The 2015 Senior Bowl on January 24th will be a proving ground for college players across the country. It's a chance for many players who need an extra opportunity to show NFL scouts that they are worth the money and improve their draft stock.
This is especially true for a player like Lorenzo Mauldin. A performance in Mobile can make Mauldin and others' draft stock soar.
Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville
Mauldin has a lot to gain from a solid performance in Mobile for the South's team. Mauldin has been a leader for Louisville over the past two seasons, but his 2014 season did not match up with his incredible 2013.
|Lorenzo Mauldin's 2013 and 2014 Stats|
|Tackles for Loss||12||0|
Coming into the 2014 season, Mauldin was possibly a first-round pick, but a shaky season has created some doubt, with CBS Sports now predicting a third or fourth round selection.
However, Mauldin's staggering athleticism may make up for a lackluster 2014 season.
Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB from Louisville, is impressive. Two years in a row OLB's from Louisville anyone?!? pic.twitter.com/wzRyCxllUM— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) January 20, 2015
Mauldin checked in at Mobile at a towering 6'3" and 256 pounds. If Mauldin can show that he is still a legitimate force in the backfield in Mobile, it's hard to argue against his athletic stature, and it will solidify his first-round status.
Nick Marshall, DC, Auburn
You read that header right. In case you hadn't already heard, Nick Marshall plans to be a defensive back in the NFL. This makes his senior bowl mean so much more due to his lack of play in college.
Marshall had an excellent college career as a quarterback. But as a corner, he's not just unproven, his value is almost non existent.
Almost no other player is in Marshall's position, in which he has no college experience at the position he will try and play.
Many players change position to try and improve their ability to play in the NFL, and on occasion, it works out for the better, like the Jacksonville Jaguars' Denard Robinson, who played QB in college, and switched to running back coming into the NFL.
If Marshall can prove that he can play corner against some of the top receivers in the country in Kansas State's Tyler Lockett and Eastern Carolina's Justin Hardy, he may be able to prove he's worth a draft pick.
Hau'oli Kikaha, DE, Washington
Unlike Mauldin, Kikaha came back for his senior year and improved on his junior year numbers. The most impressive being his sack numbers, going from 12 sacks in 2013 to 19 in 2014.
Kikaha (6'3', 245 lbs) was also one of the most consistent pass rushers in the country in 2014, only having one game(Arizona) where he didn't record at least half of a sack.
Kikaha seems to be flying under the radar to the common public, but a huge performance at the Senior Bowl could officially put his name on the map. Kikaha has a huge opportunity, and it's not just because of the Senior Bowl itself.
He gets to matchup with top SEC tackles La'el Collins and Austin Shepard, from LSU and Alabama respectively. Neither will be an easy battle, and a good performance against them could be set him apart from other top defensive ends.
This is not to mention his "karate moves", which have been stellar in practice this week.
Kikaha busting out karate moves. The LT couldn't keep a hand on him. https://t.co/2RX9KcR2EJ— Joe G (@JoeGoodberry) January 21, 2015
Quandre Diggs, DC, Texas
At 5'8" and 196 pounds, Diggs is definitely not going to tower over most receiver in the NFL. However, Diggs has made a name for himself as being a touch matchup for Big 12 receivers.
While Diggs is respected as a tough matchup for almost any receiver, his numbers aren't stellar. He's only recorded one interception and has only been credited with 14 passes defended over the past two years.
Quandre Diggs checks in under 5'9 at 5086 and 196. Sub 30" arms = length concerns evaluators already had. Good nickel skill set tho— Alex Brown (@OS_AlexBrown) January 20, 2015
As mentioned by Alex Brown above, even with concerns about his size, there is a place for Diggs on a defense. He has the technical ability to keep up with larger and more athletic receivers.
Diggs has a chance to make up for the initial impression of his stats and stature. If Diggs were able to prove his worth against a star like Auburn's Sammie Coates, then Diggs could be respected as a pick in the third round, rather than a pick on the third day, according to NFL.com.
Of the four players above, Diggs and Marshall have the most to prove and gain. Neither has any specific reason to be picked higher than somewhere on the third day. Will they exceed expectations?
The Senior Bowl can be the aspect that separates these four players from the rest of the potential draft picks. This is the small reward that players receive for staying in college for four years and also performing in that senior year. A good performance in Mobile will pay off that investment and prove that their experience and ability is worth a draft pick.
All stats were found at ESPN.com unless otherwise stated.
Evan Reier is a first-year journalism major at the University of Alabama and a member of Bleacher Report's APSM program. Follow Evan on Twitter at @evanreier.