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10 Prospects to Watch at the Senior Bowl
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This weekend’s Pro Bowl will garner most of the attention among fans, but a far more important event is also taking place – the 2018 Senior Bowl.
General managers, coaches and scouts will all descend upon Mobile, Alabama this week to catch some of the top senior prospects eligible to be drafted this year. Perhaps even more important than the game is the week of practice leading up to it, as it’s the only time all 32 teams will get a chance to watch these prospects practice up close with pads on.
The Senior Bowl proved vital for the Bolts last year. L.A. drafted four players who participated in the game while adding another as an undrafted free agent, including Forrest Lamp, Dan Feeney, Sam Tevi, Isaac Rochell and Artavis Scott.
So, who might the Chargers be interested in this year?
Here are some of the top 10 Senior Bowl prospects that will surely garner much attention:
1. QB Josh Allen – Wyoming
Much has been said about the strong-armed quarterback, but few fans have actually seen him throw. That’s all about to change. The 6-5, 233-pound Allen has a rare, natural talent that have some, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper, JR predicting he may be the first overall pick in the draft. However, pundits stress they need to see more consistency out of Allen as he completed only 56.0 and 56.3-percent of his attempts over his two seasons as Wyoming’s starter.
2. OT Alex Cappa – Humboldt State
The Senior Bowl also afford teams a chance to watch some of the nation’s top small school prospects for the first time. Thus, everyone will want to see how Cappa performs against top competition after dominating at Humboldt State. In fact, he is the only player to ever be named the GNAC Offensive Lineman of the Year four times. No player from Humboldt state has been selected since the NFL Draft went from 12 to seven rounds, but the 6-7, 305-pounder can do just that with an impressive week.
3. DE Marcus Davenport – University of Texas-San Antonio
Speaking of small school prospects, eyes will be on Davenport, who tore up FCS competition and is fresh off a dominating 2017 campaign in which he notched 8.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. Overall, he recorded 185 tackles, 21.5 sacks and 47.5 tackles for loss in 43 career games. The 6-6, 255-pound Davenport has a legit chance to be selected in the first round come April.
4. TE Mike Gesicki – Penn State
Tight ends can present huge mismatches for opposing defenses in the passing game, and that’s exactly what the Penn State product brings to the table. A massive 6-6, 250-pounds, Gesicki is particularly a valuable target in the red zone as he’s totaled 14 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He is fresh off a season in which he caught 57 passes for 563 yards and nine touchdowns, bringing his career totals to 129 catches, 1,481 yards and 15 TDs. Like most at his position, Gesicki needs to shore up the blocking part of his game. Still, his talents as a pass catcher is where he can really make his mark over the coming days.
5. LB Shaquem Griffin – Central Florida
It’s impossible not to root for Griffin, who had his left hand amputated when he was four years old. Despite the adversity, he proved to be one of the most disruptive players a year ago at UCF. The younger brother of Seattle Seahawks CB Shaquil Griffin, Shaquem recorded 74 tackles, 18.5 sacks, 33.5 tackles for loss, three picks and four forced fumbles over his collegiate career. He ended it with a lights out game in the Peach Bowl vs. Auburn in which he totaled a season-best 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
6. QB Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma
From college walk on to Heisman Trophy winner, it’s been quite the ride for Mayfield, who is a lock to be a first-round selection. With his fiery persona and uncanny knack to make the big play, you can see why he reminds some of the Chargers’ own Philip Rivers even if they have completely different styles. Mayfield is most commonly compared to Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, and a strong showing in Mobile could vault him into a top 10 pick.
7. RB Rashaad Penny – San Diego State
What Penny accomplished in 2017 with the Aztecs will long be remembered. His 2,248 yards rushing were the first most ever in a single season in NCAA history. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry, and even ran for over 200 yards in five straight games. Also a weapon as a receiver and on special teams he totaled 23 touchdowns on the year. Penny’s ability to impact the game in multiple ways is why he’ll also be coveted. After all, his seven career kickoff return touchdowns tied the NCAA all-time record.
8. DT Harrison Phillips – Stanford
Phillips had almost unheard of production for a defensive tackle a year ago, which is why he is so intriguing to NFL teams. All in all, he posted a gaudy 103 tackles to lead the team in 2017. If that wasn’t enough, the first-team All-Pac-12 pick also chipped in 7.0 sacks and 17.0 tackles for loss. While he may have to answer questions about his durability as an undersized defensive tackle, there’s no denying the upside.
9. WR James Washington – Oklahoma State
The 2017 Biletnikoff Award Winner as college football’s most outstanding receiver, Washington aims to show that his big play ability can translate to the NFL level. The 6-1, 205-pounder is one of the best vertical threats available in the draft. He finished the 2017 campaign with 74 catches for 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns, bringing his career total to 226 receptions for 4,472 yards and 39 TDs. Washington had a catch of at least 50 yards in seven of 13 games last year, including a long of 86 against TCU. Overall, he averaged 25.2 yards per catch in 2017.
10. S Kyzir White – West Virginia
A hard-hitting safety out of West Virgina, the 6-2, 218-pound White boasts the size teams covet in the back end. The Senior Bowl is the ideal venue for him during the evaluation process as it will allow him to show off his physicality. The younger brother of Bears WR Kevin White, the physical safety totaled 94 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and three picks a year ago for the Mountaineers. With more and more teams placing a heavy emphasis on the position, White has a chance to really prove his value. Read