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The Senior Bowl is not just a college all-star game, it’s a job interview. The week-long event in Mobile, Alabama, gives NFL scouts and coaches the perfect opportunity to appraise potential draft picks in practices and a game scenario, and can provide a more valid evaluation of a player than the unique scenario that is the NFL Combine. Critics have suggested this year’s event lacked the talent of recent years, but nevertheless, we should see at least a few first round picks come out of the event, and here’s a summary of who improved their draft stock, and who saw theirs fall over the last week.
Dee Ford, Outside Linebacker/Defensive End, Auburn
Ford took better advantage of the opportunity the Senior Bowl offers, than perhaps any other player who attended the week. Not only was Ford the most impressive pass rusher in practices throughout the week, he also turned in an eye-catching performance in the Senior Bowl itself, registering two sacks, and a batted pass after breaking into the backfield. Given the limited snaps players have in the game, Ford’s output was truly impressive, and he’ll have improved his draft stock considerably. Prior to the Senior Bowl, Ford was an almost consensus second round pick, who could possibly go late on the first day, but is now seen by many as a player who could go as high as the middle of the first round, with pass rusher hungry teams such as the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals, possible landing spots.
Michael Schofield, Offensive Tackle, Michigan
Not too many people were talking about Schofield this year (thanks in part to Taylor Lewan also being present on Michigan’s offensive line), but a polished showing throughout the Senior Bowl week has started some murmuring. Schofield put in arguably the best showing of any lineman during the practices, and aside from one play when Will Sutton steamrollered him, he held up very well in the game. He played both tackle and guard during the week, and impressed particularly with his footwork and pass protection. It would take something fairly spectacular to see Schofield go in the first round, but he could well go late in the second round to a team who have the left tackle spot locked down, but need to find a right tackle with the potential to start immediately.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback, Eastern Illinois
A. J. McCarron’s decision to forego the Senior Bowl, Garoppolo’s stellar performance in the East-West Shrine game, and the request of the Jacksonville Jaguars that the former Eastern Illinois player be called up to the Senior Bowl, all culminated in Garoppolo having an excellent opportunity to show his qualities to a national audience. Both he and Derek Carr impressed at the quarterback position during the week, and although the latter improved his chances of being picked in the first round, Garoppolo has potentially catapulted himself from a fifth or sixth round pick, to a second or third round prospect for teams with question marks over their current incumbents at the position, but wouldn’t necessarily need Garoppolo to start immediately.
Best of the Rest
Tight end Crockett Gilmore (Colorado State), linebacker Chris Borland (Wisconsin), safety Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois), defensive tackle Caraun Reid (Princeton), and cornerback Pierre Desir (Lindenwood) all impressed, either in the game, practices, or both, and should all now be entrenched as day two picks when the NFL Draft finally rolls around in May.
Tajh Boyd, Quarterback, Clemson
Some had Boyd being drafted as high as the late second/early third round a few weeks ago, but a lackluster performance at the Senior Bowl has all but confirmed him as a third day pick. There were plenty of questions over Boyd from his time at Clemson, and a poorly thrown interception on his very first drive of the game, only added to them. Stephen Morris and Logan Thomas, his fellow quarterbacks on the North team, also failed to impress, but it’s likely NFL teams see more potential in them, particularly Thomas, than they do in Boyd.
Seantrel Henderson, Offensive Tackle, Miami
Given his size and skills, Henderson is an enticing prospect, but after admitting to NFL teams his past use of marijuana, and an inconsistent showing the Senior Bowl, his stock could be falling. He struggled in pass protection at times, albeit at an unaccustomed position on the right side of the offensive line, and NFL teams will be worried that he will struggle with speed rushers at the next level. In fairness, Henderson held up fairly well in practices during the week, and one poor game at right tackle will not be enough to see him plummet down teams’ draft boards, but it could equally see the end of his hopes to be a first round pick.
Best of the Rest
Guard Cyril Richardson (Baylor), and quarterbacks Stephen Morris (Miami) and Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) all had weeks to forget, and will need to perform exceptionally at the combine if they’re to regain the draft stock they’ve likely lost in the last week.
Image credit: Senior Bowl via Facebook