2018 NFL Draft's Biggest Winners and Losers from All-Star Games

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystJanuary 29, 2018

2018 NFL Draft's Biggest Winners and Losers from All-Star Games

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    The East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl serve as gateways from high-level college football to the NFL ranks. Only the best of the best are invited to compete and show they're ready to become the league's next wave of stars. Not everyone lives up to the billing, though. A fine line exists between excitement and disappointment. 

    Performances during the past two weeks must be placed into context before the prospects are anointed winners or losers. 

    First, an individual's play in St. Petersburg, Florida, and/or Mobile, Alabama, is only a small part of the evaluation. Scouts have spent the last six months researching each player and breaking down his game film. What happened during a few days in January holds weight but is not a final determinant for the prospect's draft status.

    Second, game performances are not as important as the practice week, particularly at the Senior Bowl where evaluators want to see how the young men take to NFL coaching, adjust after each day's work, perform during the individual drills and interview at night. 

    Finally, labeling a prospect after these events is relative. Every single one competed. Scouts and decision-makers can't ask for anything more. However, certain expectations are heaped on talented individuals. Did they outperform those expectations or underwhelm? Were there certain areas they needed to improve upon and didn't? The little things matter. 

    The vast majority of those who competed in these all-star events will be drafted or signed as undrafted free agents by NFL teams next season. Their potential can't be overlooked. Yet there are still those who walked away from the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl with far more positive outlooks than others.

Winner: Ade Aruna, Tulane

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    The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl doesn't receive nearly as much attention as the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine Game since the event is still building its reputation and trying to find its niche on the all-star calendar. In its seventh year of existence, the game founded by the NFL Players Association doesn't produce a bevy of top talents either.

    However, a few names came to the forefront as draftable prospects. For example, Maine offensive lineman Jamil Demby received the rare opportunity to compete in both this year's NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Senior Bowl. Tulane's Ade Aruna is another whose physical prowess set him apart from those on the field at the Rose Bowl.

    Scouting traits is a vital part of the process. Every evaluator wants a player to produce at a high level, but if a prospect lacks the requisite traits to succeed at the next level, then his production doesn't matter.

    Aruna has elite traits for a pass-rusher. He's 6'6" and 265 pounds with extremely long arms. He can beat opposing linemen off the snap with his first-step quickness and displays enough flexibility to turn the edge against offensive tackles.

    The Nigeria native is still very raw, though. He didn't start his football career until his senior year in high school. As a result, the former basketball player's overall technique needs to be further developed.

    The four-year letterman accumulated 19 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and three forced fumbles during his career. His production dipped in 2017 to only two sacks after he recorded five during his junior campaign due to a scheme change where he played along the interior of a three-man front instead of being a true edge-rusher.

    Ziggy Ansah and Jason Pierre-Paul are perfect examples of elite pass-rushers who were far from finished products when they were drafted. Aruna won't be an early-round selection, yet his raw tools should be enough to entice some team in hopes of developing him into a top-end edge defender.

Loser: QB Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The disconnect between Jeremiah Briscoe's performance during his time at Sam Houston State and what he showed at the East-West Shrine Game was startling.

    The two-time winner of the Walter Payton Award as the most outstanding offensive player at the FCS level torched opposing defenses the last two seasons. Briscoe threw for an eye-popping 9,605 yards, 102 touchdowns and 26 interceptions during that period.

    As an NFL prospect, the 24-year-old pocket passer fits what organizations want at the position. He's 6'3" and 220 pounds with a big arm and a gunslinger mentality. Briscoe showed he has no fear of tight windows or trying to throw receivers open.

    "Just really trying to get ready not only just mentally for an NFL system, but physically, taking drops, doing all the play-action stuff, making more of the NFL throws," Briscoe said prior to the Shrine Game festivities, per the Associated Press. "We made a lot of those throws and a lot of similar throws [at Sam Houston], but not exactly the same throws. That's been a big focus right now, especially leading up to the Shrine."

    The highly productive quarterback struggled to make the transition during practices and the game. His accuracy could be described as erratic at best because he continually sailed passes and didn't have a feel for the routes or his targets.

    It's a difficult transition even if a quarterback has a passing familiarity with an NFL scheme since he's being asked to put everything together in a small amount of time. But the frequency of those errant throws throughout the week doomed to Briscoe to a poor overall performance.

