The Senior Bowl kicks off tomorrow and, as usual, the preeminence of underclassmen in the draft means that there won’t be many first-round picks on display. However, some of the best value picks in the class of 2012 will use the opportunity to show off their skills for pro scouts.
This trio will have to wait a few rounds to hear their names called in April, but they’ll shine against their fellow seniors in tomorrow’s action:
QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
If Weeden were a typical senior, he’d be a probable top-10 pick after throwing for 4,727 yards and 37 TDs this season. However, the far-from-typical Weeden has already passed his 28th birthday, making NFL teams leery of spending a high pick on a QB who might not have many seasons left in him.
Even in a Senior Bowl game that’s loaded with QB talent (Kellen Moore, Russell Wilson), Weeden is sure to stand out as a passer who can hang tough in the pocket and make accurate throws to all parts of the field.
DT Mike Martin, Michigan
The lone bright spot on the much-maligned 2010 Michigan defense, Mike Martin came up even bigger in 2011. The mobile 6’2”, 299-lb tackle had six tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks (not to mention 64 tackles) for the Wolverines.
All-Star games like this are great for defensive linemen, especially those who can get to the QB like Martin can. Expect him to punch through the South’s line more than once to make plays in the backfield.
RB Chris Rainey, Florida
Being the fastest player on the field is a great way to stand out, and Chris Rainey should earn that distinction tomorrow. The 5’9” Gators scatback battled through injuries to accumulate 861 yards rushing and another 381 receiving this season.
Look for Rainey to make his mark from scrimmage and on special teams, where he had a punt-return TD this year and six blocked kicks for his Florida career.