2017 Senior Bowl Players to Watch

The following article is a part of the USA Today Sports Weekly preview for the Senior Bowl Preview

Regarded as the premier scouting event, the Senior Bowl is the unofficial kickoff to NFL draft season. Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage has helped create a game that brings in the best senior prospects and draws all 32 NFL scouting departments for an up close and personal look at these prospects.

While last year’s game featured first-round picks in quarterbacks Carson Wentz, guard Josh Garnett and defensive tackle Vernon Butler along with QB Dak Prescott, the 2017 group looks even more talented.

February’s scouting combine may get more national attention but the Senior Bowl offers top prospects the chance to showcase their skills in pads doing drills.

We break down the players with the most to gain or prove at this year’s Senior Bowl:

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse: After a breakout 2016 with 94 receptions for 1,482 yards, Etta-Tawo thrived as a downfield weapon. The 6-2, 202-pound receiver has the size to win downfield but needs to show if he can run better routes.

O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: Howard wasn’t used as the focal point of the Crimson Tide offense during the regular season, when he was used primarily as a blocker and secondary target. But he had two long touchdown receptions in the College Football Playoff championship game. In Mobile, the 6-6, 251-pound Howard will get to display his athletic and route-running ability with the chance to cement his status as the top tight end in a deep class.

 

Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama: Defensive coordinators can handle the athletic tight end who struggles to put up eye-popping statistics. But 6-4, 240-pound tight ends with good athletic ability are rare, so if Everett is able to step up in competition and show he belongs he could see himself selected in Day 2 of the draft.

Forrest Lamp, OT, Western Kentucky: Even though he dominated at tackle in college and shut down the Alabama pass rushers, Lamp is projected to move inside to guard. Don’t be surprised if Lamp is able to replicate Zach Martin’s dominant 2014 week and establish himself as the top lineman in this draft.

Julie’n Davenport, OT, Bucknell: Davenport will finally get his chance against the some of the best edge rushers. His performance in one on one pass rushing drills could vault him to the top of a weak tackle class.

Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M: Often overlooked because of teammate Myles Garrett, Hall has the size (6-6, 260 pounds) and speed of a Top 10 pick. Consistency was the big issue as the flashes came too far between. If Hall can show the ability to bend the edge and dominate during the week, he could regain the buzz he once had.

Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois: He has an explosive first step and there was plenty of buzz building toward his senior year. But a poor 2016 hurt his stock. Flexibility has been a concern for Smoot, who needs to prove he’s more than a one-gap speed rusher.

Haasan Reddick, LB, Temple: In Temple’s defense, Reddick lined up as a defensive end but at 6-1, 230 pounds that won’t work in the NFL. If Reddick can show he has the ability to play off-the-ball linebacker along with rushing the passer, it could push him up draft boards.

 


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Desmond King, CB, Iowa: The 2015 Thorpe Award winner (as college football’s top defense back) had a down year raising questions about his long speed and coverage skills. The one-on-one drills against receivers could determine if King is viewed as a cornerback or safety prospect.

 

Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M: Having the ability to match up to tight ends and play in run support, Evans already has established himself as one of the best safeties. How Evans does back in coverage with range and tracking the ball is what could make the difference between the first or second round.

 

OTHERS TO WATCH

Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn; Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama; Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado; CJ Beathard, QB, Iowa; Keionta Davis, DE, UT-Chattanooga; Dion Dawkins, G, Temple; Evan Engram, TE, Mississippi; Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa; Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy; Obi Melifornwu, S, UConn; Antonio Pipkin, QB, Tiffin; Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU; Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska

1 Comment

  1. Desmond king had a down year? Who so? BC he didnt get 8 pics again? Teams didnt even test him this year. He literally was an eraser. Desmond king is very technically so and player and a very smart player that has fantastic ball skills. He may not be the fastest in the 40, but inbetween those lines he can hang with anyone. Not his fault teams didnt throw his way and his ints went down. But maybe it is his fault bc has so good. When teams did even est him, he delivered. And did I mention has easily the past tackler of all cbs which is an added bonus…This proves that these “experts” dont always know what they are talking about and go purely off statistics which is a lazy way to do things.

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