The Senior Bowl will start their practices on Tuesday at 12:30 PM and run until Thursday, with the game being played Sunday at 2:30pm. The National Team will be coached by Raiders DC Patrick Graham while Saints QB Coach Ronald Curry serves as the OC and Steelers DB coach Grady Brown serves as their defensive coordinator. Here are ten players from the National Team I’ll be keeping my eye on this week:
WR Tre Tucker, Cincinnati
Tucker is already starting to enter his name in draft boards and it’s super deserved. He’s one of the smallest players in the class only measuring in at 5-8, 175 pounds but he’s ultra productive as well. With 1426 yards and eight touchdowns coming on just 111 receptions. Turner also added 15 rushes for 138 yards and a touchdown. Tucker is more than a versatile receiver as in the return game he really allows his likely sub 4.28 speed to show with 1670 yards and two touchdowns on just 67 kick returns. Tucker has soft natural hands and sharp route running, he works well vs the slot and will matchup vs some of the best slot corners in Mobile this week. Wouldn’t be a shock to hear his name called before the end of day two.
TE Josh Whyle, Cincinnati
Whyle is an interesting prospect. At 6-7, 238 there’s talks of him sticking at tight end but the expectation is he’ll also work at fullback at the Senior Bowl. Whyle posted 1062 yards and 15 touchdowns off 88 receptions in three years with the Bearcats. He’s powerful and explosive after the catch but doesn’t do much great before the catch. Whyle is a true blocker as he loves to use his power and just open lanes which makes sense for him at fullback. He’ll end up being drafted regardless based on his pure blocking but where he works in and where he fits best will be decided this week.
OT Asim Richards, UNC
Richards deserves more attention and he’s going to earn that this week. The 22 year old has been a consistent starter at LT for the Tar Heels the last three seasons allowing just 10 sacks and 60 pressures over 1300 pass blocking snaps. In the run game he’s a people mover as well, allowing an elite 6.8 yards per carry as a lead blocker. Richards will also work at guard with his 6-4, 315 frame being slightly undersized for the NFL at offensive tackle. The national team possesses a magnitude of elite pass rushers, as I’ll get to soon and it’s a good showcase for Richards to dominate.
OT McClendon Curtis, UT Chattanooga
You may remember the surprise when the Patriots took fellow Chattanooga guard Cole Strange in the first round last season and I wouldn’t be shocked if a team picks Curtis in the first two rounds. He’s lengthy and powerful but also has some of the best agility of any offensive lineman in the nation. At 6-6, 330 he’s worked in career snaps at left tackle, right guard, left guard and right tackle so he covers the versatility front. Curtis has only allowed four sacks and 20 pressures in 919 pass blocking attempts too which is flat out elite. A career 82.3 run blocking grade and 88.2 pass block grade add into his skill sets. The biggest questions come with the talent he’s faced and as mentioned above, this National team hosts an elite room of pass rushers both on the interior and edge.
LB Daiyan Henley, Washington State
Henley, a high school QB converted to receiver at Nevada before moving again to linebacker, has been ultra productive in his quick time at the position. At 6-2, 220 he’s on the lighter side and will need to bulk up but the intangibles and certain aspects of his game are already showing. He’s posted 256 tackles, 18.5 TFL, four sacks, five interceptions, 96 stops, 11 breakups, five recoveries, three forced fumbles and two touchdowns in only three seasons at linebacker. In coverage he allowed just 76 receptions on 107 targets for 657 yards, one touchdown and a 75.7 QBR. Henley is experienced, athletic and smart and despite playing college football since 2017 he’s only 23 years old.
DL Karl Brooks, Bowling Green
Brooks has a dominant blend of speed, power, and bend but the biggest questions are coming where he fits. He has over 1442 snaps at edge with another 719 at 3-Tech and 215 at nose tackle. Over his career he’s posted 167 tackles, 47 for loss, 27.5 sacks, five breakups, seven forced fumbles and an interception while also adding 154 pressures and 99 stops. Brooks will get work at defensive tackle and defensive end and I expect teams to like him at both areas even at 6-5, 285. There’s talent at both areas and with a good week at both or even just one he’ll rise quickly into the high fourth round or better range.
DL Keion White, Georgia Tech
White is another interesting prospect like Brooks. The Yellow Jackets star is 6-5, 280 with career snaps being split between end and defensive tackle, but he profiles best as a 3-4 interior lineman. He’s put up 120 tackles, 33.5 for loss, 11 sacks, an interception, and three forced fumbles in just 28 games. White also added 88 pressures and 64 stops. With elite bend and power splits White profiles best where he can use his power into speed, whether that be the end or interior. He’s going to get looks at both and already sitting as a day two pick he has potential to end up in the late first with good testing and showings.
EDGE Lonnie Phelps, Jr, Kansas
Phelps is an elite edge rusher and has proved it both at the MAC and B12 levels. With a career 114 tackles, 32 for loss, 21.5 sacks, 94 pressures and 67 stops he’s good vs the run and pass. Phelps has a good blend of power and speed off the edge but likely fits best as a 4-3 defensive end rushing from a four point stance. The National Team is loaded with talent on the tackles and Phelps is going to benefit heavily as the talent he faced over the last four years hasn’t been the best.
EDGE Nick Hampton, App State
Hampton doesn’t need to prove he can play vs top offensive tackles as he’s done so his entire career. At 6-4, 230 Hampton is on the lighter side for pass rushers but that didn’t stop him from a career 40 tackles for loss, 27 sacks, six forced fumbles, 116 pressures, and 85 stops. He’s dominated tackles with his elite bend and first step and he looks to keep showing that this week. Hampton hasn’t faced the size he will this week with Darnell Wright and Dawand Jones getting looks in against him. There’s a lot to like with Hampton and he’s bound for a good weekend come April with strong showings.
CB Mekhi Blackmon, USC
Blackmon was quietly one of the best corners in college last year after transferring to USC from Colorado. He posted three interceptions, 12 breakups and 66 tackles in 14 games. He was also targeted 59 times allowing 28 receptions for 281 yards, one touchdown and a 47.4 QBR. Over his career Blackmon has yet to allow 1000 yards and has only allowed a 55.2% completion rate with an 80.1 QBR while adding five interceptions and 17 breakups. Blackmon is tall, lengthy and aggressive in man coverage. There’s a lot of speed on this National team’s receiving core and that’ll be the biggest test for Blackmon. Another good week will get him not only talked about more but drafted far higher.