The Reese's Senior Bowl provides NFL scouts and coaches with a terrific opportunity to check out the some of the top prospects in the country in an ultra-competitive environment. Although all-star game performances shouldn't outweigh a prospect's regular-season play, a strong showing in Mobile can spark a meteoric rise up the charts. With that in mind, here are the 10 most intriguing prospects to watch this week:
The lack of premier left tackles in the 2015 class has prompted several scouts to tab the Pitt standout as the most intriguing offensive line prospect in Mobile. The former defensive end turned offensive tackle displays the requisite athletic traits to play the marquee tackle spot as a pro. If Clemmings holds his own against the elite pass rushers in the Senior Bowl, he could shoot up the charts in draft rooms around the NFL.
Despite the recent emphasis on the passing game in the NFL, defensive coordinators still build their respective game plans around stopping the run. Thus, there is a lot of intrigue surrounding Shelton's potential as a disruptive force in the middle. The 6-foot-2, 339-pounder is a dominant run defender as a stout nose tackle, but evaluators want to see if he offers anything as a pass rusher at the point of attack. Given the overall impact defensive tackles selected within the top 10 are expected to make on their respective squads, it is important for Shelton to show scouts that he is more than a "two-down" player to secure his spot as the top defensive tackle in the class.
With spread quarterbacks struggling to transition to the pro game in recent years, scouts are paying close attention to how quickly Petty adapts to playing in a pro-style system this week. Evaluators will closely scrutinize his fundamentals, mechanics and footwork to see if he can handle the basic requirements of playing the position at the next level. In addition, scouts will want to see if his spectacular production as a two-year starter was a byproduct of playing in a unique offensive system or a result of his superb judgment directing an offense that stresses the defense with tempo and spacing.
The weird circumstances behind Shaw's lengthy suspension will be addressed in meetings throughout the week, but scouts will spend a ton of time looking at his work between the lines. Shaw entered the season regarded as one of the top defensive backs in the class, and defensive coaches will want to see if he displays the athleticism to match up with elite receivers on the perimeter. Most important, they will attempt to ascertain if he is best suited to play corner or safety as a pro.
It's crazy to imagine one of the top cover corners in the NFL was a standout basketball player a year ago. But that could be the case if Rollins continues to build upon his strong regular-season performance with a solid showing at the Senior Bowl. The MAC Defensive Player of the Year is a fluid athlete with explosive athleticism and leaping ability. Although Rollins' technique is raw and unrefined, he is a natural ball hawk with the innate instincts and awareness that defensive coaches covet in top corners. If he looks like he belongs in one-on-one and team drills this week against some of the best pass catchers in the country, Rollins could be a fast riser up the charts when scouts reconvene for draft meetings in a few weeks.
Nick Marshall, QB (Athlete), Auburn
Despite enjoying tremendous success as a collegiate quarterback, Marshall is destined to make a position change at the next level due to his exceptional athleticism and movement skills. While a move to running back or wide receiver would give a creative offensive coordinator an opportunity to tap into his explosive running skills, most evaluators view Marshall as an intriguing defensive back prospect due to his size, football IQ and communication skills. With a week to showcase his remarkable athletic ability on the turf, Marshall could increase his draft value by the end of the week.
Scouts are desperately looking for blue-chip talents at the offensive tackle position in the 2015 class. Sambrailo has emerged as a potential first-round prospect based on his intriguing physical traits and impressive play in the Mountain West Conference. However, scouts need to see him hold his own in a handful of one-on-one matchups at the Senior Bowl to confirm his potential as a marquee prospect at the position. If Sambrailo wins his fair share of battles in team drills and displays the athleticism that has several evaluators already smitten with his upside, he could leave Mobile rated as a solid first-round prospect on most draft boards.
The 6-5, 270-pounder has been one of the fastest risers on draft boards around the NFL following a strong senior campaign that showcased his potential as a high-motor playmaker off the edge. Smith exhibits the strength, athleticism and burst that scouts covet in defensive ends, but he can solidify his status as a top prospect with a solid showing in Mobile. Scouts will pay close attention to his ability to put consistent pressure on the passer while also looking at how well he holds up against the run. If Smith checks the box in all areas, he will continue to enter the conversation as a Day 1 prospect heading into the conversation.
It's amazes me how Orchard has flown under the radar for most of the season despite leading the nation with 18 sacks. However, the Ute standout could be the talk of the town by week's end if he continues to display a knack for getting to the quarterback off the edge. Orchard is a crafty pass rusher with a non-stop motor, but scouts remain uncertain about his best position (defensive end or outside linebacker) at the next level. With a week to show scouts he is a disruptive playmaker off the edge, Orchard could cement his status as a Day 2 prospect with a solid showing at the Senior Bowl.
The gunslinger could enter the conversation as one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2015 class with a strong showing at Senior Bowl practices this week. Carden will not only get a chance to show scouts that he is more than a "system" quarterback, but he will have a chance to showcase his arm strength, accuracy, judgment and intelligence directing a traditional pro-style offense. If Carden puts on a solid showing on the practice field this week, he could enhance his value and enter the conversation as one of the intriguing quarterback prospect to monitor the draft approaches.