What to Expect from the East-West Shrine Game

Four would-be Chiefs played in last year’s game

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In January of 2014, cornerbacks Phillip Gaines and Daniel Sorensen, along with offensive linemen Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Zach Fulton, joined more than 100 other NFL prospects to participate in the East-West Shrine Game.

Five months later, they would all be Chiefs, but it's intriguing to look back and note that their road to Kansas City began in the same place—Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

On Saturday at 3 p.m. CST, the NFL presents the 2015 edition of the East-West Shrine Game.

To provide some background, the Shrine Game is a tradition started by Shriners International in 1925. The game is dedicated to raising awareness and support for Shriners Hospital for Children and gives some of the nation's top college players the opportunity to showcase their abilities and talents to a national television audience and more than 300 scouts.

2014 Kansas City Shrine Gamers
Player Pos. Snaps
Zach Fulton OL 1,021
Phillip Gaines CB 376
Daniel Sorensen CB 31
L. Duvernay-Tardif OL -

Bleacher Report's lead NFL Draft analyst, Matt Miller, believes that the best part of the Shrine Game is getting to finally see prospects from lesser-known schools up against equivalent competition.

"I think that's the big value of the Shrine Game, to see the small-school guys on a level playing field," Miller said. "To see a kid from Mount Union against a kid from Texas at the same time, you can really start to compare their athleticism, their tools, their technique.

"To me, that's what makes it so special. The Senior Bowl is all about the big schools and a couple small schools. The Shrine Game is a lot of small-school kids. It's a lot more fun that way I think."

Of all the players that partook in 2014 East-West Shrine Game week, a small-school player from the local Kansas City area that greatly improved his draft stock with the opportunity was wide receiver John Brown from Pittsburg State.

By showing he could compete against some of the nation's top defensive backs, Brown was eventually drafted in the third round by the Arizona Cardinals.

"We overanalyze so many of these kids now throughout the season," Miller said. "The Shrine Game is one of the few times where you can really see some players you've never heard anything about and just let yourself truly evaluate them."

For many analysts across the country like Miller, this will be the first chance they will get to see certain players. The same can be said for NFL general managers and other personnel staff members. Because of that, even as a fan, Miller recommends to watch with an open mind.  

"I think you watch with an open eye to let yourself be surprised about the guys," he said. "Just going in with no expectations. Just looking for someone to surprise you or to make a play. Then you're like 'OK, I'm going to have to go back and look at this kid.'

"Some of the small-school kids have such a great chance there."

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Last year the Kansas City Chiefs found 4 future players at the East West Shrine Game

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Though he wasn't at the 2014 East-West Shrine Game, one of the biggest Chiefs contributors this year that could be regarded as a "small-school" player is WR Albert Wilson, originally an unsigned free agent from Georgia State.

When you think of that, combined with the fact that four 2014 Shrine Gamers found their way to Kansas City, you have to believe general manager John Dorsey and the staff will be keeping a close eye on the game once again this year.

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