Unless you are a fan of the Seattle Seahawks or Denver Broncos, it is time to start looking toward the 2014 NFL draft. Fortunately, some of the best prospects will be on display at this year's Senior Bowl.
This All-Star showcase gives NFL teams and scouts a chance to see top players in a game against elite competition. Of course, it also presents an opportunity to see how these young men practice and prepare for games throughout the week.
Those prospects that do well can often jump from relative obscurity to a first- or second-round pick with a strong showing.
Here is a full look at the rosters for each team as well as the top players who will be selected early in the NFL draft in May.
|Derek Carr||Fresno State||QB|
|Jimmy Garoppolo||Eastern Illinois||QB|
|David Fales||San Jose State||QB|
|Antonio Andrews||Western Kentucky||RB|
|Jerick McKinnon||Georgia Southern||RB|
|Lorenzo Taliaferro||Coastal Carolina||RB|
|Marcel Jensen||Fresno State||TE|
|Bryan Stork||Florida State||OL|
|Gabe Jackson||Mississippi State||OL|
|Billy Turner||North Dakota State||OL|
|Justin Ellis||Louisiana Tech||DL|
|Will Sutton||Arizona State||DL|
|Christian Jones||Florida State||LB|
|Jeremiah Attaochu||Georgia Tech||LB|
|Telvin Smith||Florida State||LB|
|Kyle Van Noy||BYU||LB|
|Lavelle Westbrooks||Georgia Southern||DB|
|Terrence Brooks||Florida State||DB|
|Jemea Thomas||Georgia Tech||DB|
|Marcus Heit||Kansas State||LS|
|Logan Thomas||Virginia Tech||QB|
|Charles Sims||West Virginia||RB|
|Jared Abbrederis||, Wisconsin||WR|
|Michael Campanaro||Wake Forest||WR|
|Jeff Janis||Saginaw Valley St.||WR|
|Tyler Larsen||Utah State||OL|
|Weston Richburg||Colorado State||OL|
|Kadeem Edwards||Tennessee St.||OL|
|Zack Martin||Notre Dame||OL|
|Jack Mewhort||Ohio State||OL|
|DaQuan Jones||Penn State||DL|
|Will Clarke||West Virginia||DL|
|James Gayle||Virginia Tech||DL|
|Kareem Martin||North Carolina||DL|
|Nevin Lawson||Utah State||DB|
|Deone Bucannon||Washington State||DB|
|Dontae Johnson||North Carolina State||DB|
|Jimmie Ward||Northern Illinois||DB|
|Kirby Van Der Kamp||Iowa State||P|
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
During the regular season, Derek Carr was the most productive quarterback in college football. However, the question remains whether he can get it done in the NFL.
The Fresno State quarterback led all of FBS with 5,082 passing yards and 50 touchdowns, yet this was mostly against inferior competition. He also struggled in the bowl game against USC.
Additionally, Carr has to show he can play in a pro-style offense after running the spread offense the past couple of years. According to Mark Inabinett of AL.com, Carr has made proving himself in this area a goal for the week:
Number one is just show that I can play under center, to show that I've been doing that since I was 3 and that I've only been in the shotgun for two years. Of course, that has to be in everybody's head and rightfully so. I would think the same thing.
Still, there is little denying Carr's pure talent as a passer. Andrew Garda of FootballGuys.com gave his assessment:
Derek Carr was probably the best of the bunch today. Overall solid, likes his motion and mechanics, threw a good ball.— Andrew Garda (@Andrew_Garda) January 20, 2014
The brother of former No. 1 overall pick David Carr has the ability to be a star in the NFL, but this week will help show if he can get to that point.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
There is often a big divide between college stars and legitimate NFL prospects. Aaron Donald was as dominant as they come this year, sweeping the award shows while being named the best defensive player in the country by virtually any measure.
He finished with 11 sacks as an interior lineman, something that is not easy to do. Whenever he did not bring the quarterback down, he was almost always in the backfield disrupting the offensive play.
However, there are some that believe a lack of size will keep him out of the first round. According to CBS Sports, he is the fourth-best defensive tackle available and a likely second-round pick.
This might change based on his recent play at Senior Bowl practices. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller discussed Donald's impressive performance on Day 1:
If asked to pick one player who really dominated today, it'd be Pitt DT Aaron Donald. But, that's what he did all year too.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 21, 2014
Donald might not be able to clog the middle of the field like a prototypical 3-4 tackle, but he can get through an offensive line with ease. This will help him be successful as a professional, regardless of what he weighs.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Over the past two seasons, Jordan Matthews has torn apart SEC defenses to the tune of 2,800 receiving yards for 15 touchdowns on 206 catches. He has solid size at 6'3" and good enough hands to be a reliable target for any quarterback in the NFL.
However, he has one more skill that has been on display so far at the Senior Bowl: work ethic.
According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Matthews asked for game tape of all the opposing quarterbacks to help him prepare for the contest. This is not a common practice for an All-Star game at any level, but it just goes to show that he is willing to put the extra time in to prepare.
Meanwhile, Miller also caught him doing extra work on the field:
Practice is over, but Derek Carr is still throwing to Jordan Matthews. Only two guys on the field.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 20, 2014
Matthews is a tremendous talent who will get far on his athletic abilities alone. Adding in this work ethic and the fact that he is a student of the game shows that he is worth a first-round pick.
Kyle Van Noy, DE, BYU
In the age of specialization, Kyle Van Noy is a rare outside linebacker that can truly do it all. After finishing with 13 sacks in his junior season, the BYU product spent this year perfecting his ability in coverage.
This skill was on full display at Senior Bowl practices and he drew rave reviews. Scott Bischoff of New Era Scouting and Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting were two of many who liked what they saw in this area:
More on BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy. He has great footwork and it was on display in 1 on 1's today. He broke up several passes and looks very fluid— Scott Bischoff (@Bischoff_Scott) January 21, 2014
So far, Kyle Van Noy has been top LB in each drill. Picking up RBs, physical/tight with TEs, looking balanced throughout. #SeniorBowl— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) January 20, 2014
Van Noy has the size and quickness to be a force off the edge against both the pass and run, but his ability to stay on the field for all three downs is what truly separates him.
If he can continue to impress scouts and have a strong performance at the Senior Bowl, it would not be surprising to see him sneak into the first round at the NFL draft.
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