely on his resiliency alone. He needs to have better starts, or else his stock will continue to keep him out of the quarterback conversation this April.