Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel came down to Mobile last week to prove to scouts and NFL teams that he was worth being in the conversation as one of the top quarterbacks in the this year’s Draft. While Manuel did silence some critics with a great performance in Sunday’s Senior Bowl game, he will have to answer questions about his shaky week of practice.
Manuel had a fantastic performance in the Senior Bowl, completing 7-of-10 passes, throwing for 76 yards, along with a 20 yard touchdown. Manuel showed surprising accuracy on his throws, en route to being named the 2013 Senior Bowl MVP. While Manuel did throw an interception, he showed quality decision making skills that proved to scouts he can adjust at the line at the next level.
No one is questioning Manuel’s athleticism, or his size, both of those traits are prototypical at the next level. However, Manuel does need to continue to improve on his accuracy, as well as his ability to manage a game under center with consistency. All in all, Manuel walked away from his week down in Mobile, as a winner. This week needed to count for him, and he certainly made that happen.
Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones did nothing during his week in Mobile to help his already plummeting draft stock. With his shaky week of practice, and his inconsistencies on nearly all of his throws, on top of his struggles in 7-on-7, and full team scrimmages, Jones really hurt himself this week in Mobile, and will need a strong Combine and Pro Day to help his stock heading into the Draft.
Jones had poor touch, with tons of inaccuracies during his time on the field in the Senior Bowl game, and didn’t look like his head was on the field, but rather elsewhere. Jones was sacked multiple times, and only managed to compile a 3-for-10 outing, with no scores. While Jones didn’t throw an interception, like I said before, he looked foggy, and unenthused. Jones needs to get his head back on his shoulders, Playing at Oklahoma for four years is an accomplishment in it’s own, Jones needs to build off of a solid collegiate career, and wipe this past week off of his mind moving forward. He will leave Mobile as a loser after a pour outing.
SMU defensive end Margus Hunt just continues to hurt his stock, almost by the minute. Hunt looked awful last week in practice, and was basically a no show on the field during the Senior Bowl game. Hunt went down to Mobile with tons of hype, only to follow that up with an abysmal performance all week. Hunt was once considered a late first round pick, but now could very well not be selected until late day two, or early day three. Hunt may end up being the biggest loser of them all when it is all said and done. Hunt will be thankful that he still has a chance to impress scouts at the NFL Combine in February. Hunt needs a solid performance at the underwear olympics to prove his worth as a high draft pick in the NFL.
Oregon running back Kenjon Barner has really impressed me lately. He’s been a solid back all season, even dating back to his 2011 performance. Barner, along with UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin, both really showed their value as all-around backs during their week in Mobile. Barner and Franklin both had solid weeks, with Franklin edging out Barner as the better back in the actual Senior Bowl game. Barner did more of his damage as a receiver, compiling 7 catches for 59 yards, and a touchdown as well. Franklin, as mentioned, had a solid effort with 5 carries for 41 yards, and a 20 yard touchdown. Both backs leave mobile as winners, as their stock, and value both continue to rise as we steamroll towards the Draft.
While more players hurt and helped their stock during their week down at Mobile, we chose to highlight the players that we felt stuck out the most to us. More often than not, the Senior Bowl doesn’t have a serious marginal effect on the draft stock of players, mainly due to the fact that they can, and usually do save themselves at the Combine, and their respective Pro Days. However, certain players have seen their performances at the Senior Bowl follow them like a black cloud, and haunt their draft stock.