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2021 Senior Bowl Preview

Let’s look at the two Mountain West representatives.

NCAA Football: Mountain West Championship-Hawaii at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 college football season is over, but post-season bowls will be occurring over the next few weeks. The five all-star games Mountain West players traditionally take part in are the Tropical Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game (although the game won’t be played), the Hula Bowl, the Collegiate Bowl, and the Senior Bowl. This post will focus on the Senior Bowl Game.

These events are used primarily 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 practice with NFL coaches. The practice time for players is really at the heart of these events.

This is due to the time players and coaches can spend together 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 understand 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.

This year, there are four players from the Mountain West is participating in the Senior Bowl. Below we will provide a brief description of each player and illustrate what kind of showing they need to improve their draft stock.

Senior Bowl Game Schedule:

All public events have been cancelled due to current State of Alabama health guidelines.

Practices on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will all be televised live. These will all be aired by NFL Network. However, on Wednesday and Thursday, those practices will also be aired by ESPN on ESPNU.

DATE: Saturday, January 30, 2021

TIME: 12:30pm (MT)

WHERE: Mobile, Alabama

STADIUM: University of South Alabama, Hancock Whitney Stadium

TELEVISION: NFL Network

The Players:

TE John Bates (Boise State)

Provided by Zach

Bates has the perfect build of an NFL tight end. His biggest question will be his durability. He has been injured multiple times over the past few seasons. It kept him from having that breakthrough season that he seemed capable of on multiple occasions. Bates is a solid blocker who is more than capable of picking up blitzing defensive ends. Bates has improved as a pass-catcher and became an important target for Hank Bachmeier. His numbers seemed to decline when Bachmeier was injured or out for COVID reasons. If there was any player on this past year’s team that I would expect to get drafted this year, it would be Bates. I expect an NFL team to take a shot on him. Bates will need to put up solid numbers in the bench press and will likely need to improve his speed some before his pro day (if it happens.)

DB Darren Hall (San Diego State)

Darren was part of the deep, talented secondary unit for the Aztecs and decided to declare after his junior season. Hall’s numbers the past two seasons were impressive; 64 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 22 passes defended, and two fumbles forced. Teams will certainly want to take a chance on him, it is now just a matter of which round. He has the size, athleticism, and coverage skills. However, he will need to give scouts more of a reason to take a look at him; meaning, numbers from pro-day to give him the edge of draft boards. Hall is a good bet to be better than his draft stock, but the first step is establishing his draft stock.