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Published: Jan. 23, 2017 at 09:27 a.m.

Top 15 prospects playing in 2017 Senior Bowl

In last year's draft, 17 2016 Reese's Senior Bowl participants were selected in the first two rounds, four in the first round and 13 in the second round. To preview this year's Senior Bowl, which will be broadcast exclusively by NFL Network (Jan. 28, 2:30 p.m. ET) from Mobile, Ala., I've listed 15 Senior Bowlers with a chance to be picked in Rounds 1 or 2 if all goes well for them between now and late April. The players are ranked in order of how I currently project them to be drafted, from lowest to highest.

15 Photos Total

  • South Alabama plays its home games at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, the site of the Senior Bowl, so Everett will feel right at home during practices. Everett wasn't invited just because he happened to be in town, though. He might be the smoothest tight end off the line in the class, and has a chance to show scouts in Mobile that he can catch the ball against physical linebackers and defensive backs. A great week at the Senior Bowl and good performance at the NFL Scouting Combine next month might push him into the top 50 picks. 15

    Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

    15. Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama

    South Alabama plays its home games at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, the site of the Senior Bowl, so Everett will feel right at home during practices. Everett wasn't invited just because he happened to be in town, though. He might be the smoothest tight end off the line in the class, and has a chance to show scouts in Mobile that he can catch the ball against physical linebackers and defensive backs. A great week at the Senior Bowl and good performance at the NFL Scouting Combine next month might push him into the top 50 picks.

  • Smoot possesses one of the quicker first steps off the line that you'll see from prospects in this draft, but consistency was an issue for him at Illinois. If he shows off that trait throughout the week of practice in Mobile, defensive line coaches league-wide will have interest in molding his talent. 14

    BRADLEY LEEB/Associated Press

    14. Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois

    Smoot possesses one of the quicker first steps off the line that you'll see from prospects in this draft, but consistency was an issue for him at Illinois. If he shows off that trait throughout the week of practice in Mobile, defensive line coaches league-wide will have interest in molding his talent.

  • The most prolific pass-catcher in FCS history is no plodding possession receiver. He can be used on slants and crossers to move the chains, to be sure, but Kupp is also quick enough to flow through traffic on screens and get deep down the sideline or seam. 13

    James Snook/USA TODAY Sports

    13. Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington

    The most prolific pass-catcher in FCS history is no plodding possession receiver. He can be used on slants and crossers to move the chains, to be sure, but Kupp is also quick enough to flow through traffic on screens and get deep down the sideline or seam.

  • In a class that is loaded with talent at the safety position, Evans might get a bit lost on draft boards. He's flashed the ability to cover a lot of ground in front of him and be physical when he arrives at the ball. If he's fluid in covering the back half, as well, teams will take note. 12

    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    12. Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M

    In a class that is loaded with talent at the safety position, Evans might get a bit lost on draft boards. He's flashed the ability to cover a lot of ground in front of him and be physical when he arrives at the ball. If he's fluid in covering the back half, as well, teams will take note.

  • Willis is a thick-bodied strong-side end who will give 100 percent effort on every rep. It won't be a surprise when he out-muscles and out-hustles any right tackles put in front of him during practice (or the game). If he shows the ability to quickly change directions in space, scouts will be even more intrigued. 11

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    11. Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State

    Willis is a thick-bodied strong-side end who will give 100 percent effort on every rep. It won't be a surprise when he out-muscles and out-hustles any right tackles put in front of him during practice (or the game). If he shows the ability to quickly change directions in space, scouts will be even more intrigued.

  • The Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year will face a few big receivers in Mobile, though scouts won't see him against an elite prospect. His lack of size will affect his draft status, but anyone he's covered will tell you not to underestimate the size of the fight in Lewis. 10

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    10. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan

    The Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year will face a few big receivers in Mobile, though scouts won't see him against an elite prospect. His lack of size will affect his draft status, but anyone he's covered will tell you not to underestimate the size of the fight in Lewis.

