One of the most important events on the National Football League calendar is the Senior Bowl. Held the week after the conference championship games, it is the true beginning of the NFL draft cycle.
Not only do scouts and analysts like us get to see over 100 draft prospects in one place competing against each other, but it’s also an opportunity for analysts and personnel alike to get together and have discussions about a number of topics.
As we look forward to this year’s Senior Bowl, both managing editor Tyler Forness and columnist Matt Anderson will be there in person to break everything down.
We will be breaking down each position group and what to look for throughout the week. Here is the wide receiver position.
Alabama's Cameron Latu
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Latu didn’t always put up numbers in the Alabama offense, but there’s stuff to like from his game. He’s a versatile player for any team, offering offenses a player they can use in different positions to elevate the unit. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty in the run game, providing effective blocks for the running back. In the receiving game, he provides a reliable target underneath; his lack of top-tier athleticism means he’s a limited target in general, though.
Cincinnati’s Josh Whyle
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Considering his role for Cincinnati, Josh Whyle is an intriguing prospect for NFL offenses. When the Bearcats got in the red zone, Whyle quickly became a target, hauling in 15 touchdowns over three seasons. This likely comes down to his 6-foot-6 frame. Such a frame allows him to box out defenders like he is Dennis Rodman leaping for a rebound. Combine that with his underrated athleticism and there’s reason to like him as a versatile compliment in the passing game.
Whyle, however, does leave stuff to be desired when tasked to block. Overall, he doesn’t have the technique to be a consistent factor in this part of the game, meaning he’ll have to succeed as a receiver to carve out a consistent role early on.
Clemson's Davis Allen
Allen wore a lot of different hats for the Clemson offense. He lined up in-line, as an h-back, and in the slot and shined in every role. That versatility means that Allen can find a spot in any offense, though some of his limitations might hurt his upside. At 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, Allen has the size teams want from a tight end, but it also means he’s not an athletic freak. He can run vertically with some success but lacks much lateral quickness, limiting the routes he can run for an offense. In the red zone though, Allen is consistently a weapon. He can shield away from defensive backs and win in congested areas, meaning he’s constantly a target. Allen is limited but there are things to like about his profile.
Miami's Will Mallory
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Mallory put together a career season for Miami, posting 538 yards and four touchdowns over 12 games. He’s not going to wow scouts athletically — though he’s not slow — or with his overall strength but he does have strong hands to help an offense. Mallory consistently found ways to win down the field for the Hurricanes’ offense but that athleticism gap will close in the NFL.
More consistency with his technique as a blocker could do him well, but given some of his limitations, his willingness as a blocker is an encouraging sign. He won’t create mismatches but consistently finds ways to impact the game, even if they don’t always go noticed.
Oregon State's Luke Musgrave
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A knee injury in September ended an encouraging season for Musgrave, which might hurt his stock. Despite this, there’s reason to be excited about the former Beaver. At 6-foot-6, Musgrave is a terrific blend of size and athleticism to complement any offensive system. He can be utilized in different ways and alignments but for someone of his size, you’d like to see more strength.
While he’s certainly willing to block, he isn’t particularly adept at it. His lack of production — he’s started just 14 games over three years — and athletic profile makes him an intriguing but risky choice for any offense.
Purdue's Payne Durham
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Durham is an intriguing prospect, especially for teams looking for a complimentary tight end. He’s got NFL size at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, and he knows how to use his size to his advantage. He’s not an excellent route runner for the position, which will put him in challenging situations, but his size can help him.
After the catch is where Durham can separate himself. Excuse the pun, but there will be Payne if Durham finds himself one-on-one against a defensive back. However, his lack of high-end speed and athleticism limits his ceiling at the next level. Look at Durham as a second tight-end who helps keep the chains moving.