The 2016 Senior Bowl players that helped their stock the most
Here are the 10 offensive and 10 defensive players that helped their stock the most with this week’s Senior Bowl practices:
Quarterback Carson Wentz–
When you start being mentioned as a top 10 QB as a 2 year starter in the FCS you know the hype train is in full force, and that was even before the Senior Bowl week started. With so much hype on his shoulders, it felt like Wentz had no where to go but down as the expectations were set crazy high, but I give Wentz a lot of credit for reaching those lofty expectations. That’s not to say he’s a perfect QB prospect or he isn’t without some concerns, but he answered some key questions this week and it’s a bit easier to see why he’s being so highly touted. He still needs some development time, but he performed well in a tough setting this week and he could potentially push to be the top overall QB in the draft.
Wide Receiver Braxton Miller-
Miller’s solid year for Ohio State converting to wide receiver put him on the draft radar and possibly had him cracking the top 100 picks. Now after blowing away the competition down in Mobile, Miller should start shooting up a talented but uncertain WR group this year in the draft. Miller showed effortless route-running and catching ability to go along with his natural speed and quickness. He still has more development to his game, but he’s already refined enough to show that he can help a team next year which should help him crack the top 50 and possibly even the 1st round.
Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard–
Shepard was pretty clearly the number 2 wide receiver down here other than Miller and he looked to solidify his top 100 billing. He answered questions about whether or not he could play outside, and showed himself to be a dangerous slot option as well. With crisp route running, deep speed, and nice hands Shepard, showcased well this week, and could vault a few receivers on some teams draft boards.
Wide Receiver Jay Lee-
Entering this week he was mainly thought of as the “other Baylor receiver”, Lee made a case for himself this week for NFL teams to take notice. Lee brings to the table impressive size and speed and he put that on display all week. He had a number of nice catches throughout the week and showed that he’s a quality receiver in his own right. He’s not going to challenge for a top pick, but he could give a team value for spending a mid-round pick on a WR.
Tight End Nick Vannett-
Vannett was the top TE down here and will probably be the 3rd or 4th TE off the board this April. Vannett has great size and is already a pretty good blocker. While in college he wasn’t given a lot of opportunities to prove his receiving ability, he got that opportunity down here and made the most of it. He was able to get separation versus most linebackers, while running well and making most of his catches. With two way TEs a rarity in the NFL, Vannett has the chance to be that at the next level and should have a lot of teams interested in the late 2nd-3rd round.
C Jack Allen-
Allen came into the Senior Bowl a bit undersized, but his play made up for any size concerns teams might have. Allen was very technically sound all week, and does a great job using leverage to his advantage. He stonewalled a number of top DT’s this week and teams in need of a center were sure to take notice.
OT Jason Spriggs-
Spriggs came in as the top OT down in Mobile and he not only solidified that spot, but he made it clear that there was a wide gap between him and the next tackle down here. Spriggs was really good in every area this week and it should get him into the late first round consideration.
OG Cody Whitehair-
Whitehair was one of the top rated guards in the draft heading into the Senior Bowl week and after a strong performance down here there should be no question as to where he ranks. Whitehair probably has the versatility to play RT or even C, but guard remains his best position at the next level and he was just fantastic all week. He probably had the strongest week of any OL down here, and was the toughest test for every DL he faced. He should solidly be in the first round at this point and might even crack the top 25.
OL Cole Toner-
The Harvard product was a bit of an unknown heading into this week as there were legitimate questions as to if he could match-up versus this level of competition. Toner did a nice job throughout the week, and had a number of good reps against top competition. He wasn’t perfect, but he showed ability at both RT and G and should definitely be on teams’ radar in the middle rounds (4th-5th) now.
OG Sebastian Tretola-
Tretola had a good week as well among the OL down here. He is primarily a guard, but he showed that he could snap the ball as well and some teams could look to convert him to center increasing his versatility. Tretola came in with a reputation for being a power blocker, but he showed really good quickness and movement skills and he is very good at getting to the 2nd level or zone blocking.
DE/OLB Noah Spence-
Spence put on a pass rushing clinic throughout the week, showing himself to be an explosive edge rusher. Given some off the field concerns a strong week here was needed. If he convinced teams his off the field issues were behind him, he could see his name called in the first 15 picks come April.
DE Sheldon Rankins-
Rankins week was cut short, but before he left Wednesday with an injury, he was having a fantastic week. He has an excellent combination of speed and power from an interior line position, and he was a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen to block this week. He should see his stock rise after this performance and should be in the mix for a top 25 pick.
DE Sheldon Day-
Day came in a bit undersized and I think there was a legitimate concern about where he should play. After a big week of terrorizing offensive linemen questions about Day’s size should be an afterthought. Day can play inside or outside and he just needs a scheme that will let him aggressively push up the field. Day might be a tweener, but his talent allows him to be a mismatch for OL. Versus interior linemen he is too quick and he can shoot the gap, while tackles aren’t used to his strength/speed combo. It’s a talented DL group this year, but Day showed he deserves to be in the top 50 mix.
DE Jihad Ward-
Ward was another DL who had a strong week. He played a bit of DT in college, but he primarily worked as a DE in Mobile. He’s still raw with his hand usage and counter moves, but he is extremely quick and strong that caused him to win a lot of battles this week. His stock will be red hot heading into the Combine/Pro Day, if he can wow there he could be a top 2 round option.
DT Vernon Butler
Butler coming from a smaller school there will always be some questions about if he can play at a particular level. Butler had no trouble wrecking havoc vs bigger school OL, and he was a consistent force throughout the week. With the DL group being so strong this year, Butler might not rise as high as he would in other years, but he could be in the 3rd round or higher mix at this point.
S Darian Thompson
One of the rarest things in the NFL is a natural free safety, who can cover and has the range to patrol the back end of the defense. Thompson has the potential to be that high quality starting free safety at the next level, and he showed well here in Mobile flying around the field making plays. He should solidly be in the 2nd round and he could even rise higher.
CB Kevin Peterson
Peterson had some questions about how he would hold up at a smaller size, but he proved to be one of the most natural fluid corners in the drills. He even looked good in press at times, and wasn’t afraid to challenge bigger receivers. Peterson will primarily be looked at as a slot corner, but he gave some indication that he could handle playing outside as well. He’s probably looking at a 3rd-4th round range.
CB Deiondre Hall-
Hall is a small college corner from Notherna Iowa, but he had no trouble covering the top receivers on the northern squad. He’s a big, long corner who will be capable of matching up with bigger receivers at the next level and he will be coveted by teams who like to press. Hall looks like a possible top 100 pick and he definitely is moving in the right direction.
S DeAndre Houston-Carson-
Houston-Carson is another small school player that more than held his own this week. He is a potential FS and he showed the range and quickness to believe that he could play that position at the next level. He’s a bit raw with his technique, but he improved as the week went on. He’s more of a mid-round pick, but this was a good showing for him.
S Jeremy Cash-
Cash came in with a reputation as a big hitter and run support guy, but there were questions about his coverage. Though he should mainly be used in the box, he wasn’t as lost as some expected when he was in deeper coverage. He is definitely raw in coverage and it’s an area he needs to work on, but the potential is there. Cash is probably a solid bet for a top 75 pick and this week definitely helped him.