The 2017 East-West Shrine Game kicks off today at 3 PM, providing an opportunity for invited NFL Draft prospects to display their skillset to all 32 NFL teams as the draft creeps closer. You can watch the game on NFL Network.
I got to chat with West team cornerback Ashton Lampkin, a senior from Oklahoma State University. In his four years at OKST, Lampkin has put together five interceptions, 12 defended passes, 111 tackles, and two forced fumbles — playing in 49 games during that span. Lampkin, who stands at 6-0, 190 lbs, played mostly at the nickel cornerback position in his time at OKST, but has the ability to play outside as well.
During the week of practice for the Shrine Game, reporters consistently praised Lampkin for his coverage skills, fluidity, and physicality:
Ashton Lampkin / Okla St...had a really good 1 on 1 day at shrine game... Quick footed and aggressive - looked strong both upfield and in RZ— Mike Mayock (@MikeMayock) January 19, 2017
ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay also commented on Lampkin:
“A confident player who flashes ability to hold up on an island, Lampkin shows good balance and toughness in press coverage.“
Considering the praise he’s received, I was sure to reach out to him and schedule an interview -- his stock is rising.
[On how practices have gone]: They’ve been pretty good. Playing corner, you’re going to have good plays and bad plays, but as long as the good outweighs the bad, you know you’re having fun out there with your friends, that’s what it’s all about.
[On experience under West head coach Geroge Edwards, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator]: It’s great, I can see why he [Edwards/Vikings] has one of the best defenses in the NFL. He definitely will let you know whenever you’re messing up and help you with different techniques that you need to work on. He’s a great coach, and this comes from only knowing him for three days. I only met him three days ago and he’s already helped me out a lot in letting me know the things I need to do; when I make a great play, he’s not one of the coaches who will bash you all the time, he going to let you when you’re doing good. He’s a great coach.
[On biggest strengths as a cornerback]: My physicality. My press, tackling, getting off blocks, defending bigger receivers, things like that.
[On comfort in man/zone coverage]: I can play either or, but I like playing man. My zone coverage is good as well, but I’m an all around player so either or for me.
[On who Lampkin models his game after]: Joe Haden from the Cleveland Browns, definitely.
[On coming back for senior season]: It was never part of my plan to come out early. I wanted to be one of the first people in my family to graduate college and high school, so that was one of the things I was going to do, regardless, even if I was a top ten pick coming out as a junior, I was going to go back to school and get my degree. It was something that was important to me then and it also benefits me in the same effect.