CFB 24/7  


Brandt: 5 under-the-radar prospects at the Senior Bowl

Nati Harnik/Associated Press
Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste has a chance to make himself some money during Senior Bowl week.

I came out with my top 50 NFL prospects last week and a good number of them come from the 98 underclassmen who left school early to enter the 2014 draft.

There are some very good senior prospects on the list as well, many who are participating at this week's Reese's Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala., like Fresno State QB Derek Carr and Oklahoma CB Aaron Colvin.

Does being named Senior Bowl MVP lead to success in the NFL? You be the judge as we take a look back at the most recent Senior Bowl MVPs.

Here are five very good players that didn't make my top 50 but are worth keeping an eye on this week at the Senior Bowl, and who could help their draft stock with good showings:

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, DB, Nebraska

Jean-Baptiste has rare size (6-foot-2 3/8, 215); he looks like a clone of Richard Sherman. I'm sure the Seahawks, among most NFL teams, will be paying close attention to this player. He's a junior-college transfer who only played cornerback for a season and a half at Nebraska after switching from wide receiver in 2011. Has very long arms (78 3/8 wingspan) and is a willing tackler. Looks fast in coverage and has quickness. If he looks like he can cover in man drills this week, he might move up into my top 100. Smart player who entered 2013 with his degree already in hand.

Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

Most of the attention on the Vols' offensive line went to massive LT Antonio Richardson, but Tennessee has another good NFL prospect on the other side of the line. At 6-6 1/8 and 315 pounds, James will be hard to miss at the Senior Bowl. He holds the school record for most starts by an offensive lineman (49, all at right tackle), including 13 games as a true freshman. He reminds me of Titans RT David Stewart when Stewart came out of Mississippi State in 2005; has similar traits. He's strong but doesn't have great feet (would have difficult time at LT). He's mean and tough. Did good job on Jadeveon Clowney when the South Carolina defensive end lined up on James' side. Good run-blocker. Could find his way into the third round with a good showing this week.

Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia

Sims will be the best running back at the Senior Bowl. He's well-built at 5-11 7/8 and 214 pounds, and has run the 40 in 4.46 seconds. He can run and catch as well as any back in the draft. After four years at Houston, he transferred to West Virginia in 2013, but WVU's offensive line didn't allow him to showcase his skills much, so he enters the draft process as a bit of a sleeper. I still can't figure out why he came back for a fifth year. He reminds me some of the Bengals' Giovani Bernard. He's most likely a third-day choice at this point, but a good Senior Bowl will turn heads; problem is, it's difficult for running backs to show skills and have good statistics in all-star games.

Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina

Some believe Martin (6-5 7/8, 272) should have entered the 2013 draft after receiving a grade from the draft advisory board that indicated he could be taken in the first two rounds. I think he made a good choice; a good week at the Senior Bowl could move him to the top of the second. He finished his senior season with big production (11.5 sacks and his 21.5 tackles for loss were the fifth-most in NCAA in 2013). Has very good pass-rush skills and possesses the traits (4.85 40 and very athletic) NFL teams look for in a 4-3 defensive end. As a four-year starter in a top program, Martin has more experience than most at his position in this draft. He needs to get stronger. Good character. Massive wingspan (84 1/4).

Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU

BYU coaches I've talked to rave about this player. He's an outside linebacker with pass-rush and coverage skills. He's an outstanding blitzer off the edge. He finished his junior season with 13 sacks (Ziggy Ansah helped free him up) and 2013 with 17.5 tackles for loss. Moves well. Solid player who should go late in second round, but could move up with a good week at the Senior Bowl. Measured 6-foot-3 1/4 and 244 pounds at Senior Bowl.

Follow Gil Brandt on Twitter @Gil_Brandt.



The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop