The East-West Shrine Bowl practice sessions have been on-going over the last two days, with players from all over the country playing in front of pro scouts and coaches from all 32 NFL teams in Las Vegas.
The MAC players who were invited have all shown excellent form, with both scouts and media raving about their performances. We’ve compiled some of those notes, as well as the official measurements from the Shrine Bowl officials, to paint the picture on all four MAC prospects who will play in this Thursday’s contest:
Desjuan Johnson, interior defensive line, Toledo
- Height: six-foot-two
- Weight: 267 lbs.
- Hands: 9 and one-eighth inches
- Arms: 31 and seven-eighth inches
- Wingspan: 78 and three-eighth inches
Johnson has been a standout since landing in Las Vegas, emerging as one of the more impressive interior defensive linemen on either side. He’s made his name with explosive first moves on several guard and tackle prospects, using a repository of moves to get home.
He has steadily climbed up a lot of interest boards, standing out on what is considered to be an extremely stacked defensive roster for the East. Prior to the start of the practices, Pro Football Focus ranked Desjuan Johnson as their eighth-highest overall player by PFF rating in the Shrine Bowl, with an overall grade of 88.1. His “wins above average” metric was also the highest amongst interior defensive linemen, marking him a can’t-miss prospect.
Oliver Hodgkinson of Pro Football Network described Johnson as having an “exciting athletic profile that boasts an explosive get-off, good speed, and exciting lateral agility,” with a high motor on every snap.
Nicholas Cothrel of Sports Illustrated’s Charger Report praised Johnson’s swim move and his positional versatility, especially praising his “superior” hand usage to win pass rush situations.
What they’re saying:
Desjuan Johnson wins QUICK— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) January 29, 2023
The big man from @ToledoFB with a strong showing today during the West practice at the @ShrineBowl #PFNShrine | @PFN365 pic.twitter.com/5df7o0SA4s
Toledo DL Desjuan Johnson really popped during 1-on-1s and team period. Showed a lot as a pass rusher with a variety of moves. He rushed off the edge and from the inside.— Nick Cothrel (@NickCothrel) January 29, 2023
Three West trench players that I'll have my eyes on during future Shrine Bowl practices: EDGE Habakkuk Baldonado (was already one of my favs), OL Jaxson Kirkland and DT Desjuan Johnson.— Daniel House (@DanielHouseNFL) January 29, 2023
Nic Jones, cornerback, Ball State
- Height: five-foot-11
- Weight: 191 lbs.
- Hands: 9 and seven-eighth inches
- Arms: 32 and two-eighth inches
- Wingspan: 77 and five-eighth inches
Nic Jones’ star has risen meteorically in the last few days, going from an afterthought on the roster to one of the top prospects on either side.
The Detroit native has impressed in one-on-drills every day of practice, making play after play in both man and zone coverage, notching several pass break-ups and at least one interception. Jones’ size and motor is notable, as he could prove to be a versatile option in the pros at either outside or nickel corner if he continues to show this level of play.
Pro Football Network has been especially effusive in praise of Jones, with Ian Cummings calling him an “incredibly smooth athlete with great short-area twitch and proportional length,” who possesses effortless movement and quick foot speed, while Oliver Hodgkinson noted Jones is “a menace at the catch point” due to his length and ball skills.
What they’re saying:
Ball State’s Nic Jones does a fantastic job mirroring the WR and using his off hand to break the pass up. He’s been one of the best cornerbacks at the #ShrineBowl. pic.twitter.com/ZFZe7l54W6— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) January 29, 2023
Back and forth between Ball State's Nic Jones and Hampton's Jadakiss Bonds.— Derrick (@Steelers_DB) January 29, 2023
Jones undercuts the curl route and gets his head around for the PBU.
Next rep between the two, Bonds runs a fade on the goal line and hauls in a filthy one-handed snag. pic.twitter.com/J5Jz6Fy6hR
Interception for Ball State CB Nic Jones with a diving interception working against a flat route— Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth) January 30, 2023
Jose Ramirez, EDGE, Eastern Michigan
- Height: six-foot-one
- Weight: 249 lbs.
- Hands: 9 inches
- Arms: 33 and two-eighths inches
- Wingspan: 79 and one-half inches
There were a lot of expectations for Jose Ramirez coming into the week of practices, and so far, he’s meeting the standard he set for himself. Named to three All-American teams, Ramirez was always going to be a product of intrigue for assembled NFL scouts. In fact, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the seventh-best overall player who will be participating this week.
Ramirez has dominated in one-on-one drills thus far, with his tremendous bend and hand movement especially on display in clips. He’s been a handful for every assignment so far, and nothing has continued to dissuade this. If there’s one knock on him, his official measurements came in fairly short, as he is listed at at six-foot-one, 249 lbs.
Size doesn’t seem to matter in the evaluation, though, as media have raved about his performances this week. Oliver Hodgkinson of Pro Football Network praised his explosiveness off the snap and his elite flexibilty causing mismatches, while Bo Marchionte of Sports Illustrated’s NFL Draft Fan Nation noted Ramirez’s leadership skills, stating that “seldom did a positive play by the East defense not have Ramirez vocally supporting his teammates enthusiastically.”
Eastern Michigan's Jose Ramirez is probably the best pass rusher at the Shrine Bowl. 6017, 249 pounds, notched 50 pressures last season rushing the passer.— Derrick (@Steelers_DB) January 29, 2023
Rushing from a wide-9 alignment here. This two hand swipe + flexibility to bend is pretty... Name to keep an eye on. pic.twitter.com/Vws7Bkz8qw
Going through Shrine Bowl pass rushers before I drive out on Friday and they got some goodies there.— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) January 24, 2023
Jose Ramirez from EMU is legit. Wins with speed, power, fluidity, etc.
Dante Stills is fun too. Played mostly 5tech, but when given a real chance to rush he has some great reps.
Forgot to mention, Eastern Michigan DL/EDGE Jose Ramirez was one of the first on the field this morning for the @ShrineBowl East Team practice. pic.twitter.com/eCXCwnTEIc— Melanie Friedlander (@Girlsurgeon) January 28, 2023
Joel Wilson, tight end, Central Michigan
- Height: six-foot-three
- Weight: 242 lbs.
- Hands: 10 and two-eighth inches
- Arms: 32 and two-eighth inches
- Wingspan: 78 and two-third inches
Wilson was a late addition to the East-West Shrine Bowl, withdrawing from the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on the eve of practices. He’s a likely UDFA candidate as far as the NFL Draft goes, but he sits at around #23 of 40 eligible tight end/H-back prospects according to Ric Serritella of Sports Illustrated’s NFL Draft Fan Nation, and with a good Shrine Bowl, could see his stock elevate.
Pro Football Focus’ Cam Mellor praises Wilson’s pass-catching abilities, saying he has “the tools of a dominate next-level tight end, comparing his movement and playstyle to that of a slot receiver, but has concerns about his blocking ability prohibiting his development as an all-around prospect.
If not any highlight reel from the current practices, he has at the very least made a presence for himself with his pre-game musical choices.