Of all the postseason all star games in college football, the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL has long been considered the most prestigious. NFL scouts, coaches, and front office executives, as well as swarms of media, have once again descended on The Port City this week for the annual exhibition contest.
A total of 23 SEC players were invited to the game this year, which basically serves as a scouting combine in pads.
The most notable SEC attendee is Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. The star Bulldog signal caller is still recovering from a serious knee injury, and although he won’t participate in any drills this week, he’s making the most of the opportunity to meet with NFL executives.
Plenty of other well-known SEC players will participate, however, and more than a few are directly competing against one another in drills.
Kickoff at Ladd-Peebles Stadium is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. (EST) on NFL Network. Following are eight SEC players to keep an eye on in the star-studded contest:
1. Dee Ford, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Auburn
Ford was Auburn’s top defensive player in 2013, and was instrumental in the Tigers’ SEC title run. His two sacks of Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston in the national championship game brought his total to 10.5 on the season. Ford has been dominant in drills this week, but on Saturday he’ll get the chance to display his talents in a live game.
2. Chris Davis, Cornerback, Auburn
Davis will forever be remembered in SEC lore for his improbable 100-yard field goal return to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl. With the memory of that incredible moment still fresh in his mind, Davis is out to prove that he’s a complete football player. He hasn’t exactly wowed in drills this week, but he can more than make up for it with a quality performance on Saturday.
3. Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Vanderbilt
Matthews holds the SEC career records for both receptions and receiving yards. He also set the conference single-season record this year with 112 catches. Matthews is currently projected as a late first to middle second-round pick, and he’s almost certain to get a few balls thrown his way come game time.
4. Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
Hubbard possesses freakish athletic abilities, and this week’s Senior Bowl practices have provided him with a fantastic opportunity to showcase his talent. Many teams in need of a 3-4 outside linebacker will have their eyes on him, and he’ll no doubt be primed to prove his NFL worth.
5. Solomon Patton, Wide Receiver, Florida
This week has been a homecoming for the Gators’ standout receiver, where he last played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium during the 2009 Alabama-Mississippi all star game. In addition to his impressive skill set as a wide receiver, Patton is also a dangerous return specialist. He should get some opportunities to turn some heads in Saturday’s game.
6. Craig Loston, Safety, LSU
Loston endeared himself to LSU fans over the past two seasons as a head hunter in the Tigers secondary. While he’s known for making receivers pay a heavy toll for crossing over the middle, Loston is focused on shoring up his coverage skills this week. After kickoff on Saturday, however, the Houston native will assuredly be out to deliver some Texas-sized hits.
7. Ja’Wuan James, Offensive Tackle, Tennessee
Junior left tackle Antonio Richardson is the more celebrated Volunteer offensive linemen in this year’s draft, but James has made a name for himself this week in Mobile. The massive right tackle has impressed with his quickness and athleticism in drills. He’ll be put to the test this Saturday, as he faces off with some of the top pass rushers in the 2014 draft class.
8. Michael Sam, Outside Linebacker, Missouri
Sam was a thorn in the side of SEC quarterbacks this season, as he registered 11.5 sacks. He played defensive end for the Tigers but projects as an outside linebacker in the league. Sam is a fiery competitor, and scouts will be looking for an intense performance from him on Saturday afternoon.
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