Which unheralded prospect will make Senior Bowl splash?


The Reese's Senior Bowl offers the prospects invited to the annual all-star game an opportunity to cement their status as some of the top talents available in the draft. However, it also gives players that arrive to little fanfare a chance to boost their stock by holding their own against top competition.

We've seen plenty of prospects rise based on their Senior Bowl performance. Who could make a similar jump this year?

We asked CFB 24/7's panel of experts for their predictions with practices beginning on Tuesday and the game airing live exclusively on NFL Network at 2:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 30.

NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt: Every year, there's a surprise or two from Mid-American Conference in the draft. We saw it with Eric Fisher, who was the No. 1 overall pick out of Central Michigan in 2013, and we had it with Khalil Mack, the fifth overall pick from Buffalo in 2014. I think Western Michigan offensive lineman Willie Beavers is going to be the next surprise to come from the league. Don't judge him by his tape from the 2015 season -- he had injured ankle and played at less than 100 percent. He has long arms, good agility and is very competitive. I think he has chance to be an NFL regular.

NFL Media analyst Charles Davis: I am keeping a close eye on Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott. He has had an absolutely outstanding career, both individually, and as the leader of a winning program that showed well in the always difficult SEC with his hands on the wheel. At one point, he had the Bulldogs ranked as the top team in the country in 2014 ... and, that's not something that anyone saw coming (except those who support and love Mississippi State).

The reason that I'm peering closely at young Mr. Prescott? I saw enormous improvement in his game in 2015, especially as a passer. He's always been a big, strong runner with a live arm who struggled with accuracy. In 2015, I saw a QB that really had worked on his mechanics, his touch, and his ability to not just hit open targets, but to put the ball in better places for his receivers. In fact, I talked with my colleague Daniel Jeremiah about his improvement, and we swapped notes that followed that premise.

So ... let the practices begin, and I'll be watching one of the best players in Mississippi State history continuing to work hard to convince the NFL that he's a true QB and not a TE/H-back that I listed as his NFL position when evaluating him in 2014. I believe that he deserves the opportunity to be an NFL QB with his skill set, and talents (many of which fit what QBs are being asked to do these days in the league).

CFB 24/7: Path to the Draft's Chase Goodbread: NFL scouts are going to love Louisiana Tech's Vernon Butler, an interior defensive line prospect who was all over the field for Tech in 2015 and was named an All-Conference-USA first-team pick. He anchored the Bulldogs' defensive front for two years, helping the program to its first back-to-back bowl wins ever. He's athletic, powerful, and would have held his own just fine in a Power Five conference. Expect Butler to give North squad offensive linemen trouble in practice all week.

CFB 24/7: Path to the Draft's Chad Reuter: Southeast Missouri State receiver Paul McRoberts has a chance to vault into the top 75 picks with a good week in Mobile. His 6-foot-3 frame, surprising agility and strong hands should test the South team cornerbacks. In fact, he'll be facing three other FCS stars on the South squad, cornerbacks a href="http://www.nfl.com/draft/2016/profiles/james-bradberry?id=2555175">James Bradberry (Samford) and Harlan Miller (Southeast Louisiana) and corner/safety DeAndre Houston-Carson (William & Mary) -- all potential mid-round selections if they impress coaches and scouts this week.

Follow College Football 24/7 on Twitter _@NFLCFB_.

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