Shrine Practice -- Wednesday PM Report

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

The clouds rolled in around noon Wednesday while the winds picked up and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. As a result, the final padded practice for the 2018 Shrine Game took place under cold, fall-like conditions, which was great for the players on the West squad.

Those Who Impressed

Dane Cruikshank/CB/Arizona: Cruikshank was mentioned in our notes section yesterday, and he took it to another level this afternoon. He stood out in drills, displaying the quickest backpedal and hip turn of any defensive back and the most explosive plant and drive to the ball. I’m still a little concerned about his ability to make plays with his back to the ball, but Cruikshank is a tall, athletic, good-looking corner who could be selected in the draft much earlier than anyone is presently predicting.

Godwin Igwebuike/S/Northwestern: Igwebuike came to life Wednesday with his best practice of the week. He displayed solid ball skills during one-on-one drills and made a great play to break up a pass in deep centerfield during the full scrimmage. Highly rated coming into his senior season, Igwebuike struggled with nagging injuries this past season and his play understandably suffered. If he returns to form and consistently plays like he did during his final padded practice at the Shrine Game, expect Iqwebuike to crack a starting lineup in the NFL.

Salesi Uhatafe/G/Utah: Uhatafe is not the nimblest lineman, rather he’s a powerful mauler who held his own most of the time today. He blocks with solid fundamentals, stays square and easily holds the point. He’s a Pittsburgh Steelers-type blocker with the ability to drive opponents off the line of scrimmage on running downs or hold the point in pass protection.

Linden Stephens/CB/Cincinnati: Stephens struggled early in the week but really turned it on the past two days and was the best corner on the West after Cruikshank. He was quick transitioning off the line, ran downfield with opponents and did a good job making plays with his back to the ball.

Notes:

* Poona Ford continued to dominate opponents all afternoon. His first step caught opponents off guard, and then Ford was able to finish the deal with his great power. He has size and scheme limitations but will have a place at the next level.

* Another defensive lineman who showed great power all week was Bilal Nichols of Delaware. He was bull rushing blockers off the line of scrimmage each day and collapsed the pocket on occasion. Nichols needs to use his hands better to finish plays.

* Josh Kalu of Nebraska had his moments at cornerback and has looked much better the past three days then he did at any point in his senior season when he lined up at safety.