Top NFL Draft Prospects to Watch Through the 2019 Senior Bowl

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Every year, the Senior Bowl brings in some of the best collegiate seniors to play in one final game. The main purpose for this game is for analysts and NFL scouts and coaches to evaluate these players during the three-day practice week and the game on Saturday, January 26th. They will be tested on overall skill level, how they respond to NFL coaches and their strengths and weaknesses as a player. Last year in the 2018 Senior Bowl, five players were drafted in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL Draft. There were also 13 more players drafted within the 2nd round. This year’s 2019 Senior Bowl expects to include more potential NFL draft picks potentially more in the 1st round. Three of the participating quarterbacks have 1st round talent and grades.

DE Montez Sweat (Mississippi State) – South Team #9

STARKVILLE, MS – NOVEMBER 17: Ty Storey #4 of the Arkansas Razorbacks throws a pass in the first half under pressure from Montez Sweat #9 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs.. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Montez Sweat becomes the top defensive end in this Senior Bowl class after Kentucky’s Josh Allen withdraws due to an injury. According to CBS Sports, Sweat ranks 2nd in the 2019 Draft class of all outside linebacker and likely 4th of defensive ends. Sweat statistically dominated the past two years at Mississippi State. In 2017, he accounted for 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss, both led the SEC. This past season, he accounted for 53 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks (4th in the nation). While he has the burst off the ball, especially from a two-point stance, he doesn’t have the flexibility in his hips that can make him an elite pass rusher. Sweat does excel as a solid run-stopper. He can raise his draft stock by boosting his pass rush capabilities.

DE Zach Allen (Boston College) – North Team #44

CHESTNUT HILL, MA – NOVEMBER 10: Zach Allen #2 of the Boston College Eagles sacks Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

There are many different qualities and attributes that make Allen a great player. He is highly aggressive at the line of scrimmage and rarely gets pushed back on run blocks. Like Sweat at Mississippi State, Allen excelled at Boston College as a dominant run-stopper. The only difference from Sweat and Allen is that Sweat can play defensive end or outside linebacker while Allen can play end or defensive tackle. This past season, Allen accounted for 15 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and seven pass deflections. Allen can win at the line of scrimmage and push to create pressure from the inside. He doesn’t have the speed or burst to beat offensive tackles off the edge. Allen can improve his outside pass rush abilities while showing his dominance at stopping the run in this Senior Bowl.

QB Drew Lock (Missouri) – North Team #3

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 31: Drew Lock #3 of the Missouri Tigers hands the ball to Larry Rountree III. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Last Senior Bowl, we saw the battle between two future first-round quarterbacks and the emergence of Baker Mayfield. This year, we will see a position battle between three quarterbacks looking to make an early impression in the 2019 NFL Draft. Lock is currently the third-ranked quarterback behind Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State) and Kyler Murray (Oklahoma). In 2017, Lock was the top passing quarterback in terms of touchdowns throws with 44. This past season, Lock adjusted well into the pro-style offense inserted to the Missouri Tigers’ offense. Lock has a great arm with great qualities in arm strength, throwing mechanics, and durability. He does possess problems with his accuracy caused by the unsettling of his footwork. Through a great Senior Bowl week, Lock can highly boost his draft status, like Baker Mayfield, to become an early pick.

QB Daniel Jones (Duke) – North Team #17

CLEMSON, SC – NOVEMBER 17: Daniel Jones #17 of the Duke Blue Devils drops back to pass against the Clemson Tigers at Clemson Memorial Stadium on November 17, 2018, in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Of all the top quarterbacks in this 2019 Draft, even in the Senior Bowl, the statistics don’t show Jones as elite. Daniel Jones possesses many qualities that have him very highly by analysts and NFL scouts. He has great accuracy, great size, surprising athletic ability, a high IQ, and a durable arm with great throwing progressions. According to CBS Sports, Jones ranks 32nd overall of all prospects and just two spots below Drew Lock. While he isn’t explosive like Drew Brees, he can provide high-numbers through his stability. He may be the best quarterback that Duke head coach Davis Cutcliffe has coached since Peyton and Eli Manning. Jones is a quarterback is flying under the radar in this Draft due to the popularity of Haskins and Murray. Jones has a chance to elevate his draft stock by consistently excelling with each rep starting with the Senior Bowl. 

QB Will Grier (West Virginia) – South Team #7

MORGANTOWN, WV – NOVEMBER 23: Will Grier #7 of the West Virginia Mountaineers passes against the Oklahoma Sooners on November 23, 2018, at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Grier is a quarterback, who has accounted for high statistics consistently. Unlike Haskins and Murray, Grier is a quarterback who has giant red flags in his draft stock. One of the reasons for two seasons worth of 3,400+ passing yards and 34+ passing touchdowns was the talent level around him. Grier often makes anticipated throws deep to his receivers, even when they aren’t open. This past season, he completed 67% of his passes, so it isn’t his arm and accuracy. He will need to utilize better mental decision making more efficient passes if he wants to thrive in the NFL. If coached properly by NFL coaching staff in the Senior Bowl, Grier can show he can be the quarterback of the future for one program. 

CB Amani Oruwariye (Penn State) – North Team #21

STATE COLLEGE, PA – NOVEMBER 24: Amani Oruwariye #21 of the Penn State Nittany Lions tackles Jeshaun Jones #6 of the Maryland Terrapins. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Amani Oruwariye will be a defensive back to watch in this 2019 Senior Bowl. He is regarded as the top overall cornerback in this Senior Bowl class. He ranks 4th overall of all the cornerbacks in this upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. Oruwariye is different from other great speedy, lockdown corners like Washington’s Byron Murphy. Oruwariye possesses great athletism in his hips through receivers’ cuts and inside steps. He is also very efficient in reading the pass and making plays towards the ball. This past season, he accounted for 11 pass deflection and 3 interceptions, while being 6’1. Oruwariye is an excellent cover-2 cornerback but doesn’t have the intense speed or motor to play deep. Oruwariye will be able to showcase his close-ranged lockdown coverage skills all this week against other high-caliber seniors.

Main Photo Credit:

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN – SEPTEMBER 15: Missouri Tigers quarterback Drew Lock (3). (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)