If the Chicago Bears want offensive linemen (or defensive linemen for that matter), these Shrine Bowl participants are going to give them something to think about.
Several defenders balled out Sunday at the Bowl, including a number of strong performances up front. Then, a Penn State center made his presence known with a big day that should put him firmly on the Bears’ radar.
And trust me, the Bears are watching that position especially closely.
Anyway, more on the day.
Mo Kamara, EDGE (Colorado State)
Mama, there goes Mo. Again. And again.
Not many offensive linemen got the better of Kamara in pass rush drills or in teams. His 1-on-1 pass rush drills showcased a solid array of moves, and his nonstop pursuit of the quarterback stood out even when he didn’t win his reps immediately.
On top of that, he pushed a tight end a full three yards into the backfield to stuff a run for no gain at one point, arguably his most impressive rep of the day.
Teams needing edge help on Day 3 of the draft will have his name circled in bright red.
Cornelius Johnson, WR (Michigan)
At 6-3, 200 pounds, Johnson is simply too big to move as well as he does.
The Shrine Bowl’s performance-tracking system showed Johnson is one of the quickest “decelerators” in Texas this week, speaking to his elite start-stop ability.
That’s helped him win at the line of scrimmage against press coverage both in the open field and in the red zone.
Johnson also won down the field on a deep ball for what likely would’ve been a touchdown.
This wide receiver group, and just the class in general, looks completely unfair.
Khristian Boyd, iDL (Northern Iowa)
This man looks and plays like every bit of 6-4, 320 pounds.
His violent hands and brute strength make him almost impossible to block 1-on-1, and his ability to withstand double teams will impress teams who need a stout presence at nose tackle or 1-technique. But he, like Gervon Dexter, also has the pure athleticism to bump toward the 3-technique if asked to.
#UNI DL Khristian Boyd built upon a strong Day 1 by blowing up a couple run plays on Day 2 of East practice at the #ShrineBowl. Powerful hands but showing the ability to 2 gap as a run defender as well. Definitely going to check out his tape during the upcoming week. pic.twitter.com/DGRdfw6ye4— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) January 28, 2024
Fabien Lovett from Florida State also had a huge day, making a resounding tackle for loss to start team drills.
Hunter Nourzad, C (Penn State)
The Bears had better be actively looking at interior offensive linemen at the Shrine Bowl, and Nourzad’s performance ought to open an eye or two.
He put together two highly impressive reps in 1-on-1 pass-protection drills against Georgia’s Zion Lugue and Florida Atlantic’s Evan Robinson, who has given everyone problems through two days of practice.
Penn State C Hunter Nourzad has looked excellent in one on ones so far. pic.twitter.com/dGlnxeVZJc— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 28, 2024
Miami center Matt Lee also had a strong day on the West Team side of things and is a player several personnel guys specifically shouted out yesterday as well.
Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, DB (Texas Tech)
You’ll never miss “Rabbit” when he’s on the field – both because he’s everywhere and because he always lets you know about it.
Taylor-Demerson has played a little bit of every defensive back position down in Frisco and is one of the defense’s most vocal communicators whenever he’s out there. He also earned himself a pick-six on an overthrow from BYU’s Kedon Slovis on a play he said he recognized from the day before.
DBs starting to show out.@TorontoArgos Qwan’tez Stiggers with the picture-perfect PBU on Josh Cephus, then @TexasTechFB Darrion Taylor-Demerson swipes the Kedon Slovis overthrow for the pick! pic.twitter.com/pVm0GuCzQ8— Khari Thompson (@kdthompson5) January 28, 2024
He’s a true do-it-all defensive back who should find a role with someone in a league increasingly reliant on sub-packages if he keeps playing like this.
Check out my one-on-one interviews with Boston College offensive guard Christian Mahogany, Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas, and Texas Tech safety Dadrion Taylor-Demerson.