The National team defeated the Americans 27-7 at the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif. on Saturday. In the presser after the game, National coach Mike Martz equated the NFLPA bowl experience to a week-long job interview for the players rather than practicing for an all-star game. If that’s the case, let’s take a look at the five top players from the losing side who might be able to get hired based on their performance in the game.
American Team Top Performers
1. Lorenzo Jerome, Defensive back, St. Francis (PA).
Even though the American team lost by 20 points, the MVP of this game was awarded to one of its players. That says a lot about Jerome’s performance. He lined up primarily at free safety and intercepted two passes in the first half, deep into his own territory. Jerome displayed great ball skills and body control on both of the interceptions. On the first pick, he leaped high to his left to snatch the pass in front of the receiver, he got both of his feet down as he fell out of bounds. On the second, he dove to his left and was able to scoop the ball in his hands right before it hit the ground. Jerome also made some big hits to thwart the National team on third downs.
2. Teriyon Gipson, Running back, New Mexico.
Gipson was featured on our site leading up to the game, and he was the lone bright star on the offensive side of the ball for the American team. He wound up finishing with 54 rushing yards on eight carries and 32 receiving yards on three receptions. He prevented the American team from being shut out when he caught a swing pass on the left sideline and tip toed passed a defender on his way to scoring the a touchdown, late in the fourth quarter. Three of his carries went for more than 10 yards.
3. Avery Williams, Linebacker, Temple.
Williams was all over the field on Saturday. Weighing in at 210 pounds, he did an excellent job of shedding a blocker to stop the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage, he covered the flat to make a tackle on a running back, and he chased down a running back deep into the secondary to prevent a touchdown. He even made a couple of tackles on special teams. His name was announced often in the early stages of the game, and was the leading tackler for the At his size, NFL coaches might try to convert him into the hybrid safety/linebacker that’s become nouveau.
4. Tre’Von Johnson, Linebacker, Weber State.
Johnson checked all of the boxes that Williams didn’t. He put in most of his work and made a lot of big plays in the second half. He was physically dominant as he repeatedly caused a disturbance on plays within five yards of the scrimmage line, whether it was dropping back into coverage to make a tackle on a tight end or stuffing a runner in the back field.
5. Grover Stewart, Defensive tackle, Albany State.
Stewart had two sacks and two tackles for loss. On his first sack, he showed great quickness off the snap when he split the center and left guard; he was on top of the quarterback before he completed his drop back. It was a play that was reminiscent of Warren Sapp.
Honorable Mentions: Sean Maguire, Quarterback, Florida State and Shaquill Griffin, Cornerback, Central Florida
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