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The Senior Bowl always features plenty of good draft prospects. Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, and Cody Whitehair were among those who played last year. Current Jets Laurence Thomas, Charone Peake, and Jordan Jenkins also played. I reviewed this year's matchup to try and get an inside track on who raised their profile...
As is often the case, none of this year's top quarterback prospects took part, but this was a good opportunity for less-heralded prospects to elevate their stock. Cal's Davis Webb won the MVP, passing for 165 yards and a perfectly-placed long touchdown pass. However, having struggled badly in practice, the whole week may have been a net negative for him.
Pitt's Nathan Peterman was more impressive during the week and moved well in the pocket, passing for 153 yards and a score. Tennessee's Josh Dobbs also put up good numbers, completing 12 of 15 passes, although he did throw a pick. Dobbs is regarded as more of a dual-threat quarterback, but with Prescott's success this season, perhaps such players will warrant a longer look in 2017.
Tackle play in this game was somewhat disappointing. USC's Zach Banner, Western Michigan's Taylor Moton, and Bucknell's Julie'n Davenport all had issues dealing with the South's defensive line. Anthony Garcia from Troy, whose stock has been on the rise, struggled at times during the week but held up well during the game. WKU's Forrest Lamp, who missed the game with a foot injury, seems likely to move inside at the next level.
On the interior, West Virginia center Tyler Orlovsky was typically solid in pass protection, while Kentucky's Jon Toth stood out in the running game, leading the way for a short touchdown run and leading the way with a pulling block on another run. Dion Dawkins, Temple's left tackle, held up well at left guard.
Offensive Skill Positions
Toledo's Kareem Hunt weighed in much lighter than expected during the week, but had an outstanding 115-yard rushing performance during the game. His balance, shiftiness, and vision were all impressive but he also displayed some power despite the weight loss.
Aside from Hunt, SDSU's Donnel Pumphrey helped himself, gaining 38 yards on six touches, but perhaps more importantly looking comfortable and sharp returning punts. NC State's Matt Dayes bounced back from a fumble on his first carry to gain 66 yards on seven carries.
Record-setting ECU receiver Zay Jones had six catches for 68 yards and a score and also had two other touchdowns wiped out. Despite not being an elite athlete, Jones' hands, toughness, and route running have him rising up draft boards. Texas A&M's Josh Reynolds (6-96-TD) and Mississippi State's Fred Ross (5-66) also put up good numbers, although Reynolds misjudged and dropped a deep ball and fumbled once. Tight end OJ Howard from Alabama only played the first quarter, but solidified his first round status with four catches for 40 yards.
Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp has been getting first down buzz after a great week of practice. Although he only had two catches for 14 yards, he ran a nice route on a first down grab, earned another first down on a holding call and made this nifty one-handed catch on a tipped pass.
Defensive Front Seven
On the basis of this game, it's going to be a good year for pass rushing depth. Kansas State's Jordan Willis has unrivalled production and great athleticism but needed to display that against top-level competition. He had two strip sacks and another disruption where he hit the quarterback's elbow.
Youngstown State's Derek Rivers has similar level-of-competition questions, but he had a sack, caused an interception with a strong bull-rush, and made a play against the run. The edge defender who may have helped himself the most is Villanova's Tanoh Kpassagnon, who also had a strip sack and impressed with his outstanding length, speed off the edge, and strength at the point of attack.
There were good performances on the interior, too, with Auburn's Montravious Adams using his explosiveness to blow up a few plays with penetration. UCLA's Eddie Vanderdoes was also strong at the point of attack and registered a quarterback hit on a bull-jerk move. Iowa's Jaleel Johnson also looked strong and explosive inside.
At linebacker, the versatile Vince Biegel from Wisconsin had an active game and practice standout Haason Reddick from Temple also looked good. BYU's Harvey Langi flashed with a tackle for loss and an interception on the failed two-point conversion that decided the game, and Florida's Alex Anzalone (no relation to Fireman Ed) was impressive in run pursuit. Small school prospect Jordan Herdman from Simon Frasier had the best hit of the game, though:
At cornerback, Desmond King from Iowa wasn't troubled, surrendering just one completion on a pass underneath, although he came up too fast allowing the receiver to get to the marker. Michigan's Jourdan Lewis, a potential slot specialist, had mixed results outside.
No player helped their stock more during all-star season than Lorenzo Jerome from Saint Francis (Pa.), who had two interceptions and a forced fumble on a play where he blew up an end-around. Jerome already had two interceptions at the Collegiate Bowl last week.
Finally, another rising star at safety, UConn's Obi Melifonwu, wrapped up a productive week with a big hit in the open field and a touchdown-saving tackle.