  • Overlooked a bit on Clemson's road to a national title because of the team's stars on offense, Watkins led the team in tackles for loss and sacks. He has power and quickness off the snap, making him a potential draft steal if he slides into the late stages of Round 1. 9

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    9. Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

    Overlooked a bit on Clemson's road to a national title because of the team's stars on offense, Watkins led the team in tackles for loss and sacks. He has power and quickness off the snap, making him a potential draft steal if he slides into the late stages of Round 1.

  • If Kpassagnon played in the SEC, everyone would already know how to pronounce his last name (pass-N-yo). He's listed 6-foot-7, 275 pounds and dominated against FCS competition in 2016, using his supreme length and natural bend. Playing well in Mobile against major-program prospects could put him into the top 50, and maybe even the first round. 8

    Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

    8. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

    If Kpassagnon played in the SEC, everyone would already know how to pronounce his last name (pass-N-yo). He's listed 6-foot-7, 275 pounds and dominated against FCS competition in 2016, using his supreme length and natural bend. Playing well in Mobile against major-program prospects could put him into the top 50, and maybe even the first round.

  • Adams is the most active defensive tackle in the class outside of Alabama's Jonathan Allen. I suspect he'll do well in one-on-one drills, as well as in traffic during scrimmages and Saturday's game. 7

    Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports

    7. Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn

    Adams is the most active defensive tackle in the class outside of Alabama's Jonathan Allen. I suspect he'll do well in one-on-one drills, as well as in traffic during scrimmages and Saturday's game.

  • King is projected as a cornerback by some and a safety by others. Either way, he's a ballhawk who plays with the toughness required in today's NFL. His abilty to run with faster receivers during Senior Bowl practices might help general managers decide where to place him on their draft boards. 6

    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    6. Desmond King, CB, Iowa

    King is projected as a cornerback by some and a safety by others. Either way, he's a ballhawk who plays with the toughness required in today's NFL. His abilty to run with faster receivers during Senior Bowl practices might help general managers decide where to place him on their draft boards.

  • Garcia would have been a four-year starter at Troy (only a 2 and a half hour drive from Mobile) had an injury not shortened his redshirt freshman season. Tall and athletic, Garcia's length and agility make it very difficult to best him when in pass protection. As he grows stronger, he'll be even better sticking on his blocks in the run game. In a draft class without great tackle depth, he'll be a top-50 selection. 5

    Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

    5. Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy

    Garcia would have been a four-year starter at Troy (only a 2 and a half hour drive from Mobile) had an injury not shortened his redshirt freshman season. Tall and athletic, Garcia's length and agility make it very difficult to best him when in pass protection. As he grows stronger, he'll be even better sticking on his blocks in the run game. In a draft class without great tackle depth, he'll be a top-50 selection.

  • The only question is whether Feeney will be a late first- or early second-round pick. Controlling the very talented defensive tackles appearing in Mobile next week could cement a first-round spot for him. 4

    Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports

    4. Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana

    The only question is whether Feeney will be a late first- or early second-round pick. Controlling the very talented defensive tackles appearing in Mobile next week could cement a first-round spot for him.

  • Teams already know what they're getting in Anderson: A strong, technically sound, athletic and hustling 'backer who will be a longtime starter in the league. 3

    Ric Tapia/Associated Press

    3. Ryan Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

    Teams already know what they're getting in Anderson: A strong, technically sound, athletic and hustling 'backer who will be a longtime starter in the league.

  • This Hilltopper has won scouts over with his strength and mobility. Don't be surprised if he excels when kicked inside to guard, as well as when he's lined up at his usual left tackle spot in Mobile. Several teams in the back half of the first round will covet his abilities. 2

    Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY Sports

    2. Forrest Lamp, OT/OG, Western Kentucky

    This Hilltopper has won scouts over with his strength and mobility. Don't be surprised if he excels when kicked inside to guard, as well as when he's lined up at his usual left tackle spot in Mobile. Several teams in the back half of the first round will covet his abilities.

  • His skills as a receiver were underutilized in most games at Alabama, but scouts were also quite happy with the blocking he put on film. Succeeding in one-on-ones against talented defenders will help him grab a top-20 draft slot. 1

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    1. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

    His skills as a receiver were underutilized in most games at Alabama, but scouts were also quite happy with the blocking he put on film. Succeeding in one-on-ones against talented defenders will help him grab a top-20 draft slot.