Shrine Bowl Has Propelled EJ Perry Into NFL Draft Conversation

Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Down in Mobile, Alabama, quarterbacks have been stealing the show at the Senior Bowl. Liberty’s Malik Willis and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder specifically had good weeks of practice and followed it up with impressive performances on game day.

Meanwhile, the Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas didn’t have quite the same highly-touted quarterback prospect hype. That doesn’t mean it didn’t provide a chance for young quarterbacks to turn scouts’ heads. If anything, it gave more chances for guys who maybe hadn’t been on as many NFL teams’ radars to shine in front of scouts. 

At this year’s Shrine Bowl, the signal-caller who most took advantage of that extra exposure was Brown quarterback EJ Perry.

Of all the quarterbacks at the Shrine and Senior bowls, Perry—who transferred out of Boston College in 2019—is probably the least known. That’s not too surprising, given his primary background as a signal-caller for an Ivy League team. On top of the perceived dropoff in competition, Perry missed a whole year to showcase his talent when his conference decided to cancel the entire 2020 season.

In his last year in college, Perry completed 66.5% of his passes for 3,034 yards and 23 touchdowns, along with an additional seven scores on the ground. He did struggle a bit with turnovers, however, as his 30 total touchdowns were balanced out by his 14 picks in 2021. Still, his overall performance was enough to earn him the Ivy League’s Offensive Player of the Year award at the end of this season.

Most of Perry’s success in college was at the FCS level, so one of the biggest obstacles he’s had to face is the perception that he couldn’t compete with the “big guys” from FBS schools. Seeing him in person and working out with many other pro prospects made it clear that wasn’t the case. The athleticism, touch, and pocket mobility he displayed during his time at Brown was on full display in Las Vegas.

Perry started off with a really good week of practice. He was making strong throws every day, whether it was with the zip he could put on a ball or the touch he had passing in one-on-one and team drills. Even against the talent from big-time FBS schools, Perry was creating openings using his eyes and then hitting targets in those small windows with his arm and good downfield vision.

Not only were Perry’s throws excellent, but he was making good plays with his legs as well. The coaches at Shrine Bowl had him run several draws and bootleg plays, and he found success with his plus speed and mobility.

The Brown product’s week of practice clearly got the attention of everyone he needed to impress. Not only did Perry win the East Team’s Practice Player of the Week honors, he secured an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine. Before Shrine Week, he was on the bubble of players who might get an invite, but he pushed his way into getting a serious look by the time practice ended last Tuesday. 

If that was the end of the Shrine Bowl experience for Perry, it would have been a very successful week. His performance in the game itself took that success to another level.

Perry entered the game strong, completing his first drive a cool 4-of-4 for 72 yards and a touchdown, along with a seven-yard rush and a two-point conversion. He finished the all-star matchup 13-of-18 with 241 yards and three touchdowns. Though two of his touchdown passes were more because of the receivers’ efforts than his passes, he did complete a nice pass to Nebraska’s Samori Toure––someone he had built chemistry with all week–––for his third and final touchdown pass.

For his efforts, Perry was named the Shrine Bowl’s Offensive MVP, capping off his very impressive week in the best way he could have. He may have been slept on coming into Las Vegas, but after a great week-long showing, no one’s sleeping anymore.

Written By:

Jack McKessy

Staff Writer

Jack McKessy is a recent graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism who grew up in Washington, D.C. As a student, he covered Northwestern’s football, women’s soccer, women’s basketball, and baseball teams. Previously, he was in charge of social media and contributed to both written and multimedia content creation for La Vida Baseball in Chicago. He has also assisted in the production of promotional content for the Big Ten Network. Jack initially joined the TDN team as an intern during the 2020 season. Now, he writes columns—primarily analysis of the New York Giants—and helps run TDN's YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

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