Obviously, every prospect at the Senior Bowl is a “player to watch”. Jim Nagy is one of the best in business and has developed the week into being the premier scouting showcase that rewards the players who stayed and earned their degrees. Not only does this week kick off the scouting season, but it also serves as the first time many of the scouts have the ability to meet the prospects in person and play together on a level playing field. Although every year we will see some of the biggest prospects leave school as soon as they are eligible to go pro, the Senior Bowl had 106 players drafted last year and 36 of those players selected in the top 3 rounds. Although I could list out every prospect and their backstory here, I have narrowed it down to the players with the most at stake this week.
Although we have a QB Class that has been labeled as “weak” from the get-go, this is the best QB class that I have ever seen at the Senior Bowl. It is rare that 6 of the top 7 QB prospects are in Mobile, which will be huge considering that every NFL scout will be able to compare most of the class, side-by-side.
Kenny Pickett | Pittsburgh
Big Board: 10
This year we are particularly lucky to have the so many of the top QBs in the class, regardless of how strong it is. Kenny Pickett entered the week as our QB1, but not by much as Malik Willis looms just one spot behind Pickett. The questions surrounding Pickett’s hand size have only gotten worse this week, as he was the only player out of the group that deferred to the combine for that measurement. Regardless, a strong week throwing the ball next to the other 5 guys could be all it takes for the QB1 to be crowned. However, Pickett has had a rough week from the start and we will likely see a fall unless he can turn things around soon.
Malik Willis | Liberty
Big Board: 11
As mentioned, Willis is just one spot behind Pickett on our big board and could certainly leave Mobile with the QB1 title. He came in a bit shorter than expected at 6 feet flat but topped the scale at 220 and had 9 and a half inch hands. Initial reports are that Willis has taken over as the alpha of the group, but I am excited to see if he can show out on Saturday. Following the first two days of practice, Willis leads the group with the Longest Air Distance (64.7 yards), Highest Initial Air Speed (75.7 mph) and Average Initial Air Speed (48.5 mph). Not only has Willis been the best out among this group, but those numbers all top former prospects including Josh Allen, Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield, Jalen Hurts, Drew Lock, Jordan Love, Justin Herbert and Gardner Minshew, while WIllis was throwing in the rain! This kid can sling it.
Carson Strong | Nevada
Big Board: 49
Strong is the dark horse of this group. It sounds crazy, but with this class I could see Strong going anywhere from QB1 to QB5. Obviously, the medicals are a topic of interest, but I am more eager to find out how Strong does in the classroom and film side of things. Strong is a great passer, but this week will be huge to see what scouts think of his intangibles. Early scouting reports indicate that Strong has pushed himself into the top half of this group in Mobile, but we will see how the week wraps up.
It’s a relatively weak RB class this year, which means there is still plenty of room for these guys to climb. Our highest rated RB is Tyler Badie, who ranks RB6, but a strong showing could easily push these guys into the earlier rounds.
Tyler Badie | Missouri
Big Board: 79
Badie is a smaller RB, but was one of the best pass catchers in the nation and hauled in 54 receptions and 4 TDs in his Senior year at Missouri. Badie fought for playing time with Larry Roundtree for much of his career, but truly shined when he finally got his bellcow roll and ran for over 1,600 yards and 14 TDs in the SEC. Badie has looked great this week and has held his own very well in pass protection drills. Through the first few practices, Badie has been the best RB.
Dameon Pierce | Florida
Big Board: 91
I know there have been some major rumblings of Pierce being the best kept secret for this position group, but scouts have surely caught on. Despite being under-utilized at Florida, Pierce has a very special skillset that should translate well to the next level. Weeks like the Senior Bowl are huge for prospects that may have not been able to showcase themselves in the fall due to circumstances like his. I am anticipating a significant rise from Pierce on my draft board, but it just was not justifiable before this week due to the little tape and production. He very much has proven that he belongs at the top of this class, so far.
Jahan Dotson was the only premier wideout that was set to be in Mobile this week, but he has opted out. There may not be any big time names, but there certainly are a handful of mid round prospects that could make a case to move into that elite tier.
Jalen Tolbert | South Alabama
Big Board: 57
The hometown kid gets the benefit of training at his home-field and has the most on the line. Despite being a small school guy, Tolbert has the national attention this week and could boost his stock into the early rounds if he can shine. So far, he has certainly been extremely solid.
Khalil Shakir | Boise State
Big Board: 87
Shakir is a guy who always had the first-round potential, but never took the big step into becoming an elite receiver prospect. Now that the playing field is level, he continues to showcase why he can be a playmaker at the next level.
Alec Pierce | Cincinnati.
Big Board: 92
The 6’3” 215 lbs receiver is an absolute gamer and despite never eclipsing the 1,000 yards mark in his career, there is reason to believe that he has a higher ceiling in the NFL than he did in college. Pierce is far from a finished product, but a big week would do wonders for him. I was excited to see how he’d play with Ridder on Saturday, but reports indicate that he has left Mobile.
Romeo Doubs | Nevada
Big Board: 98
Doubs benefits from having his QB and TE already on the roster, so we will see how the Nevada trio produces on Saturday. Doubs has been had a fantastic showing and is in the running for the WR of the week.
This Tight End class might be the deepest group at the Senior Bowl. Not only is the consensus TE1, Trey McBride, in attendance, but 7 out of our top 9 TEs are in Mobile this week. As of now, McBride is the only one who has 1st round potential, but we could see some guys significantly rise boards this week if they stand out amongst the deep group.
Trey McBride | Colorado State
Big Board: 33
As we alluded to, McBride is a fringe 1st round prospect, but with a strong week he could start to show up on a lot more mock draft. We have seen a TE go first round in 4 out of the last 5 classes but McBride in the first is still a major question mark. He’s off to a solid start, but had some drops in the rain.
Isaiah Likely | Coastal Carolina
Big Board: 58
Likely is a true receiving tight end and has had the attention of the media for a while, but how will he look next to the rest of the class? There is no doubt that Likely was one of the most dominant players in the Sun Belt, but this week will be a great test against better talent than what he is used to. Consider Likely’s stock to be one of the most volatile in the group and this week a true make-it-or-break-it opportunity for him.
Charlie Kolar | Iowa State
Big Board: 76
Kolar is another true receiving tight end that I am eager to see play along this talented QB class. What is even more encouraging is that Kolar has been successful all week in 1 v 1 pass protection drills. To add to that, he measured in at a true 6’6” 255 lbs with a 82 inch wingspan, which just adds to his draft stock. All has been going well for Kolar this week and we could see him start to move him into an early Day 2 prospect.