The suspect outlook of the 2013 NFL Draft’s quarterback crop lends itself to dark horses’ upward mobility. One such prospect who improved his stock in one of Saturday’s three All-Star games was former Notre Dame and Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist.
Crist passed for a touchdown and rushed for another to lead the National team’s 34-0 rout of the American side in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. His performance earned Most Valuable Player honors.
Crist has favorable measurables at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds. He’s also a true Pro Set quarterback, an attractive quality from a likely late round draftee. Crist could come into most organizations and not have too steep of a learning curve picking up the offense.
A strong winter is essential for Crist, though, coming off a terrible season for the 1-11 Jayhawks. Crist finished 2012 with just 103 completions and four touchdowns, and ranked dead last among all FBS quarterbacks in NFL Network researcher Pat Johnston’s Positive Impact Factor. He’s ranked 31st among quarterback prospects, according to CBS Sports, and resides outside of the seven round projections. Crist is certainly a project, but his effort in Carson, Calif. is a huge step toward finding a place in the league.
Another surprise performance on Saturday came from Missouri Western running back Michael Hill. The Division II Offensive Player of the Year rushed for 148 yards to earn Offensive Most Valuable Player recognition in the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic. GMs seeking this draft’s version of Alfred Morris would be wise to give Hill a long look. He rushed for 2168 yards and 16 touchdowns this season, and on Saturday, demonstrated the instincts that produced such results.
Hill’s Stripes teammate, Purdue quarterback Robert Marve, made strides on his long road to the NFL. Marve struggled through a bumpy college career that including two major knee injuries, but on Saturday had an impressive 10-13, 142-yard showing.
Some competition Marve faces for a latter round draft selection comes from Washington State’s Jeff Tuel. Tuel went through a frustrating campaign under Mike Leach, sharing quarterbacking duties with Connor Halliday. Though he failed to match expectations playing in Leach’s air raid, Tuel showed his undeniable talent in the Collegiate Bowl. He was a perfect 8-8 with a touchdown.
The only passing touchdown in the East-West Shrine Game came from Arizona’s Matt Scott. Scott’s dual threat abilities were used rather sparingly — he rushed once, and only after a pass play failed to develop, and he threw just four times. However, he made the most of his limited opportunities, connection on three of his attempts, including a 57-yard touchdown to Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis.
Most of Bumphis’ game high 92 receiving yards came from that one play, but his four receptions tied Middle Tennessee’s Anthony Amos for most. Amos earned high praise from NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock during the telecast, and with good reason. Amos was an All Sun Belt selection after amassing 992 yards on 72 catches including nine touchdowns for the 8-4 Blue Raiders.
Saturday’s effort can only be a positive for the draft stock of Bumphis and Amos. CBS Sports projects Bumphis the No. 45 wide receiver and No. 391 prospect overall; Amos checked in at 76 and 611 before Saturday’s effort. Neither is projected to be drafted.
South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor came into the Shrine Game projected as a fourth or fifth round selection. Playing out of the shadow cast by teammate Jadeveon Clowney, Taylor flourished. He did just about everything for the East team, including forcing a fumble. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah had high marks for the Gamecock.
South Carolina DE Devin Taylor easily most impressive player today. UConn LB Sio Moore probably 2nd best.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 19, 2013
Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore also caught Jeremiah’s attention, and rightfully so. Moore exhibited the same tenacious approach that resulted in 15.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2012. Moore had 16 tackles for loss in 2011, bringing extra pressure to complement former Husky teammate Kendall Reyes, who successfully adjusted to the NFL with the San Diego Chargers this season.
Kansas State’s Nigel Malone was among the most greedy defensive backs in the nation, picking off five passes. He continued that trend on Saturday with an interception returned for a 30-yard touchdown.
Conversely, others did little to help their stock — particularly quarterbacks. Scott threw the Shrine Game’s only touchdown, and was the only quarterback not intercepted. Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein had arguably the most disappointing showing. Klein’s hard rushing style and throwing motion are challenges he must prove to NFL GMs he can overcome.
Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorensen has been a commonly cited small school target for the last year or so, but his 8-16, two-interception showing at the Collegiate Bowl does him no favors. Similarly, Tino Sunseri threw a pair of interceptions in the Raycom Classic. His performance there does nothing to dispel concerns about his up-and-down play at Pitt, where he worked under new coaches in three consecutive seasons.