CFB 24/7: Path to the Draft  

 

Senior Bowl talent level down, but could feature six 1st-rounders

Last year's Reese's Senior Bowl class produced a whopping 10 first-rounders, three top-five selections and the No. 1 overall pick. This year's crop won't come close to approaching those impressive feats. There are three reasons for the drop-off in talent at the nation's premier college all-star game.

1. Injuries forced many top prospects to pass on the Senior Bowl: Top talents like Michigan OT Taylor Lewan and UCLA LB Anthony Barr were among the 19 invited players that weren't healthy enough to participate.

2. Nine invited prospects made a "business" decision to stay at home: Alabama QB AJ McCarron made headlines prior to the week when he announced he would pass on the Senior Bowl opportunity on the advice of his agent. He wasn't the only player to make that choice. Top prospects C.J. Mosley and Khalil Mack were among the other healthy prospects that elected to pass on the Senior Bowl experience.

3. The upcoming draft will feature a record number of underclassmen: This Senior Bowl crop will be competing for draft positioning with one of the most talented underclassmen groups we've seen in a few years.

Potential first-rounders

While there likely won't be any top-10 picks to emerge from this year's game, I wouldn't be surprised if six players heard their name called in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft.

1. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame: He was outstanding all week long. He has enough athleticism to play tackle, but he has Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

2. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: His combination of quickness and power was a matchup nightmare for opposing offensive lineman. He doesn't have ideal size, but he held up well in the team and run periods.

3. Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia: He has ideal size and quick feet. He's not a great knee bender, but he held up well in 1-on-1 pass-rush drills. He creates a lot of space in the run game.

NFL Exposure

Recent Senior Bowl MVPs

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.

4. Ra'Shede Hagemen, DT, Minnesota: He had an up-and-down week, but he flashed enough to keep his name in the first-round conversation. He's a size/speed freak with a huge upside.

5. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: He was the best quarterback in Mobile, and teams that met with him really like what they heard. He has a big arm and he was accurate throughout the week.

6. Dee Ford, DE, Auburn: He was the most explosive edge rusher throughout the week. Most teams I've spoken with have him rated as a second-round prospect, but I wouldn't be surprised if he snuck into the bottom of the first round because of his pass-rush skills.

Odds and ends

Best position group: Offensive line

Worst position group: Running back

Stock on the rise: Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State

Stock on the decline: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor

Wildcard player: Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami

Final thought

The Jacksonville Jaguars haven't had much to cheer about over the last few years. I believe that's going to change in the very near future. It was a pleasure to watch Gus Bradley coach during the week of practice. His enthusiasm is contagious, and he never stopped teaching from the first whistle of practice to the final horn. They have the right coach in place. Now it's up to GM David Caldwell to solve the quarterback situation. I really believe this team is headed in the right direction.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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