Before the city of Las Vegas hosts the 2022 NFL Draft in April, many future bright stars got the chance to display their skills in a historic showcase.
The 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl – this year held at Allegiant Stadium – is a game that has featured NFL legends such as Tom Brady, Dick Butkus, Mike Haynes, Merlin Olson, Steve Atwater and Brett Favre.
In Thursday's 97th installment of the contest, the West defeated the East 25-24 in a very competitive showdown. Brown quarterback EJ Perry won offensive MVP, while Navy linebacker Diego Fagot took home defensive MVP.
Read through for a few takeaways from the collegiate showcase, with some names to remember once the draft rolls into town.
Cool, Calm Coan
The one player that stood out to me among the rest Thursday night was West quarterback Jack Coan.
Coan looked cool, calm and collected in the first quarter – flashing his great accuracy and pocket presence in Allegiant Stadium. He finished the day with 91 passing yards and a touchdown, while completing nearly 77 percent of his throws. Coan also connected on passes with seven different receivers in his one quarter of action. The East-West Shrine Bowl Committee presented him with the Pat Tillman Award before the start of the game. The award goes to a player who best represents intelligence, sportsmanship and service.
The Notre Dame quarterback is perhaps one of the more overlooked QB prospects coming out this season. After transferring to Notre Dame from Wisconsin for his senior season, he threw for 2,641 yards and 20 touchdowns, leading the Fighting Irish to an 11-1 regular season record. In his final collegiate bowl game, he had over 500 passing yards and five touchdowns in a two-point loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
While projected to be an undrafted free agent by a few draft experts, this performance will definitely play a factor in rising his draft stock.
Good day to be a Tarheel in Allegiant Stadium
On the very first play of the game, a 21-yard run from West running back Ty Chandler showed why he could be an intriguing Day 2 or 3 prospect.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has seen recent success in the draft with their running backs, as Javonte Williams and Michael Carter were second and fourth round picks in last year's draft. After their departure, Chandler picked up the pace for the Tarheels after transferring from Tennessee. The graduate transfer finished his season with nearly 1,100 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns while also earning Second Team All-ACC honors.
Chandler displayed great speed out of the backfield and was the game's leading rusher with 69 rushing yards on 11 carries. His smaller frame and versatility could be considered reminiscent of current Raiders running back Jalen Richard.
The sleeper Midshipman
The defensive player of the game in my eyes was linebacker Diego Fagot, who looked like he's ready to play on Sundays.
The linebacker out of Navy had a dominant performance for the East with seven total tackles, a pass deflection and a crowd-jolting sack on Iowa State's Brock Purdy. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker has an NFL-ready frame with some of the better run-stopping abilities shown in the showcase.
Fagot led Navy in tackles for three straight seasons and was First Team All-AAC in 2019 and 2021. He will definitely be an interesting sleeper prospect to keep an eye on, especially for the Raiders who could use more depth at middle linebacker to complement Denzel Perryman.