Prospects on rise after Senior Bowl
January, 27, 2014
By Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl | ESPN Insider
AP Photo, Getty Images, AP PhotoDee Ford, Keith McGill and Zack Martin all helped their draft stocks in Mobile last week.In 2013, 10 players who participated in the Senior Bowl became first-round picks in the NFL draft. This year’s field wasn’t quite as talented. Only four or five players at the Senior Bowl practices and game in Mobile, Ala. last week will likely end up going on Day 1 of the 2014 draft.
That's partly because of the number of top players who declined to participate (including Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert, Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde, Buffalo LB Khalil Mack and Alabama LB C.J. Mosley) and others who were unable to perform because of injury (including UCLA LB Anthony Barr, Florida DT Dominique Easley, Michigan OT Taylor Lewan and LSU QB Zach Mettenberger).
However, several top prospects stood out, and a few began the week off the radar but really improved their draft stock -- along with a few others who disappointed with their play. Let’s take a look at the notable performances from Senior Bowl week.
Cream of the crop
These players were the top five performers in Mobile last week, and all have the potential to be selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
1. Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Martin took his game to another level as a senior at Notre Dame, and he was able to match that level at the Senior Bowl -- both in practices and in Saturday’s game. The biggest question mark for Martin is his lack of ideal length to play the tackle position in the NFL (32¼-inch arms). But while that is definitely a concern (former Raiders’ No. 2 pick Robert Gallery is one such cautionary tale), it isn’t a deal-breaker. Justin Pugh has similarly short arms, but he was a first-round pick in 2013 and showed a lot of promise as a rookie for the Giants.