Senior Bowl 2012: 7 Players Who Need a Big Performance

Drew Laing@@drewrlaingAnalyst IJanuary 24, 2012

Senior Bowl 2012: 7 Players Who Need a Big Performance

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    For a select group of seniors in college football, the Senior Bowl marks the most important week of their collegiate career.

    Prior to the NFL Combine, the Senior Bowl gives these players a significant opportunity to make an impact on NFL scouts. An impressive performance here could boost the draft stock of players who are fighting for a selection in April's NFL Draft.

    Here are seven players that need a big performance in this year's Senior Bowl.

TE Michael Egnew, Missouri

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    As a receiving tight end, Michael Egnew has an extraordinary opportunity to shoot up teams' draft boards with a big performance at the Senior Bowl.

    And he can thank Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski for that.

    After the success of receiving tight ends in the NFL this season, Egnew can show teams he can bring the same athleticism and catching ability to whatever team drafts him.

    Clearly, receiving tight ends are very effective in the NFL. Teams will take special notice to Egnew this week.

RB Chris Rainey, Florida

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    Chris Rainey had an up-and-down career at Florida, to say the least. The speedy running back eclipsed 1,000 total yards in only one season and his off-the-field troubles at Florida were well-documented.

    While it seems as if Rainey turned a corner in his senior season, in terms of off-the-field conduct, he still has a lot to prove on the field. You cannot question Rainey's speed, but his size is problematic at 5-foot-9, 174-pounds. 

    Rainey's future seems destined to special teams early in his career, but if he can give a strong performance in the Senior Bowl, Rainey could prove he's worthy of running back reps in the NFL too. I expect him to take a Dexter McCluster-type role when drafted.

QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

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    Brandon Weeden had an impressive senior season with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, throwing for 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns.

    He led an offense that seemed nearly unstoppable all season and developed a strong connection with wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

    Although Weeden's career stats are notable, scouts are worried about his age. He'll be 29 by October 2012 and for a quarterback that still has a lot of questions to be answered, his age isn't playing in his favor.

    A strong Senior Bowl performance would help prove to scouts that Weeden can be a viable option for teams at quarterback after top prospects Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are gone.

QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

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    Kellen Moore is one of most decorated quarterbacks in college football history.

    Not only did Moore become the winningest quarterback in history with a 50-3 overall record, but he was also a two-time All-American, a 2010 Heisman Trophy finalist, and he threw for more than 14,000 yards in his career at Boise State.

    Despite the accolades, Moore is not being considered a top quarterback prospect in the draft. Even though he is being considered a "system quarterback", Moore clearly knows how to succeed in football and proved to be a leader on and off the field while at Boise State.

    He may be a work in progress, but big numbers at this year's Senior Bowl could convince a team to pull the trigger on the Boise State signal caller.

DB Brandon Boykin, Georgia

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    Although Brandon Boykin is listed as a cornerback, he can do it all.

    He's proven to be not only an effective cornerback, but also a running back and special teams returner. He is one of the most versatile players in this draft, and the Senior Bowl will give him a great opportunity to show that.

    When Boykin is on the field, he has the ability to make the big play and NFL teams are aware of that. In fact, he is the only player in SEC history to have three 100-yard plays in a career.

    What will help separate Boykin from the rest of the field is a big defensive performance at the Senior Bowl. If he can show some tenacity and good fundamentals on defense, his draft stock should rise significantly.

WR Patrick Edwards, Houston

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    Patrick Edwards has been the epitome of production at the wide receiver position for the Houston Cougars.

    From his sophomore season until his senior year, Edwards posted 1,000 receiving yard season, along with a combined total of 39 touchdowns.

    Although his numbers are impressive, one could argue it was his quarterback, Case Keenum, that gave Edwards such great success. And with Keenum's decorated collegiate career, Edwards' name often fell in the background.

    But Edwards is a talented wide receiver who could do some damage in the NFL. This week's Senior Bowl will give him the opportunity he needs to show doubters that he is for real.

QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin

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    After coming over from NC State, Russell Wilson continued his collegiate success at Wisconsin by leading them to their second consecutive Rose Bowl berth. Although they were not victorious, Wilson gave a great performance in the national spotlight with 296 passing yards and two touchdowns.

    NFL scouts still aren't sold on Wilson heading into the Senior Bowl, though.

    He can give teams a serviceable dual-threat quarterback and a proven leader, who excelled at both NC State and Wisconsin. However, Wilson is the victim of the thought that a dual-threat quarterback doesn't have the passing skills to succeed in the NFL.

    If Wilson can connect on his passes and show that he has a strong arm, his stock will rise because there is no doubting the athleticism that Wilson brings to the quarterback position. If he can combine both his passing and athleticism, I expect the NFL scouts will be very impressed.