    Briscoe's teammate, defensive tackle P.J. Hall, turned out to be the best former Bearkat on the field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Winner: Avonte Maddox, Pitt

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Small-school prospects are often under the microscope during all-star games to see if they can handle top competition. The same can be said of undersized prospects who have something to prove since they don't fit prototypical standards.

    Pittsburgh's Avonte Maddox is only 5'9" and 183 pounds, but the cornerback battles bigger receivers all day long. At the Shrine Game, one scout said the defensive back "dominated" practices, per NFL Draft Scout's Rob Rang.

    Two areas of Maddox's game help him overcome any perceived disadvantages.

    The undersized defender displays excellent closing speed. Bigger receivers may be able to use their bodies to create initial space, but Maddox won't let the gap last for long. He drives on the ball and looks to play it in the air.

    The latter point is important, as Maddox has very good ball skills. He led or tied for the Panther lead with 11 broken-up passes and a pair of interceptions this past season. The cornerback finished his career with 42 defended passes.

    Of course, a lack of length will hold him back to a degree, but his toughness shouldn't be overlooked. The defensive back registered 12.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles over the last two seasons.

    Maddox's tenacity and short-area quickness coupled with his less-than-ideal measurements earmark him as an NFL nickel corner, and he'll make life miserable for whomever he faces in the slot.

Loser: Zachary Crabtree, Oklahoma State

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Right tackles are more valuable than ever because many of the NFL's best pass-rushers either line up on the left side of the defense or move around to find an advantage against an inferior blocker. The priority gap that once existed between the blind side and strong side is shrinking.

    Oklahoma State's Zachary Crabtree is a four-year starter at right tackle and played in a wide-open offense. No mysteries surround this 6'7", 310-pound blocker. He knows exactly who he is and his role along the offensive front. The first-team All-Big 12 performer isn't going to slide to left tackle or move to guard. He's a right tackle through and through.

    This can be both a positive and a negative. Pure right tackles are only as valuable as their level of play. If they're not starting, they become a roster impediment since most teams carry seven offensive linemen during gamedays and the backups need to be versatile pieces.

    Crabtree faced a buzz saw in the Shrine Game against the East's talented pass-rushers. North Carolina State's Kentavius Street and Miami's Chad Thomas were two of the best players to take the field the entire week. They're both long, athletic and difficult matchups.

    A huge emphasis usually isn't placed on game-day performances, but Crabtree didn't appear nimble enough to handle NFL-caliber edge defenders. Of course, the tackle's size and length (34 ½" arms) help offset less-than-ideal athleticism. His footwork must continue to improve for him to develop into a starting-caliber right tackle.

    Otherwise, Crabtree is a physical run-blocker, keeps his shoulders square and generally plays his angles well. Pass protection remains the key, though. Every offensive tackle needs to hold up in protection due to the sheer number of attempts in today's pass-first league.

Winner: DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The majority of prospects included in this piece played in the Senior Bowl. After all, it's the premier all-star event and lands most of the top talent. The East-West Shrine Game shouldn't be overlooked, though, as it produces plenty of NFL players every year.

    A few prospects get the "call-up" to play in both contests. Six received the call to do so this past week, and DaeSean Hamilton led the way.

    Hamilton left Penn State as the program's all-time leader in receptions. The 6'0 ", 202-pound target managed 214 catches for 2,842 yards and 18 touchdowns during his four seasons.

    The three-time Academic All-Big Ten performer isn't the biggest or fastest target. He did drop a few passes over the last two weeks. But the way he consistently creates separation with his route running is a sight to behold.

    "Really just creating separation," Hamilton said during an NFL Network telecast when asked about his game (via Land of 10's Ryan Ginn). "I know a big knock on me is whether I could create separation because not a lot of people know about my speed. Really just coming out here and showing I can create separation and get open on a bunch of routes and the whole route tree.

    "It's something that I've harped on and take pride in, so I think that's something I've done well."

    Uncoverable is a strong descriptor, but it applies. Hamilton turned around every defensive back he faced and only got better each day from St. Petersburg through his time in Mobile.

Loser: Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    San Diego State's Rashaad Penny is a good example of how game-day performance can paint a different picture compared to a prospect's work throughout the Senior Bowl's practice week.

