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2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl Takeaways: Winners & Losers (Fantasy Football)

2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl Takeaways: Winners & Losers (Fantasy Football)

The Reese’s Senior Bowl, put on by former NFL Scout Jim Nagy, in Mobile, Alabama, is an event like no other. College seniors, and now juniors (106 in total), trek down to the “Heart of Dixie” to showcase their talent and hopefully increase their stock for the upcoming NFL Draft at the end of April.

While the main focus of the week for fans is the game and events surrounding it, we analyst types descend on the daily team practices to get an up-close and personal look at how these players get to work. Hand-picked by the Senior Bowl, NFL coaches lead these men in drills and walk-throughs in front of hundreds of league brass, scouts, coaches and media for three days, showcasing a variety of skills, including route running, footwork, blocking and hand drills.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

What can we take away from practice? Quite a lot.

The first and most important thing to know is that every player in Mobile has arrived with a purpose.

For players like USC RB MarShawn Lloyd, South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler and Florida WR Ricky Pearsall, it was to expound on what scouts already knew.

For players like New Hampshire’s Dylan Laube, Tulane WR Jha’Quan Jackson & South Alabama QB Carter Bradley, it was an opportunity to be seen by many of these people for the first time.

Practice drills are targeted to highlight players’ strengths, of course. However, they also put these soon-to-be-rookies in uncomfortable situations. Coaches mix up coverages, change up blitz packages and use more NFL-type schemes to see if what these men did at the collegiate level will translate to the pro game.

For a good portion of these draft prospects, this is the first time they have faced an all-star defense or run anything that resembles a pro-style offense. This is where we see what they are made of.

My eyes were glued to the action, and my notebook was in full force on brutal metal bleacher benches in the hot Southern sun all week to capture it all. After pouring through my film and notes, and healing up from a sunburn, below are my 2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl winners and losers.

2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl Winners

Carter Bradley (QB South Alabama) & Michael Pratt (QB – Tulane)

In a week where QB play was disappointing, to say the least (we’ll get to that later), unknown small-school QB Carter Bradley might have done himself a favor at practice. Part of the Senior Bowl fun is unknown prospects getting a shot to showcase their skills. Bradley did just that this week and didn’t look overwhelmed by the moment.

I will preface this with the fact that Bradley didn’t light the world on fire. However, he did show poise, a willingness to take direction from the coaching staff and an ability to progress through his reads in 11 on 11 drills. In addition, he bounced back from mistakes well and didn’t seem to get flustered.

Most days, his consistency at the position was matched only by Tulane QB Michael Pratt. He demonstrated pro-style QB skills with a bigger arm than anyone expected to see. He also pushed the ball downfield well and avoided checking the ball down under pressure. In addition, Pratt was consistently getting the ball out of his hands faster than any QB at practice.

The honest argument could be made that Michael Pratt was the best QB at the Senior Bowl this week.

To be fair, neither one of these QBs has a locked-in chance of becoming an NFL starter.

However, Bradley likely went from going undrafted to getting a shot as a seventh-round flier pick. That’s not nothing for someone who may have been selling insurance come September without this event.

On the other hand, Pratt may have pushed himself into the fourth or fifth round of the draft and could have a shot to compete for a job at some point down the road. Neither is worthy of a rookie draft pick, but they could be worth a taxi squad stash in deeper dynasty fantasy football leagues.

Kimani Vidal (RB – Troy)

These are the type of guys you love to see up their draft stock at events like the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Kimani Vidal is a small school back with a lot of heart and grit. While he is undersized at 5-foot-8, he plays much bigger.

His small stature and sturdy core allowed him to slide in and out of gaps at the line and he was hard to find or take down in traffic all week. In addition, Vidal got a good deal of work out as a pass-catcher, both out of the backfield and in the slot. While he wasn’t featured in the passing attack at Troy, Vidal indeed showed he is more than capable of being a pivotal piece in the air attack at the NFL level.

Vidal isn’t a three-down back in the NFL and he likely won’t be the guy a team relies on for goal-line yardage. However, he will slot in nicely as a change-of-pace back and a pass-catching threat who can line up in the backfield and in the slot with effectiveness. In dynasty fantasy football formats, there’s a good chance Vidal will command a third or fourth-round rookie pick as long as he doesn’t hurt his value at the combine.

Cody Schrader (RB Mizzou)

You wouldn’t usually think an SEC player would have a chance to be underrated, but that’s precisely where we are with Mizzou RB Cody Schrader. It could be his slight stature or that he played for the University of Missouri, a program that gets no respect in arguably the toughest conference in college football.

Whatever it is, Schrader seized his opportunity this week. He showcased impressive second-level speed & an ability to accelerate around the edge to escape defenders. Despite being just 5-foot-9, Schrader seemed to be able to break tackles well and wasn’t intimidated by bugger defenders. He also saw a good deal of pass-catching opportunities, which showed off his reliable hands and excellent route-running abilities, something he didn’t get to do in his time at Mizzou.

