Senior Bowl 2013: Players Fighting for First-Round Draft Status

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIJanuary 24, 2013

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Cornerback Desmond Trufant #6 of the Washington Huskies reacts after defending a pass to wide receiver Ty Montgomery of the Stanford Cardinal on September 27, 2012 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. Washington defeated Stanford 17-13.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The 2013 Senior Bowl has had some exciting practices so far, and there's plenty of seniors making a name for themselves.

This year's NFL draft is ruled by talented—and young—juniors, with a record-setting 74 underclassmen leaving the ranks of college football.

With so many underclassmen in the draft, there's many a senior fighting to prove he deserves to go in the first round of the draft. Good thing these players have the Senior Bowl to prove their merit.


Mark Glennon, QB, NC State

This year's draft is thin at quarterback. While there's plenty of solid prospects, they all carry a certain amount of uncertainty. As a result, first-round projections have become a constant shuffle of QBs.

One such quarterback is NC State's Mike Glennon.

Glennon enjoyed a stellar senior season, passing for over 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns. While inconsistent at times (17 interceptions), Glennon's Wolfpack boasted the FBS' 17th-best passing attack.

The big-armed quarterback is having a very good Senior Bowl so far. He's been praised as the best quarterback in the North, and his name is starting to grow intrigue among teams.

As long as he continues to outplay other senior quarterbacks—namely Syracuse's Ryan Nassib—there's a very real chance that Glennon finds himself going as high as the first round.


Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

Alex Okafor had a huge senior season with the Longhorns, registering 41 tackles (16.5 for loss), four forced fumbles and 12.5 sacks—4.5 of which came in the Alamo Bowl.

Unfortunately for the senior, this season's draft class is filled with pass-rushers—with first-round projections favoring the several juniors in this year's group.

Okafor has first-round upside, and he's doing everything he can to prove it at the Senior Bowl.

According to Rob Rang at CBS Sports, Okafor has been impressive so far. He's been matched against top senior offensive tackle Eric Fisher, and is reportedly handling the assignment very well.

Okafor isn't the biggest name out there, but he's doing his best to prove the upside he has. As long as he keeps up the hard work, he could easily sneak into the first round.


Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

BYU star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah has been one of the most enigmatic players at this year's event in Mobile.

At times he's been compared to New York Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul, and at other times he's been reported as too raw of a player.

The one truth in all of this is how physically gifted Ansah is.

A native of Ghana, Ansah first arrived at BYU to do track. However, he quickly found a calling in football.

The senior has a very unique combination of speed, athleticism and strength, which makes him such an intriguing prospect. But he's also new to football, and he's looked too green at times.

Ansah has the pure upside to find himself going in the first round of the draft, but that spot is in jeopardy if he continues to show his inexperience at the Senior Bowl.


Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

If there's one player turning heads in Mobile, it's Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant.

Desmond—younger brother of NFL defensive backs Marcus and Isaiah Trufant—has shown tremendous instincts and athleticism in practice so far.

Trufant had a somewhat quiet senior season, racking up just 49 tackles and one interception—though he did have nine pass deflections.

But the Huskies did have the 22nd-best pass defense in the FBS, holding opponents to under 200 passing yards a game.

The only surefire first-round corners appear to be Alabama's Dee Milliner and FSU's Xavier Rhodes—both juniors.

Next in line at the position would be Trufant. If scouts are as impressed with him as reported, he's in a great position to go in the first round.