It’s Senior Bowl Week! Dozens of NFL Draft prospects will be down in Mobile, Alabama to make lasting impressions on coaches, scouts, and analysts alike. While Saturday’s game caps off the week, it’s really the practices and interviews where players are able to shine the most. Over the next few days, there are some storylines to keep an eye on.
Can any quarterbacks separate themselves from the pack?
While this draft class does not have any slam dunk star draft prospects among the quarterbacks, most of the top signal callers this year will be down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, Carson Strong, Desmond Ridder, Bailey Zappe and Sam Howell will all be practicing this week. All these names have received some level of draft hype, with guys like Willis, Pickett, Strong and Ridder being talked about as first round hopefuls. Big questions surround all these passers, but a great week of practice and strong showings an interviews can help secure a first round slot for borderline prospects.
Big week for linebackers
If an NFL team is in need of linebacker help (Hi, Philadelphia), this is a great year to be at the Senior Bowl. Not only will Utah’s star linebacker, Devin Lloyd be there, but other impressive players like Darrian Beavers (Cincinnati), Terrel Bernard (Baylor), Chad Muma (Wyoming), and Quay Walker (Georgia) will be present as well.
Getting these productive college players to the Senior Bowl will help complete a picture of their skill sets as they are tested by completely different opponents in practices and asked to show things outside of their comfort zones in terms of coverage responsibilities and ability to attack the line of scrimmage in different ways.
Isolating players skills away from competition level and their college schemes is one goal of the Senior Bowl’s week of practice. A lot of this class’ top linebackers will have a great chance to show they can do even more than they did in their college defenses.
Fast risers on the defensive line
One clear strength of this draft class is defensive line and pass rushers. Not only does the class have true top end talent like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aidan Hutchinson and George Karlaftis, but there is a handful of players who could break the top 50 or even into the first round with strong showings during the draft process.
This week, pass rushers will be on full display in Mobile. Jermaine Johnson (FSU), Boye Mafe (Minnesota), Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina), Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati) all have amazing opportunities this week to skyrocket their draft stock. Of these players, I expect Mafe and Johnson to be talked about the most.
In the case of Johnson, he is so technically sound with a great motor that he is bound to impress coaches and scouts alike. For Mafe, it is his athleticism that should excite NFL teams and it will be on full display this week.
This cornerback class comes with a lot of talent and there will be minuscule calculations that separate some of these first round prospects. Roger McCreary is the best defensive back down at the Senior Bowl this week and a legit top 20 draft prospect. He will have plenty of chances to show off his coverage skills and physicality in one-on-ones, 7 v 7s and team drills all week. McCreary will be facing down some of the best wide receivers in the country and surely can make the most of this week.