BBD Editor: Dan Hope
Though some might be projected to be selected much higher than others, every player who has participated in this week’s Senior Bowl has a legitimate chance to be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft.
For a prospect to convince an NFL team that he is worth drafting, the process starts with on-field performance, including this week’s practice sessions and Saturday’s game for the top seniors in Mobile, Ala. this week. That process extends to the interview room, however, where players have an opportunity to persuade teams that they have not only the on-field skills, but also the character and intelligence, professional football teams expect.
While I had the opportunity to watch all of the Senior Bowl participants during practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and Fairhope Municipal Stadium this week, I also interviewed more than 20 prospects to get a closer look at each of them beyond their tape and the skills they displayed in practices.
“If I were representing an NFL team, what would you say to convince me ‘This is why you should draft (player name)?’”
That was a question that came up in most of my interviews with players. Should all of the following players be drafted because of the reasons they provided? That’s up to NFL teams to decide. Nonetheless, we can get a look into what some of the nation’s top senior prospects might be saying in interviews with NFL teams by taking a look at their answers to that question.
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech: “I’m one of the best out there, there’s no doubt about it. I can make every throw, I can make every read, I’m very smart with what I do and I come out here, I’m going to be a great leader and have a good time.”
Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin: “Everything. I think we’re talking about two inches or an inch (in regards to height concerns), so I think it’s blown out of proportion. If you read well, play fast, are smart, physical and use your hands, height doesn’t mean anything … (I want to prove) that I don’t have a deficiency. I can do everything on the football field at my position. I don’t have something that is glaringly missing, I can work on everything to get better but I feel comfortable with where I am.”
Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois: “My passion for the game. I love what I do. If you love what you do, it’s not really a job.”
Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood: “I just tell them that if you want a playmaker, that’s what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a smart kid, a kid who works hard on and off the field. You don’t have to worry about any issues off the field with any troubles, so if they want somebody that’s going to be focused and do whatever it takes for their team, I’m their guy.”
Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State: “I think I’ve showed that I can be physical inside, even with bigger guys as well as the smaller, faster guys. I think I’ve been able to show that I can move well as well.”
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson: “I just feel like I’m going out here and showing that I can make every throw. Obviously there’s some things to clean up but I don’t feel like it’s a big problem dropping back. Coming from a shotgun offense, I don’t think I have problem commanding the huddle or just as far as referring to the terminology and the verbiage, and I mean honestly, when I step out here, I just try to compete and play within who I am, not to go out there and be someone I’m not, so I mean at the end of the day, the name of the game is just performance and making plays and that’s what I’m trying to do out here.”
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois: “I’m a very passionate, hard-working guy and I really love the game of football. I don’t have too many hobbies outside of football, I don’t have a girlfriend or anything so I mean, I’m pretty dedicated to the game. If a team drafted me, that’s what they’re getting.”
Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State: “I think just my physical size and speed really helps, the scouts really like that, but I think they really want to see me separate from these DBs and then use my hands to catch the ball in space … I want a team to see that I can make big plays at big times. I can contribute on whatever it is, special teams or offense, either or. I got good hands and I’ll be able to do whatever it takes to help any team.”
Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas: “I’m reliable and I’m a hard worker and I’m not trying to be anybody else and I’m just trying to be the best Chris Smith I can be. That’s one thing I’m going to do is just work hard each and every day and just to try to see what happens.”
Keith McGill, CB, Utah: “I’ve only been playing corner for one year. I’m pretty sure everybody here has been playing corner probably since high school and if not, their whole collegiate career. (Editor’s Note: Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste began his collegiate career as a wide receiver.) I’ve played it one year and I’ve got here. I don’t know if that’s because of my athleticism, my play or my size (6’3”, 214) but I think my potential’s nothing but upside. I’m fast enough to run with these receivers, I’m physical enough to press them and tackle these receivers and I think I just clear a different aspect that the NFL’s looking for now.
Jay Prosch, FB, Auburn: “You have to be able to show that you can play on special teams, and that’s a huge part of it. A lot of teams don’t use the fullback that much anymore so you have to make up for it on special teams. So that’s something that I’m trying to show but also you have to show that you are physically able to block in the NFL, so that’s another thing that I’m trying to do.”
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU: “Personally, I feel like I’m in there with the mix (to be the first outside linebacker drafted). I think my versatility and the way I play the game, you can watch the film and look at it yourself, I think it can compare to (Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack).
Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming: “I’m going to keep on working on everything that I need to work on, everything they see that I lack, I’m going to keep working on it and I can play inside and outside. My speed is a factor, my quickness is a factor and I just feel like I’m getting better as a player every day.”
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa: “I’m a receiving tight end but I can also block in-line and move guys off the ball and I think NFL, either you’re a pass-catcher or a blocker, I think that would really separate me (to be both a receiver and a blocker).
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: “I’m a well-rounded football player, I can stop the run, I can stop the pass and I love the game of football.”
Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida: “I played a lot of positions at Florida, so I want everybody to know that I’m a lockdown corner. I can be a boundary corner, nickel, safety … I don’t even know which one is my best because I can do all of them so well.”
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State: “Wherever I go, I’m going to be the best Derek Carr that I can be. And I’m going to give back to that community, as soon as I get there I’m going to love that city.”
Chris Davis, CB, Auburn: “I’m trying to prove, let them know that Chris Davis is a four-down player. I can play inside at nickel and outside at corner, and I can also return punts and kicks … I’m a ballplayer, I’m a competitor, and that’s what I’m going to do, try to go out and compete each and every day.”
Deandre Coleman, DT, California: “I can play multiple positions and I can bring whatever they want to the table. I’m coachable and willing to do whatever.”
Matt Patchan, OT, Boston College: “What don’t you tell them? (laughing) Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to go 100 miles an hour and do it and I’m going to learn it as fast as I can and try to produce immediately and do whatever I can, so whatever they ask me to do, I’m here and I’m ready to grind.”
Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Senior Bowl, Aaron Donald, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Chris Borland, Chris Davis, Chris Smith, Deandre Coleman, Derek Carr, Jay Prosch, Jaylen Watkins, Jeff Janis, Jimmie Ward, Jimmy Garoppolo, Keith McGill, Kyle Van Noy, Logan Thomas, Matt Patchan, Pierre Desir, Robert Herron, Senior Bowl, Tajh Boyd, Weston Richburg