Each year, the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama is where the top college prospects go to showcase their on-field talent for one final time in front of NFL executives prior to the NFL Draft. The Senior Bowl is the premier collegiate All-Star game, coached by NFL coaches and prospects participate in practices and drills against their peers.
Here are 10 prospects that Buffalo Bills fans should keep an eye on from the North team throughout the week.
QB Jacoby Brissett, N.C. State
6’5” 235 lbs
Jacoby Brissett is an intriguing quarterback for a team looking for a developmental prospect. He’s got ideal size, arm strength, patience in the pocket and mobility. Brissett had a weak supporting cast around him, which led to him developing some bad habits as he would often try and do too much. He’s wildly inconsistent—one play he’ll stand tall in the pocket and deliver a beautiful strike, and the next he’ll miss wide open receivers while trying to make the home-run play.
Brissett does have the physical attributes that will get him selected somewhere likely in the 3rd-4th round and he probably has the highest ceiling of any passer in the draft, but until he can speed up his game and be more consistent, he can’t start.
WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
5’10” 190 lbs
Sterling Shepard is one of the best route runners in the 2016 NFL Draft class and his game is reminiscent to that of Antonio Brown’s. He routinely creates separation from defenders with ease and is a nightmare after the catch. He’s a horizontal threat that projects best to a west coast offense, but he does flash the ability at times to make contested catches down the field.
TE Jake McGee, Florida
6’6” 250 lbs
Jake McGee is one of the more refined tight end prospects entering the 2016 NFL Draft, as he’s effective in both the pass and run game. He’s a powerful blocker that can play attached to the line of scrimmage without surrendering ground in the run game. As a receiver, he’s got reliable hands and toughness, but he won’t offer much in terms of route versatility. He’s an ideal fit for an offense like Buffalo’s that relies on multiple tight ends that can block and catch.
OG Christian Westerman, Arizona State
6’4” 300 lbs
Christian Westerman is a fun offensive linemen to watch. His ability to control defensive linemen with ease is incredible, as the left guard out of Arizona State rarely gets moved off the ball in pass protection. His technique is consistent, maintaining a low pad level and a wide base that allow him to sink his hips and anchor against whoever is in front of him.
In the run game Westerman is nasty and can move the line of scrimmage and open lanes for running backs. He’s effective when used as a pulling blocker on power runs as well. He isn’t the most athletic or quick lineman, so he’ll get beat with inside moves at times, but he could find himself selected relatively high in the draft if he’s able to show off his play strength in Mobile this week.
DL Jarran Reed, Alabama
6’3” 310 lbs
Jarran Reed is, in my opinion, the best draft-eligible defensive lineman among Alabama’s front. He can play anywhere from the 0-to-five-technique, projecting best to a 3-4 defensive front. He’s a dominant run defender that controls the line of scrimmage, occupies multiple blockers and allows his teammates to make plays.
He’s not the greatest pass rusher, but he’s strong enough to push the pocket and flush out the quarterback. Reed isn’t a flashy athletic freak, but he’s just a solid, technically-sound player that will find himself selected in the bottom half of the first-round.
DL Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
6’1” 305 lbs
Sheldon Rankins is one of the most disruptive defensive linemen entering the 2016 NFL Draft. At 6’1” 305 pounds, some teams will view him as undersized, but he’s got long arms, incredible play strength and violent hands that allow him to consistently disrupt opposing offenses.
Louisville used him everywhere from the zero to seven technique along the defensive line, but he projects best as a three-technique under tackle where he can penetrate as a one-gap defender.
Rankins should have an Aaron Donald-esque Senior Bowl outing and he’ll shoot up draft boards.
EDGE Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky
6’3” 260 lbs
Noah Spence has the most to prove at the Senior Bowl this week after spending the last season playing for Eastern Kentucky following his dismissal from Ohio State. Spence is arguably the best edge defender in the draft as he has everything you covet in a pass rusher—burst, closing speed, heavy hands, the ability to bend the corner and set the edge against the run. Spence has a high motor and will chase down runs from the backside. He has the athleticism to drop into coverage as well, which make him a fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker as well as a 4-3 end or SAM.
Teams will want to dig deep into his past and will most definitely get on him about his past drug issues, but by all reports Spence has turned things around. With a good outing, Spence could find himself in the Top 15-20 picks of the draft.
LB Kentrell Brothers, Missouri
6’1” 235 lbs
Kentrell Brothers was a tackling machine at Missouri that was solid in run support as well as pass coverage. He’s a bit undersized, but his ability to fight through traffic and scrape over the top of the line against the run is impressive.
LB Deion Jones, Louisiana State
6’1” 230 lbs
Another undersized linebacker, Deion Jones is one of the more athletic players in the draft. He’s exceptional in coverage and aggressive against the run.
He can get washed out against the run if a guard or lead blocker gets on him, which is concerning, but if he’s kept clean, Jones has the speed and range to chase down ball-carriers or shoot gaps. He’s fantastic in coverage, getting to proper depth quickly and has fluid hips that allow him to transition and change directions with ease.
S Jeremy Cash, Duke
6’2” 215 lbs
Jeremy Cash is the most entertaining safety to watch in the draft. Duke used him all over the field—at strong safety, in the slot, as a linebacker, or a blitzing edge defender.
Cash is an instinctive player with a knack for being around the ball. He’s a great run defender that understands angles, but he’s not the most athletic safety, which limits what you can ask of him in coverage. Cash would be best utilized in a Deone Buchanan-esque role, where he’s used as a short-to-intermediate defender, as he lacks the range to defend the back-end of the defense.