Senior Bowl 2017: Updated NFL Draft Prospects, Invite List and More

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2017

NORMAN, OK - DECEMBER 3:  Wide receiver Dede Westbrook #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates a touchdown against the Oklahoma State Cowboys December 3, 2016 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Brett Deering/Getty Images

The Senior Bowl is the premier postseason game for NFL draft prospects, and the 2017 edition is loaded with high-profile names.

Here is a rundown of some of the most notable prospects to accept a spot in the game thus far with a full list available at the game's official website:

Notable 2017 Senior Bowl Accepted Invites
Ben BoulwareILBClemson
Josh DobbsQBTennessee
O.J. HowardTEAlabama
Chad KellyQBOle Miss
Desmond KingCBIowa
Takkarist McKinleyOLBUCLA
Donnel PumphreyRBSan Diego State
Artavis ScottWRClemson
Dede WestbrookWROklahoma

Although the Senior Bowl will boast some top-level talent, several players expected to be taken high in the draft have declined the opportunity to play.

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson turned down his invitation to play in the 2017 Senior Bowl on Wednesday in favor of focusing on preparations for the NFL Scouting Combine. 

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller initially reported Watson's decision Tuesday night, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport provided confirmation from Watson's agent, David Mulugheta.

Miller added that Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams also declined an invitation.

Per Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Alabama defensive standouts Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster opted against playing in the game as well.

Watson finished second to Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in the Heisman Trophy voting last season after coming in third the previous year.

He finished the campaign with 4,593 passing yards, 50 total touchdowns (41 passing and nine rushing) and 17 interceptions.

That made him one of the highest-rated passers in college football, according to Pro Football Focus:

The 21-year-old Georgia native is seemingly in a three-way race with North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky and Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer to be the first signal-caller selected in the 2017 NFL draft.

Miller ranked Watson third among quarterbacks in his Jan. 11 big board behind both Trubisky and Kizer.

Also, in his most recent mock draft on Jan. 2, Miller predicted Watson will be selected 10th overall by the Buffalo Bills.

With regard to those who have decided to play in the Senior Bowl, however, Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook is arguably the biggest name.

Westbrook enjoyed a dominant season that saw him finish as a Heisman Trophy finalist, and he has a chance to work his way into the first-round conversation with a strong Senior Bowl.

Also, top-rated tight end O.J. Howard will look to improve his stock even more, while players who were productive in college but overlooked in draft terms, such as San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey and Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly, will attempt to make some noise.


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