NFL Draft News & Analysis

2022 East-West Shrine Bowl: Biggest winners through Day 3 of practices

Stanford, California, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Kyle Philips (2) reacts during the first quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Postseason all-star bowls are a vital part of the NFL draft process. They function as early job interviews for senior prospects, allowing the NFL hopefuls to try to impress teams both on and off the field between practice and interviews. 

PFF has been live in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the first few days of East-West Shrine practices before heading to Mobile, Alabama, for the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Before we depart to get a look at another batch of promising prospects, let's highlight some of the biggest winners from Shrine Bowl practices.

WR KYLE PHILIPS, UCLA BRUINS

PFF Big Board Rank (before the week): N/A

Philips was one of the top slot receivers on the West Coast over the past few seasons. He earned a 70.0-plus PFF grade in each of the past three seasons, with his last as a Bruin being his best yet. Philips posted a 77.6 PFF grade and generated 2.11 yards per route run, both of which ranked in the top two in the Pac-12.

So far at the Shrine Bowl, the UCLA product has been the top offensive performer. He’s impressed with his route-running and footwork while holding up against tight coverage. The 5-foot-11, 186-pound receiver has been PFF’s highest-graded player at the position during practices so far.

OT KELLEN DIESCH, ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS

PFF Big Board Rank (before the week): 70th

There will be plenty of concerns about projecting Diesch as an NFL tackle because of his frame. The 6-foot-7 Diesch weighed in at 299 pounds with 32.5-inch arms. He doesn’t have the ideal anchor and length for that height. Yet, that underwhelming frame didn’t hinder him at Arizona State and hasn’t done so at the Shrine Bowl.

Diesch allowed only eight pressures across 413 pass-blocking snaps and 13 games en route to an 87.2 PFF grade (fifth-best in the Power Five). And on the first day of practice, he didn’t lose a single pass-block rep — something no other lineman in attendance accomplished. The production speaks for itself.


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OL CORDELL VOLSON, NORTH DAKOTA STATE BISON

PFF Big Board Rank (before the week): 197th

Volson has been a secret superstar at the Shrine Bowl. The former North Dakota State tackle and future NFL guard plays with aggression and is strong throughout his frame. Volson boasts top-notch grip strength but isn’t the most fleet of foot, and he has a tendency to attack with wide hands. Still, that hasn’t stopped him from winning in Shrine Bowl practice. He lost just one of his first 18 pass-block reps en route to the second-highest pass-blocking grade in practices so far.

EDGE ALI FAYAD, WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS

PFF Big Board Rank (before the week): N/A

Fayad has undoubtedly been the defensive MVP through Day 3 of practices. He may be undersized at 6-foot-2 and 248 pounds with 32-inch arms, but the Western Michigan product makes up for it with his high motor, pass-rush plan and move arsenal. He’s been rolling through one-on-ones, winning in advanced ways — including spin moves, fake spins, ghost rushes and more. Through the third day, no one has earned a higher pass-rush grade in practice than Fayad.

Considering his college production, this kind of output in practice isn’t much of a surprise. Fayad recorded elite pass-rush grades above 90.0 in each of the past two seasons.

EDGE JEFFERY GUNTER, COASTAL CAROLINA CHANTICLEERS

PFF Big Board Rank (before the week): 176th

Gunter came into the week as one of the top prospects attending the Shrine Bowl, and through Day 3, he’s done nothing to change that. In fact, he’s raised his stock, as the 6-foot-4, 260-pound edge defender has been putting overall athleticism and physical tools into action. Gunter owns a top-three PFF grade among all defensive players in practice so far after posting 80.3 and 76.7 marks the last couple of years at Coastal Carolina.

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DI MARQUAN MCCALL, KENTUCKY WILDCATS

PFF Big Board Rank (before the week): N/A

McCall — who is also known as “Bully” — has been one of the biggest risers of the week. The 6-foot-2, 346-pound nose tackle plays with a mean streak and has upper-body strength that makes interior linemen's lives hell. Not to mention, his personality and energy are infectious.

He’s an intriguing prospect because he could barely see the field for the Wildcats due to weight issues. The Kentucky product has dropped approximately 40 pounds year over year, but he didn’t make much of an impact at Kentucky given his size. McCall played 229, 271 and 237 snaps in each of the last three seasons, recording 20 pressures and 29 defensive stops over that entire span. The inconsistent production, lack of value generated from a non-every-down player and a suspension at one point in his collegiate career all hurt his stock, but he is elevating it this week.

DI MATTHEW BUTLER, TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

PFF Big Board Rank (before the week): 181st

Butler has been cooking out in Las Vegas thanks to his length, athleticism and hand usage. He’s been one of the five highest-graded pass-rushers in one-on-ones so far. The 6-foot-3, 299-pound interior defensive lineman was a sound performer this past season at Tennessee, recording a 72.9 pass-rush grade, but his high-level reps in practice are a surprise. Butler is proving to be an advanced pass-rusher and significantly boosting his stock.

P RYAN STONEHOUSE, COLORADO STATE RAMS

PFF Big Board Rank (before the week): N/A

Stonehouse has only been hitting nukes out in Las Vegas. Considering he was the second-highest-graded punter in the FBS for the 2021 season, this isn’t a surprise.

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