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Five Players That Boosted Their NFL Draft Stock With Senior Bowl Performance

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Five Players That Boosted Their NFL Draft Stock With Senior Bowl Performance

senior bowl
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Every year the entire NFL scouting world descends on Mobile to get a final look at the best college seniors in real game action prior to the NFL Draft.

While most teams have most of their scouting done prior to the Senior Bowl, an outstanding performance during the week of practice leading up to the game and an excellent performance in the game itself can either solidify a prospects draft status or give it a boost.

Not only is the Senior Bowl a good chance to get a look at prospects in game action, but it is a chance to see all of the players going up against elite talent that some of the smaller school prospects may not have had a chance to go up against during their college careers.

It is important to remember that if scouts have a high opinion of a player based on the entire body of his college career that they usually do not significantly downgrade prospects because of one bad week of practice or because of a couple bad snaps in the game. However, if a prospect can make an impression on not only the scouts, but the people watching the game, he can have a significant positive impact on their draft stock. Players who leave the Senior Bowl with a positive impression have typically shot up draft boards leading up to the draft.

Here is a look at five players that stood out during the Senior Bowl and will be hot names shooting up the draft boards as we head towards the NFL Scouting Combine next month.

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Ezekiel Ansah – DE BYU

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Ansah was a first-round prospect coming into the Senior Bowl, but he may have played his way into the top ten with a dominant performance on Saturday.

Ansah is an extremely raw prospect with perhaps the highest ceiling of any defensive line prospect in the draft this year. Teams may be scared off by his limited experience playing football, but his size and freakish athleticism should intrigue any team looking for a defensive end that can get to the quarterback and hold his own against the run.

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Eric Fisher – OT Central Michigan

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Fisher had an outstanding week of practice and followed it up with a dominant performance in the Senior Bowl game.

He looked every bit the part of a dominant left tackle this week in Mobile and may challenge Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel as the top offensive lineman off of the board during the draft in April. Fisher could move as high as a top five pick, but most certainly won’t fall past the San Diego Chargers with the 11th pick.

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Mike Gillislee – RB Florida

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While it is hard to see any running back being drafted in the first round this year, there are several prospects that will go off the boards in the mid-rounds that will be able to immediately come in and contribute for the team that drafts them.

Gillislee played third fiddle to Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps for most of his college career, but showed his immense talent throughout his senior season with the Gators. After a strong week of practice and 46 yards on 10 carries on Saturday, Gillislee may be a mid-round steal for a team looking for an every down running back.

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Datone Jones – DE UCLA

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Jones is currently projected as a mid-round prospect because he is considered a “tweener” prospect without a clear cut position at the next level.

However, throughout the week at practice Jones continually showed a knack for beating whoever he was going up against in drills. Jones may not possess the prototypical size for an NFL defensive lineman, but teams are always on the lookout for guys who can get to the quarterback and he certainly possesses that ability.

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E.J. Manuel – QB Florida State

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It would be hard to make a list naming the players that did the best job boosting their stock at the Senior Bowl without including the MVP.

Manuel is widely considered a mid-round prospect because of the inconsistency he displayed throughout his college career, but there is no doubt that he possesses the physical tools to be a successful NFL quarterback. He showed those tools on Saturday and it is not hard to imagine a team with a need at the quarterback position taking him off the board in the second round.