Some of the best senior talent available in NFL draft this year will be on showcase today (3 p.m., NFL Network) down in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl.
The game, however, doesn’t seem to have the same luster as it did last season. That’s certainly the case for the Detroit Lions, who were coaching the game last year, but there simply isn’t the top-end talent in today's game in comparison to last.
“You don’t get as much out of (the Senior Bowl) touching those guys every day and in the meetings with them every day,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said earlier this week. “But there is a lot of value being down here and we plan to take advantage of it.”
Last year, nine players from the Senior Bowl were selected in the first round of the draft, including No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher. That number won’t be nearly as high this year with a record 102 underclassman declaring for the draft, many of whom, like Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Sammy Watkins, will make up the top of the draft.
The Lions probably weren’t looking for the No. 10 pick down in Mobile, but rather the No. 45 and beyond.
This will be a very deep draft with the influx of underclassman and teams should be able to get immediate help deep into this draft.
As far as some players to watch in today’s game:
- Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The Lions are on the lookout for a wide receiver and Matthews could be an option in the second round. He holds SEC records for career receptions (262), receiving yards (3,759) and catches in a single season with 112 in 2013. He dropped a few passes early in the week, but got better as the week went on.
- Keith McGill, CB, Utah
McGill has elite size for the position (6-3, 205) and began his college career as a safety. He showed a terrific ability to jam and play at the line of scrimmage this week and teams like his physicality as a press corner.
- Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
The 6-foot-3, 244-pound linebacker doesn’t have elite size, but he makes up for that with good speed and terrific instincts.
- Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
A semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, Ward could be the third or fourth safety selected in the draft. He had 95 tackles, seven interceptions and defended 10 passes this season for the Huskies.
- Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald had one of the more impressive weeks of practice at the Senior Bowl. He was downright disruptive for most of practice. He doesn’t have ideal size (6-0, 285) but he can flat rush the quarterback from the three-technique.