The Michigan defensive end received an invitation to the annual all-star game but recently informed Senior Bowl organizers that he won't participate, Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage confirmed on Thursday. It's unclear why Charlton won't attend, although he dealt with nagging injuries throughout the season, per the MLive Media Group.
Charlton (6-foot-6, 272 pounds) led one of the top defenses in college football in 2016, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors. He made 13 tackles for loss on the season and led Michigan in sacks (9.5). His 10 quarterback hurries led the Wolverines as well. Charlton was a disruptive presence in the Orange Bowl against Florida State, making two tackles for loss, including a sack. During the game, NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah projected Charlton as a top-20 draft pick. Charlton's play against rival Ohio State likely impressed NFL scouts, as well.
Other top defensive ends that already have accepted Senior Bowl invitations include Texas A&M's Daeshon Hall and Illinois' Dawuane Smoot.
The Senior Bowl gathers 110 of the top senior and graduated fourth-year junior draft prospects in the nation in Mobile, Ala. NFL clubs send coaches, scouts and personnel executives to the week-long event to evaluate players through personal interviews, physical measurements and evaluations of practices and the game. Last year, four Senior Bowl players were selected in the first round of the draft: QB Carson Wentz (Eagles), DT Sheldon Rankins (Saints), DT Vernon Butler (Panthers) and OG Joshua Garnett (49ers).
It's not uncommon for some top prospects to decline a Senior Bowl invitation. Connor Cook, who will be starting for the Raiders this weekend in the playoffs, did so last year. NFL clubs would surely love the chance to evaluate a player of Charlton's talent during practices and in meetings at the Senior Bowl, but it's unlikely that this decision will have a significant impact on his draft stock. It is, however, an opportunity missed to impress NFL evaluators.