Small-school players among Day 3 standouts at Senior Bowl

Standouts at Senior Bowl practice: Day 1 | Day 2

MOBILE, Ala. -- Reese's Senior Bowl practices wrapped up the full-contact portion of the schedule on Thursday, and some of the top 2015 NFL Draft hopefuls put on a show in front of NFL general managers, coaches and scouts. We saw uneven performances by a number of players, but there were some future stars who made plays to show that they have what it takes to impress NFL evaluators.

With that in mind, here are six players who caught the eyes of NFL Media analysts during Thursday's Senior Bowl practices for the North and South teams.

Nick Boyle, TE, Delaware

Miami's Clive Walford has been the most impressive of the tight ends on either team, but Boyle, an under-the-radar pass-catcher, made some noise on Thursday to cap off a solid showing against top competition. He's the biggest player at the position and that shows during blocking drills, but he was able to turn in a terrific effort in the passing game on Thursday. "He may have made the most money out of anybody," said NFL media analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who noted how quickly Boyle has gone from unknown to possible Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) draft pick.

Samford's Jaquiski Tartt is the guy most evaluators had their eyes on this week among the small-school prospects, but it was Geathers who outshined most of the defensive backs on the South squad. A savvy veteran with many starts under his belt, he was able to read and react quicker than most. He also showed off the coverage skills evaluators want to see from guys that can roam around on the back end and also break to the line of scrimmage well on runs. "He had a very nice week and good day today," said NFL Media analyst Charles Davis. "Scouts I talked to are really buzzing about him."

Preston Smith, DL, Mississippi State

Just about every defensive end or tackle has shown up and made plays this week in practice, but it was Smith's turn to show off his potential on Thursday. He certainly has the size (6-5, 270) to play a number of spots along the line, but really showed up during team drills using his strength to make life difficult for headliners at offensive tackle like LSU's La'el Collins and Oklahoma's Daryl Williams.

Rannell Hall, WR, UCF

Hall is one of a number of smaller wide receivers looking to impress this week, and he did just that with some nice catches in traffic on Thursday. More than anything, he's improved as the week progressed and it's always nice to have your best day when scouts are watching closely before they get out of town. He's not the fastest or biggest at the position, but he certainly flashed that he can be a player at the next level.

Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke

The Duke guard has been a fast-riser this whole week and put on yet another show in the one-on-one drills that you couldn't help but notice. He establishes such a good base and is so fundamentally sound that defensive linemen who don't have a plan to beat him often find themselves on the ground or well past the pocket. Even opposing defensive linemen unanimously said after practice that Tomlinson was the toughest player they faced among the North squad's offensive linemen.

Hau'oli Kikaha, DE, Washington

The FBS leader in sacks last season has mostly played standing up this week as an outside linebacker, and he had perhaps his best practice on Thursday. He struggled at times in coverage on a few plays, but really shined at doing what he does best: rushing the passer. NFL Media's Curtis Conway was impressed with Kikaha's ability to get off the ball and find the opposing signal-caller to bring him down.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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