|Mike Stone / Associated Press|
|North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz's small-school status hasn't hurt his draft stock.|
MOBILE, Ala. -- Carson Wentz hasn't yet thrown a pass in a Reese's Senior Bowl practice, but the excitement surrounding the 2016 NFL Draft's most prolific small-school prospect is palpable. Senior Bowl director Phil Savage said the buzz on Wentz, the quarterback from North Dakota State, is that he could be a top-10 pick in the draft.
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"With Carson Wentz, most of the scouts I talked to during the year probably thought he was worthy of second-round consideration. But a second-round grade in September is a high grade for a small school. As the fall progressed, then it became, 'Well, no he's more of a first-rounder'," Savage said. "And within the last two weeks, I had two phone calls from (NFL personnel) friends of mine saying that Wentz isn't just a first-rounder, he's going in the 10, so there's a real buzz about him."
Wentz, for his part, said he isn't concerned about any draft projections and is focusing on his upcoming week working with Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and the rest of the Cowboys staff, which will coach the North squad. He had already met, by his own estimation, with half the clubs in the NFL by the time he spoke at the Senior Bowl's opening news conference.
"Whatever projections might be out there in mock drafts, it's irrelevant to me," Wentz said.
Wentz himself, by contrast, is looking awfully relevant.
Here are four other things we learned Monday at the Senior Bowl:
2. Ragland working outside. Alabama LB Reggie Ragland will play some outside linebacker this week rather than the inside position that made him one of college football's dominant defenders, giving him a better chance to show NFL scouts his ability to play in space and on the perimeter. Ragland met with multiple clubs Sunday night, including the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and others. Multiple Oakland Raiders scouts spoke with Ragland at length.
3. The deep end. The Senior Bowl not only has some marquee talent projected for the first round of the draft, like Wentz and Ragland, but is stronger at the end of the roster, as well.
"I think this group has a lot more depth throughout the whole roster," Savage said. "There's not a single guy here who isn't worthy of a serious evaluation. There's no one here that someone's going to roll their eyes and say, 'eh, I've already graded him, he's not good enough.' There's not a single player here like that."
4. Chatterbox. Multiple Houston Texans scouts met Sunday with Louisiana Tech DL Vernon Butler, one of the draft's most intriguing sleeper prospects. ... Other discussions included Baylor WR Jay Lee with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Georgia OL John Theus with the Houston Texans, and William & Mary DB DeAndre Houston-Carson with the Indianapolis Colts.
5. Reed ready for any scheme. Savage said he believes Alabama DL Jarran Reed can play in any defense, whether as a 4-3 tackle, a 3-4 end, or a 3-4 nose guard. That could help solidify Reed's draft stock, because prospects who are scheme-challenged are more at risk to tumble in the draft during a run of picks by teams less interested due to scheme concerns. Reed (6-4, 313) anchored the Crimson Tide's national championship run defense with 56 stops, playing inside in both 3-4 and four-down looks.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.