The 2015 Senior Bowl is almost upon us and that means scouting departments across the NFL are preparing to evaluate many of the 110 players heading to Mobile, Alabama, site of the Senior Bowl, beginning on Monday.
These players, who were hand-picked by the suggestions of NFL personnel men, scouts and evaluators, will have a week's worth of practice to impress the decision-makers that will ultimately choose whether to bring them into their organization, whether it be via the draft or as a free agent if they aren't selected later this spring.
"This is an opportunity for a player to have a team fall in love with him," Bleacher Report's Matt Miller explained. "I think it's a good time to show teams what you're really about, your work ethic, how coachable you are, where are you at on Monday and then where are you at on Saturday.
"There's definitely a lot that a player can do, not just during the drills and during practice, but with the meetings and how they interact with the coaches."
Miller, who is currently the NFL Draft Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, shared a few positional groups and players he's looking forward to watching next week at the Senior Bowl.
"I think the pass rushers," Miller said. "The guys playing defensive end really stand out. Whether that's a 3-4 defensive end like Henry Anderson at Stanford, or the guys that are going to stand out like Bud Dupree from Kentucky, who might be a top 15 pick. Nate Orchard at Utah had a really good season and could be a late first-round pick as well.
"Hau'oli Kikaha from Washington is a similar guy as long as injuries check up there. He's had two torn ACLs so he's kind of an interesting guy. The pass rushers are definitely the group that stands out."
On the offensive side of the ball, Miller likes some of the wide receivers who will compete next week.
"Kevin White out of West Virginia is definitely someone to watch," Miller explained. "He can make huge plays for you down the field and can create separation. I think [Auburn's] Sammy Coates is intriguing because he has the speed, burst and athleticism. Devin Smith at Ohio State has great speed down the field and really good hands.
"There are definitely receivers at the Senior Bowl who you would think could step in right away to an NFL team and make a contribution."
Staying on the offensive side of the ball, there have been several offensive linemen who have performed well in Mobile over the past few Senior Bowls that have been selected high in the draft.
Two years ago, the Chiefs selected Eric Fisher No. 1 overall. Last year, the Dallas Cowboys used the No. 16 overall pick on Zack Martin, who was just named an All-Pro after a stellar rookie season.
Both of those players performed well at the Senior Bowl in their respective years, and Miller is intrigued by a few guys he'll see next week.
"I really like the tackle class this year, even with Cedric Ogbuehi from Texas A&M tearing his ACL," Miller said. "La'El Collins from LSU, he's my top tackle going down there. I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes a top ten pick next week with the talent he has.
Some players to watch at the upcoming Senior Bowl
"Late first round, I think you start to look at T.J. Clemmings from Pittsburgh, who was a really good basketball player in high school and has a really strong punch. Ty Sambrailo from Colorado State is another really good athlete. So those two guys are neck and neck for me as potential first rounder's who can make some money at the Senior Bowl."
There are also a couple of local guys participating with Kansas State's Tyler Lockett and Kansas' JaCorey Shepherd.
Lockett, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound playmaker, became the first four-time All-American in K-State history this season. He also became K-State's all-time leading receiver and broke 17 different school records, including the career marks for receptions, yards receiving, touchdowns receiving, 100-yard receiving games, kickoff-return attempts and kickoff-return yards.
"I like is his deep-threat ability," Miller said of Lockett. "I think the big thing is how well is he going to transition to the NFL. I think it's a deep receiver class and he definitely has some things to like about him."
These are just a few of the players Miller likes who are heading down to the Senior Bowl next week.
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