He proved this week that, despite his size, he can be just as effective in the backfield as in college. Much like Vidal, Schrader won’t be a three-down back in the NFL but will fit nicely as the pass-catching back and a solid change-of-pace back who can take the reigns if necessary. Schrader may find himself in a lead role down the line. As of now, I expect Schrader to land somewhere in the late third to early fourth round of the NFL Draft. He could sneak into the mid-third round of your dynasty fantasy football rookie drafts.

Malachi Corely (WR – Western Kentucky)

Of all the WRs at the Senior Bowl, Malachi Corley was one I was incredibly interested in seeing. Coming from a small school, like many of these players in Mobile this past week, the question was, could he hang against the more prominent school secondaries? The answer was yes.

Not only did he hang but he was dominant at times. Corley showed exceptional footwork at the line, as well as hand chucking, and quickly created separation in tight spaces consistently against press coverages. In zone schemes, Corley operated well, finding soft spots and getting open. His hands were very reliable and he was nearly impossible to tackle once he had the ball.

Corley showed he is the type of receiver who can step in as a reliable target in an NFL offense in Week 1. While he was primarily a slot receiver at Western Kentucky, Corley was used more out wide this past week with success, doing the same things well he does inside. He plays bigger than his listed height of 5-foot-11 and is the type of player teams will use out of the backfield and on jet sweeps in addition to his receiving work.

If Malachi Corley wasn’t on your radar, he should be now. With the work he did at the Senior Bowl this week, he will be on the radar of many teams who have him high on their draft boards. He likely climbed into the second or third round of the NFL Draft and could sneak into the second round of your dynasty fantasy football rookie drafts.

2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl Losers

Bo Nix (QB – Oregon) & Michael Penix Jr. (QB – Washington)

I’m grouping Oregon’s Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. here, and you’re probably not going to like it.

Ahead of landing in Mobile, most of us knew what Nix and Penix were capable of. Both were accurate and successful on short-to-mid-range throws. Neither of these passers has shown adeptness at getting the ball downfield and neither has ever been especially mobile in the pocket.

Heading into this past week, most in attendance hoped to see Penix and Nix elevate their games. Penix is coming from a brutal National Championship defeat and Nix a loss in the playoff semifinals. While they did what we knew they could do consistently all week, they left much to be desired.

Penix lacked poise in the pocket & got flustered easily under even medium pressure all week. It was clear he could alleviate this issue by getting the ball out of his hands sooner. However, he struggled to read coverages and was checking down a lot as a result. When not checking down, this led to him bailing from the pocket, making off-balance throws and a lot of mistakes.

Nix was much of the same: Struggling to read coverages, checking down more than was hoped for and not getting the ball downfield to his receivers. He looked panicked in the pocket when pressured and made mistakes because of it.

Like it or not, neither of these QBs did themselves any favors. What they showed seemed nothing more than career backup QB-level play. While both are still likely first-round picks, the NFL Combine in March could make or break both of their NFL Draft stock.

Devontez Walker (WR – North Carolina)

You hate to see someone with undeniable talent not live up to their potential. However, it looks like that may be true with North Carolina WR Devontez “Tez” Walker.

Heading into Senior Bowl week, Walker was one of the more anticipated receivers to arrive in town. His combination of size and speed makes him an undeniably attractive NFL prospect. However, there is a small sample size from college – 168 targets over three seasons – and this was an opportunity for Walker to show he has an NFL pedigree.

Unfortunately, Walker struggled hard on day one of practice. While he did look better at times, he never fully recovered. His footwork at the line and in his routes was suspect. His feet looked hurried and his cuts were inconsistent – sometimes clean, sometimes labored. He could consistently use his speed to get open vertically but couldn’t shake defenders horizontally with any regularity. His size was also a non-factor, which is another major concern for a 6-foot-2 receiver. While you don’t want to harp on players for drops, Walker had a few egregious ones in big moments all three days.

Overall, Walker will still likely have decent draft capital. His issues could be fixed with the right coaching and plenty of teams will be willing to take a chance on that potential upside. However, he will be a project at the NFL level, which became glaringly apparent this week.

Ben Sinnott (TE – Kansas State)

I’ll admit I was more than a little excited to see Kansas State TE Ben Sinnott at the Senior Bowl this week. I’m a big fan of the TE position. Based on his film, Sinnott was a guy who had an opportunity to climb up draft boards in Mobile.

However, not everything can go the way you want. It was a rough week for the Kansas State bookend, who looked almost overwhelmed by the competition. He was dropping easy passes, missing blocking assignments and looked distracted for the majority of practice. His route running was atrocious and his footwork was clunky and disorganized. It wasn’t all bad, as he did make a few nice catches on day three and seemed to recover a bit but the damage had been done at that point.

While he didn’t do himself any favors this week, his position is always a tough one to fill for NFL teams. Sinnott will still get drafted and he has the combine and Pro Day to prove that the Senior Bowl was a fluke. Unfortunately, there will be more questions than answers about Sinnott as we head toward March. While it’s hard to know where his draft stock sits right now, he is unlikely to come off the board in your dynasty fantasy football rookie drafts and could be an interesting free-agent taxi squad stash for future use.

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Nate Polvogt is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Nate, check out his archive and follow him @NatePolvogt.

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