LAS VEGAS -- The college all-star game circuit is a perfect opportunity for NFL general managers and scouts to evaluate prospects in a best-on-best environment that offers a glimpse into a prospect's potential at the next level. Although an all-star game performance does not outweigh the play from the regular season, it is an important piece of the evaluation puzzle ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.
With this week's East-West Shrine Bowl providing some of the top prospects an opportunity to show off their skills, here are five players who caught my eye during Monday's practices.
The 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl will air exclusively on NFL Network at 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Feb. 2.
1) Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The silky-smooth route runner is about as pro-ready as they come. Flowers' balance, body control and burst enable him to win despite lacking imposing physical dimensions. With polished playmakers coveted at a premium, the Boston College product has the potential to make his mark as an impact player from Day 1.
2) Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
After watching 70-plus quarterbacks log starts in the NFL over the last five months, scouts are desperately looking for developmental prospects with arm talent, athleticism and experience. As a fifth-year senior with significant experience, Thompson-Robinson is an intriguing dual-threat playmaker with the raw talent and tools to carve out a career in the NFL. Though he needs to refine his skills within the pocket, the UCLA standout could be the next hidden gem to pop at the pro level.
3) Terrell Smith, CB, Minnesota
There is always a place for long, rangy cover corners, particularly a 6-foot-1, 215-pound athlete with the capacity to play man or zone coverage. Smith is the prototypical cornerback most defensive coordinators envision on the island in their schemes. As an A-plus competitor, the Golden Gopher could rise up the charts after a solid week of work in Las Vegas.
4) Tavion Thomas, RB, Utah
Teams looking for a big back with diverse skills will fall in love with Thomas at first sight. The 6-foot-2, 221-pounder is a grinder with surprising balance, body control and vision for his size. With the super-sized back also showing sticky hands in drills, the Utah product could emerge as a popular mid-to-late-round sleeper on draft boards around the league.
5) BJ Thompson, Edge, Stephen F. Austin
Small-school standouts with length, speed and athleticism appeal to scouts looking for developmental prospects. Thompson is squarely on the radar of evaluators after flashing pass-rush skills throughout his career with the Lumberjacks. As a freakish athlete with intriguing tools, the extra-long defender is a developmental prospect on the rise.