Now that the undercard has played itself out, the last batch of NFL hopefuls will take the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for the Senior Bowl next Saturday. As far flung as the conference has become, it is no surprise that a handful of Mountain West stars will play for both sides. Gus Bradley and the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff will work with the athletes on the South team, while Mike Smith and the Atlanta Falcons will collaborate with the North.
We will have updates throughout the week here at Mountain West Connection, but here is a first look at the nine individuals who will look to improve their draft stock.
Robert Herron, Wide Receiver, Wyoming - One of the conference's preeminent big play receivers, Herron's yards per catch decreased from 21.2 in 2012 to 13.0 in 2013. However, he stayed healthy all season, and some leeway must be given for his quarterback's inconsistency.
Marqueston Huff, Safety, Wyoming - A busy man on one of the conference's poorest defenses, Huff finished fifth in the MWC in total tackles and second in solo tackles. He hasn't received a lot of respect thus far, but with a big week he could vault onto a lot of big boards as a mid-round asset.
Tyler Larsen, Center, Utah State - The lasting memories of Chuckie Keeton running for his life against USC and Darrell Garretson getting flattened in Fresno may be a partial indictment of Larsen, but overall he had a solid season. He's still among the best handful of available centers, but he has some work to do to even be considered the best prospect at the position from his own conference.
Nevin Lawson, Cornerback, Utah State - Lawson also appeared in the East-West Shrine Game and returned a fumble for a touchdown, and he received positive feedback on his efforts. His coverage skills will be closely examined, and his height will be scrutinized against the big physical receivers he'll face in Mobile.
Weston Richburg, Center, Colorado State - Kapri Bibbs had a big season and Garrett Grayson took a big step forward, but it was Richburg who was the Rams' best player on offense. The Senior Bowl is his first opportunity to be this year's Travis Frederick, as he's currently a tick below the top center prospects.
Joel Bitonio, Tackle, Nevada - The Wolf Pack had a disappointing season in 2013 and the offense was not nearly as efficient as it was the previous year, so Bitonio will need to do plenty of convincing for his NFL future. He is listed as a guard on the roster, so versatility may be the key.
Derek Carr, Quarterback, Fresno State - The record-setting Carr was the easy choice for the conference's Offensive Player of the Year, but after a lackluster Las Vegas Bowl, he has more on the line than any other Mountain West player. A strong Senior Bowl showing would improve his first round forecast.
David Fales, Quarterback, San Jose State - Fales' numbers were not as eye-popping in 2013 without WACtion, but his lone season in the MWC entrenched him as the second-best quarterback in the conference. His star dimmed a bit, but the physical tools could push him back into the conversation for any number of QB-needy teams.
Marcel Jensen, Tight End, Fresno State - The numbers don't tell the whole story with the Bulldogs' physically imposing tight end. His athleticism should play just about anywhere, so he'll want to highlight his versatility.