If you’ve been following this week’s Senior Bowl practice reports at all, you know there are plenty of lists and rankings out there already. From Risers and Sliders to “Notable Prospects,” it seems like most media members, bloggers, and even casual observers have something to say about anyone and everyone participating in the action down in Mobile.
Departing from the usual buzz surrounding the big-name quarterbacks and wide receivers, today we take a look at seven “intriguing” prospects from the big game. Obviously you could make a case that each and every participant in the Senior Bowl is intriguing to some extent, but the list below reflects players who I think have interesting storylines.
Be sure to keep your eye on them this weekend, and remember to tune in to tonight’s ITB Podcast as Brian and I recap the National Championship and hit the NFL draft trail.
Eric Kettani, Navy
Anytime you’re dealing with a Service Academy player with draft potential, you have an interesting storyline, but what separates Eric Kettani from recent Army players like Caleb Campbell is that Kettani has viable potential as a contributor on an NFL team.
A former tailback in high school, Kettani runs well enough to contribute outside the role of a lead blocker or short yardage back at the next level. Physical yet agile for his 6'1", 230-lb. frame, Kettani projects as an ideal H-back in the right NFL offense.
Rashad Jennings, Liberty
Already considered a “riser” after just a few days of practice, Jennings is a former Pitt transfer who excelled on the FCS level at Liberty. There was no questioning his physicality and production at the college level, but scouts have been impressed with his speed and athleticism early in the evaluation process.
With the recent success of other former FCS running backs like Tim Hightower in the NFL, Jennings has nowhere to go but up in his Senior Bowl showing.
Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond
One of the best ways for FCS prospects to gain serious NFL draft “buzz” is to measure in well. Check that for Sidbury, who wowed scouts with his 35-inch wingspan. A physical specimen, the issue for Sidbury will be to show he can compete with the very best tackles from the FBS level.
Despite a fair amount of buzz over his draft status, he struggled at times in the Shrine Bowl last week and will have to show better consistency against the run if he’s really going to make a leap on NFL draft boards.
Ramses Barden, Cal Poly
A legitimate terror to FCS defensive backs his entire career, the 6'6" Barden certainly has the “wow” factor in his size and production. With 36 receiving touchdowns over the last two seasons, the guy could be an instant red zone threat in the NFL, but teams are going to question his top-end speed and separation ability as a downfield target against elite cornerback prospects.
Ron Brace, Boston College
Brace has everything you’d want in an interior defensive lineman. At 6'3", 330 lbs., he’s massive for one thing, and you can’t dispute his incredible production at the college level for a top-flight BC defense.
Yet NFL scouts are going to want to know if Brace can perform as well on the next level without the benefit of another top-tier tackle in fellow BC teammate B.J. Raji, who has wowed scouts in practice this week with his quickness and penetrating ability.
Connor Barwin, Cincinnati
Everyone has by now heard the story. Barwin, a former tight end, moved to the defensive end position prior to his senior season at Cincinnati, only to become one of the most feared pass rushers in the Big East.
Yet despite his upside as a proverbial “raw” talent on the defensive line, Barwin has been seeing double duty this week and has been getting interest from some NFL teams at tight end. He has tremendous physical upside, so it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up.
Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State
Admit it America, you’re a sucker for redemption stories. Regardless of how you feel about Bomar’s actions during his freshman stint at the University of Oklahoma, one can’t dispute the perceived weakness of this year’s college quarterback crop. That leaves a huge opportunity for Bomar, who at 6'2" has the size and arm strength to be a potential NFL starting quarterback.
With a good Senior Bowl showing, he becomes one of the top five quarterback prospects in the draft.