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2019 Senior Bowl Game: Top Fantasy Prospects Preview

Jan 25, 2019

UMass wide receiver Andy Isabella will get a chance to boost his draft stock in Saturday’s Senior Bowl.

R.C. Fischer previews the 2019 Senior Bowl Game for FantasyPros. This piece is part of our article program that features quality content from experts exclusively at FantasyPros. For more insight from R.C., head to Fantasy Football Metrics.

It’s pre-NFL Combine, which is the major event that shifts a lot of NFL Draft boards and rankings, but the annual Senior Bowl marks the first gathering to significantly alter NFL Draft stock.

I scout the Senior Bowl every year for NFL Draft analysis, but my primary purpose is to scout the talent for high-stakes dynasty leagues and immediate fantasy football impact, as well as for the football handicapping community. I wear a lot of hats watching the Senior Bowl practices, interviews, game tape, etc., this week.

I’ve covered the Senior Bowl for FantasyPros for a few years now, and before writing up a post-game analysis, I like to do a preview report going into Saturday’s game. I cover the players I’m most interested in from scouting their college work and then watching them practice all week in Mobile, Alabama. This year is especially important to watch the practices because so many of the best fantasy prospects played at non-D1 schools. We’re getting a great opportunity to see them against elevated competition.

For this year’s preview, I’m going to do a dynasty rookie mock draft by taking the top-five players here in Mobile, drafting/ranking them with a 2019 mindset and a long-term vision as well. My board can/will change as the measurables (NFL Combine and Pro Days) come in. After collecting those numbers, we can run our full computer scouting models on every prospect for our rankings and mock drafts at College Football Metrics. For now, here’s my dynasty/fantasy board as of scouting their college work and observing things during Senior Bowl week.

1) WR Andy Isabella, UMass (North)
I could argue Isabella is the single-most talented WR prospect at the Senior Bowl. He possesses the best speed-agility-hand combo and comes with gravitas among the scouting community. There’s a lot of love for Isabella before he even stepped foot in Mobile.

He will likely be taken inside the NFL Draft’s top 50 with a clear purpose of catching a lot of passes. So, I’m going to lean Isabella if we’re dynasty-drafting today. He has a chance to catch 100+ passes a year, easily … and starting in his rookie season. If he lands in a decent offense.

I have said multiple times: He’s like a better version of a young Julian Edelman.

2) WR Penny Hart, Georgia State (North)
Hart is a really talented wide receiver, a true playmaker. And no one is getting open on short pass routes because of their quick feet more than Hart is at the practice week. He’s short (5’8″), but a playmaker and reliable wide receiver nonetheless. It’s like if Tarik Cohen just played WR.

He topped 1,000 receiving yards in his freshman year and then again as a junior. A down senior year (669 receiving yards, two TDs) stemmed from his team barely having functioning QB play.

3) WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor (Not playing due to injury)
A former star running back for the SEC’s Tennessee Volunteers, Hurd recorded 1,288 rushing yards and 12 TDs in 2015. He got hurt, lost his main job to a split role, and transferred to Baylor–where he converted to wide receiver–in 2017. Hurd won’t be able to play due to a minor injury, but he went to Mobile for the weigh-ins and meetings. He came in at 6’4.5″/227 with 10 1/8″ hands. Wow.

Along with having a nice season at wide receiver for Baylor (69-946-4) as a pure receiver, he also took plays at running back as a gimmick weapon AND as just a regular running threat (48-209-3).

How many prospects have a resume like Hurd’s? He cleared 1,000 rushing yards in the SEC and then switched to wide receiver, posting 946 yards in his first season as a Big 12 starter. This week’s measurements proved he also has the size and giant hands.

The possibilities for him as an offensive weapon on every play are tantalizing. He has a case for this list’s top spot because of all the dimensions he brings at his size.

As a wide receiver, I thought he worked a little like Dante Pettis, but a lot taller. When I watched him at Tennessee a few years ago, I thought he ran/looked like Matt Forte as a running back.

4) WR Keelan Doss, UC Davis (North)
Doss could wind up #1 on this list post-NFL Combine, or just when reality hits. Doss has the size and movement skills of a #1 wide receiver in the NFL, but he’s still a bit raw after playing at a lower collegiate level.

Good hands. Good routes. High character. Add five-10 pounds of muscle, and he may be the best WR prospect from the 2019 NFL Draft. But there are SO many good WR prospects in this year’s class.

Although he’s skinnier and needs more mass, Doss reminds me of former Texans star Andre Johnson.

5) TE Donald Parham, Stetson (North … Not playing)
I’m going to reach here. Why not? How many athletic 6’8″ tight ends are there in the NFL?

Another guy in Mobile who is so raw, but so intriguing on his freakish size and athleticism. Parham definitely looks more like a giant WR prospect than a giant TE prospect because he’s lean, wiry, and muscular.

I thought he caught the ball well in drills on Tuesday, but then he got banged up during Wednesday’s practice and will not play the rest of the week.

 

In my initial top five, there are no QB, RB, or IDP prospects. The QB prospects are not as fantasy worthy as last year’s class, and most people know the ‘name’ passers at the Senior Bowl. You may not be as familiar with my top RB or IDP prospect here, so let’s touch on them as players to watch on Saturday:

IDP/DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State (South)
He’s definitely the IDP standout so far in Mobile. Impressive physique (6’6″/252, 84″+ wingspan), lean, sleek, quick. Nearly unblockable here. He can rush the passer and chases the run as well.

Sweat is moving up to be a first-round, possibly top-10 overall NFL Draft pick. With that, he’ll be expected to start right away and give an immediate ROI. Let’s hope he gets a 4-3 DE classification and isn’t stuck as a 3-4 OLB, which would hurt his IDP status if classified as ‘LB.’

It may be the Mobile hype, but I’m starting to wonder if Sweat may be a better NFL prospect than Bradley Chubb was.

RB Tony Pollard, Memphis (North)
He’s not the best or most talented RB prospect here, per se–that’s probably Dexter Williams–but Pollard is the one best set up for fantasy success (in PPR) from this game.

The Memphis RB registered eight rushing, seven receiving, and five punt-return TDs combined in his last two seasons while averaging 7.2 per carry. He’s just a playmaker. He’s only 6’0″/200, and it doesn’t look like he’s moving that fast, but then you look up and he’s scoring another touchdown. He just has a knack for making big plays. He can catch the ball, run it a limited amount of times as well, and is a dangerous return man. What’s not to love?

Pollard conjures up images of James White with more playmaking ability.

Join us next week on FantasyPros for my Senior Bowl game analysis as an NFL Draft scout and as a dynasty-fantasy scout.

Look for more of my team’s NFL Draft scouting reports, measurables, and weekly updated dynasty rookie rankings before and after the NFL Draft, right up to the beginning of the new NFL season at College Football Metrics. See our NFL/fantasy analysis all year ’round at Fantasy Football Metrics.

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