Believe it or not, the most important evaluation period doesn't come during the game itself, but in the practice sessions that precede. Scouts relish the practice week because it gives them the opportunity to interview some of the players they've been following for several years. Practices also give scouts a more prolonged look at a prospect's level of preparation, discipline, maturity, work ethic, and on field mentality. It also gives scouts a better understanding of who is and isn't capable of digesting the initial instruction from early on in the week and translating that information into steady improvement as the week progresses. With that being said, let's take a look at some prospects who probably earned themselves a higher draft grade in the eye of the scouts.
DE David Bass 6'3 1/2" 263 Missouri Western
Bass dominated the Division II competition by accumulating 56 TFL and 39 1/2 sacks over the course of his college career, and he certainly didn't look out of his league while practicing against more highly touted FBS offensive lineman. He displayed excellent strength and quickness throughout the week, and may have moved himself from a later round consideration to a mid round selection in the process. The Panthers should draft him no earlier than the 6th round.
OT/OG Terron Armstead 6'5" 304 Arkansas Pine-Bluff
Honestly, Armstead didn't look like he belonged on the first day of practice. But, with each passing day, he improved immensely. He was able to use his amazing 6' 9 1/2" wing span to control defensive ends while spending the majority of his time at left tackle, just as he did in college. As a result, Armstead could now be taken as high as the 5th round, and will most likely make his living at either RT or RG. I'm open to the Panthers taking him in the 6th round.
CB Brandon McGee 5' 10 1/2" 195 lbs Miami
McGee had the type of career at Miami that would make any Hurricane fan shake their head. The speedy and athletic cornerback was consistently inconsistent during his college career, but that wasn't the case this past week in St. Petersburg. Out of all the defensive backs, McGee displayed the most natural ability to stay with his receiver. This is a confusing time for scouts who will now have to come up with a final grade based on what they saw at Shrine Bowl practices and the his game film at Miami. Was he miscast in Miami's defense? Is he a late bloomer? McGee is a prime example of why it is so difficult to be a scout. Someone will take him in the 4th/5th round based primarily on potential. I'm open to the Panthers taking him the 6th round.
OLB Keith Pough 6' 1 1/2" 241 lbs Howard
Considered by many to be the best player on the field, Pough looked outstanding all week. He is a high energy prospect who flashes very nice athletic ability. Pough is a bit raw, as can be expected from most any small school standout, but he has great upside, and could be the first player taken in the draft from this year's Shrine Bowl. I would be happy if the Panthers took him in the 5th round.
DE Devin Taylor 6' 7" 275 South Carolina
Taylor was another player who flashed during practice, and the game itself, where he forced a fumble and consistently made his way into the backfield. If you are a Gamecock fan, it had to be maddening watching his career unfold. It really makes little sense that he regressed while playing with the best defensive end in the country (Clowney), who was consistently double-teamed. I have a feeling that Taylor mostly stood out this week because he faced tougher competition in practices and games while at South Carolina. However, his size and potential alone will get him drafted no later than the 6th round. The Panthers shouldn't pick him earlier than the 6th round.
QB Matt Scott 6' 2" 202 lbs Arizona
Because the Panthers will likely let Derek Anderson walk, they will be in dire need of a backup quarterback. Enter Matt Scott, who threw the longest touchdown pass of the game when he connected with WR Chad Bumphis on a 57 yard touchdown. He would fill in nicely for Cam should the need ever arise because he has nice arm strength and the ability to run when the pocket breaks down. Don't be surprised if the Panthers take a long look at Matt Scott during the draft process. If he's still on the board in the 6th (maybe even the 5th), he would be a quality selection.