On Saturday, the nation’s top collegiate senior football players gathered together and put on a show for the NFL draft scouts and their future employers. For all intents and purposes, the actual game is not all that important. 1 All-Star game is not going to drastically alter the opinion of most scouts. The body of work of a player is found on tape. That is where scouts make their assessments of prospects. Games like the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl are used as validation of what scouts have seen on tape and a tools for players to make scouts go back and see what they may have missed on tape. These all-star games are most important to small school players like Josh Norman of Coastal Carolina who didn’t have a lot of scouts at a lot of his games. With his strong performance, scouts will now go back and look at his tape and his stock will rise/fall accordingly. The Senior Bowl was validation for a lot of players, but others surprised and will get second looks by scouts. Let’s take a look at the 10 standout performances.
1. Mike Adams OT, Ohio State
Adams stuck out all week long during practices and his performance was on par with his play throughout the week. Adams was by far the best offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl and his stock has taken a big leap upwards in result. Adams is a big, athletic tackle who showed he can stick with the best pass rushers of the Senior Bowl, players who will be 1st round picks. Adams will probably go top 20 and his performance in the Senior Bowl is a large reason why.
2. Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas
Joe Adams was the players who caught my eye in a big way. The play maker from Arkansas won the “Most Outstanding Player of the South” title. He ended the day catching 8 passes for 133 yards. He was extremely impressive. He is an explosive guy who is very dangerous in the open field. He has some Desean Jackson to his game and could continue to rise up draft boards if he runs a really fast 40.
Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati
The MVP of the Senior Bowl came from this underrated back from Cincinnati. Showing a nice burst and elusiveness, Pead had an outstanding game. If his offensive performance wasn’t enough, Pead also had a great performance on Special Teams returning 2 punts for 98 yards. Pead is another player who really opened eyes. With most people looking at Doug Martin and Chris Polk, Pead stepped up in a big way.
Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
Wagner is not a highly talked about prospect, but he certainly had people buzzing after the game. An athletic linebacker who won the “Most Outstanding Player of the North” title. He had 7 tackles, a TFL, and an interception. He showed good instincts and was constantly around the ball. Wagner is looking at Day 2 of the draft.
Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Quinton Coples had a fantastic outing at the Senior Bowl. He was dominant and showed why he was a consensus top 10 draft pick going into the year. However, with his strong outing, it also brings up the question as to why he hasn’t consistently been dominant. Coples has all the potential in the world, but his inconsistency is going to cause teams to pause. Nevertheless, he ended his great of week of practice with a great game.
Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
Criner came into Senior Bowl week with a mid to late round grade due to a poor year and off the field concerns. However, due to a very strong week in Mobile, Criner’s stock is pointing up in a big way. Displaying good hands and nice control of his 6 ft 2 frame, Criner finished the day with 6 catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Criner’s most important test is still to come: his 40 time. With a good 40 time, Criner will continue to see his stock go up towards the top 3 rounds.
Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
Of all the quarterbacks who played, I was most impressed by Nick Foles, quarterback from Arizona and teammate of aforementioned Juron Criner. Foles is a big kid (6 ft 5) and has a big arm. He completed 11/15 passes for 136 yards and 1 touchdown. The problem with Foles is he is not NFL ready. He has major mechanical flaws in his footwork and didn’t play in a pro style offense at Arizona. However, on Saturday, Foles showed what he could be; a big, pocket passer. Foles looks like a pretty safe day 2 pick to me.
Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
The big defensive tackle from Clemson had a decent outing. His big play was blowing up a run for a big loss with a quick jump off the snap and using his athleticism to get to the RB. Thompson is a borderline 1st round talent who had a great week of practice. I wouldn’t be surprised if some team drafted him in the 1st, not would I be surprised if he lasts till the 2nd.
Dough Martin, RB, Boise St
Everyone who follows the draft will remember Doug Martin come draft day. He’s the guy who took the Senior Bowl by storm and improved his draft stock by 2 rounds easy. Going into the week, he was a late day 2-day 3 prospect. However, now he has a good shot at being drafted early on day 2. The player comparisons to Ray Rice will certainly help.
Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
In a draft class where pass rushers are in limited supply, Curry has shown he is one of the few pure pass rushers in the draft. Curry totaled 3 tackles with 2 sacks in the Senior Bowl. He’s got a nice first step, a good motor and defends the well nicely. Curry is a solid day 2 prospect who could move into the bottom of round 1.
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