With the all-star games in the books, it is time to reflect on the biggest risers and fallers from the past few weeks due to the practices and games. This is far from an exhaustive list, but NFL teams will look at how prospects stack up in taking coaching and performing against their peers. Players below may have risen from undrafted to drafted or are now getting Top 100 (or even Round 1) buzz.
In most cases, all-star games will help a lot more stocks than they will hurt. Putting anyone on the stock down list sans injury is extremely difficult because it is easy to stand out in a positive way!
Holton Ahlers, QB, ECU
NFLPA & Hula Bowl
It is a rarity each year for QBs to play in multiple all-star games, and even more rare for that QB to shine in both. Ahlers was named the Player Of The Game for the Hula Bowl AND MVP for the Shrine Bowl game. Adapting quickly each week and showing decisiveness, Ahlers had some great practices immediately and established himself as the best looking QB of both weeks. This carried over to the games where Ahlers flashed NFL zip in the short and medium range with great arm angles. He may not get drafted, but has turned into a real priority free agent.
Scott Matlock, DL, Boise State
NFLPA & Shrine Bowl
Not a household name at this point, Matlock was dominant during the NFLPA practices in “The Pit” attacking opposing OL with strength and leverage. He made some big plays in the NFLPA Bowl game as well with a big sack and a few pass rushes that shaped the game. Getting the call up to the Shrine Bowl was also big. Matlock had a solid week at the Shrine as well, moving him into possibly getting drafted.
Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
AT Perry, WR, Wake Forest
The Shrine WRs shined as a group, but Flowers and Perry helped themselves the most.
Flowers eas expected. A potential first round pick, he was on another level talent wise from the Shrine DBs and made it known. His quickness and deep speed showed in practice consistently. Though he did not participate in the game, Flowers was the big name at the game and might even pass some of the more popular WRs in the draft ahead of him.
Perry had a ton of production at Wake Forest, but he was underlined on my list to watch at the Shrine. Could the big WR get separation? Coming in at 6’3 ⅜ and 195 pounds was intriguing after having been listed at 205. But, a leaner Perry showed new burst and explosion off the line. His lanky frame made contested catches and he got more open. In the game, Perry almost snagged a one-handed grab. His stock is up as a likely Top 100 pick.
Jose Ramirez, EDGE, Eastern Michigan
Ramirez isn’t a big name, but he showed out for those that didn’t watch the MAC this year. At 6’1 ⅞ and 249 pounds, Ramirez sported 33 ¼ inch arms with the length to help him win. He is physical with a nice rip move off the edge to rush the passer, and has the size to lay the lumber. Not only was he making OTs look silly in practice, but in the game, Ramirez had a big strip sack showcasing his rip and bend. He was living in the back field all game and might be rising more and more as the offseason goes on.
Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane
Usually Senior Bowl practices don’t showcase RBs very often, but Spears has left Mobile as the talk of the week. The explosive RB was always a big producer and showcased his NFL ability against Southern Cal in the Cotton Bowl. He continued that into Senior Bowl week showcasing his burst, explosion and shiftiness in space in 11-on-11s. Spears showcased route running ability in practice as well. Coming in at 205 pounds at the weigh-in certainly helped Spears who was thought to be undersized, but cleared the weight threshold too. A likely Day 2 selection now, Spears as a big stock up.
Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford
If you had told me Wilson would be the buzzy WR coming out of Senior Bowl week, I would have called you crazy. But, Wilson’s size and footwork in routes made him almost uncoverable. Wilson’s catch radius is pretty large, and he is a technique hands catcher through and through. Despite not a ton of production at Stanford, Wilson flashed starting upside at the Senior Bowl. He even performed great in the game, coming back to an underthrown ball for a TD reception. He may start pushing for Day 2 buzz if he shows out at the Combine.
Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
A 255 pound TE hitting 20.05 mph during Senior Bowl practices is eye popping. With the 8th fastest play out of all the Senior Bowl, Musgrave showed his dominant athleticism in 11-on-11s. He was difficult to cover for safeties and LBs in full team practices, and despite only playing two games this season, Musgrave may be pushing Top 50 draft capital. With the upside of a Travis Kelce type, Musgrave is on the rise.
McClendon Curtis, iOL, Chattanooga
Small school players are always on my radar, and none impressed more than Curtis this week. The FCS product matched up from the get go with some big defenders. Curtis has such a strong base that he is tough to move backwards, even against great technique and leverage. At guard in the game, Curtis was great, though he had some struggles at OT. Flashing talent both in run blocking and pass blocking, Curtis has NFL starter upside and may even be able to plug in as a rookie.
Keeanu Benton, DL, Wisconsin
Maybe the most dominant Senior Bowl performance came from Benton who was absolutely unstoppable in 1-on-1s. The leverage Benton utilized was so low and consistent that even the most talented linemen like Jarrett Patterson and Olusegun Oluwatimi. Benton’s hand usage and ability to explode past linemen helps his pass rush, but he can stand up to the run as well. Would the first round be too high? Perhaps, but Benton could continue his buzz with a good offseason.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, EDGE, Northwestern
The old school word to describe Adebawore is “tweener”. As the NFL embraces guys who are talented but don’t fit into a perfect NFL position, Adebawore could fit right in to the current narrative. Off the edge, he was working with an excellent bend that seemed to bypass the OL before they could get a hand on him. There is some upper body strength there too as Adebawore bull rushed numerous OTs who outclassed his weight. Maybe a stand up pass rusher or even a weakside backer, a creative defense could score big with Adebawore who is moving up into the Early Day 3 range.
Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
Bigger CBs are always at a disadvantage at Senior Bowl practices as small, speedy WRs can beat them on routes without press. Rush had a few reps where he got beat, but his impressive ball skills were on display. Maybe the first time I’ve seen a 1-on-1 interception in back to back days, Rush plays the ball and looks to make the play. This lines up with his film where QBs picked on Rush but he often made them pay. As a long, lengthy, instinctual CB, Rush will be in demand on draft as a potential Day 2 pick.
Almost all the Quarterbacks
Other than Holton Ahlers mentioned before, the QBs all around were a disappointment. Of course, the top 5 in this class weren’t participating in all-star games (outside of Hendon Hooker being at the Senior Bowl, but unable to practice). But no one else really shined enough to firm themselves as a Day 2 QBs. Even with someone like Jake Haener winning Senior Bowl MVP, it wasn’t the greatest week (or even game) for him. It is disappointing (and showed up in the games themselves) as QBs struggled with decision making and hitting NFL throws consistently.
Tavion Thomas, RB, Utah
Coming in at 247 pounds itself was pretty eye popping for Thomas right off the bat. He didn’t appear to play near that when he had a tremendous 2021 campaign, and was relegated to a platoon role this past year. In the drills, the weight weighed on Thomas who didn’t show the quickness and footwork needed for the NFL. He did have some nice runs in the game, but there isn’t a position for him in the league.
Andre Carter, EDGE, Army
With plenty of first round buzz during the season, Carter was poised to be a riser as a dominant pass rusher with plenty of production. But, a late season drop off and offseason drama involving Congress seems to stall his progress to rising up draft boards. The Senior Bowl was going to be a big opportunity for Carter to show his stuff, but coming in at 252 pounds at over 6’6 and lacking the strength to win in “The Pit” was not great for him. Ultimately, Carter is still a great prospect and a Top 100 pick, but he is not the first rounder initially thought of.
Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
Duncan was considered a first round pick for much of the season, but some rough games late in the year had many questioning. He came into the weigh-in at only 298 pounds, and the lack of weight showed in his inability to handle bull rushers in practice. The athleticism is there for Duncan, but he is much more raw than first thought. His hand usage and balance were all over the place in practice, and despite improving throughout the week, he may be falling more to late Day 2/early Day 3.