ASU Football: Alden Darby helps NFL draft stock with Shrine game performance

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Four Sun Devils represented Tempe well in postseason bowls this weekend.

Alden Darby, Chris Coyle, Evan Finkenberg and Chris Young had a chance to participate in postseason bowls Saturday afternoon across the country.

These bowls, the East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg, Fla. and the NFLPA Bowl in Carson, Calif. gave players with NFL potential a chance to practice and play in front of scouts against other top players in the country. Both games consisted of players who have declared for the draft but are more likely to be taken in the later rounds. The week leading up to the game also consisted of guest lectures and lessons from high-ranking NFL officials and players about how to manage money, the media and success in the league.

A change in numbers didn't seem to matter to Darby. Although he had to switch from his usual No. 4 in maroon and gold, he played a huge role wearing No. 3 for the blue and white of the West side in the East-West Shrine Game. The former Sun Devil safety hauled in two interceptions and recorded a tackle in a loss for the West team.

The first interception came six and a half minutes into the first quarter when Darby came streaking across the field wearing the flaming helmet from the Notre Dame game. He stepped in front of a former Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch pass and returned it 11 yards to the West team's 49-yard line. Darby also helped bring down Northern Arizona running back Zach Bauman on the previous play.

Darby didn't play much of the second or third quarters but came back in the final frame. His second pick came with nine minutes and 55 seconds remaining. Former Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews lofted a ball up into the end zone when Darby once again came at least seven to ten yards across the field to pick it off and return the ball out of the end zone as his momentum brought him out to East team's two-yard line.

Meanwhile Coyle and Finkenberg were smaller parts in a loss for the American side of the NFLPA Bowl. The former ASU tight end caught one pass for three yards and set the edge with a hard block on a Franklyn Quiteh rushing touchdown. Chris Young did not see the field, but Finkenberg played two series on the offensive line participating in one touchdown drive.

Darby's impressive display should certainly help his draft stock. He currently sits in the sixth or seventh round according to most scouting services while Coyle, Finkenberg and Young have potential to go in the seventh round as well but are more likely to become un-drafted free agents.

Will Sutton and Marion Grice will be on full display next weekend at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. on Jan. 25. The ASU pro day is scheduled for Mar. 7 in Tempe.

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