2013 Senior Bowl Preview: Offensive Prospects to Watch
2013 Senior Bowl
The Week of January 26th, the NFL descends upon the city of Mobile, Alabama and it is overtaken by the league and hundreds of media members who are all there for a single purpose. The 2013 Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl is the premier college football all-star game among what is an ever-growing number of these exhibitions that showcase the top college football prospects in what is their final real audition for the 2013 NFL draft.
The Senior Bowl is a staple of the NFL draft circuit and every season they are able to boast that when the draft comes around, their players are among the top seniors drafted. This year that should hold true once again. For NFL teams and draft pundits the real action of the Senior Bowl takes place during practice. This is where players can be observed closely and under a controlled environment that is controlled by NFL coaching staffs. This year's teams will be coached by the staffs of the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders.
The way many teams operate when it comes to scouting players is they give prospects a grade so to speak, and to this point is based on their play during the season. And obviously every team weighs the Senior Bowl practices and game differently, but in over ten years of doing this I have never heard of a team that did not weigh how a player does during the Senior Bowl week significantly into their final evaluation.
Senior Bowl prospects fall into 3 categories for me. First you have the highly rated prospect who comes out and performs to either cement or improve their draft stock. For some players it's just a matter of getting their name out there and bringing attention to their game to NFL teams and sending them back to find film on them. These might be players who played on bad teams or against lower level competition and this is a chance for them to open some eyes to them as prospects. The final group are those prospects who might have gone into the season highly rated, but for whatever reason have struggled, so the Senior Bowl is their own personal road to NFL draft redemption.
But ultimately what it comes down to is this is the most important job interview any of these young men will ever have and it's 5 days long. This is my list of the 10 offensive players who I am going to be watching the most closely during the week of practice and in the game, because all of these players have a lot of prove during this week. Don't forget to find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard for all my other football ramblings.
Mike Glennon, quarterback-North Carolina State
Glennon is a sneaky first round prospect who seems to be getting a lot of press right now. With West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and USC quarterback Matt Barkley both opting out of the Senior Bowl Glennon has a real chance to shine. He's got the size that most NFL teams covet and he's got a big arm that can let him make all the throws. There are concerns about his consistency and his turnovers, but Glennon is the kind of player who has a chance to really come out and wow scouts with a strong week.
Aaron Dobson, wide receiver-Marshall
Dobson is a bit of a sleeper prospect who has a shot to really move up with a strong week in Mobile. He falls into that category of player who need to get the attention of the NFL, because his play really does speak for itself. Marshall throws the ball all over the field and Dobson is a true big play threat. He's long and tall and does a really good job running routes, finding ways to get open and can make a bad throw look good with excellent hands. I don't have Dobson in my Top 100 players right now, but a strong Senior Bowl week and he definitely could be.
Tyler Wilson, quarterback-Arkansas
Wilson is the type of player who really needs to use the Senior Bowl to repair what was a dreadful season. I encourage everyone to go back and watch Wilson as a junior if you want to really see what he's capable of. He's my top quarterback prospect and I expect him to take this week of practice to wow all 32 NFL teams. He's a born leader and elevates the play of those around him. Even with all the problems the Razorbacks had this past season Wilson played hard and never let up.
Markus Wheaton, wide receiver-Oregon State
During points of the season Wheaton was being discussed as a late 1st, early 2nd round draft pick because of his track star speed. But after a disappointing bowl performance against top coverage players, he's got some work to do. Film on Wheaton is up and down, as he seems to feast on bad corners, but this week in Mobile should give him a shot to help teams forget that final performance. His speed is real, but he's not polished as a route runner, so his week of practice could be huge for him.
Eric Fisher, offensive tackle-Central Michigan
With the recent announcements of 2 of the top offensive tackle prospects, Taylor Lewan from Michigan and Jake Matthews from Texas A&M that they will both be returning to school for their senior seasons, a player like Fisher has a real shot to work his way into the first round. Fisher hasn't played against elite defensive ends this season, so his one on ones against these senior ends will show the league if Fisher is more than just what his film shows, when he really hasn't been tested. I love Fisher's athleticism, but I question is he can hold up against the power he's going to see in the NFL.
Brian Winters, offensive tackle-Kent State
Winters is in a position similar to Fisher in that he's a mid level school prospect who has shown a ton of potential but needs to show it against great players. Winters is another tackle prospect with great feet and quickness, and a surprisingly good run blocking tackle considering he's a little light in the seat. He'll have his work cut out for him during Senior Bowl week, but I expect good things from him.
Kenjon Barner, running back-Oregon
You wouldn't think a player who's been so exciting and so productive in college to need a strong Senior Bowl week, but he really does. Barner is a little undersized and plays in that gimmicky Oregon offense and as we saw that the last back to come out of it, LaMichael James was drafted as more of a novelty player for specialized sets. I think Barner can be much more than that in the NFL, and a strong week in Mobile will go a long way toward convincing NFL teams of that as well.
Landry Jones, quarterback-Oklahoma
A lot of NFL draft pundits clamored for Jones to declare last year, citing that he was at the time a first round pick and should strike while the iron was hot so to speak. I didn't consider Jones a first round pick then, and I absolutely don't now. Jones is the type of quarterback that looks tremendous in practice. He's tall and has a strong arm and excellent mechanics. So everyone should hear about how he has a great week of practice. But it's during live drills when he's under pressure is when he has to show scouts he can step up and make throws and not make mistakes.
Aaron Mellette, wide receiver-Elon
When it comes to small school players, there's a lot of consider, but one thing has to be level of competition. For Mellette, he's played at FCS School Elon and had a tremendous career, but you must look at the level of player he went up against and take that into consideration. Mellette is talented without a doubt, but he's really got a chance to show up against these top tier NFL draft prospects.
Cobi Hamilton, wide receiver-Arkansas
Hamilton is another player who shined while his team sunk. With Arkansas being so down this year it would be easy to disregard the big season Hamilton had and it seems much of the draft community has done just that. But Hamilton's talent is real and I am looking very forward to see him going against the top corners int he country in an environment other than the grease fire that was the Arkansas football team this season. Hamilton is another player I expect to wow scouts.