The Senior Bowl is the premier All-Star game for college football’s top seniors. This year, the game follows the same process as in year’s past by bringing in top stars as well as hidden gems throughout the college game.
There are 10 players that will enter the game as unknowns, but by the end of Saturday, will have surprised the crowd and increased their draft stock exponentially. Practice is where the coaches get the best look at the players, but the game brings the instruction and competition to a new level.
The following 10 players will thrive in the 2013 Senior Bowl, and create names for themselves as they attempt to enter the NFL.
Jonathan Cyprien is the only player from Florida International in the Senior Bowl, and he has been using that opportunity to show off.
Reports from NFLDraftScout.com say that he has been exploding this week in practice, staying aggressive through every drill and finishing off the ball carrier when he gets the chance.
A number of big name safeties decided not to trip to Mobile, Ala. and that has opened the door for Cyprien. The South squad will need to know his presence on every snap or Cyprien will have a career day.
He has already proved this week that he is ready to make a big impact on Saturday's game.
Brandon Williams was a star defensive lineman for Missouri Southern this past fall, but he enters the Senior Bowl as a little known name. NFLDraftScout.com has him listed as the No. 10-ranked defensive tackle despite his lack of fanfare.
Williams has the size to make a major difference along the line. At 6’2” and 341 pounds, he is big enough to plug the middle, but he is also agile enough to break after the quarterback.
Having the opportunity to challenge the top offensive linemen in the game will give Williams a shot to showcase his talent. Look for him to have a huge game on Saturday while stuffing the South’s ground game.
Aaron Mellette comes to the Senior Bowl from Elon University. He is projected to be a fifth-round pick by CBSSports.com.
He is only the second player from Elon to ever make it into a Division I All-Star game, and he is taking that opportunity seriously. He has the chance to increase his stock on Saturday.
The North has three very capable quarterbacks that will get the ball into the air efficiently, but it will be up to Mellette to make the plays. Long passes are sure to come with him on the field, so watch for Mellette, especially in third-and-long situations.
Will Davis comes to the Senior Bowl out of Utah State looking to make a move in the draft. Through the week of practice, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that there have been struggles for Davis, but also some positives to take away.
The report by Kyle Goon points out that despite his struggles with footwork, he is still an athletic player with noticeably quick hips for his position. He will struggle at points, but Davis will also make a play or two.
All it takes is one big play by a defender to win the crowd over. Davis has that talent and will finish this week high on many NFL team's draft boards at the cornerback position.
B.W. Webb is a defensive back and return man out of William and Mary. He is a little known star, but he possesses the skills to be a major breakout player for the South squad.
There are a number of top receivers and quarterbacks that will lineup against him on Saturday, giving him the chance to shine in front of a large crowd, hundreds of scouts and a national television audience.
This is the first opportunity for Webb to shine in front of the nation. Expect his game to be better than ever this Saturday.
Robert Alford is a stud cornerback out of Southeast Louisiana that is having a solid week of Senior Bowl practice, according to this Washington Post report.
Alford has been displaying his return skills, and has also proven that he can hang with the top receiver talent in the country. He took this trip to prove that he can make plays against top talent, and so far, he is achieving that goal.
His closing speed is what has caught most people's attention, and despite his small school resume, he brings big boy hits.
Montori Hughes is a big-bodied middle man (6’5”, 328 pounds) that has elite agility and speed.
Hughes is a confident player and it has shown on the field this week. According to an al.com report, Hughes said that he had “a little foot sprain” entering the week, but he has since recovered.
There won’t be much running room against the Hughes directed line this Saturday, and there is bound to be a lot of backfield pressure with him in the game. He has a nasty skill set, and will get the best of the North's linemen more times than not.
Originally a tight end, J.C. Tretter has made lengthy strides to land in the Senior Bowl as an offensive lineman from Cornell. As an Ivy Leaguer, it was already tough to get noticed, but his work ethic helps this guy shine through.
He is a 6’4”, 302-pound offensive lineman that is rated as the No. 7 guard in this year’s draft by NFLDraftScout.com.
Any team will be lucky to snag this player, and he will prove why on Saturday. Throughout practice, he has had the chance to show his skills, but he will put them all together this weekend. This game will put his name on the map.
Garrett Gilkey is as big of a sleeper prospect as they come. NFLDraftScout.com has him listed as the No. 9 offensive guard in the draft, and CBSSports.com draft analyst Pat Kirwan thinks that he deserves every bit of the accolades that he has received.
Kirwan said: “How this guy didn’t play for a team like Nebraska or Wisconsin coming out of Chicago is a mystery to me.” Talk about a ringing endorsement of this guy’s skills.
The report also stated that Gilkey has been impressive and aggressive this week during practice. He will be a great fit for any team looking for a power guard.
Jack Doyle has struggled to make a major impact this week in practice, but I think this guy will impress once the game starts on Saturday.
According to NFLDraftScout.com, he is ranked as the No. 15 tight end in the draft. He has a great frame at 6’5” and 254 pounds, and could add weight once he hits the NFL.
Dave Richard with CBSSports.com gave Doyle a less-than-glowing review this week, though, saying that he lagged behind in speed drills and that “there’s not a lot to get excited about” when discussing Doyle’s future.
Doyle should break out on Saturday, however, and at the very least, cement his status as a second option type player in the NFL.