Each year there are dozens of prospects who boost their stock for the NFL Draft during the Senior Bowl week and that can equate to millions of dollars on Draft Day. Keep in mind this list isn’t necessarily the top prospects at the event, but rather the players who made the biggest leap up draft boards.
Let’s count down who helped themselves the most at the 2019 Senior Bowl.
10. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
Having Samuel this low is a bit misleading because he was clearly one of the best players in attendance, regardless of position. However, he was already highly regarded coming in and might have only improved his fortunes by a round or less. With that said, Samuel impressed with his athleticism, speed and playmaking ability. Nobody could cover Samuel and not only did he maintain his status as the best wideout in Mobile but he actually widened the gap. Parris Campbell of Ohio St. opted not to participate despite being healthy and Samuel is now threatening to take over his title as the top senior pass catcher in this class.
9. Chuma Edoga, OT, USC
There wasn’t much fanfare coming in but Edoga was one of this year’s most pleasant surprises. Everyone knew Edoga was a good athlete, but there was some question as to whether he could stick at tackle or if he’d have to kick inside to guard. Edoga started the week off well by weighing in at 6-3 3/4 and 303 pounds with 34 7/8 inch arms, alleviating concerns about his length. Edoga then more than held his own on the edge at left tackle against some good pass rushers. At this point Edoga looks like a nice potential value early on Day 3 as a versatile blocker with upside.
8. Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina St.
On average less than three centers are selected in the early rounds of the NFL Draft, so it’s rarified air for the position. Bradbury entered the week in that mix and leaves as a probable Top 100 pick. Bradbury is a bit undersized but is an athletic grappler in the pivot, with the top-notch intangibles that are so important at the position. After earning universal glowing reviews for his performance, Bradbury was named Practice Player of the Week for the offensive linemen and a team captain for the game. Bradbury looks like a Day 2 value and immediate starter, most likely in a zone blocking scheme.
7. Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Already a favorite amongst drafniks, Adderley cemented his status as the top small school prospect in this class. An athletic free safety who might also be able to see action at cornerback, Adderley had a terrific week in Mobile. Level of competition is always a concern for players with non-Division I backgrounds but Adderley absolutely proved that he belonged. Adderley didn’t just treat water either, he excelled and made an impact. I was also very unimpressed that Adderley was named a team captain for the game. For an FCS prospect to earn that kind of respect at an event like this really says something about Adderley. Expect Adderley to be among the first safeties off the board in late-April, somewhere late on Day 1 or early on Day 2.
6. Renell Wren, DT, Arizona St.
Wren is one of this year’s most physically talented prospects and if he can continue to perform like he did in Mobile the sky is the limit. Checking in at 6-4 1/2 and 315 pounds, which he carries extremely well, Wren looks every bit the part. He’s also a fantastic athlete with a rare blend of strength and athleticism. Unfortunately those freakish tools haven’t always translated into on-field production, with an underwhelming 3.0 career sacks. Wren played like a man possessed this week though, proving dominant at times and even drawing double-teams in practice. Wren may be a classic Boom or Bust type but is so gifted that some team will probably roll the dice on Day 2.
5. Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama St.
A former prep quarterback and walk-on tight end, Howard has put on more than 100 pounds since high school and now weighs in at a massive 6-5 and 322 pounds with long arms and huge hands. Howard has maintained his athleticism though, with uncommon mobility for such a large human being. It was clear throughout the week that Howard is still rough around the edges, but his immense upside was also very apparent. Especially when you take into account the high-quality pass rushers he was matching up against in both the practices and game. Last year a Senior Bowl appearance helped propel Brandon Parker of North Carolina A&T into the third round. Howard may not come off the board that early but figures to be one of the most talented blockers available on late Day 2 or early Day 3.
4. Penny Hart, WR, Georgia St.
For the smallest player in town (5-8) Hart managed to make a big impression. On the first day of practices Andy Isabella of UMass was the slot prospect generating the most buzz, but by the end of the week it was Hart. An explosive athlete with outstanding quickness, Hart is also a very good route runner who knows how to get open. That skill set profiles as a perfect fit for the slot, where Hart can be a nightmare to cover on two-way go’s. It’s going to be difficult for Hart to come off the board before Day 3 due to that lack of size. This strong showing in Mobile should now ensure he is selected though, perhaps as early as the middle rounds.
3. Terrill Hanks, OLB, New Mexico St.
Fast, athletic linebackers with range are en vogue these days so Hanks is coming along at the perfect time. Hanks is a former safety but has bulked up to 234 pounds while maintaining that speed and coverage ability. Don’t assume Hanks is soft though because he’s ready and willing to hit, with explosive pop as a tackler. The NFL is a copycat league and a lot of teams are going to be searching for their own Darius Leonard after the incredible rookie season he just had for the Colts. Hanks wasn’t quite as impressive in Mobile as Leonard was last year, but don’t be surprised if he also comes off the board earlier than expected on Day 2.
2. Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio St.
I owe McLaurin an apology because I had severely underrated him prior to this week. In my defense, I’m not the only one as most considered considered McLaurin to be somewhat of an afterthought. It didn’t take long for McLaurin to show us how wrong we were, making an impact from the first practice all the way through the game. There is a lot to like about McLaurin, starting with a 6-0, 205 pound frame and 4.4 speed that helped him average over 20 yards per catch and haul in 11 touchdowns as a senior. That only begins to tell the story though. McLaurin is also an outstanding gunner on special teams and according to Urban Meyer one of the hardest workers he’s ever coached. That mix of physical tools, intangibles and special teams prowess could lead to McLaurin being selected early on Day 3.
1. Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
Dominant. That is the only way to describe Sanders’ performance in Mobile. Saunders simply could not be blocked all week long, consistently wreaking havoc in the backfield. Especially on gameday, when he was arguably as impressive as anyone on the field. Saunders doesn’t have great length but is an explosive athlete despite weighing in at 320 pounds, as evidenced by his ability to do a backflip. Saunders notched 34.5 tackles for a loss and 18.0 sacks during his career with the Leathernecks and proved in Mobile that his game will translate against better competition. Last year Nathan Shepherd, another small school defensive tackle, parlayed a great Senior Bowl showing into a spot in the the third round. Saunders was easily more impressive than Sheperd.