With the East-West Shrine game behind us, all eyes now turn to Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl. This is the top all-star game for collegiate prospects and this week is loaded with offensive skill players that could make a big impact in the near future at the NFL level. Below is a list of the guys I am most intrigued to see how they perform during practices and the Senior Bowl Game.
Nate Peterman, Pittsburgh – 6’2”, 225
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Peterman had a very productive senior season throwing for 2,855 yards, 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Peterman has a been a hot name in the draft twitter community lately, with some thinking he could emerge to be the fifth quarterback taken off the boards in the mid rounds. He has good size, is accurate in the intermediate range and his arm talent is good enough to make all the NFL throws. The biggest question marks with Peterman are his decision-making and inconsistency at times. Expect Peterman to get drafted on day three.
Davis Webb, California – 6’5”, 229
Of all the quarterbacks down in Mobile, Webb offers the most prototypical size that NFL teams look for. Webb also has the arm talent to make any throw on the field. The big knocks on Webb will be how quickly he can transition from the Air Raid system in college to a pro-style offense, and his decision-making and accuracy. Webb will be an intriguing prospect to follow in the next few months, as it there seems to be a clear top four quarterbacks at the moment but Webb, similar to Peterman, could emerge to be the next quarterback taken. He should come off the board as well sometime on the third day of the draft.
Other Quarterbacks to Watch: Josh Dobbs (Tennessee), Antonio Pipkin (Tiffin)
Jamaal Williams, BYU – 6’0”, 211
Williams is my favorite running back prospect at the event, offering the size, speed, and physicality that NFL teams will covet. Williams ran for 1,375 yards for 12 touchdowns this past year. He is strong with a good frame, but has the vision and balance to be a complete running back. He is best suited to run between the tackles but could get to the outside as well. He’s also solid in pass protection and an adequate receiver, so he could play on all three downs. I think Williams could rise and be a third round pick but if not, he should come off the board early on day three and could become an immediate contributor in year one as part of a committee.
Kareem Hunt, Toledo – 5’10”, 208
Hunt, is a prospect who I think could really become a more household name following this week in Mobile. He had a very production college career, finishing his senior season off with 1,475 yards and ten touchdowns, in addition to catching 41 passes for another 403 yards. Hunt is a strong, physical, between-the-tackles runner with enough speed. He came in almost 15 pounds below his listed college weight, which may improve his quickness and agility to help him become more explosive and get to the outside more than he showed in college. The biggest question concerning Hunt prior to this season was his receiving ability, because we had not seen him given the opportunity to show he could do it. He checked off that box as he became a much bigger part of the pass game. Hunt is another prospect that could be a riser to the second night of the draft, but most likely will get taken early on day three and has a great chance of immediately carving out a role in the NFL.
Other Running Backs To Watch: Corey Clement (Wisconsin), Donnel Pumphrey (San Diego State) De’Veon Smith (Michigan)
Amara Darboh, Michigan – 6’2”, 215
Darboh emerged to be the most productive wide receiver for the Wolverines this past season, catching 57 passes for 862 yards and seven touchdowns. Darboh is an explosive athlete, who has good size and a great frame. Unlike many receivers, Darboh seems to be able to run a full route tree, and could translate quickly to the NFL game. He displays good hands and can be dangerous after the catch. With a wide receiver class that seems to be wide open after the top few names, Darboh has a chance to emerge and be taken in round three or four.
Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington – 6’1, 198
Kupp, is a small school prospect who will get a chance to become a household name after the Senior Bowl week. This past season he caught 117 passes for 1700 yards and 17 touchdowns. While level of competition is obviously a concern, Kupp offers a wide array of traits that could translate well to the next level. He is a polished route runner, has really good hands and speed, can play inside or outside and a defined route tree that shows he can win in a variety of ways. Kupp has the chance to emerge into one of the top six to eight wide receivers in this draft class and be taken in round two or three in the draft.
Jalen Robinette, Air Force – 6’4’’, 215
After looking good at the Shrine Game last week, Robinette got the call up to the Senior Bowl. When evaluating him, it’s hard not to come away very impressed. He has elite size, huge hands, a wide catch radius and the ability to high point the ball well. With a draft lacking in physical freaks at the wide receiver position, Robinette could skyrocket up boards if he tests out really well athletically and be one of the those. This past season at Air Force, he showed his upside and potential by catching 35 passes for 956 yards and six touchdowns. Robinette is hard to project for what round he could be selected, but if he tests well and continues to check off all the boxes, I do not think the end of day two is out of the question with his immense upside.
