The Senior Bowl is a fantastic (and in many ways, final) opportunity for some of the best young football players in the nation to prove they deserve a spot on an NFL roster. The South actually defeated the North 16-15, but none of us reading dynasty articles really care about that part.
Several players took advantage of their opportunity this past weekend and probably made themselves some future NFL money. Several others would have been better off staying at home or training for the upcoming NFL Combine (February 28th – March 6th).
I’m not saying that one week of practice and an exhibition game completely defines the career of these players. However, every year there are players who take advantage of the opportunity at hand.
Just last year, players like Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Braxton Miller, Kenneth Dixon, DeAndre Washington, and Tyler Ervin took advantage of a chance to boost their draft stock. All of them went inside the first five rounds of the NFL Draft last spring. There were of course some players who disappointed last year. Their draft stocks quickly disappeared.
Let’s dive in and see who just changed their future (for better or worse).
Davis Webb, QB California
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
I can’t imagine the pressure of replacing a quarterback who was taken first overall in the NFL Draft (Jared Goff). A transfer from Texas Tech, Webb had an excellent season with California. He was most likely going to be drafted regardless of the Senior Bowl, but Webb may have boosted his stock more than anyone. Davis earned the game MVP thanks to his 165 yards and a touchdown on just 16 passing attempts. This still doesn’t mean you should reach for Davis in your rookie drafts, but he’s definitely a name to watch.
Kareem Hunt, RB Toledo
Many draft aficionados would have already called Hunt the best senior running back in this year’s class. His performance this week in practice and the game solidified that status. Kareem’s 129 total yards from scrimmage were the best (by far) of any skill position player. He was named “most outstanding player” on the North. If Hunt puts together a decent combine dynasty owners will be hard-pressed to find him available past pick 18 or so in rookie drafts.
Jamaal Williams, RB BYU
After all of the weigh-ins at the Senior Bowl had been solidified I was a bit surprised to find Jamaal Williams at only 6 feet, 211 pounds. That isn’t small for a running back by any means, but he runs much bigger than that. Even though Williams only ran the ball eight times for 29 yards in the actual game this past weekend he still impressed. Jamaal was talked about with frequency during the practices leading up to the game. He was even awarded practice player of the week for running backs. This performance probably locked him into the first four rounds of the NFL Draft. He’ll definitely be a target of mine in the back half of second rounds in my rookie drafts this year.
Josh Reynolds, WR Texas A&M
I recently mentioned in my Top 100 Rookies: Pre-Combine piece that Josh Reynolds has been the best wide receiver for Texas A&M. This week he may have been the best receiver at the Senior Bowl. Not only did he consistently win one-on-one drills in practices, but he grabbed six balls for 96 yards (more than any other receiver) and a score in the game on Saturday. Davis Webb through a perfect fade on his 39-yard touchdown reception, but Reynold’s execution is what made the play so special. This 2017 class is so stacked that Reynolds will be considered a late third or fourth round flier by most dynasty owners.
Fred Ross, WR Mississippi State
Ross is another player whose actual size surprised me. After grabbing a touchdown every six catches this year Fred had me fooled. I thought Fred had to be somewhere around 6’2”, but actually measured 6’0”, 203. Many were torn on his athletic ability coming into this week, but may have fewer worries now. Ross caught five passes for 66 yards in the game. He also ended one of the practice days with one of the most impressive catches of the entire week. The combine will still be incredibly important for Fred, but he’s trending in the direction for draft-worthy for dynasty.
Zay Jones, WR East Carolina
If only the Senior Bowl had allowed replay challenges this past weekend. Zay Jones was denied an amazing acrobatic toe-tapping touchdown in the back of the end zone. Not only that, but he also lost another touchdown that was called back because of a holding penalty. Zay still managed to lead the North in receiving yards with six catches for 68 yards despite losing two touchdowns and 40 more yards on the aforementioned plays. When you come out of East Carolina, the level of competition is always in question. Zay put those doubts to bed this week. After one of the best Senior Bowl performances in recent memory I feel confident taking Zay Jones around pick 25 of most rookie drafts.
