Senior Bowl: QB Carson Wentz leads offensive prospect watch

By Dane Brugler, The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 25, 2016 at 1:04 AM
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With three months before the 2016 NFL Draft, the Senior Bowl is the unofficial kick off to the draft season as the nation's top senior prospects compete in Mobile, Ala., with all 32 NFL teams in attendance.

The game is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 30 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, but the real work is done during daily practices throughout the week, starting on Tuesday.

"It's a fun process," Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said about the Senior Bowl experience. "It's the best of the senior class within this year's draft, so it gives you a chance to really put your hands on these players, watch them move around, watch them compete. It also gives you a chance to kind of, for the first time, really see who they are as people as well."

The Senior Bowl is a crucial step in the interview process for the 100-plus players in Mobile, but especially for these 10 offensive prospects, who have something to prove.

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (6-6, 235)

As the top quarterback in Mobile, Wentz is the belle of the ball. And the fact that he is being coached by the Cowboys adds even more intrigue to his week as Dallas is in the market for a young signal caller to groom behind Tony Romo. Wentz has a NFL-style skill-set with his physical tools and intelligence, but the missing variable is experience against top competition. In my opinion, he has solidified himself as a first-round player, but his performance in Mobile will go a long way in determining just how high in the first round he will be drafted.

Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech (6-4, 234)

Many dismissed him as a legitimate NFL prospect after his struggles at Florida, but Driskel reinvented himself at Louisiana Tech this past season, rebuilding his confidence. The physical traits are there with his size, arm strength and athleticism and he should perform well in a controlled all-star setting like the Senior Bowl. Driskel, who will also be coached by the Cowboys' staff, has tremendous leadership and might be the most intriguing of the day three passing prospects in this year's draft class.

Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas (6-2, 210)

The school record holder in career touchdown passes (64), Allen showed vast improvement throughout the 2015 season and finished the year as the SEC's top quarterback. He isn't the most physically gifted, but shows the ability to handle pressure, maneuver in the pocket and deliver downfield. Although he was the eighth and final quarterback to receive his invite, Allen has better NFL potential than several other passers in Mobile and I expect him to show that this week.

Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas (6-0, 223)

The forgotten running back prospect, Williams was the top senior at his position over the summer, but a foot injury in August sidelined him for the entire 2015 season. He is close to 100-percent healthy and will try and give it a go this week at the Senior Bowl -- a chance to remind NFL teams that he is back to his old self. There are three running backs competing to be the first senior drafted in April, including Williams and Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon, who are both in Mobile (the other is Utah's Devontae Booker, who is out while he rehabs from knee surgery).

Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State (6-2, 215)

The most intriguing prospect in Mobile this week, Miller made the switch from quarterback to wide receiver this past season and made the transition look easy due to his natural athleticism. He is well-built with game-changing speed, but is obviously still raw in several areas, including his route running. Despite his lack of experience at wideout, Miller's athletic profile and upside should be on full display during practice, which could cement him as a top-50 prospect in this class.

Paul McRoberts, WR, SE Missouri State (6-3, 197)

Unfortunately for TCU's Josh Doctson, his wrist injury will keep him from participating at the Senior Bowl. But it's also an opportunity for McRoberts, who received the call-up from the Shrine Game to the Senior Bowl as a replacement for Doctson. The first SEMO player to participate in Mobile, he is well-built with a large catching radius to highpoint and pluck from the sky. Although McRoberts isn't a well-known name, I'll bet that changes after this week.

Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana (6-7, 305)

A former tight end, Spriggs was a four-year starter at left tackle for the Hoosiers and showed steady development each season, filling out his frame and holding his own against the Big Ten's top rushers like Joey Bosa and Shilique Calhoun. He has the feet and body control in pass protection to keep his quarterback upright, but does he have the core strength? Spriggs will be tested in one-on-one drills, which will give scouts a better idea of his ceiling at the next level.

Le'Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech (6-6, 307)

Groomed at left tackle in the Texas Tech offense, Clark was asked to retreat off the snap and his technique faces a learning curve under pro coaching at the Senior Bowl and once he is drafted. But he has the wide base, moldable frame and lower body flexibility required to start in the NFL, showing terrific knee bend and weight transfer in his kickslide. Once his upper body mechanics catch up, Clark projects as a NFL starter at tackle or guard.

Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor (6-6, 310)

A four-year starter at left tackle, Drango has been a consistent performer in Waco and played well on the edges, but can he hold up there in the NFL? His performance this week will help answer that question. Drango plays with the snap quickness, body angles and awareness to handle speed, but his body type is better suited for guard and he needs technical refinement that can't be masked at the next level like it was in the Big 12.

Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State (6-4, 305)

Wentz is the best offensive prospect in Mobile -- Whitehair is a close second. A college left tackle, he will move inside to guard for the Senior Bowl and in the NFL, which he considers his best (and favorite) position. Whitehair is an assignment sound blocker, staying square to his target with anchor strength and aggressive hands. Although he isn't quite on the same level, Whitehair is the closest prospect to Zack Martin that this draft class has to offer.

--Dane Brugler is senior analyst for, operated and distributed by The Sports Xchange in cooperation with

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