With the Senior Bowl taking place Saturday, the first big event in the pre-draft process is complete. Much of the attention will now turn to February's scouting combine and the measurables and on-field displays that come with it.
For the draft's top prospects, there is little to gain from participating in anything but the basic pre-draft requirements. Ohio State pass-rusher Chase Young, for example, cemented himself as a top prospect early in the 2019 season. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow put himself in the first-pick conversation by throwing for 60 touchdowns, winning the Heisman and leading the Tigers to a national title.
Burrow has nothing to gain from throwing to uncovered receivers in spandex.
For under-the-radar prospects, however, events like the combine, the Senior Bowl and individual workouts are huge. For them, strong pre-draft performances can mean first-round consideration. A year ago, a standout Senior Bowl showing helped rocket Duke's Daniel Jones all the way up to the sixth overall pick.
2020 NFL Mock Draft
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State
3. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State
4. New York Giants: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
5. Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
7. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
8. Arizona Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Isaiah Simmons, OLB, Clemson
10. Cleveland Browns: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
11. New York Jets: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
13. Indianapolis Colts: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
15. Denver Broncos: Jedrick Wills Jr., OT, Alabama
16. Atlanta Falcons: K'Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU
17. Dallas Cowboys: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
19. Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Rams): Julian Okwara, DE, Notre Dame
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
22. Buffalo Bills: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
23. New England Patriots: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
24. New Orleans Saints: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
25. Minnesota Vikings: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
27. Seattle Seahawks: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
28. Baltimore Ravens: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
29. Tennessee Titans: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
30. Green Bay Packers: Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
31. Kansas City Chiefs: D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia
32. San Francisco 49ers: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
While quarterbacks like Burrow, Oregon's Justin Herbert and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa are expected to go early in Round 1, quarterback prospects like Utah State's Jordan Love are hoping just to sneak into the first round.
Love may not be one of the most well-known QB prospects, but he's drawn the interest of NFL teams. Both supremely talented and inconsistent, Love is a player for whom the pre-draft process will be critical.
"He could make himself a lot of money this week," an NFL scout said, per Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel ."He could sneak into the end of the first round this week. But if you told me he slipped out of the second round, I wouldn’t be surprised either."
Fortunately for Love, Senior Bowl week went well.
While Love didn't nail every throw during practices, he did flash the type of arm talent and athleticism that should have pro coaches drooling.
"There is so much to like, and that was obvious in each of the three practice sessions," CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson wrote.
Then there was the game itself. While Love didn't win MVP honors like Herbert did, he uncorked the sort of throws that wow in person but don't always end up on the stat sheet, as The Athletic's Dane Brugler pointed out:
Love finished just 4-of-6 for 26 yards, but what he put on film should far outweigh the numbers.
Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
Along with Love and Herbert, South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw was one of the big winners of Senior Bowl week. Kinlaw didn't participate in the game—he decided to end his week early because of a knee ailment—but he showed enough during the training sessions for NFL decision-makers to take notice.
"The 6-5, 315-pound defensive lineman has been a one-man wrecking crew in drills, displaying an exceptional combination of strength, power and athleticism while pummeling blockers in one-on-one and team exercises," NFL Media's Bucky Brooks wrote.
It didn't hurt that Kinlaw showed up looking built like a video game create-a-player. His chiseled frame appears custom-made for tossing aside blockers and closing in on quarterbacks, which he's likely to do plenty of at the next level.
Kinlaw should be a big riser over the next few months. Interior linemen who can pressure the quarterback are becoming increasingly coveted in the NFL, which is why Alabama's Quinnen Williams went third overall last April.
However, Kinlaw hasn't generated as much buzz as some other first-round prospects. With guys like Burrow, Young, Alabama wideout Jerry Jeudy and Ohio State's Jeff Okudah trending at the top of the draft, it's easy to overlook a former junior college transfer that played for a 4-8 team in 2018.
Once he's in the NFL, don't expect anyone to overlook Kinlaw.