Miles Killebrew, Graham Glasgow, and Jimmy Landes all attended the 2016 Senior Bowl before eventually being drafted by the Detroit Lions. It’s one of the biggest events of the offseason, easily one of the most talked about bowl games, and an ideal environment for players to showcase their talent. Every team talks to every player, so the exposure is huge for guys who want to make a good impression. More than the game itself, the weigh ins, practices and interactions with coaches and scouts allow these players a chance to sell themselves early to teams that will be making choices in who to pay and how much when the draft comes around. The 2017 NFL Draft is one of the strongest in memory, so it’s no surprise the 2017 Senior Bowl is expected to be a flurry of draft talk and activity. Here are some players to look out for this week.
Top North Team players to watch
Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
Cooper Kupp after the catch is fun. Physical pic.twitter.com/EXxOY8XvnM— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) January 20, 2017
Kupp has gotten a ton of hype this offseason, probably more than he is due, but he is a physical receiver with some underrated YAC ability that will make him stick after he’s drafted. He’s been mentioned as a first-round prospect, but his stock is more likely in the second or third round.
Desmond King, FS, Iowa
King is probably going to play a bunch at corner, where he played in college, but I’m excited to see if he gets much time at free safety, where I believe he is a first-round talent and possible Lions target. Measurements will be big for King, as he is expected to measure below the listed 5-foot-11 but ought to be just a hair above 5-foot-10. Should he fall below that, his stock as a corner is likely to nose dive, but more importantly, it could hurt his much more promising position as a safety prospect.
Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse
Amba Etta-Tawo inconsistent but wins w ball tracking/long arms away from body https://t.co/UID1J6LMGf— Luke Inman (@Luke_Spinman) January 11, 2017
Awesome name aside, Amba Etta-Tawo has flashed as a deep ball specialist in the vein of Marvin Jones. If the team looks to bring in another deep threat to take the strain of off Jones, this is a guy to watch. He doesn’t catch with his arms consistently, sometimes bringing it into his body unnecessarily, but his ball tracking skills and hands are top tier in this draft class.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
Wonder why Toledo's Kareem Hunt (89.2) is our highest graded running back this season? It's because runs like this one. pic.twitter.com/dsOYTcZWSg— Zoltán Buday (@PFF_Zoltan) November 10, 2016
Pro Football Focus’ highest rated running back, Hunt has seen his name slide up and down draft boards all season. He’ll probably measure in just below 6-feet and all of his listed 225 pounds, but as the highest rated RB in this game, I expect to see a lot out of Hunt.
Others to look out for
Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan - Expected to measure well below his listed 5-foot-11, Lewis is coming off his worst game against Florida State and needs the opportunity to both measure well and show out.
De’Veon Smith, RB, Michigan - A Shrine Game callup, Smith shined as a backfield receiving option all week in Shrine practice, but during the game his lack of vision was an issue and his small hand size may have contributed to his fumble.
Chris Wormley, DL, Michigan - Yet another Michigan product, Wormley sees his stock around the mid-to-early first round and a strong showing could cement that stock or even improve it.
Zach Banner, OT, USC - Cornelius Lucas isn’t a good offensive tackle, but he certainly isn’t small. Zach Banner may dwarf him as, unlike most players, he may actually be bigger than his listed size. Which is 6-foot-9 and 360 pounds.
Taylor Moton, OT/OG, Western Michigan - Moton is a top 10 offensive lineman in this draft, he’s just one of those curious players who falls between a tackle and a guard so his value differs.
Mike Roberts, TE, Toledo - In a stacked tight end class, Roberts is one of the best all around players and is going to be extremely interesting to see against this level of competition.
Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas - Sprinkle is more of a blocker than Roberts, but his skillset is varied and he is another mid-to-late option for the Detroit Lions at a position that lacks depth.
Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan - Man, Michigan is really stealing the thunder this year, huh? Darboh has good size and a good catch radius, but it’s measurables that he may struggle with so he needs to silence some doubters.
Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois - A possible first-round option for the Lions, Smoot needs to show some consistency against what should be lesser competition for a first-round prospect.
Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa - A backfield disruptor, Johnson may be climbing draft boards faster than anyone else. If he can finish with a strong Senior Bowl performance, he may find himself in first round consideration.
Jalen Robinette, WR, Air Force - It’s rare you see someone from a force academy get hype, but Robinette has been getting plenty as of late. I haven’t watched enough to vouch personally, but I’m interested.