    Penny had 10 touches during the contest for 137 total yards and a touchdown.

    No one has ever questioned the back's ability to run the ball. He's a natural and led major college football with 2,248 yards in 2017. The 224-pound back is a workhorse and has a good chance to become a future starter at the NFL level. But he has a few areas to clean up before earning that designation. This is why his week can be described as a disappointment.

    Nothing Penny did running the football surprised those in Mobile or watching the Senior Bowl. He reads his blocks well, presses the hole, explodes through the opening and shows enough lateral agility to make defenders miss.

    But the NFL isn't about pounding the rock anymore. Every organization is searching for a complete back. Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara spoiled it for every rookie running back that follows them since both proved to be dangerous out of the backfield, too. Together, this dynamic duo combined for 134 receptions.

    Penny managed 42 receptions throughout his entire collegiate career, and his hands were inconsistent during practice sessions. Three-down backs hold a much higher value. Thus, RB prospects need to create in both phases of the game. The potential is there. After all, Penny had a 73-yard touchdown reception during Sunday's contest.

    More importantly, blocking is vital. A coaching staff won't leave a rookie runner on the field if he can't identify and stone oncoming blitzers. Penny isn't well-versed in this area and struggled during drills to make the required blocks.

    There's no question about Penny's ability to run the football. However, he must improve in the passing game to be considered a top prospect.

Winner: Kemoko Turay, Rutgers

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    In 2014, Rutgers defensive end Kemoko Turay looked like a future first-round pick after registering 7.5 sacks as a redshirt freshman. The rest of his collegiate career didn't go according to plan. 

    The pass-rusher dealt with shoulder injuries throughout the 2015 and '16 campaign, and he provided little to no impact for the Scarlet Knights defense. 

    "That was hard for me," Turay acknowledged, per Fan Rag Sports' Kyle Crabbs. "I had a basketball body; my body was frail. … My body was just trying to get used to the banging.” 

    The potential is still there, and the 6'4 " Turay showed what he can do at the Senior Bowl after he weighed in at 252 pounds. The Academic All-Big Ten performer has two vital traits for any top-notch pass-rusher.

    First, Turay has the length to give offensive tackles plenty of problems. His arms are nearly 34 inches longwhich helps create space to fend off much bigger offensive tackles. Furthermore, Turay used his hands well in Mobile. He may be slight, but it won't matter if linemen can't get into his body. 

    Second, the New Jersey native's flexibility is off the charts. Pass-rushers run the ring during practice to encourage bend and follow a similar pattern to beat tackles in game situations. Turay's body lean allows him to reach an almost 45-degree angle to bend the edge, as seen in a video provided by the Tampa Bay Times' Greg Auman. 

    Length, flexibility, quickness and athleticism coupled with improving technique re-established Turay as an intriguing edge presence with plenty of natural upside. The defensive end wanted to be more than a pass-rush specialist at Rutgers. He doesn't need to be anything more at the professional level to experience a long and successful career.

Loser: Da'Shawn Hand, Alabama

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    All-star events aren't always beneficial for prospects. Some excel in 11-on-11 situations far more than in individual drills. Alabama's Da'Shawn Hand appears to be a perfect example. 

    Hand spent the past four seasons as part of the Alabama Crimson Tide, where most players serve as a cog waiting for their opportunity to produce for a one- or two-year period before declaring for the NFL draft. He became a second-team All-SEC performer in his only season as a full-time starter. 

    What Hand didn't show during his final season on campus is an ability to consistently disrupt opposing offenses. His value lies in his scheme versatility. Alabama utilized multiple looks with Hand playing 5-technique as well as working along the interior. 

    "It's kind of like 'Hey world, I'm here,' especially with the 3-technique," Hand said, per Bama Insider's Tony Tsoukalas. "Just showing my ability to be consistent with my hands, just be dominant."

    His production has never been impressive. Granted, the near 6'3 ¾", 282-pound defensive lineman dealt with an MCL sprain that cost him three games during Alabama's latest national championship run. Even so, Hand finished his collegiate career with only 15.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.

    At his core, Hand is a technician. He excels in stacking and shedding blocks because he's been well-coached. However, he didn't flash enough during Senior Bowl practice sessions. Hand is an impressive physical specimen, yet his natural tools don't seem to translate into a prospect who can rush the passer or make plays in the backfield. 

