Cardinals Get Up-Close Look at Prospects

The Arizona Cardinals were just one of the many NFL teams to send representatives to Orlando to check out all the talent that the East-West Shrine Game has to offer.'s Charlie Bernstein was also there to take in the sights. He shares his East squad practice report.

Wednesday morning's practice began with optimum playing conditions as it the thermometer read 68 degrees and the Florida sun was beating down mercilessly. Although the "star power" on the sidelines wasn't nearly what it was 24 hours earlier, representatives from all 32 teams were in attendance.

To start practice, the quarterbacks did some light passing drills with the wide receivers and running backs. Northwestern's Mike Kafka was accurate, Fordham's John Skelton showed off his powerful arm, and Daryl Clark still struggled.

In the seven-on-seven drills, Kafka continued to impress on short routes, and had perhaps the throw of the day as he hit Michigan State receiver Blair White in the seam as he gunned the ball in over linebackers. John Skelton's effortless throwing motion impressed several scouts, but he missed a few open receivers on the sidelines. Daryl Clark faded when asked to do anything other than check down.

Blair White

In the full 11-on-11 drills, Skelton really stepped his game up and delivered strong passes to the sideline and down the seam. Kafka was accurate and showed off his athleticism on a scramble in which he ran away from several defenders. Despite the positive play, Kafka's inability to make a quick decision concerned scouts.

"I think I bring a lot of poise, a lot of good mechanics, and a lot of smarts about the game," Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka said when asked about what should attract him to NFL teams. "I pride myself on studying the game and knowing what my assignment is and what my job is."

It appears that Saturday's game will be nearly as important as the practices, as the receivers haven't given the quarterbacks much separation and they were seemingly slipping on what appeared to be moist grass.

"We'll see how they play in the game," an unnamed New Orleans scout said. "These receivers aren't giving the quarterbacks much to work with." Running backs Javarris James and Andre Anderson showed good hands and an ability to turn upfield after catching short passes. LSU fullback Richard Dickson continued to catch the football flawlessly and is seemingly impressing all onlookers in attendance.

The wide receiver corps didn't stand out much in the seven-on-seven or 11-on-11 drills, but Freddie Barnes and Blair White appear to be forming a bond with the quarterbacks.

The tight ends were all solid for the third straight practice, as Penn State's Andrew Quarless and Army's Ali Villanueva are impressing scouts.

"For me it's been great. It's an opportunity for me to strap the pads on one more time although I'm probably not going to the NFL," Villanueva said as he referenced his military commitment.

While the skill position players were running seven-on-sevens, the offensive and defensive line took part in one-on-one drills. Stars from those drills on the offensive side of the ball were tackles Kyle Calloway (Iowa), Kevin Haslam (Rutgers) and Roger Saffold, III (Indiana). Those three players routinely dominated their opponents.

"Calloway and the guy from Rutgers are pretty good," N.C. State defensive end Willie Young said when asked about who were the best players he's gone up against since he's been in Orlando.

Willie Young on the pursuit.

Defensive ends Willie Young (N.C. State), Doug Worthington (Ohio State), Rahim Alem (LSU) and Lindsey Witten (Connecticut) impressed as they beat up on Thomas Austin (Clemson) and Chris Scott (Tennessee). UCF's Torell Troup dominated in all one-on-one situations, but disappeared a bit when facing the double-teams in 11-on-11 drills.

"97 is the best defensive end I've gone up against here," Iowa offensive tackle Kyle Calloway said. "He really comes off the ball with power and he can move to either side. He's really a solid player, he's fundamentally sound."

On the second level of the defense, it has the been the usual suspects stepping up as O'Brien Schofield rotated between defensive end and outside linebacker, making plays at both positions. South Florida's Kion Lewis continued to be very quick to the football, and Boston College's Mike McLaughlin had his best day of practice.

One man dominated in the secondary and that was Virginia Tech's Kam Chancellor. Chancellor both intercepted errant throws and laid big hits on everyone that was in his area. His 6'4", 230 lb. frame and physical style of play made an impact on several scouts, as one Green Bay Packers scout wondered aloud, "What is that guy doing playing in this game?" Referencing how the Senior Bowl perhaps missed an invite.

Kicker Joshua Shene got some action has he connected on two of four kicks from 44 yards with a rush, then blasted both of his field goal attempts through the uprights from 49 yards away.

Charlie Bernstein is the host of CB Sports on ESPN Radio 1420 in St. Augustine, and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.

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