The Senior Bowl is underway as I type. Players are currently checking in and getting officially measured and weighed. For the rest of the week, they will be practicing with NFL coaching staffs before playing in the game, taking place Saturday at 1:30 CST time on the NFL Network.
This is a great opportunity for all the seniors who were able to secure invites. First of all, it’s considered the premiere post-season bowl event, so each player is going up against the best competition possible.
Secondly, the quality of the coaching they players receive is perfect for this time after their college careers have ended but before the combine or pro-day. It is often said by some that the practices are more important than the game when it comes to the Senior Bowl. This is due to the amount of time players and coaches can spend together observing play and honing their craft collaboratively. It gives the players a chance to be looked at by coaches who know the NFL game. What better way to know where and how to improve than to hear it from the source. Receiving this feedback can give the players an edge from other players in that in some ways, they are in a mini-camp prior to their post-draft mini-camps, allowing them to receive and implement instructions months before other players will (players they could be competing with for roster spots or playing time).
Finally, and somewhat related, this gives players a chance to stand out. If a player was overshadowed on his team by other talented individuals, wasn’t featured in his offense, or in the case of those in this article, playing in a Group of 5 conference, they have the opportunity to open the eyes of the coaches with their play and jump onto the radar before draft time. While the combine and pro-days are also good opportunities for this, the more chances of coaches seeing one play and compete, the better position they put themselves in.
Eight players from the Mountain West are participating in the Senior Bowl this year, with 4 on each team. Here’s a few comments about each of the four on the North Team and how a strong showing will help each going forward.
(Note: The weaknesses or questions described about each player below aren’t necessarily the views of this author or site, but rather what could be questions or concerns NFL scouts or talent-elevators or the media have about them, which are still worth discussing as they can have ramifications.)
QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
Allen is perhaps one of the most polarizing players in this draft, as fans of the MWC know (and have contributed to the discussion). But the talent he possesses is no joke. NFL scouts and talent-evaluating are in love with his measurables and arm-strength. While those alone don’t make a QB, they certainly help, especially if everything else can be developed. The Senior Bowl will give Allen and the coaches an opportunity to see what can be developed and fixed and how much of a project he is.
Allen is going in the first round. Where in the first round is the question and this week will be the first chance he has to show whether he is worthy of being the first QB off the board or one who teams feel more comfortable taking in the back half of the first round.
WR Michael Gallup (Colorado State)
Gallup was arguably the best wide-receiver in the conference (and at worst, a coin-flip with the guy below, but it doesn’t really matter). However, he was the best weapon on a Rams team that didn’t have many and that will come into play this week. This will give Gallup a chance to show whether he was the productive of a system that featured him more than others and whether he feasted on the competition in the MWC. If he is able to showcase the wealth of talent he possesses and if coaches can give him a few pointers or techniques to unlock even more skills, it will be a huge win for him this week.
Gallup can take advantage of what could be a weaker WR class. He already has people talking about him, from being a Biletnikoff Award finalist and a All-American. He will definitely be drafted, probably in the mix at day 2 currently. However, if he can shake off some Group of 5 stereotypes some may have, his already good stock will rise and he could end up early day 2 or even sneak into the day 1 conversation.
WR Cedric Wilson (Boise State)
Much of what was said about Gallup can be said about Wilson as well. He is as athletic and talented as they come. He put up two years of insane production and did so in an offense that featured other highly skilled players both years he was there. Plus, he’s an NFL legacy with his dad playing in the league as well. He’s a bit lean and that could contribute to concerns about his injury-history and durability. On the flip side of that, he played often at well-less than 100% and still produced quite well. Even with two great seasons on his resume, he is still quite young at the WR position. Working with NFL coaches will only help him continue to improve and channel his raw athleticism.
This week will be a great opportunity for Wilson to show his maturity and knowledge as well as his skills. Having experience as a returner can’t hurt either. He will have a chance to silence doubters about his size and durability and let his talent speak for himself. He rarely lost 1v1 match-ups in college if he can prove difficult to guard this week, he could see his stock soar. The guess going in is that he’s a mid-round pick and again, a weaker WR class could help him move towards the top of team’s boards.
S Trayvon Henderson (Hawaii)
(Contribution by Jeremy Rodriguez, our Hawaii beat reporter)
Trayvon was a surprise omission from the All-MW honors. While somewhat undersized, Henderson is quick and strong. His calling-card is stopping the run. If there is a weakness, he struggles in coverage at times, but really his corners were mostly to blame for that. Being undersized for a safety and having doubts about coverage could make him a bit position-less at the moment. He needs to squash the doubts about that. If he can show the ability to be a classic box-safety or even cover well enough this week where he could play the SLB/Nickel that is coveted by teams in today’s game. Henderson’s ability to makes plays on special teams helps as well.
Teams might knock him for his size, but he’s well-rounded and knows where to be on the field. Showing that at the Senior Bowl could definitely help his stock. He is also projected by some to be a mid-round pick. If he’s able to get on the radar with a strong showing and prove his versatility and well-rounded game is more than a myth, perhaps an early day 2 rise is possible.
Tomorrow we will look at the 4 MWC players on the South Team
Your turn. Do you agree or disagree with these thoughts? Where would you draft each of these players? Which teams or schemes do you think would be good fits? Comment below.