    Hand wanted to show he can be dominant. He didn't. Alabama produces plenty of solid professionals. Not all of them are going to be stars. 

Winner: Andrew Brown, Virginia

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Expectations can be a funny thing. Andrew Brown went from being considered a rare talent to a middling draft prospect before exploding onto the scene again at the Senior Bowl. 

    The former 5-star recruit decided to stay close to home and sign with the Virginia Cavaliers program before finding himself in a system that didn't play to his strengths. Despite his natural ability, Brown had just 25.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks during his four-year career. 

    The problem stemmed from a philosophical approach that didn't fit Brown's skill set. He spent most of his time as a two-gap down lineman in a three-man front instead of as an explosive upfield penetrator. The Houston Texans coaching staff unleashed Brown as a 3-technique. 

    "It felt a little foreign," Brown said, per Fan Rag Sports' Joe Marino. "I've been in a relaxed stance for two years straight, and I have enjoyed being able to let loose, play aggressively and attack."

    Offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl couldn't handle Brown, who developed into a wrecking ball. The new role allowed the interior defender to exploit his greatest asset, his first-step quickness. Brown exploded off the snap, and the blockers struggled to get out of their stances to even lay a hand on him. 

    Many times throughout the week the defensive lineman didn't make a tackle or sack, yet his disruption blew up the play. 

    The 2018 class is filled with undersized yet productive defensive tackles. Brown's body type is quite different than most, though. He stands 6'3 ½" and weighs 294 pounds with arms 35  inches long. His combination of size, length and explosiveness likely revived interest from those who may have written him off because of a lackluster collegiate career. 

Loser: JaMarcus King, South Carolina

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    South Carolina's JaMarcus King experienced an all-or-nothing week against the Senior Bowl's talented wide receivers.

    King can be best described as a long and lean press cornerback. Certain schemes require that type of defensive back. For example, the system made famous by the Seattle Seahawks and now used by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Chargers leans on Cover 3 and man-to-man coverage. Their cornerbacks are asked to jam and redirect receivers on a down-by-down basis. 

    King can excel in a similar situation, because he's 6'0 ½" with 32.5-inch arms. His length allows him to control receivers before they can even release from the line of scrimmage. 

    Plus, the defensive back from Mobile, Alabama, displays good ball skills. King led the Gamecocks with 12 broken up passes and snagged a pair of interceptions last season. The cornerback also made an outstanding play during the Senior Bowl when he remained in phase with Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington, got his head around and tipped a pass in the end zone to his safety.

    The game-day defended pass served as the high point of King's week. The former two-year SEC starter was beaten earlier in the contest for a large gain down the sideline and struggled in coverage throughout the practice sessions. 

    Clearly, he's not comfortable in off-coverage and didn't show the foot quickness to deal with shiftier targets like Penn State's DaeSean Hamilton. King played with too wide of a base throughout the week and needed to keep his feet under his hips and shoulders. Because the defensive back didn't, he struggled to redirect when initially beaten off the snap. 

    If a team is searching for a cornerback who can match up against bigger targets with a physical style of play, King is a perfect fit. He won't have much of a future with teams that plan to use him in zone coverage.

Winner: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The guards stole the show at the Senior Bowl. UTEP's Will Hernandez looks the part, as he shined physically against improved competition. As good as Hernandez was, Georgia's Isaiah Wynn emerged as the best player on the field throughout the practice week. 

    What's amazing about Wynn's performance is he played through a torn labrum that he's getting surgery on this week, per NFL Network's Alex Flanagan. Even with the injury, Wynn earned the award for the week's best offensive line performance. 

    All-star events are meat grinders for offensive linemen. They're often placed in situations in which they aren't familiar with any of the fellow blockers they need to rely upon to be successful.

    Yet scouts and decision-makers wear out the tape watching one-on-one sessions. They're looking for technique, core strength, movement skills and traits that translate. 

    Defensive linemen get excited because they can pin their ears back knowing full well the blockers aren't getting any help. According to Pro Football Focus, Wynn still won 80 percent of his matchups.

    At 6'2 ½" and 304 pounds, the collegiate left tackle needs to move inside because he lacks length. The three-year starter played guard earlier in this career and smoothly transitioned back to the position in Mobile. Wynn's nimble feet allowed him to get into his pass set quickly and establish a good base. His punch was inconsistent, but he generally kept his hands inside and hit his mark. 

