Senior Bowl Week is underway, and while many people pay little attention until the game on Saturday, the practices during the week are just as important to coaches and executives looking to potentially draft these players.
For the most part, the elite prospects opt to pass on this event while hoping to maintain their status as a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Last year, only seven Senior Bowl participants were drafted in the first round, and none went in the top 12 while four went 23rd or later.
As for who's standing out after the first few practices, Duke receiver Jamison Crowder is turning head early. One of the most underrated receivers in college football this past year, Crowder was projected as a Day 3 pick coming into this week.
The 5-9, 175-pounder looks and plays like Andrew Hawkins, and he'd be a quality slot receiver for whoever gets him. However, it's been his ability to beat his man at the line of scrimmage and deep:
Wins at the LOS, gets back on top of the CB and then tracks the ball over his shoulder. Nice. https://t.co/shJiihbFsT— Joe G (@JoeGoodberry) January 21, 2015
One prospect who's already managed to hurt his stock is Pittsburgh offensive lineman TJ Clemmings. A 6-foot-5, 307-pounder, Clemmings spent his first three seasons at Pitt as a defensive lineman before moving to the other side of the ball in 2013 and great the past two seasons, and there was talk of him being a first-round prospect entering Senior Bowl week.
However, Clemmings has looked out of sorts thus far, overreaching and using poor technique often. On this play, Kentucky defensive end Za'Darius Smith blows by him in pass protection drills:
Clemmings day summed up. https://t.co/WcqaK7B1t3— Joe G (@JoeGoodberry) January 21, 2015
Making that worse was that Smith was having a poor practice as well up to that point:
A couple uninspired pass rush attempts for Z.Smith (Kentucky). https://t.co/mXXOBRZZOz— Joe G (@JoeGoodberry) January 21, 2015
Trenton Brown is another guy making noise, though much of that came from his weigh-in, when the Florida Gators lineman measured in at 6-8, 376 pounds with 86.5-inch wing span. Technique and consistency plagued his college career to the point he's projected as a late Day 3 pick.
He did hold his own in one-one-one matchups with Washington's Danny Shelton, the 343-pound first-round prospect:
6-8 376lb Trenton Brown vs. 6-2 343lb Danny Sheldon. https://t.co/GjzktSyWcX— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) January 20, 2015
As a whole, the Gators program has massively underperformed over the past two seasons, so maybe Brown was just a victim of the mess and has more ability than he showed this past season. Still, he looks like this year's version of Seantrel Henderson.
Speaking of Shelton, the Washington defensive tackle is arguably the best prospect at the Senior Bowl, and he showed flashes of the dominance that led Mike Mayock to compare Shelton to Haloti Ngata.
This is raw power. https://t.co/6VIpOiTCrn— Joe G (@JoeGoodberry) January 21, 2015
The biggest headline to this point may have been Auburn's Nick Marshall saying he'll enter the draft as a cornerback, his original position in college, and practiced exclusively with the defensive backs Tuesday after playing QB for the Tigers over the past two season.
"It wasn't difficult because I played cornerback coming up," said Marshall, who played cornerback in his freshman season at Georgia before transferring to junior college, where he moved to quarterback. "It won't be a hard transition for me to make. It's something that I know if I put my mind to it I can do anything that I want."
He was a good enough QB at Auburn that if he did make an NFL roster as a DB, they still may list him as the emergency third QB if both the starter and backup got injured. As little and insignificant as that sounds, every little thing helps get a guy drafted and/or on an NFL roster.
And for one final highlight, here's probably the worst double-move attempt you'll ever see:
LOL this double move https://t.co/3zbOEGx83T— Joe G (@JoeGoodberry) January 21, 2015