Senior Bowl week gets many players a step closer to the draft. For some, this game will help set them apart from others entering the draft.
Here are the top players to keep an eye on during the game:
Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming: Here is one exceptional receiver for the loaded 2014 class. Herron’s been one a favorite under-the-radar player at the position since before the season began, and he exceeded expectations with a 72-reception, nine-touchdown year. Events like this one and the combine are built for guys like Herron.
Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood: Another of the very small group to participate both in the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. The extra exposure is definitely a positive for him as one of the top small-school prospects available in the 2014 draft. At 6-foot-1 and almost 200 pounds, Desir fits the profile teams increasingly want at corner — tall and athletic.
Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech: He’s one of those athletic edge-rusher types that could thrill a team in the top 15.
Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee: He began the week by measuring in at 6-6 and 315, with a 33 3/8-inch arm length. That last number will fall in the middle of the offensive linemen pack come the combine, but the size should keep him in the early-round mix for teams hunting for talent at the tackle position. James spent his Tennessee career at right tackle, but he might have a future on the left side.
Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee: He checked in at 6-6 and a massive 348 pounds, which is actually less than his past weigh-ins. He also recorded the widest Senior Bowl wingspan: 85.5 inches. It will be hard for just any team get him to translate that tantalizing combination of physical gifts into consistent play on the field.
Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia: Critics are worried that Sims is too small to make it the NFL. But, he came in at 5-11, 214 during the Senior Bowl weigh-ins and measurements.
Michael Sam, OLB, Missouri: Sam is being locked in as an outside linebacker. Odds are he will wind up as a pass-rushing OLB in a 3-4 defense. However, he played DE for Missouri and, like Attaochu, his best attribute is his ability to get to the quarterback (11.5 sacks in 2013). Asking him to drop in coverage to play a full linebacker role this week could make Sam’s Senior Bowl week tough.
Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State: As another player from a small school, Turner could have started at tackle for just about every FBS team this year. He stands 6-6 and 316 pounds, which constitutes a great starting point for an NFL lineman. He may wind up at guard at the next level if he can’t clean up his blocking technique.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State: The “Will Sutton Weight Watch” continued early in Mobile. His official numbers on Monday were 315 pounds and a little under 6-1. That’s up from the 267 pounds that the school said he played at in 2012. He added about 20 pounds prior to the 2013 season in an effort to anchor better along the interior and now he’s continued to gain weight in hopes of solidifying himself at a DT spot in the NFL.
Kyle Van Noy, DE/OLB, BYU: Van Noy will play linebacker this week. Assuming he shows off decent abilities at the Senior Bowl, then follows it up by performing well in speed drills at the combine, Van Noy could concrete himself as a Day 2 prospect or better. Bulking up and moving to 4-3 DE might be a stretch, so how he shows as a Senior Bowl linebacker will go a long way toward determining where he lands.
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