    Wynn's dominance became an extension of his regular-season play. He finished first among SEC offensive tackles with a 98.6 pass-blocking efficiency, per PFF. He'll finish his blocks in the run game, too. His fits in both phases of the game are exceptional. 

    The NFL is searching near and far for well-coached offensive line prospects instead of the plethora of young men coming out of spread systems without an emphasis on technique. Wynn is an ideal guard candidate in the first or second round. 

Loser: Desmond Harrison, West Georgia

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    Caitlyn Tekknip/West Georgia Athletic Department

    West Georgia's Desmond Harrison is one of the top small-school prospects in this year's draft class, yet he still has many questions to answer about his game. 

    Not everyone who receives an invitation to an all-star event can compete. Injuries and illness happen. For example, Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd suffered a broken hand after an electric start to his Senior Bowl week. 

    Harrison never even got to show off his outstanding athleticism and length because of a knee injury. Ultimately, he lost on three fronts. 

    Competing against top pass-rushers could have eased some concerns about Harrison's technique. A quick glimpse of the left tackle's play shows he has little understanding of balance, hand placement and angles. The Texas native simply overwhelmed lesser Division II competition at the point of attack. 

    Also, Harrison doesn't play with a lot of bulk on his 6'6" frame. He weighed in at only 279 pounds in Mobile after battling the flu the previous week, according to NBC Sports' Josh Norris. As a result, the offensive lineman must add 15 to 20 good pounds between now and the combine. 

    Finally, the former Texas Longhorn has to answer questions from NFL teams about getting kicked out of the program and spending two years away from the game. Getting to know these young men is an integral part of these all-star events. Harrison needs to build positive relationships and didn't get a chance in Mobile. 

    How much a team is willing to risk is a sliding scale based on a player's talent level. Harrison is a gifted offensive tackle prospect, yet his Senior Bowl absence didn't help his status at all.

Winner: Shaquem Griffin, UCF

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    UCF's Shaquem Griffin shouldn't be defined as the one-handed football player. Instead, he should be viewed as a damn good defender who has a legitimate chance to make an impact at the professional level. 

    "As long as I'm going fast and making plays this week, they're going to forget how many hands I have," Griffin said at the start of Senior Bowl week, per NFL.com's Chase Goodbread

    Everyone did forget because Griffin's versatility, motor and attitude overwhelmed many in his proximity. His personality is infectious, and he outworks everyone on the field. Everyone who spoke about the young man during the week showered him with praise

    On the field, the reigning Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Defensive MVP is a mix of speed and persistence. Yes, he struggles to disengage from blocks. But the 6'0 ¼", 223-pound defender provides the flexibility to be an edge defender, outside linebacker and safety. His size creates natural leverage and bend coming off the edge some Senior Bowl blockers couldn't handle

    Griffin's transition from the secondary to strong-side linebacker in a 3-4 base defense before the 2016 season allowed the Knights coaching staff to maximize his skill set. The senior led his team with 13.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and nine more quarterback hits in 2017. He had even better numbers his junior year, as he had 92 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. 

    How much of an impression did the AAC's 2016 Defensive Player of the Year make? Griffin left Mobile as the Senior Bowl's Overall Practice Player of the Week

    "I felt like I had to prove myself because obviously scouts can say one thing and people are going to say another," Griffin said, per the Omaha World-Herald News Services. "I had to make sure that I could show everybody what I could do, and I think I was able to accomplish that this week." 

    It's a great story, but Griffin's play alone is worthy of the NFL's attention. 

Loser: Marcus Davenport, UTSA

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    UTSA's Marcus Davenport dominated during the Senior Bowl contest. How could he be counted among this past week's losers? 

    Perception and looking at areas outside of Davenport's comfort zone both play a part. 

    Before going any further, there's no denying the defensive end's outstanding natural tools. He's 6'5 " and a chiseled 259 pounds with 34-inch arms. Davenport is explosive with the ability to play in space if asked. Physically, he's what teams want in an edge-rusher. 

    But he's a raw prospect still learning how to take advantage of his athleticism. This became apparent during the week's practice. 

