The 99th East-West Shrine Bowl was a one-sided affair, with the West squad winning, 26-11, despite the best efforts of East run-stuffer Khristian Boyd and pass-rusher Mo Kamara, who also starred during the week of practices held for the first time at the Dallas Cowboys' facilities in Frisco, Texas.
Six additional players stood out above the rest during Thursday night's matchup, showing scouts they know how to perform when the lights are brightest.
NOTE: Heights, weights and lengths are official measurements from the event.
1) Frank Gore Jr., RB, Southern Miss (5-foot-7 1/8, 199 pounds)
The son of the NFL's third-place all-time leading rusher won the game's Offensive Most Valuable Player award, rushing for 48 of his 87 yards on a score after cutting back left off outside zone. He saw the open field on that play and took the angle from the safety and outside linebacker squeezing inside. He had two more first-down runs for the West team in the second quarter on zone plays (getting coached by his dad on the sideline in between) and also showed toughness, picking up six yards on an inside run without a lot of room. Gore isn't the biggest or fastest back in the draft, but he showed scouts he'll be an effective one in the NFL.
2) Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Maryland (5-10 2/8, 200)
The brother of Miami Dolphins starter Tua Tagovailoa used his legs to his advantage throughout the Shrine Bowl to help the West squad jump out to a lead. He stepped out of the pocket and took advantage of a busted Cover 2 at the beginning of the second quarter, launching a pass to Jadon Janke for a 52-yard gain. He later ran it in from two yards out after avoiding the rush. He then found Josh Cephus for the ensuing two-point conversion. Tagovailoa had a delay of game on third down in the red zone late in the first half and a couple of errant throws, but he still went 9 of 14 for 142 yards, an excellent performance overall.
3) Blake Watson, RB, Memphis (5-9 3/8, 189)
Watson was a productive runner and receiver during his time at Old Dominion and Memphis and showed those skills again during Thursday's game. He was a checkdown king during a two-minute drill in the first half, shaking off would-be blockers on two receptions to move the chains. Watson also showed speed and patience on a 25-yard throwback screen to start the second half, following his blocker in the open field. He carried the load for the West as a runner, exploding for big gains when the line created opportunities and taking what he could when blocking broke down. He would have had more than his 111 total yards of offense, but he made the right move late by taking a knee to run the clock in the final minutes.
4) Myles Murphy, DT, North Carolina (6-3 7/8, 312)
While cornerback Jarius Monroe was the game's Defensive MVP after securing an interception, Murphy was the West's best defender. He started off strong, blowing up a screen by getting pressure more quickly than expected. He beat his man to force a field goal attempt late in the first quarter, though quarterback Jack Plummer's helmet was askew after Murphy placed a hand on his facemask. He challenged linemen throughout the rest of the game, winning gaps with quickness off the ball and forcing double-teams to prevent him from making plays. Murphy also hustled downfield, including when he caught tight end Mason Pline following a reception late in the third quarter.
5) Anthony Gould, WR, Oregon State (5-8, 172)
Gould had the longest play of the Shrine Bowl, taking a punt back 80 yards for the East's only touchdown after Ryan Rehkow booted a punt too far for his coverage. Gould fielded the ball and made the gunner miss before heading straight upfield, spinning off contact and turning on the jets for the score. The receiver did not miss much action on offense and improved on the practice field each session, adding to his r茅sum茅 as likely a solid Day 3 pick.
6) Cam Little, K, Arkansas (6-0 7/8, 173)
Kickers were limited to three-step approaches on kickoffs and were not allowed to kick extra points, but Little made an impression by making both his field goal attempts for the West squad. The first was a short 26-yard yarder, but the second required a conversion from 48 yards. That kick snuck inside the left upright. It also crossed the goal post near the top, suggesting the ability to make kicks from 60 yards or more at the next level.