So now we move along in our weekly series on the NFL draft, this time focusing in on the Senior Bowl. If you don’t know or have forgotten, the Senior Bowl is not just the game itself, but rather a week of events in Mobile, AL showcasing the top NFL draft eligible senior prospects in the country. All the big decision makers – coaches, scouts and GM’s – attend this week of practices, gaining key insight as they decide over the next four and a half months whether or not these 22 and 23 year old kids warrant using one of their selections in May’s draft.
The rosters are listed here : http://www.seniorbowl.com/rosters.php
Off that list, I have identified five players with the most to gain next week in Mobile.
5. Paul Dawson, LB, TCU
In what was billed as one of the more competitive bowl games of the season, the Peach Bowl turned out to be a laugher with TCU beating Ole Miss 42-3. The hype surrounding the postgame was a combination of the Horned Frogs exclusion from the inaugural four team playoff and proclamations they’ll be #1 heading into next season. All just, but overlooked was the performance of one draft eligible linebacker in Dawson. An All Big 12 LB, he led the team in tackles that day and was all over the field from start to finish. He’ll be under a close eye of a lot of NFL personnel in Mobile as he’s projected as a do it all, three down LB in the league. Originally projected to go in the middle rounds, Dawson’s late season performance has vaulted him into late one, early two conversation.
4. Rashad Greene, WR, FSU
Breaking all kinds of Florida State records, Greene has been ultra productive in his years at Florida State. He really went to another level the past two seasons, as Jameis Winston anchored the offense and led them to one undefeated season, a national championship and near another this past season. Yes, there are a ton of talented wideouts in this class, just as there were last year with guys like Watkins, Beckham, Evans, etc., but Greene has a chance to be a diamond in the rough for teams looking at a wideout in the middle rounds. His route running is above average, and his ability to play in a pro style offense gives him a head start. NFL.com draft analysts Daniel Jeremiah compares Greene to Emmanuel Sanders. He’ll be watched closely in Mobile.
3. Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
A mercurial wideout from down on the plains, Coates, who has all the physical talent to be a #1 wide receiver in this league. Thing is, if you look at his numbers from last year on the surface with just 30 catches and four TD’s a season ago, you may not think much of him. Consider the fact he averaged over 24 yards a catch and you may think differently. He is a kid who’s going to run 4.4 at the combine, maybe even less than that, and test off the charts. He’s one of my favorite wideouts in this class and if he learns the nuances of being a receiver at the next level, the sky is the limit.
2. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
We know the top two quarterbacks to be selected in the draft will be Mariota and Winston, but the third spot is certainly up for grabs. Brett Hundley won’t be attending the Senior Bowl, and he very well may be the third QB selected, but Petty now takes on the role of the quarterback with the most to prove in Mobile. He headed the top offense in the nation, won 12 games this year and thrown for 58 TD’s to only nine interceptions in his two years as a starter. He’s got impressive size and despite getting happy feet at times this season, he has made plays late in games and has the leadership qualities you look for at the position. Biding his time behind RGIII at Baylor, Petty exploded the last two years and despite his Bears getting left out of the playoff, it was a great season in Waco. Keep an eye on Petty with a strong performance in Mobile to sneak into the second day.
1. Alvin “Bud” Dupree, DE, Kentucky
Kentucky may be known as a basketball factory rather than a football one, but they have a gem on their hands in defensive end Bud Dupree. He racked up 24 sacks over his career, more than any other SEC player over that time, and has the burst off the edge to be a top 10 draft pick in this year’s draft. With a few underclassmen like Shane Ray and Dante Fowler (also SEC alumni) about to jockey for position in the race to be the first defender selected in the draft, throw the agile Dupree’s name into the mix with a solid showing in Mobile. He’s got enormous potential.