    The Texans coaching staff moved Davenport around and allowed him to play from both two- and three-point stances. He flipped from defensive end to defensive tackle, too. A clear difference in his comfort level emerged. At UTSA, Davenport served as a stand-up defensive end/linebacker and managed 17.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in 2017. He dominated when asked to do the same thing in Mobile. 

    However, he didn't show the same burst, bend or effectiveness when used differently. This is problematic since elite pass-rushers are often used in a variety of manners. Defensive coordinators want to find the worst pass-blocker along an offensive line and exploit the mismatch. J.J. Watt, Khalil Mack and even 2017 No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett are used in a variety of matters to maximize their effectiveness. 

    Davenport doesn't present the same versatility coming out of the collegiate ranks. This factors into his overall draft value. The 2017 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year arrived in Mobile with the chance to establish himself as a top-10 overall talent. Davenport fell short of those expectations and proved how raw he still is. 

Winner: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

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    The Senior Bowl contest clouded the quarterback picture even though Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield clearly emerged as the best senior QB prospect during the week. 

    Josh Allen thew a couple of dimes during the second half, while Kyle Lauletta captured MVP honors. Mayfield didn't do much and left the game early to be with his ailing mother. What the Heisman Trophy winner overcame during the week and his overall performance superseded anything seen Saturday. 

    First, Mayfield arrived late in Mobile because of a family emergency. His intentions were immediately questioned. Did he arrive late to avoid weigh-ins? Too many jumped to conclusions without the entire story. Mayfield's priorities aren't out of whack. He spent extra time with his mother, who experienced a "heart episode," per The MMQB's Robert Klemko, and still honored his commitment to the Senior Bowl. 

    Second, the diminutive signal-caller's height measurement might have been the most anticipated in years. Mayfield didn't quite hit the 6'1" mark Oklahoma listed on its official site, but he was above 6'0" at 6'0 ⅜".

    On the field, the two-time All-American showed what made him dominant in the Sooners offense. He threw with anticipation and timing and provided tremendous ball placement. Receivers regularly caught his passes with the chance to create more yardage. Standing next to bigger-armed prospects, Mayfield's arm strength didn't fade. He drove the ball between the numbers. 

    Was he perfect? No. Mayfield could have done much better in regards to his deep pass attempts. But overall consistency is the name of the game. 

    Consistency doesn't just appear in a prospect's performance. How a young man acts, particularly at the quarterback position, is always under scrutiny. Mayfield often led drills, paid attention to the coaching he received, raced to celebrate with teammates after making plays and supported the other quarterbacks when they were on the field. No matter how many times some want to make Johnny Manziel comparisons, they just don't fit. 

    Others may view all of this as hyperbole to build up one top prospect over another. Yet Mayfield earned the award as the top quarterback during the practice weekwhich is voted upon by NFL personnel. 

    Playing the quarterback position is about far more than prototypical size and having a cannon.

Loser: Tanner Lee, Nebraska

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    An opportunity is all anyone can ask for, especially those trying to become professional athletes. An injured foot prevented Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph from practicing at the Senior Bowl. As a result, Nebraska's Tanner Lee got the chance to attend the event and showcase his skill set alongside Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. 

    "When the occasion arose for him to come here, we were really excited, because Tanner's got throwing talent," Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage said prior to the event, per the New Orleans Advocate's Joel A. Erickson. "There's no doubt about that. For him, it's going to be a matter of consistency during these three days of practice."

    Savage, a former NFL general manager and longtime scout, couldn't have provided a more prophetic assessment, because Lee's performance matched his description to a T.

    At times, the 6'4 ", 218-pound gunslinger showed wonderful touch and a natural feel for the game. Other times, he missed wide-open targets by not anticipating his throws. As the week wore on, Lee's play declined, and it ended on a down note when he threw a poor interception in Saturday's contest. 

    Of course, some of this can be explained away since quarterbacks and receivers are trying to get on the same page. Although, these issues speak to a larger problem. 

    Lee's overall lack of consistency will have a profound effect on his draft status, if he's even selected. The Tulane transfer surprised when he entered the draft class with a year of eligibility remaining. Scott Frost's hire clearly impacted the quarterback's decision since he's a pocket passer by trade and the coach employs a spread attack. 

    However, Lee's 2017 play didn't align with his choice. He completed only 57.5 percent of his passes and threw 16 interceptions. While multiple quarterback prospects rose to the occasion, particularly in Mobile, Lee did not.


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