Senior Bowl: NFL prospects who helped, hurt their draft stock in Mobile
MOBILE, Ala. — More than 100 of the best NFL prospects traveled to south Alabama this week with one goal in mind: Build on their draft stock.
The Senior Bowl — referenced as the first event in the months-long draft process — is more about the one-on-one drills in practice and team interviews during the week than the actual game itself.
While the majority of NFL personnel didn’t stick around for Saturday’s action-packed Senior Bowl, where Ken Whisenhunt’s North team poured it on 34-13, some players maximized their opportunities on game day.
Which players made themselves the most money this week? FOXSports.com offers up a list of players who helped and hurt their respective draft stocks:
Northern Iowa RB David Johnson: One small-school prospect who flashed all week was Johnson. Johnson, whose 6-foot-1, 224-pound frame resembles Darren McFadden, is an upright runner and put his patience and burst on display. Winning the most outstanding running back award over notable players like Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford speaks for itself. Johnson coupled his strong week with a very solid performance in the game, including an impressive 19-yard touchdown run.
Delaware TE Nick Boyle: Needing to turn some heads this week, Boyle did just that. The 6-foot-4, 267-pound target looked to prove he could hang with the nation’s elite and he did so. Boyle appeared to be well-rounded as a blocker and effective downfield pass catcher. While Miami tight end Clive Walford looks to be more of the prototype NFL teams look for, it was Boyle who had one NFC tight ends coach intrigued the most. Boyle put his athleticism on display, hurdling a defender in the first quarter of Saturday’s game.
Oregon State CB Steven Nelson: Don’t be fooled by Nelson’s small frame. Nelson’s combination of instincts, speed and toughness made him a tough matchup for wide receivers all week. Nelson was all over the field in limited play in Saturday’s game with three pass breakups and three tackles.
Iowa DT Carl Davis: The buzz all week was about Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton, but it was Davis who left a lasting impression. While Davis didn’t necessarily fill up the stat sheet, he consistently pushed the pocket and showed the ability to get to the quarterback. Finishing as the Senior Bowl’s most outstanding practice player, Davis’ draft stock is certainly on the upswing.
LSU OT Lael Collins: Although Collins still has a chance to be the first player drafted from the crop of players who participated in Mobile, a few holes were exposed in his game. One personnel exec noted that Collins’ technique needs work as he has a tendency to overreach and stop his feet when he gets his hands on defenders. Collins, who practiced at both guard and tackle this week, has the versatility and athleticism NFL teams covet, but certainly could be more polished.
Baylor QB Bryce Petty: The strong-armed quarterback announced himself as the No. 1 quarterback in the draft this week. However, inefficiencies in Petty’s game have emerged. Petty did his best to shed the label of a "system quarterback" but struggled under center and made questionable decisions with his throws. "If you take away [Petty’s] first read he gets out of his comfort zone and tends to make mistakes," one AFC scout told FOXSports.com. Petty’s performance in Saturday’s game included overthrowing a wide-open East Carolina’s Justin Hardy and throwing in tight coverage to TCU’s Kevin White, who intercepted the pass. Petty fell short in his opportunity to enter his name among the conversation for third quarterback selected in the draft, assuming Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota lead the pack.
Auburn WR Sammie Coates: There’s no denying Coates’ potential. His freakish blend of size and speed are very evident, but his skillset is somewhat limited. One AFC scout explained that when evaluating wide receivers the most important traits are a player who has good timing, runs crisp routes and has reliable hands. Coates can get better in each of those departments. While the 6-foot-2, 220-pound wide receiver shows flashes of brilliance, he left plenty of plays on the field. To make matters worse, Coates tweaked his groin in the first half causing him to be sidelined for the remainder of the game.
Pittsburgh OT T.J. Clemmings: Clemmings came into this week garnering a lot of praise, but inconsistent play has slowed down that talk. While Clemmings’ 85-inch is reminiscent of Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith, he got beat badly during the week and had some leaving with more questions than answers.