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Ten NFL draft prospects with most to prove at Senior Bowl

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Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports
North Dakota State's Carson Wentz is rated among the top QB prospects in this year's draft.

The Reese's Senior Bowl has always been viewed as the crown jewel of the college all-star game season. NFL scouts and coaches will descend upon Mobile, Ala., the site of practices and the game, to see if the top prospects in the 2016 draft can validate their standing on the draft board with a strong performance on the practice field throughout the week and in the game, which will be broadcast live exclusively on NFL Network (Jan. 30, 2 p.m. ET). In addition, scouts will spend significant time peppering some prospects with questions to eliminate any character concerns that could impact their draft chances. With the practices slated to start on Tuesday, here are 10 prospects with the most to prove this week:

Date: Saturday, Jan. 30
Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network


2016 Reese's Senior Bowl coverage:

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Carson Wentz, North Dakota State, QB: The buzz is building around Wentz's potential to emerge as the draft's top prospect at quarterback. The 6-foot-6, 230-pounder displays all of the tools scouts covet in a franchise quarterback (size, athleticism, A-plus arm talent, leadership skills and winning pedigree), but the small-school standout must convince evaluators that he can step up his game against elite competition. Moreover, Wentz needs to show coaches that he can quickly learn a pro-style offense and thrive in a scheme that requires him to make full-field reads and progressions from the pocket. Although he played in a system that featured some advanced passing-game concepts, Wentz's performance as the director of the North team's offense this week could determine the pecking order of the quarterbacks on draft day.

Braxton Miller, Ohio State, WR: Scouts are anxious to see how Miller adapts to running routes in a pro system. The ultra-talented playmaker made tremendous progress as a receiver in his first season at the position after moving from quarterback. Keep an eye on whether he can master the nuances of the position -- it could determine whether he cracks the top 50 picks on draft day.

Kyler Fackrell, Utah State, OLB: As one of the few experienced hybrids in the 2016 class, Fackrell offers an intriguing mix of rush skills and disruptive playmaking ability off the edge. However, scouts will want to see if the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder has the athleticism to drop into coverage or create chaos as a "sideline-to-sideline" defender in a 4-3 scheme.

Adolphus Washington, Ohio State, DT: There is no disputing his potential as a disruptive interior defender, yet scouts are more concerned with his character after a solicitation charge led to a team-imposed suspension that prematurely ended his collegiate career. Washington pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge last week. Thus, Washington will need to score major points in interviews to get scouts to redirect their attention back to his on-field exploits.

2016 NFL DRAFT

Draft coverage:

Dak Prescott, Mississippi State, QB: The questions surrounding the 2016 quarterback class have scouts looking for quality options that could be available in later rounds. Prescott has impressed evaluators with his leadership skills and football IQ, but questions persist about his ability to thrive in a pro-style passing game. With a week to show scouts that he can make every throw in the book with timing and precision, Prescott has a chance to shoot up the charts with a strong performance in Mobile.

Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky, DE: The ex-Ohio State standout will have an opportunity to show scouts that his production as a small-school standout at Eastern Kentucky is legit by dominating elite competition at the Senior Bowl. Most importantly, Spence must address concerns about his character when scouts press him about his ban from the Big Ten. Although he has seemingly moved beyond the issues that led to his ban, evaluators will want to know more about his background before falling in love with his talent and potential.

Jarran Reed, Alabama, DT: Despite being a key contributor on the Crimson Tide's star-studded defense, Reed seemingly lives in the shadow of his well-known teammates. Given a chance to dominate elite competition in one-on-one and team drills this week, Reed can make a move up the charts as a disruptive interior defender with "three-down" potential.

Brandon Allen, Arkansas, QB: The Arkansas standout has piqued the interest of scouts looking for a sleeper at the position. Allen thrived as a pocket passer in Arkansas' traditional system, but coaches will closely monitor how well he adapts to running a pro-style scheme surrounded by elite playmakers.

Bryce Williams, East Carolina, TE: The recent success of long, rangy tight ends with receiver-like athleticism has helped Williams garner significant interest as a hybrid playmaker. The ECU standout is capable of making plays on the perimeter, but questions persist about his ability to block stout defenders on the edges. While some NFL teams will covet his skills as a stand-up pass-catcher, Williams can enhance his draft chances by displaying a solid overall game in practices this week.

Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech, RB: At a time when running backs are seemingly devalued, scouts are always searching for playmakers capable of making explosive gains as a runner or receiver out of the backfield. However, Dixon must prove to coaches that he possesses the strength, toughness and grit to hold up in pass protection. With a number of fierce pass rushers dotting both rosters, the Louisiana Tech star will get plenty of opportunities to show off his skills as a blocker.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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