12 NFL Draft Prospects Who Should Make Money at 2015 Senior Bowl

January 19th, 2015
Tyler Lockett could be among the standouts at this year's Senior Bowl. (Photo: Reese Strickland — USA Today Sports)

Tyler Lockett could be among the standouts at this year’s Senior Bowl. (Photo: Reese Strickland — USA Today Sports)

BBD Editor: Dan Hope

From eventual No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher in 2013 to Aaron Donald and Zack Martin last year, there are annual examples of top college football players parlaying a strong week at the Senior Bowl into a higher selection in the NFL draft.

More than 100 prospects will have that opportunity again this year, as Senior Bowl participants will practice in front of scouts, media and fans on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, then play in the game Saturday.

All of the draft candidates among them have a chance to elevate their stocks this week—that’s what Senior Bowl participation is all about. The following 12 players, however, are among those taking part in this week’s festivities who look to be among the most likely to turn heads and work their ways up boards as they compete against their peers in Mobile, Alabama.

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2015 NFL Draft Prospect To Watch: Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State

January 18th, 2015
The versatility Mississippi State's Preston Smith can bring to a defensive line makes him a potential early-round draft pick. (Photo: Spruce Derden)

The versatility Mississippi State’s Preston Smith can bring to a defensive line makes him a potential early-round draft pick. (Photo: Spruce Derden)

BBD Contributor: Brian Krosky

For a time this season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time in the team’s history, which they achieved by playing and defeating some of the best teams in the SEC with a stout defense. One of the leaders on that defense was senior defensive lineman Preston Smith, who finished the year with 48 total tackles, nine sacks and two interceptions.

An interesting facet of Smith’s game is that he doesn’t have a definite position. In games this season he has lined up as a 0-, 1-, 3-, 5- and 7-technique along the defensive line. He has shown the ability to produce from anywhere on the field.

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25 Standouts, 13 Disappointments from 2015 East-West Shrine Game

January 17th, 2015
Za'Darius Smith stood out among his peers in this year's Shrine Game. (Photo: Kim Klement — USA Today Sports)

Za’Darius Smith stood out among his peers in this year’s Shrine Game. (Photo: Kim Klement — USA Today Sports)

BBD Editor: Dan Hope

After a week of eye-opening practices in St. Petersburg, East-West Shrine Game week concluded Saturday with the game itself, as more than 100 senior prospects for the 2015 NFL draft got a chance to showcase their skills in front of league scouts.

The game is actually assigned less value than the practices, as the vast majority of NFL team representatives left town after Day 3 of practice on Wednesday, but it was one more opportunity for the players who participated this week to make an impression. So while we’re not doing a separate set for notes for gameday, the performances from Saturday’s contest have been factored into the following breakdown of the week’s best and worst.

The following rankings do not necessarily reflect how the players will actually be ranked on draft boards, but are indicative of which players did the most to make themselves money this week.

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2015 East-West Shrine Game Notes: Day 4

January 15th, 2015
Wes Saxton (No. 13) stood out for his athleticism in St. Petersburg this week. (Photo: Dan Hope)

Wes Saxton (No. 13) stood out for his athleticism in St. Petersburg this week. (Photo: Dan Hope)

BBD Editor: Dan Hope

Excepting the game itself, East-West Shrine Game week came to a close Thursday, as the East and West teams held their final practices of the week.

There were few scouts to impress, as sparse crowds were evidence that most NFL team representatives had already left town. Nonetheless, the players went to work trying to stand out for the coaches, media, fans and handfuls of scouts who were still on hand.

The East practice continued to be mostly slow-paced with a walkthrough section, as was tradition for Mike Singletary’s squad this week, but the West practice was also significantly shorter than previous days and less intense.

As such, there wasn’t as much to evaluate Thursday as there was in previous days, so there weren’t any players who clearly stood out above the rest. That said, there were still some players who strengthened their impressions on me today, including two top small-schoolers who I talked to after their respective practices to get their thoughts on how the week went and what they think they can bring to NFL teams.

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Buffalo Bills Hire Dennis Thurman as Defensive Coordinator, Seven More Assistant Coaches from New York Jets

January 15th, 2015
Dennis Thurman will continue to serve as Rex Ryan's defensive coordinator next season. (Photo: Howard Smith — USA Today Sports)

Dennis Thurman will continue to serve as Rex Ryan’s defensive coordinator next season. (Photo: Howard Smith — USA Today Sports)

BBD Editor: Dan Hope

Having announced the hirings of Rex Ryan as head coach and Greg Roman as offensive coordinator earlier this week, the Buffalo Bills continued filling out their new coaching staff Thursday, when they announced the hiring of Dennis Thurman as defensive coordinator and seven other men to other assistant coaching roles.

All eight additions to the staff come from the New York Jets, where they worked for Ryan last season.

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