The 2018 college football season is over, but over the next few weeks, post-season bowls will be occurring. Mountain West alums are taking part in the Tropical Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game, and the Senior Bowl. This post will focus on the Senior Bowl.
The Senior Bowl will begin on Tuesday. Players will be 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.
Participating in this bowl is an excellent 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.
These events are used basically as camps with a game at the end. Invited players get officially measured and weighed upon checking in. Then, there are a few days of practices with NFL coaches. The practice time for players is really at the heart of these events.
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 as they head into their training for the NFL combine or their respective Pro-day.
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.
Three players from the Mountain West are participating in the Senior Bowl this year. Below we will provide a brief description of each player as well as what they need to show they need to improve their draft stock.
Senior Bowl Schedule:
- Tuesday January 22nd: Practices
- Wednesday January 23rd: Practices
- Thursday January 24th: Practices
- Saturday January 26th: The Game. 1:30 PM (Central Time) at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
Note: The weaknesses or questions described about each player below aren’t necessarily the views of the contributors 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.
TE Dax Raymond (Utah State)
(Contribution from UnderDogAlways)
Raymond led all Utah State tight ends this year with 27 receptions, 345 receiving yards, and two receiving touchdowns (according to sports-reference.com). The numbers aren’t gaudy, and they aren’t sexy, but Raymond was very reliable in the passing game when called upon. He’s never been a flashy player, but aside from a select few, when are Tight Ends ever flashy?
His stats may not be wonderful, but keep in mind he missed A LOT of time throughout his college career. He played just five games in 2015, missed the entire 2016 with a back injury, played in 12 games in ‘17 (his best year statistically), and missed four games this past campaign.
According to nfldraftscout.com, Raymond is the #19 TE prospect in this draft. That’s fairly low, but it IS fair. Raymond has a lot to prove. He’s got good NFL size and can catch the ball well. He needs to prove he has speed and can match up with any defender, whether it be a linebacker or corner. If he uses his size to his advantage, he can certainly impress scouts and improve his draft stock. He currently projects anywhere from 4th round to undrafted.
TE Josh Oliver (SJSU)
(Contribution from VicAquino)
Oliver is a natural football player, regardless of SJSU’s losing seasons and the different coaches throughout his four years. As a big, strong and athletic TE with good hands and good speed (4.76 40), Oliver has a punishing running style and tallies much of his yardage after the catch. He also could be classified as a possession receiver, as 38 of his receptions went for first downs and touchdowns among his 56 receptions, 709 yards, and 4 TD receptions during his breakout senior year.
I’ve also seen Oliver play the last two years and being around the team a lot this year, and it was the valued intangibles you equally take note of: an unwavering work ethic and blue-collar attitude win or lose; in this case, mostly losing, which says a lot. Oliver was a team leader and stalwart, who looked equally at home blocking or being a decoy. So, as a contributor and team player with good character, Oliver has “it”.
It’s really up to an NFL staff to develop him at the next level and luckily, Oliver will have a good start with the best in the business; his Senior Bowl 49er coaches.
DE Carl Granderson (Wyoming)
(Contribution from FatDuckUW)
Carl Granderson is a physical specimen. At 6’5” and 265 lbs, Granderson is precisely what the NFL wants a 4-3 DE to look like. Granderson has filled out a lot since coming to Wyoming, putting on 80 lbs of muscle. In high school in California, Granderson played WR when he only weighed 185 lbs. You can tell that Granderson has that background as he makes some very athletic plays for a DE. For example, this play from the Hawaii game this year.
The biggest concern with Granderson would be his production. It just wasn’t there like you’d have expected it to be this past season. For a physical talent like Granderson, you might expect him to dominate in the Mountain West, racking up double-digit sacks. However, that did not happen in 2018. Granderson finished the season with 40 tackles, 3 sacks and the INT shown above. Such production has to be a disappointment for a player who finished 2017 with 78 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 INT’s.
As such, Granderson will need to go out there and make some plays in the Senior Bowl. He needs to look a little more like the 2017 version than the 2018 version.
Your Turn: What do you think each of these players needs to do show this weekend? Which do you see as legitimate draft prospects at this time? Let us know in the comment section.