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2024’s Shrine Bowl Standouts: Part 1 - Defense

Taking a look at some NFL draft prospects on defense

College Football: 2024 East-West Shrine Bowl, Texas Photo credit should read Javier Vicencio / Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images

The East-West Shrine Bowl is feeling a bit like the forgotten event of the pre-draft process this year. With all the attention on the Senior Bowl and the NFL coaching carousel, there doesn’t seem to have been as much coverage as in the past, despite a switch to a Thursday kickoff and the cancellation of the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

Nevertheless, the Shrine Bowl is something worth paying attention to. In last year’s Shrine Bowl, three of the quarterbacks taking part ended up starting NFL games. In addition, it was an opportunity for the likes of Zay Flowers, Pop Douglas, Luke Schoonmaker and Kobie Turner to raise their draft stock. The New York Jets also found some talent here, with six eventual Jets taking part last year, including draft picks Carter Warren and Jarrick Bernard-Converse.

We’re going to break down some of the standout performers from this year’s game, starting today with the defense:

CB Qwan’tez Stiggers, CFL

Stiggers has a chance to make history as the first player to be drafted with zero college football experience. He dropped out due to a family illness but ended up in Canada, where he intercepted five passes as a rookie and was named a CFL all-star.

Now draft eligible, Stiggers made an immediate impact, with a special teams tackle on the opening kickoff and an impressive pass break-up on the first series. He looked comfortable all day in off-coverage and pressing. Coaches have praised the fact that he already carries himself like a pro.

LB Darius Muasau, UCLA

Speaking of making an immediate impact, Muasau did exactly that as he served notice with this huge hit on the games’ first offensive snap.

While this turned out to be his only tackle, Muasau showed good positional sense in coverage in limited action. He gave a glimpse of the talent that made him an extremely productive college player with 436 tackles, 16.5 sacks, 14 passes defensed and five interceptions.

EDGE Grayson Murphy, UCLA

Murphy had an impressive performance with two sacks and an impressive quarterback hit that saw him spin off a block to get to the quarterback.

His fourth quarter sack showcased impressive power as he knocked the right tackle off balance and then finished well.

DT Myles Murphy, UNC

Murphy is not related to Grayson Murphy, although Grayson’s twin brother Gabriel was also in action, adding to the confusion. Myles was one of the most impressive interior defenders on display, chasing the quarterback from the pocket on the first series and later adding a sack.

Murphy, who was named as one of the practice players of the week, also displayed his hustle when he dropped back to get in on the tackle after a completion to the tight end underneath. He also got good traction on bull rushes on a number of occasions.

LB Aaron Casey, Indiana

Casey saw plenty of action, and he made the most of it, as he was tied for the most tackles by anyone on either team with six. His most impressive play saw him read and blow up this screen pass.

In addition, Casey - who had 109 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 2023 - stuffed a 3rd-and-short run for no gain and drew a holding penalty to negate a two-point conversion.

S Tyler Owens, Texas Tech

Owens stepped up with two standout plays to showcase his excellent combination of size and athleticism at 6’2” and 213 pounds.

The first saw him close fast on a pass to the flat, stopping the receiver in his tracks short of the marker on 3rd-and-2. The other saw him pursue his man across the field to break up a pass by the sideline.

We’ll be back with a look at some of the offensive standouts in a day or so...