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Monday, November 18, 2019

10 players with most to gain at 2019 Senior Bowl

Myles Gaskin

The 2019 East-West Shrine Game has now come and gone, leaving college prospects with one final on-field opportunity to put some film together and impress NFL scouts. That comes on Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

In recent years, several prospects have put on a good show, ultimately earning themselves a greater value in the NFL Draft and going higher than initially projected. And while that isn’t a surprise or abnormality, it’s always difficult to predict who will ultimate shine through.

With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 players with the most to gain at the 2019 Senior Bowl.

10. Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo

Tyree Jackson isn’t the only UB player who will appear on this list, and that’s a testament to what Buffalo has been able to do in terms of recruiting over the last few years. And while Jackson may be considered a bit of a project entering the 2019 NFL Draft, it’s clear the talent is there. In 32 games at Buffalo, the 6-foot-7 Jackson completed 533 of his 955 passes for 6,999 yards, 49 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. His athleticism certainly isn’t the question, but his technique and decision-making are. If Jackson can find a way under center at the Senior Bowl and put on a strong showing, he’ll have an opportunity to improve his draft stock ahead of the NFL Combine.

9. Nate Davis, OL, Charlotte

Nate Davis is an interesting name because most have probably never heard of him despite his dominance at Charlotte, which has been overlooked because of the small school. A three-year starter for the 49ers, the 6-foot-2, 311-pound Davis should be considered among the best at his position, but that’s also why he’s not considered a top-end pick. Although Davis dominated as a tackle in college, he is projected to move inside to guard once he reaches the NFL. Accordingly, and with very little tape on him because of where he plays, Davis will need to seize upon his opportunity at the Senior Bowl as national television cameras roll.

8. Michael Deiter, OL, Wisconsin

At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, Michael Deiter has the prototypical size for an interior offensive lineman in the NFL. He’s a strong and athletic run blocker, but needs to improve his pass protection. And the one thing that may ultimately prove to be his most valuable asset — versatility — may also be what hurts him in the NFL. Currently projected as a mid-round pick, Deiter doesn’t have a strong body of work or an abundance of film at any one position. He played center, guard and tackle in college, essentially being moved around to fit the team’s needs. Coaches will love, respect and appreciate that at the next level, but it may also prevent him from going as high as his talent warrants. If he puts on a good showing at the Senior Bowl, executives may be more apt to keep an eye on him at the Combine.

7. Donald Parham, TE, Stetson

Tight end is considered an extremely deep class entering the 2019 NFL Draft, so some of the small school talent like Donald Parham tends to be overlooked. At 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, Parham is a matchup nightmare and physical demon at his position, but add in that he also sports a 36-inch vertical jump and it’s easy to see the elite skill that’s bottled up in the young tight end. He caught 85 passes for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018 and now has the opportunity to prove he can compete against large school talent. Likely sitting on the outside of the top 50 and considered a mid- to late-round talent, Parham can substantially boost his draft stock ahead of the NFL Combine with a good performance in Mobile.

6. Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo

Anthony Johnson may be one of the most-watched prospects at the Senior Bowl as scouts aim to determine if he’s genuinely a mid-round talent or if his combination of size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and athleticism warrants a higher pick. That’s something that may have been determined in-season, but Johnson dealt with injury issues in 2018, capping his production, which was still solid nonetheless — 57 receptions for 1,011 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 11 touchdowns give Johnson 25 total over the last two seasons, which is a testament to the potential production he brings to the table. Needless to say, if Johnson opens some eyes at the Senior Bowl, the only thing standing between him and a high-round pick is the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

5. Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington

Myles Gaskin is another in a long line of undersized running backs who have found success in recent years, and he could be on his way to a productive career in the NFL. Still, at 5-foot-10 and 194 pounds, there will be those who overlook Gaskin because of his size … or lack thereof. However, there’s no denying his electric ability on the football field — he rushed for over 5,320 yards in his four-year college career while averaging 5.6 yards per carry and scoring 62 total touchdowns. Currently projected as a mid-round pick and a two-down player in the NFL, Gaskin will have the opportunity to prove he’s also got some power and punch at the Senior Bowl, potentially shedding the unflattering labels that often cling to undersized running backs.

4. Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech

In any other draft class, Jaylon Ferguson might very well be considered the cream of the crop. However, in a completely stacked class, he’s considered a fringe Round 1 pick that could, potentially, fall quite a ways in the 2019 NFL Draft because of the other talent at his position. With 17.5 sacks in 2018, Ferguson leap-frogged Terrell Suggs for the most all-time in NCAA history (45), which is an incredible feat no matter how you slice it. However, he still faces an uphill battle because of big names at other larger schools, but that’s the luxury of the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. With all eyes on him in Mobile, Ferguson has the opportunity to showcase his skills against large-school talent. And if he’s able to put on a show at the Senior Bowl, perhaps he’ll be considered at the top of the draft class where he belongs.

3. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina

The wide receiver class ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft is considered solid, but not spectacular. Deebo Samuel falls right within that range. He’s known as a solid route runner with good technique, but lacks the top-end speed to be considered an elite prospect. Although he has been able to create separation with his footwork, that won’t come as easy to him at the next level. The 6-foot, 210-pound Samuel must prove to NFL scouts that he’s capable of producing in a variety of others way and that his speed won’t hinder him against more athletic and sound cornerbacks. Accordingly, the Senior Bowl will be a substantial stepping stone for Samuel if he wants to be considered anything other than a mid-round pick.

2. Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware

Nasir Adderley is potentially the No. 1 safety available in the 2019 NFL Draft, but that is not yet written in stone. While some already proclaim him to be a first-round talent, there are some out there who continue to balk. Holding Adderley back is that he struggled in man coverage schemes a bit in 2018 and wasn’t often targeted in one-on-one coverage, leaving very little to evaluate on film on in the numbers. Still, Adderley has proven himself to be a very physical tackler with good ball skills and an outstanding zone coverage player. He has all the tools needed to succeed in the NFL, but needs to shore up some of his limited weaknesses. If he can find a way to display his all-around skills at the Senior Bowl, he could not only cement himself as a first-round pick, but perhaps also as the best safety prospect available.

1. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

Daniel Jones is the most obvious name to top this list because he’s already gotten the attention of NFL scouts, experts and fans across the football landscape. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Jones has both the size and mobility to succeed in today’s NFL to go along with a strong arm and years of study under David Cutcliffe, who helped produce both Peyton and Eli Manning. However, Jones’ production was still somewhat limited during his time with the Blue Devils, completing under 60 percent of his passes for 8,201 yards, 52 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. While many still consider him a first-round talent, he resides behind other quarterbacks such as Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray. The Senior Bowl will provide one of two more opportunities for Jones to thrust himself into the conversation of the top available quarterbacks come April.



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