Heading into Saturday’s Senior Bowl, there are many players that have likely already solidified their status as top picks in this year’s draft, but there is also a handful of big names with much left to prove.
We’ve all seen players perform well in college that have failed in the NFL, as well as players who were virtually unknown during their college career, and are now making a big splash in the NFL.
This year’s Senior Bowl will be the last chance for many hopefuls to make a lasting impression on NFL coaches and pundits alike. Below are three players that I believe have the most to prove in this year’s Senior Bowl.
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
A year ago, Landry Jones was seen as a top-15 pick, but now he is hardly seen as a first rounder. Despite having an impressive senior campaign with the Sooners, it seems likely that Jones will be drafted in the second or third round.
His senior season was one of Jones’ best overall, as he completed 66 percent of his passes and had a plus-19 turnover ratio. With big names like Geno Smith and Matt Barkley not participating in the Senior Bowl, the door could be wide open for Jones to jump in and become “the guy”.
While he may not be able to overtake Smith and Barkley in the rankings, he may still launch himself into first round consideration with a strong showing in the Senior Bowl. Jones is certainly not the only talented quarterback playing in this game, but given what he did at Oklahoma and his skill set, he could very well throw himself into the first round, literally.
Garrett Gilkey, OT, Chadron St.
The Division II mammoth, Garrett Gilkey, will have a chance to prove that he is NFL ready come Saturday. The 6’7”, 320 lbs. behemoth from little-known Chadron St. will be playing next to top-ranked lineman such as D.J. Fluker and Brian Schwenke, and will definitely have many scouts’ eyes firmly fixated on him as he will try and establish his relevance as a dominant offensive lineman.
Although Gilkey played OT in college, he has the size and ability to kick inside and play guard, which is likely what he will play at the next level. He will have his hands full trying to defend against the likes of Alex Okafor and Margus Hunt, but if he can hold his own against the dominant defensive forces of the North team, then I believe his draft stock can and will rise from a probable sixth or seventh round pick, to as early as a third round pick.
Denard Robinson, WR, Michigan
Frankly, with all the success of running/mobile quarterbacks lately, I think that Robinson should stick to his guns and play quarterback at the next level. Given the success of mobile quarterbacks, especially in the past few years, I think that Robinson could be a franchise guy in the right situation.
Although, after seeing former WVU quarterback Pat White try and fail to make it in the league as a passer instead of another skill position, I can see why Robinson might want to make the switch. Regardless, Robinson has one of the most unique skill sets of anyone in this year’s draft class.
His shiftiness and speed make him a headache for opposing coaching staffs and defenses alike. If Robinson can show that he will be a Josh Cribbs-esque player then I firmly believe that someone will draft him sooner than later.
Perhaps newly appointed Eagles head coach Chip Kelly? Robinson’s speed would certainly make him a nice fit in not only Kelly’s offensive game plan, but that of other coaches trying to mimic what the 49ers have with Colin Kaepernick or the Redskins with RG3.
If Robinson can prove that he can be a oft-used weapon and not just a gimmick, then I believe he will find himself on many coach’s draft boards.