FRISCO, Texas — The 99th annual East-West Shrine Bowl has come and gone, as The Star laid host to the draft event where 130-plus of the nation's available draft talent put their skills on display in front of the 32 NFL teams and their scouting departments as well as select teams from other leagues such as the UFL and CFL.
It proved to be a big week for a handful of players who saw their draft stock rise. Here are five players that benefited from the week and will head deeper into the draft process with a bit more buzz.
RB Frank Gore Jr., Southern Miss: The son of 14-year running back veteran Frank Gore, Frank Gore Jr., stole the show on Thursday nightduring the Shrine Bowl on a 49-yard touchdown run that opened the scoring for the West team. His quick cut-back ability allowed him to find open space on a consistent basis and his knack to get out in the open field allowed him to break away on the big run. His performance was awarded with the game's MVP award.
Entering the week as a day three option, Gore Jr. could see his name called a bit earlier on the draft's final day – that is if he is still available when Saturday rears around.
CB Jarius Monroe, Tulane: The defensive MVP went to Tulane cornerback Jarius Monroe who secured the game's only interception on a pass that was underthrown along the sideline that he was in perfect position to grab out of the air.
After a productive career with the Green Wave, Monroe entered the draft process as a day three secondary option that could produce at an NFL training camp and preseason. After a strong week that saw him nab an interception in the end zone in practice as well, Monroe may have secured hearing his name called in April's draft.
RB Blake Watson, Memphis: While Blake Watson didn't necessarily shine during practice in Frisco throughout the week, it was hard to miss his production in the game on Thursday night. Watson finished the night as the game's second-leading rusher behind Gore Jr. with 46 yards on 12 carries while also finishing as the game's leading receiver with 65 yards on six receptions.
It was the production out of the backfield in the receiving game that allowed the West squad to move down the field consistently, as his contact balance allowed him to get free from would-be tacklers and his quick burst allowed him to pick up quick gains.
TE Zach Heins, South Dakota State: Zach Heins made the play of the night on a bobbling grab across the middle of the field that saw him hold on to a big first down reception after getting popped by a safety over the middle. His 26-yard reception was his only time touching the ball on Thursday night, but his usage throughout the week in practice has his name buzzing a bit more than it did going into the week.
DT Myles Murphy, North Carolina: After a game on Thursday night that saw him account for a big sack and a couple of additional pressures from the defensive interior, North Carolina's Myles Murphy may be one to keep a closer eye on down the stretch of the draft process.
The big 6-foot-5, 310-pounder has a wide frame that is fit for stopping the run up the middle, but it was his pass rush ability that stole the show on Thursday night.