NFL Draft: 10 prospects to watch at the Senior Bowl
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NFL Draft

10 NFL Draft prospects to watch at the Senior Bowl

The Super Bowl isn’t for two more weeks, but it’s already NFL Draft season. The Reese’s Senior Bowl kicks off on Saturday, and the week of practice leading up to the game is just as big of a deal. There are plenty of high-profile prospects ready for their chance to prove themselves to pro teams. Here are 10 players to keep an eye on over the next week.

Player grades courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

10. Alton Robinson, EDGE, Syracuse

After a strong junior year, Robinson was talked about as a potential first-round pick heading into 2019. He took a step back as a senior, his sack total dropping from nine to four. At 6’4″ 257lbs, he has the size to fit in any defensive scheme.

He hasn’t performed well against power-5 competition, however, so this is a great opportunity for him to prove he can get pressure while facing some of the top offensive line talent in this class. The DE position is rather weak this year, so even though Robinson has some concerns, he’ll likely still be a second-round pick at the worst. The Denver Broncos or Buffalo Bills could bolster their pass rushing corps with Robinson.

9. Quartney Davis, WR, Texas A&M

Davis’s production (99 catches, 1,199 yards, 11 touchdowns over the past two seasons) isn’t fantastic, but he does possess some traits that could make him a better NFL player than he was in college. At 6’2″ 200lbs, he has good size, and has shown the ability and willingness to use that frame on jump balls.

His route running has drawn some comparisons to Minnesota Vikings star Stefon Diggs, and while they’re a bit hyperbolic, Davis does stand out on tape. He will have a chance to show he can get separation from some good defensive back prospects this week, and if he can do that and follow it up with a good Combine performance, he could be a Day 2 pick. If not, he’ll make one team very happy on Day 3.

8. Matt Peart, OT, Conneticut

Offensive tackle is perhaps the deepest position group in this year’s class, and Peart is a part of that. He didn’t have much fanfare before the 2019 season, but a 90.0 overall grade changed that. He’s big (6’7″ 303lbs) and extremely fluid for his size. His technique is solid, and with an offseason of NFL strength training, he could be ready to start Week 1, which is rare for a player from a smaller school. Peart makes a ton of sense for a team like the Cleveland Browns, who own two picks in the third round.

7. Lamar Jackson, CB, Nebraska

The other Lamar Jackson could vault himself into Day 2 conversation with strong showings at the Senior Bowl and Combine. He hasn’t graded out all that well, peaking at 75.4 in 2019, but has allowed a completion percentage of under 45%. That number increases to 52.6% on throws 1-9 yards from the line of scrimmage, but that’s a great number. He’s allowed fewer completions and a lower pass rating each year since 2017, so he has improved. At 6’3″ 215lbs, he’ll be attractive to many different teams, as finding big, physical cornerbacks is crucial in today’s NFL. The Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts could be landing spots for Jackson.

6. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

In 2016, Hurts started for the Alabama Crimson Tide as a true freshman. That’s quite an impressive feat, but his career in Tuscaloosa was overshadowed by what Tua Tagovailoa has done since the 2017 National Championship. As a graduate transfer at Oklahoma, Hurts reminded everyone that he was talented in his own right, throwing for 32 touchdowns and rushing for 20 more.

He is a true dual-threat quarterback, and with the monumental success of Lamar Jackson (the Baltimore Ravens QB), teams could choose to look past Hurts faults (namely anticipation, decision-making, consistency, and time-to-throw), hoping to emulate Baltimore’s offense. It would be stunning if Hurts ended up as a first-rounder, but he could easily end up as a second-round pick, likely to a team with a veteran ahead of him so Hurts can sit and learn for at least a year. The Colts, Los Angeles Chargers, and even Chicago Bears make sense.

5. Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma

Gallimore will likely be the third defensive tackle drafted, and could make his way into the end of the first round. As a senior, he finished with an 82.5 pass-rush grade, along with 32 pressures. He has good size for a one-tech DT at 6’2″ 301lbs, and a quick first step.

He may not have the All-Pro potential of the next player on this list, but Gallimore should be a good run stuffer with solid pass-rushing ability. Interior pressure is more important than ever, which should make Gallimore a valuable commodity to a team like the Dallas Cowboys, who desperately need a pass-rushing threat at DT to complement their excellent DEs.

4. Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

Elite size, elite athleticism, and great production. Along with a great work ethic, Kinlaw brings all that to the table. In 2019, he finished with a 90.7 pass-rush grade, seven sacks, and 40 total pressures. He overcame homelessness to become a top prospect.

Kinlaw is 6’6″ 302lbs and a freakish athlete. He will dominate the combine, and needs to have a good showing against some good interior OL this week. He could go as high as sixth overall to the Los Angeles Chargers, with the Carolina Panthers and and Jacksonville Jaguars also possible top-10 landing spots.

3. Josh Jones, OT, Houston

Jones stands 6’7″ 310lbs and is a very good athlete. He’s shown consistent improvement throughout his career, culminating in one of the best overall grades PFF has ever given to an OT, 93.2. Jones displays good hand usage but his feet need quite a bit of work. He’s still raw, but he has a ton of natural talent.

He’s a legitimate first-round prospect who could find his way into the top 20 with a good Combine showing. If the Miami Dolphins are able to nab Tua Tagovailoa with pick #5 (and even if they aren’t), they would do well to protect their QB by taking Jones at #18. The Browns could also “reach” on Jones at #10, or even trade back into the first round to grab him.

2. Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Love is the definition of boom or bust. He had a great 2018 season with 32 passing TDs to six picks, but those numbers dropped to 20 and 17 in 2019, respectively. Love is 6’4″ 220lbs with a rocket arm and good mobility. He’s incredibly raw, and could never sniff being even an average starter. But he could also rival Patrick Mahomes as the NFL’s best QB.

His on-field performance may not justify it, but there’s a very good chance Love ends up going in the first-round based solely on his natural ability. Some team will convince themselves they can unlock his amazing potential. Perhaps that team is New Orleans or Green Bay, where Love can sit and learn behind an all-time great before stepping into an established offense with good playmakers and a solid line.

The Buccaneers, Colts and Chargers are also options. One thing is for sure; Love is the draft’s biggest wildcard, and if he goes earlier than expected, it could throw the entire rest of the first round into a craze.

1. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Herbert is similar to Love, but is less volatile. He threw 32 TDs to six INTs as a senior, which would normally be considered a pretty great season. But it was disappointing for Herbert. His yards per attempt was just 8.0, and he played poorly against good competition.

Herbert’s 6’6″233lbs frame, solid mobility, and elite arm strength will make him a high pick based on potential. But he’s still a significant risk. He had a fantastic sophomore season, but hasn’t improved since then, and has instead regressed in many areas.

Like Love, Herbert’s ceiling is too high for him to be passed up, so many of the same teams will be options. It’s unlikely because of their other needs, but there would be bigger surprises than the Chargers taking Herbert sixth overall.