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M – 6’3, 187
Reynolds is an interesting player to evaluate, as he possesses ideal size, but is very thin. He needs to put on at least 12-15 pounds of muscle to his frame to withstand the physical defensive backs he will be matched up with on the outside at the next level. Reynolds has the ability to be a vertical threat with good speed, but his calling card is his ability to high point the ball well and make contested catches. The biggest question mark surrounding his game is his route running and variety of routes. If he can answer some of those questions down at the Senior Bowl, Reynolds has a chance to improve his stock and be taken late on day two of the NFL draft.
Taywan Taylor, Western Michigan – 5’11, 198
Taylor is another prospect that could use the Senior Bowl as a way to catapult himself up draft boards. Taylor had a very production season catching 98 passes for 1730 yards and 17 touchdowns. Taylor is a vertical threat, who can stretch the field, but also is a strong route runner, smooth in and out of his breaks, has good hands and is dangerous after the catch. Obviously, level of competition is a concern, and is why this week is so important to him. If he can show all of those traits against the quality of defensive backs in attendance there, his value may really rise. I think Taylor could possibly go in round three of the draft if he has a big week.
Zay Jones, Eastern Carolina – 6’2, 202
Jones is a really fun prospect to evaluate. He had 158 catches, for 1746 yards and eight touchdowns this past season alone. He started the Senior Bowl week off great by coming in at the height and weight that he did, because there were concerns about his size. Jones is the prototypical slot wide receiver, who is quicker than fast, but can get in and out of his breaks very cleanly and smoothly and has great hands. The biggest questions mark remaining now that his size is no longer an issue, is his long speed, but with his precise route running and quickness, it should not be an issue. Jones should be a third day selection and could become a productive slot receiver at the next level.
Other Wide Receivers To Watch: Travin Dural (LSU), Amba Etta-Two (Syracuse), Fred Ross (Mississippi State), Ryan Switzer (North Carolina), Artavis Scott (Clemson)
O.J. Howard, Alabama – 6’6”, 249
Howard is the best overall prospect down in Mobile in my opinion. For years, he was underutilized in the Crimson Tide offense, but Howard is the total package. He is an athletic freak, with the size, speed, hands, receiving ability and blocking ability to be one of the most complete tight ends at the NFL level. Howard can run good routes, is dangerous after the catch, and will create mismatches all over the field lined up against linebackers and safeties. Howard is also versatile; in that he can line up inline or off the line. He is going to be a top 20 pick, with the possibility to push into the top ten before the draft rolls around. He is the rare tight end prospect that should be on people’s radar in the late first round of rookie dynasty drafts.
Evan Engram, Ole Miss – 6’3”, 236
Engram is one of my favorite prospects in the entire draft. He is a proficient route runner, with great hands and is explosive after the catch. This past year he caught 65 passes for 926 yards and eight touchdowns. Engram will be used as a move tight end or in the slot in the NFL, as he does not have the size to be used inline regularly. Engram will be a matchup nightmare for defenses as he is just too quick for linebackers or safeties to cover. While it is an easy comparison, Engram’s game is very similar to Jordan Reed, and I believe he could have that type of productivity at the next level once he gets acclimated. He should be selected in the second or third round of the real NFL draft and he would be someone I am looking to select in the second round of all rookie drafts.
Gerald Everett, South Alabama – 6’3”, 227
Everett is a really interesting prospect, and very similar to Engram in his overall game. This past season, he caught 49 passes for 717 yards and four touchdowns. He is very athletic, runs good routes, can make plays after the catch and displays good hands, even though his hands were measured at only 8 ¼ inches this week. Like Engram, he does not have the size to line up inline and will be used exclusively in the slot as a move tight end or as an H-Back. The biggest difference between him and Engram is the level of competition, as we have seen Engram perform against NFL caliber athletes and Everett has not with any regularity. I think Everett will be a top 100 selection and will be taken in the second or third round of the NFL draft as well, based on his upside and potential as a receiver.
Other Tight Ends to Watch: Jeremy Sprinkle (Arkansas), Michael Roberts (Toledo)