Most eyes will be glued on Sunday’s Pro Bowl where some of the top talent in the league, led by six Chargers, will take the field.
However, a far more important game will take place the day before down in Mobile, AL at the 2019 Senior Bowl.
General managers, coaches and scouts will set up shop in Mobile this week to evaluate some of the top senior prospects eligible to be drafted this year. What makes the Senior Bowl so unique is that it marks the only opportunity for teams to evaluate prospects up close with pads on. That doesn’t just go for the game, but the entire week of practice as well.
In addition, perhaps no team has benefited from the Senior Bowl quite like the Bolts.
Not only did they fall in love with some of the best players to ever suit up at the game, including Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson to name a few, but they’ve struck it big in recent years as well. They added four prospects who played in last year’s game (Uchenna Nwosu, Kyzir White, Scott Quessenberry and Michael Badgley) while also adding six players in 2017 (Forrest Lamp, Dan Feeney, Rayshawn Jenkins, Sam Tevi, Isaac Rochell and Artavis Scott).
So, who might the Chargers be interested in this year?
Here is a closer look at 10 Senior Bowl prospects who figure to be on teams’ radars, including the Bolts:
1. S Nasir Adderley (Delaware) – The Senior Bowl provides a chance for small-school prospects to prove their worth going up against big-name competition. That’s exactly what Adderley aims to do as the safety’s earned a good amount of buzz heading into the week. The Delaware safety spent his first two seasons as a cornerback, boasting the type of versatility needed in the modern NFL. Adderley is opportunistic in the back end, picking off eight passes while breaking up 17 passes over the last two seasons. Scouts also rave about his aggressive nature when it comes to attacking the run.
2. DE Jaylon Ferguson (Louisiana Tech) – Ferguson is a name you’ll hear a lot about in the coming months as he broke Terrell Suggs’ record to become the NCAA’s all-time career sack leader (45.0). The 6-5, 269-pounder had a dominant senior season in which he led the nation with 17.5 sacks while finishing second with 26.0 tackles for loss. Thus, you can understand why Ferguson is one of the most talked about prospects heading into the all-important week.
3. QB Ryan Finley (North Carolina State) – This year’s Senior Bowl is supposedly heavy with top-notch quarterbacks, so there are plenty of passers to keep your eye on throughout the week. Finley is certainly one of them as he looks to follow in the footsteps of a certain other Wolf Pack QB to dominate the NFL - Philip Rivers. Finley took over as the team’s starter after transferring to NC State in 2016, and is fresh off the best year of his career as he completed 326-of-484 passes (67.4 percent) for 3,928 yards and 25 touchdowns.
4. QB Will Grier (West Virginia) – Everyone loves a gunslinger, and that’s exactly what Grier is regarded as he isn’t afraid to let it rip. The 6-2, 221-pound quarterback also boasts impressive athleticism, driving opponents crazy with his ability to extend plays. Grier initially began his career at Florida before transferring to West Virginia, where he made an impression right off the bat. However, it’s his senior season that entrenched him as a likely high pick as he completed 266 of 397 passes (67.0 percent) for 3,864 yards and 37 touchdowns.
5. QB Drew Lock (Missouri) – Lock has been on NFL teams' radars for years…and for good reason. The 6-4, 225-pound quarterback is known for a lightning quick delivery and cannon arm, and he carved up the competition all four years for the Tigers. Lock threw for a mind-boggling 44 touchdowns in 2017, and backed that up with another impressive senior campaign in 2018 as he completed a career-best 62.9 percent of his passes (275-for-437) for 3,498 yards, 28 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
6. QB Daniel Jones (Duke) – While Jones may not be a household name, scouts have long been a fan of his game. The Duke star possesses ideal size for the position at 6-5, 220 pounds, and pundits rave about his blend of athleticism and football IQ. Now, many believe a strong outing can cement his status as a first-round pick. Jones completed 237 of 392 passes (60.5 percent) in 2018 for 2,674 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions while running the ball 104 times for 319 yards and another three scores. Overall, he completed 764 of 1,275 career attempts for 8,201 yards, 52 touchdowns and 29 picks plus 406 runs for 1,323 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns as a three-year starter.
7. WR Hunter Renfrow (Clemson) – Renfrow is an incredible story as he went from a walk-on in 2015 to one of college football’s most dangerous weapons. He became a household name in early 2017 when he caught 10 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns in the National Championship Game vs. Alabama, including the game-winner with one second left on the clock. Overall, Renfrow hauled in 186 passes for 2,133 yards and 15 touchdowns over his four-year career. Now, the 2018 Burlsworth Trophy winner for college football’s most outstanding player who began as a walk-on looks to prove his case as a high pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
8. WR Deebo Samuel (South Carolina) – The 6-0, 210-pound wideout was simply one of college football’s most explosive playmakers whenever the ball was in his hands. Overall, he finished with 148 catches for 2,076 yards and 16 touchdowns over four seasons while scoring seven rushing touchdowns on only 25 attempts. While he battled injuries at times, Samuel was completely healthy in 2018, catching 62 passes for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns. Equally impressive is what he can do in the return game as he returned four kickoffs for touchdowns over his career.
9. DE Montez Sweat (Mississippi State) – Considered a near lock for the first round, Sweat is the type of edge rusher teams target in the draft. Blessed with exceptional size, the 6-1, 241-pound star is known for his explosive athleticism off the snap. Sweat played two seasons at Mississippi State, totaling 101 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss and 22 sacks in 26 games.
10. CB Rock Ya-Sin (Temple) – Ya-Sin is another under the radar prospect who's earned buzz heading into the Senior Bowl, including from Daniel Jeremiah who said he is eager to see the Temple cornerback in action. The Bolts’ radio analyst and NFL Network Draft analyst named Ya-Sin as a player to keep your eye on, saying he, “Has ideal size, speed, toughness and ball skills (with) the competitiveness and athleticism to develop into a quality NFL starter.”
Take a closer look at 10 Senior Bowl prospects who may be on the Chargers' radar this year.