2020 Senior Bowl: Small school prospects who continue to shine

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images /

Highlighting the top small school prospects who have shined at the 2020 Senior Bowl.

The Senior Bowl always has been one of the most anticipated events leading up to the NFL Draft. It is the first chance for NFL draft prospects to work alongside NFL coaches and prove why they belong at the next level.

The great thing about the Senior Bowl is that the attention is not always on the big-name prospects from blue blood schools like Oklahoma, Alabama and Clemson. The small school prospects get their fair share of the field and get looked at just as much. For these prospects, it is their chance to prove that they belong in the NFL just as much as the prospects that most fans see on television every Saturday afternoon.

Throughout the entire weekend, there were a number of prospects from smaller schools who showed they definitely belong to play on Sundays. Here are a few of the prospects that stood out in my eyes.

Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne

Coming into the Senior Bowl, Kyle Dugger was one of the players that I was most looking forward to watching. His tape showed elite athleticism and ball skills while proving that he can play in a number of different positions on the defense including single-high safety and nickel cornerback.

With that being said, I questioned how he would translate from playing against DII competition to a much faster-moving game in Mobile. Teams were also questioning his fit at safety, as some suggested a move to linebacker would be a better fit for him in the NFL.

Those questions were quickly erased half-way through the first practice when he was once again the most athletic playmaker on the field. Dugger impressed the entire weekend, primarily at safety, showing off his incredible closing speed against the run, and ball skills against the pass with five pass breakups (that I saw), including an interception.

With the impressive weekend of practices, Dugger finished the weekend as my highest riser of all the prospects in Mobile, and it would not surprise me if he ended up as the highest riser for a lot of NFL teams either.

Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty

Another one of my personal favorite prospects early on in the draft process is Liberty receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden. At 6-foot-4, he was looking to dominate defensive backs this weekend with his ability to stretch the field. Unfortunately, the weekend started off average for him with a few key drops early on both Day 1 and Day 2.

The question coming in for Golden was if he could develop some space between him and the defensive back. Primarily used as a deep threat in college, NFL scouts wanted to see a more physical side of the receiver this weekend in Mobile.

Golden did just that, showcasing an improvement in footwork and route running ability that allowed him to create more space between him and the undersized corners that were matched up alongside him in coverage.

He did have a few key drops in practice throughout the entire week (as did most of the receivers) but the potential shined through as he proved that he can be more than just a downfield threat.

Ben Bartch, OT, St.Johns (MN)

Ben Bartch was someone that came into Mobile as somewhat of an unknown. He came from a small Division III school in Minnesota where nobody knew who he was other than his local media stations.

By the end of the weekend, everybody is going to know his name. He was the best offensive tackle every time he was out on the field, showcasing incredible movement skills and a strong base to hold rushers in place.

Next. Day Two Senior Bowl Notes. dark

He was used as the North’s primary left tackle in 11-on-11 drills but spent some time at right tackle during the weekend as well. Bartch has been the most complete tackle this weekend in both the run and pass game and should be rising up draft boards after the impressive showing in Mobile.

Side Note: Bartch did have to be helped off the field after practice on Day 3 with an apparent ankle injury.