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2020 Senior Bowl: 10 Players to Watch (Fantasy Football)

Jan 23, 2020

Wide receivers K.J. Hill and Van Jefferson are two big-name players to watch in this year’s Senior Bowl.

Senior Bowl Week is underway, and the talent on display is off the charts! The Senior Bowl is the premier collegiate all-star game where the top seniors and college graduates come to learn, show off their abilities, and meet with NFL personnel. This week has always been the media’s kickoff of draft season, but ever since Jim Nagy and his staff have taken over, it has reached another level. Nagy and his staff have spent the past year scouting, inviting players, and preparing for this week, and it really shows. The talent they have assembled for the North and South rosters is second to none.

Today, we’ll look at 10 players to watch as we get into the Senior Bowl, which takes place on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. CT. The first five will be more well-known players that came in with high expectations and have lived up to those expectations. The second five will be players who may be lesser-known athletes, but have had a great week of practice, and have the chance to move up draft boards significantly if they finish the week well with a strong showing on Saturday.

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High Profile Players

Van Jefferson (WR – Florida)
I don’t think there was a player who helped their draft stock more this week than Van Jefferson. In the weeks leading up to the Senior Bowl, Jefferson had started to break onto the scene with film highlighted by his skillful route running. In Mobile, he put his route running on full display. There hasn’t been a corner that can keep up with him this week while he runs his routes. He doesn’t have blazing speed either, but he has an innate ability to create separation with his precise route running. He is looking like an absolute steal for a team come draft time, and even though it’s a deep receiver class, he should be considered in at least the third round of rookie dynasty drafts depending on the situation he is drafted into. I am confident we have yet to see the best of Van Jefferson.

K.J. Hill (WR – Ohio State)
If anybody is going to compete with Van Jefferson’s performance in practice this week, it’s Ohio State’s K.J. Hill. He has been almost impossible to cover in 1-on-1 drills all week long. His route running is very refined, and he has been able to create a lot of separation from the defensive backs in attendance. I expect him to see a lot of targets on game day as he continues to raise his draft stock and differentiate himself in a loaded receiver draft class.

Justin Herbert (QB – Oregon)
Mobile is a great setting to find out exactly who a quarterback is as a player and leader. As a leader, Herbert has lived up to the thought that he is more of a quiet, lead-by-example type of player. That isn’t the end of the world, but you would like to see him be more vocal if a team expects him to be the face and leader of a team. On the field, Herbert has shown that he needs to be in the conversation for QB3 in this draft. He has picked up the offense quickly and has been one of the two best signal-callers during each day of practice so far. I will be keeping an eye on him to see how he takes control of his offense in a game setting. If he continues performing how he has been so far, I predict that Herbert will be a top-15 pick on draft day.

Jordan Love (QB – Utah State)
Jordan Love has been the most talented quarterback in Mobile all week. He checked in Monday with huge 10.63″ hands and displayed the arm talent that will allow him to play for any team in any weather. Coming into Mobile, Love had a ton of questions because of his regression from his 2018 season. All week long, he has done his best to answer those questions by showing that he has the elite arm talent and play-making ability to be a franchise guy. Love and Herbert will be battling all draft season for the QB3 spot in positional rankings. At this point, I would give Love the edge, and I cannot wait to see how he performs in live-action as he fights to keep that spot.

Jalen Hurts (QB – Oklahoma)
Jalen Hurts is the biggest question mark of the quarterback position this draft cycle. Some say he should change position. Others say he has the athleticism and traits to become a good NFL quarterback. As far as the position change goes, Hurts said on Monday that even though he does want to help a team however he can, he does see himself as a quarterback, and that is the only position he is training for. After day one of practice, Hurts was labeled as one of the worst performers, but he stepped up on day two with some well-thrown balls as he continues to pick up the offense. It will be important for Hurts to finish the practice week strong and then make an impact in Saturday’s game.

Potential Surprises

Ben Bartch (OT – St. John’s)
Bartch is the only Division III player invited to the Senior Bowl this year. He began his college career as a tight end, and his athleticism has carried over to his play at left tackle. You can see in drills how easily he moves, especially in pass protection, where he has shown the ability to stay in front of edge rushers and then set his anchor to stop bull rushers. Coming up from the lower college level, Bartch is definitely raw, but he has shown this week that he is one of the best draft-and-develop targets at the tackle position. From day one, he has surprised me, and I will be keeping an eye on him to see how he continues to compete with the best seniors that college has to offer. So far, Bartch looks like he belongs here.

Adam Trautman (TE – Dayton)
Adam Trautman is one of the top tight ends in this year’s draft class. However, when you’re playing at a lower level of competition, it’s important to prove that you can handle playing with the best. Trautman has come in and displayed that he does belong with the athletes in Mobile. He has the necessary combination of size and athleticism, and he is a good hands catcher and mover in the open field. With improved strength and more practice, he should be able to become a complete tight end for an NFL team. He is someone you will want to watch to see how he continues to develop as a blocker and to see his field-stretching ability in the passing game.

Kyle Dugger (S – Lenoir-Rhyne)
Dugger is another small-school prospect who has shown that he can hang with the best this week. In coverage drills, he demonstrated that he could come down and cover the tight end position, and he also has the ball skills to create turnovers. Dugger has a perfect height/weight/athleticism combination for the position. He is a player to watch, and he’ll look to continue showing us that he can play at the next level by making an impact against the run and pass games on Saturday.

Dane Jackson (CB – Pittsburgh)
Jackson has really surprised me this week. He has been done a really good job in 1-on-1 drills all week, showing good reactive athleticism in man coverage, and he has been able to pile up the pass breakups because of it. Receivers have had a very hard time getting any sort of separation against him all week long. He will be one to watch on game day. Especially for teams who are in need of quick-twitch, aggressive, man to man corners, Jackson will be well on his way up draft boards with a good showing Saturday — as long as he can line up well against guys like K.J. Hill and Michael Pittman Jr.

Terrell Lewis (Edge – Alabama)
It’s very surprising to see a player from Alabama on a list of guys who might surprise you. Usually, the spotlight is on them so much that most of the players already have exceptional expectations. That is not the case with Lewis, as he has spent a large chunk of his college career fighting injuries. However, when he is healthy, he has the length, bend, and overall athletic abilities to be one of the best edge defenders in the draft. He has shown this ability all week at practice, as he’s shown really good bend in bag drills and good hand usage, burst, and flexibility in 1-on-1 drills. Lewis will be fun to watch Saturday as he continues his climb towards being a lock for the first round.

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Mark Johnson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mark, check out his archive and follow him @MJ_NFLDraft.

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