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5 things Bills fans need to know about the Senior Bowl

Posted Jan 22, 2018

It’s the first big step in the pre-draft process as some of the best college prospects gather in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl practices this week. The North and South team rosters will be chock full of talent and the watchful eyes of all 32 NFL teams will be transfixed on every move the players make.


Here’s a preview of what and who to keep an eye on through the course of the week.

1 – QBs abound
The Senior Bowl has eight quarterbacks who will participate in this week’s practices and game. Among them is Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma and Wyoming’s Josh Allen. Both are widely projected as first-round prospects. But there are a handful of other signal callers who will draw attention too.

“We decided to bring eight quarterbacks because we thought there was really good depth to the class this year,” said Senior Bowl Executive Director, Phil Savage. “I know Sam Darnold from USC and Josh Rosen from UCLA, two underclassmen in the draft have gotten most of the attention. But when you went beyond the very top of the draft, I thought there were some very interesting prospects, like a Mike White from Western Kentucky or a Kyle Lauletta from Richmond.

“We were obviously very excited about getting Baker Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy winner here. Josh Allen came on board a week or so ago. I think Josh can really use our event to catapult himself to the top of the draft, which would really be a feather in our cap.”

2 – Stat leaders
Last year the Senior Bowl had the top three receiving yardage leaders in the country. This year they have a greater number of statistical leaders across the board.

Even though he won’t be participating this week due to a foot injury, Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph will be in attendance for measurements and team interviews. He led the nation in passing yards (4904 yds) and passing yards per game (377).

They also have quarterbacks who finished third and fourth in the country in passing yards in Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Western Kentucky’s Mike White.

But the Senior Bowl also has the nation’s leading rusher in San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny (2,248 yds), the leading receiver in Oklahoma State’s James Washington (1,549 yds) and the leading punter in Florida’s Johnny Townsend (47.5 avg.).

3 – Premium talent at OLB and TE
Knowing that a good portion of the top end talent in each draft class is comprised of underclassmen, the Senior Bowl did quite well in recruiting some of the best prospects at the outside linebacker and tight end positions.

At tight end, they received acceptances from five of the top 10 prospects at the position. Among them are Indiana’s Ian Thomas, who ranked fourth nationally averaging 15 yards per catch, and Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli, the Offensive MVP of the Cotton Bowl as a junior.

At outside linebacker, the Senior Bowl roster boasts three of the top five prospects in USC’s Uchenna Nwosu, Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Rutgers Kemoko Turay.   

Okoronkwo, the co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, had some of the most impressive statistics with 34.5 tackles for loss and 21 sacks for the Sooners.

4 – Some intriguing small school prospects
The Senior Bowl has done a good job of adding a handful of small school prospects that NFL teams are eager to see against stronger competition during the practice sessions in Mobile. Last year it was Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp who stole the show.

This year there are a few FCS players who will be closely watched. University of Texas-San Antonio DE Marcus Davenport is a pass-rushing prospect that has 15 sacks over his last two seasons, and had 17 tackles for loss in 2017.

“Keep an eye on Marcus Davenport,” Savage said. “After he accepted his invite I’ve had multiple people call me and say, ‘You definitely have a first-rounder. You might have a top 15 choice there in Davenport.’”

South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert was a First Team FCS All-American following a 72-catch, 1,111-yard and seven-touchdown campaign with the Jackrabbits. As a junior he had 92-receptions for almost 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Many NFL evaluators have him as the second-best tight end in the class behind only Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews.

There are 14 players in all from FCS level schools and one player from Division III, Dubuque (IA) CB Michael Joseph.

5 – Doubling up
A pair of prospects already have a pre-draft practice week and game under their belts. OT Brett Toth from Army, and DT Poona Ford from Texas both practiced last week and played in the East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg, Florida last weekend.

Ford was a four-year starter for the Longhorns at defensive tackle and in 2017 was named the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year. Known for his run-stuffing skills, Ford, a team captain, also had three blocked kicks in his college career, including one this past season that was returned for a touchdown against Maryland.

Meanwhile Toth was a two-year starter at right tackle at West Point, who helped the Black Knights lead the nation in rushing (362 yards per game). He has 30 career games under his belt and measures 6-6 and 305 pounds. He’s the first Army player to ever be on a Senior Bowl roster.

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