Every year a player or two uses a strong performance at the Senior Bowl to vault into the top half of the first round. Last year LT Eric Winston went from a mid-first rounder to the #1 overall pick in the draft. Lions rookie Ziggy Ansah was a projected late first round pick till his dominant performance in the Senior Bowl game landed him with the Lions at the 5th pick. Either in practice, the game, or both players have a chance to wow scouts and drastically improve their draft slot.
This year’s crop of players is one of the weakest in terms of first round talent, but it is one of the deepest with an estimated 90 players that should hear their name called at some point of the draft. No player on either Senior Bowl roster is going #1 overall or even in the top half of the first round, but a few players solidified a shot at the back half of the first round, others moved up a round or two, and a few fell off draft boards all together. Here is a breakdown of which offensive players helped their stock the most. I’ll cover defense and those who hurt their stock in my next few articles.
Stock up: Offense
QB Derek Carr – Fresno St: Stood out as clearly the best QB at the Senior Bowl, but he didn’t have much competition. Either way, Carr distanced himself from the rest of the pack and should be the 4th QB off the board on draft day. Carr showed a cannon arm and more accuracy than the rest of the QBs all week in practice. During the game he mostly threw check downs, but uncorked a couple of deep balls that showed what he could do even though they were incomplete. Carr’s footwork was inconsistent and that is his biggest flaw, but he showed enough tools to sneak into the back half of the first round.
QB David Fales – San Jose St: Had a rough start the first two days of practice, but was supposedly sick. Fales played much better on Wednesday and then had a solid outing during the game (6/7, 104, 1 TD). He did throw an INT on a deep ball, but was hit hard on throw (by Donald). Fales doesn’t have the arm strength of the other top QB prospects, but he does have good intangibles and throws an accurate ball. I think Fales would be a steal in the 5th round or later which is where he was projected coming into the Senior Bowl .
HB Charles Sims – West Virginia: Viewed as a 3rd down back coming into the Senior Bowl, Sims changed some minds this week with power running, smooth hands out of the backfield, and good enough pass protection. Sims drew comparisons to Matt Forte, Shane Vereen, and DeMarco Murray from various analysts. Sims didn’t do much during the game (3 carries for 8 yards) but showed enough in practice to move into the 3rd-4th round range and possibly get a chance as a team’s primary back.
HB James White – Wisconsin: Got off to a slow start in practice, but improved steadily as the week went on. White excelled in both receiving and pass blocking drills during the week and then showed off his running ability during the game with 11 carries for 62 yards and a TD. White displayed surprising power with two tough stiff-arms on d-lineman to break long runs. White moved up a round or two and has a shot at the 3rd or 4th round.
HB David Fluellen – Toledo: Had a disappointing week of practice, but turned it on late in the week and then had a great game on Saturday (8 carries for 44 yards). Fluellen ran with good vision and patience and gained a considerable amount of his yards after initial contact. He is still probably a day 3 pick, but looked like he could provide value as a short yardage back. Fluellen lacks the explosion to be a feature back, but was very productive in college with 1,336 total yards and 10 TDs last season.
WR Jordan Mathews – Vanderbilt: The SEC’s all time leading WR, Mathews was solid all week. He has the best combination of size, speed, route-running, and hands of the receivers at the Senior Bowl. He was near the best at every drill and made nice plays on the only two targets he got during the game. Mathews could sneak into the end of round 1 with a good 40-time at the combine next weekend.
WR Jared Abbrederis - Wisconsin: He didn’t play in the Senior Bowl due to a groin injury, but had an excellent week of practice and impressed scouts with his hands, routes, and intelligence in the classroom. Abbrederis is a solid slot receiver prospect who can also return kicks. I’d be surprised if he lasts to the 4th round.
WR Kevin Norwood – Alabama: Had a good week of practice especially in the red zone drills. Norwood didn’t disappoint in the game with 4 catches for 53 yards and a TD. He has good size (6’2, 195) and his 40 time will ultimately decide where he ends up in the draft, but Norwood helped his chances this week.