The New England Patriots’ West Team defeated the East Team 12-3 in the annual Shrine Bowl Thursday night.
Here’s who caught the eye for better, and for worse.
Winner: CB Nic Jones (Ball State). The Ball State cornerback built off his strong week Thursday night. He showcased his length with a pair of pass breakups in the first half — one preventing a potential touchdown down inside the red zone. He was tabbed for a hold in the third quarter that negated an interception but made it up in the fourth quarter with an interception of his own. The NFL Network broadcast shared the New England coaching staff viewed Jones as the “most improved player” throughout the week.
Loser: Quarterbacks. As it was throughout practices, the quarterbacks struggled out of UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who got away with an early dropped interception and likely pick-six but bounced back with several strong throws. Outside of DTR, the other five quarterbacks consistently struggled throughout the night and finished with a combined three interceptions and a lost fumble.
Winner: K Jake Moody (Michigan). M(VP)oody. In a low scoring affair, Moody was the main man for the West squad being responsible for all of their points and earning offensive MVP honors. He nailed a pair of 51-yard field goals - with room to spare - and later added two 35 yarders to put the game away. With New England potentially in the market for a kicker, the former Wolverine made a strong impression.
Winner: EDGE BJ Thompson (Stephen F. Austin). Thompson’s freakish athleticism immediately stood out on the field as he recorded a pair of sacks Thursday night. His explosiveness off the line of scrimmage was evident.
BJ Thompson cannot and will not be stopped pic.twitter.com/tkPcsh7iMt— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) February 3, 2023
Winner: S Trey Dean III (Florida): As he was all week, Dean was around the ball Thursday night hauling in a tipped ball in the red zone for an interception. That wasn’t his only highlight as he earlier attacked the line of scrimmage and blew up a run in the backfield for a loss. Dean was one of the best players on the field throughout the week in Vegas and capped it off with defensive MVP honors.
LB Mo Diabate: The broadcast shared the New England staff saw value in Diabate due to his versatility with his ability to rush off the edge. One note was that it seemed like he had a GPS to the football, which he showcased as he worked his way through the offensive line to record a TFL on an outside zone run.
LB Isaiah Moore: The NC State linebacker had an early pass breakup in coverage which led the broadcast team to note that the New England staff “couldn't stop raving” about him this week.
CB Eric Scott Jr.: Another broadcast note, as they explained New England’s staff viewed Eric Scott Jr. as “the most comfortable corner they had in press coverage” this week. Scott Jr. broke up an early pass against AT Perry.
LB Caleb Murphy: Division II LB Caleb Murphy, who had 25.5 sacks for Ferris State this season, recorded a sack. He won the Cliff Harris Award as the top small college defensive player of the year. The award was previously won by current Patriots Kyle Dugger and Sam Roberts.
RB Jordan Mims: Not many offensive players made a splash in the low-scoring affair, but Mims provided perhaps the best stretch of offense. In a two-play sequence, the shifty back broke off a 21-yard catch-and-run and then followed it with a 30-yard scamper - including a nasty move in space to pick up extra yards.
EDGE Habakkuk Baldonado: Baldonado had a strong night off the edge for the West team which included a pair of pressures and a strong four-yard run stuff. He executed a T/E stunt to record one pressure and force an incompletion on a late fourth-down.
DL Dante Stills: The former Mountaineer built off a productive week by continuing to be disruptive Thursday night. He was noticeable in the backfield several times blowing up runs and creating some interior pressure.