2011 NFL Draft: 10 Players With Most to Lose at Senior Bowl
After all the typical bowl games are over, the one most important to NFL scouts takes place.
The Senior Bowl annually pits the nation's best player against one another in an attempt to see who is the best of the best.
Some players will skip the game in order to protect their draft stock. Others will see it as an opportunity to show that they belong in the nation's top tier.
But which players, if they accept the Senior Bowl's invite, have the most to lose?
10. Jake Locker
Jake Locker was supposed to be a Heisman contender in 2010.
That thought quickly dissipated after Nebraska dominated him early in the season and he completed just four of 20 passes, and threw two interceptions.
Similarly awful performances against Stanford and UCLA did nothing to help.
His decent numbers in the rest of his games, even so a sharp decline from 2009, still have him projected in the top three rounds.
However, there will be no shortage of NFL ready players to take advantage of every mistake he makes in the Senior Bowl.
Could two or more mistakes take him out of the draft altogether?
9. Christian Ponder
Christian Ponder's was supposed to be one of the NCAA's best players in 2010.
That didn't exactly pan out. He threw for 700 less yards in 2010 than 2009, and his completion percentage dipped six points. However, he did throw for 20 touchdowns.
He has a chance to redeem himself in the Senior Bowl and show everyone that he is as good as once thought.
Or, a bad performance could drop him out of the first three rounds.
8. Anthony Castonzo
Anthony Castonzo is an offensive tackle for the Boston College Eagles who measures in at 6'7'' and 295 pounds.
Castonzo is currently projected to be one of the top offensive lineman taken in the draft, but the Senior Bowl could change that.
Castonzo played in the weak ACC and will be facing a defensive line full of NFL ready players.
If someone were to dominate him, it would dramatically hurt his value despite his amazing size.
If an NFL ready college player can dominate him, NFL scouts would be left to wonder what all the actual NFL players might do to him.
7. Cameron Jordan
Cameron Jordan, a defensive tackle for the California Golden Bears, progressively got better with each season he played, which is obviously a good sign for scouts.
In 2010, he had his highest tackle total of his four year career with 51, and forced a fumble.
Additionally he matched his career high total of six sacks, which he also managed in 2009.
Jordan could hurt his value if he doesn't record five or more tackles in the game. Recently, he didn't struggle, but didn't exactly dominate in his last three games against Oregon, Stanford and Washington.
Jordan could go either way.
6. Greg Jones
Greg Jones has been absolutely insane as a linebacker for the Michigan State Spartans.
He routinely led his team in tackles, and even showed good hands as he snagged two interceptions against Northern Colorado.
It would be tough to imagine Jones hurting his stock in the game, but if he has trouble tackling against the strong runners in the Senior Bowl he could definitely drop from his porjected first round status.
5. DeAndre McDaniel
DeAndre McDaniel, a safety for Clemson, has had a great college career.
In 2010, he recorded for four interceptions, which was just half his 2009 total, but is remarkably good regardless.
McDaniel has drawn comparisons to Ed Reed for his ball hawk type ways, in addition to his great tackling skills.
It would be hard to imagine him having a bad Senior Bowl game, but the ACC hasn't been known for its football prowess in recent years.
Could the nation's top receivers burn McDaniel?
4. Stephen Paea
Stephen Paea, a defensive tackle at Oregon State, has absolutely destroyed offensive lines all year, and that has earned him a projection of going in the top 10 in the 2011 draft.
Having his best game against Stanford certainly didn't hurt his stock.
Not recording good stats in the Senior Bowl wouldn't kill Paea in the draft. Defensive tackles play a tough position where stats aren't always rewarding.
But if he were to get shut down, like in his mid-season games against Washington and California, then he could definitely see himself drop out of the top 10 picks.
3. Adrian Clayborn
Adrian Clayborn, a defensive lineman at Iowa, is another guy hovering right around the top 10 picks in the draft.
After having 11 sacks in 2009, Clayborn saw double teams in 2010 that limited his sacks to just four. However, he still managed 52 tackles, many of which came in the opponent's backfield.
However, Clayborn only managed one tackle in Iowa's bowl game against Missouri, and only had two in Iowa's last regular season game against a weak Minnesota team.
He also hasn't recorded a sack in his last three games.
Another off game could call his talents into question.
2. Daniel Thomas
Daniel Thomas is a running back out of Kansas State, and is surprisingly a projected as a first round pick (well surprisingly to me).
Early in the year I got to watch first hand as a Nebraska defense held Thomas to 2.9 yards a carry on 22 attempts.
This isn't an exception to the rule for Thomas, he typically struggles against good defenses.
On five separate occasions Thomas was held to less than 100 yards this season, and three times he averaged 3.5 yards a rush or less.
An average of 3.5 yards or less in the Senior Bowl on a significant amount of carries could drop Thomas from the first round.
1. Prince Amukamara
Prince Amukamara, a cornerback at Nebraska, is projected as a top five pick in the 2011 draft, but his stats might make you wonder why.
In 2010, he didn't record a single interception after having five in 2009.
There's a very simple reason why though. Opposing defenses refused to throw anywhere near Amukamura. He showed the ability to single handedly take an opposing team's best receiver out of the game with blanket coverage.
Amukamara may be targeted for the first time in the Senior Bowl, and if he fails to lock down the nation's best college receivers, it could truly harm is NFL stock.