Cooper Kupp, WR Eastern Washington
Speaking of small school wide receivers, Cooper Kupp sure made a name for himself this week. He didn’t do much in the actual game, but the soon to be 24-year-old dominated practice sessions last week. Cooper will be older for a rookie wideout this year, but sometimes you just have to accept the facts. Cooper Kupp is a solid receiver who embarrassed some really tough corners this week. It was already public knowledge that his route-running savvy was better than most college players, and after this week Cooper may have just found himself a home in the top 100 picks of this year’s NFL Draft.
OJ Howard, TE Alabama
It would have been easy for Alabama’s star tight end to just coast through the Senior Bowl process. Apparently that’s not how OJ Howard goes about his business. Howard was very outspoken in interviews this week about his desire to continue proving that he was the best tight end in the country. After being named the practice player of the week out of all players at this year’s Senior Bowl he may have just earned that title. OJ Howard’s price is about to reach Tyler Eifert status from a few years ago. If you play in TE-premium formats, be prepared to see Howard leave your rookie draft board by the middle of the first round this summer.
Antonio Pipkin, QB Tiffin
Let’s get this one out of the way first. I don’t like to be mean when analyzing players, but Antonio Pipkin didn’t impress anyone this week. From what I gather his practice performances were average at best. But then he just had to go and throw two interceptions on four pass attempts. That didn’t help. If there was any confusion before, there isn’t now. Pipkin shouldn’t break the top 100 on your rookie draft board this year.
Donnel Pumphrey, RB San Diego State
Ladies and Gents, the all-time leading rusher in Division-I college football officially weighs 169 pounds. That’s incredible. It’s also not very good for his future in the NFL. Donnel Pumphrey does many things well as a running back, but he’s a smart young man. Pumphrey took a few snaps returning kicks at the Senior Bowl this weekend. He also ran for 23 yards and grabbed a couple catches for 15 more yards. That’s not bad given his brief opportunity, but his weight will be a problem. Donnel (or DJ) will need to add beef up before he earns even third round rookie draft consideration.
DeVeon Smith, RB Michigan
Many players needed to stand out this weekend, but DeVeon needed it more than most. He never eclipsed 850 rushing yards or 4.8 yards per carry at Michigan. DeVeon only manage six yards on his five carries. He added a few catches, but only added six yards with those. As I’ve mentioned before, DeVeon is “just a guy”. He can run for exactly what is blocked and nothing more. His limitations in the passing game showed this weekend too. There really isn’t any reason to pay attention to DeVeon any more for dynasty purposes.
Matthew Dayes, RB North Carolina State
The entire South team struggled with turnovers, but Matthew Dayes still doesn’t get a pass here. Whenever you’re given a solid opportunity to make a great impression, fumbling the ball away early in the game is a bold approach. Dayes, like DeVeon Smith, is just a guy in many ways. He did improve in the pass game this past season, but not enough to warrant much dynasty consideration. If he lands somewhere great he’ll be a free end of the bench stash.
Travin Dural, WR LSU
The Senior Bowl was Travin Dural’s last chance to really stand out and make a statement. His production had been decreasing steadily at LSU (partially due to injuries and horribly quarterback play). Dural’s physical attributes were really the only thing intriguing to most scouts coming into the weekend. That didn’t really change much. Dural apparently flashed once or twice in practice, but didn’t manage even one catch in the game. His stock has taken a sharp fall in the past year and a half. He may go undrafted in most rookie drafts this year.
Gerald Everett, TE South Alabama
Whenever you get your hands measured, and the guy with the measuring tape laughs, you know it’s bad. I can only imagine that’s what happened when Gerald Everett’s hands were measured at 8 1/4 inches. For wide receivers you generally want to see 9-inch hands or better. He was actually much smaller across the board than many had thought he would be at 6’2”, 227 pounds. People may blow things out of proportion with hand size, but the fact that he didn’t really do anything to impress over the weekend shrunk his draft stock down smaller than his hands.
That’s all folks! As always, follow me on the Twitter @FF_TravisM. Make sure to comment too if you saw something differently this past week at the Senior Bowl!