The Senior Bowl is typically a key part in the draft evaluation process for all 32 NFL teams. However, it is merely just one piece of the puzzle, with the combine and pro-days looming. This game isn’t the crux of the process. For us dynasty leaguers, evaluating the Senior Bowl should be no different. Lest we forget Senior Bowl’s of the past that saw future NFL
studs duds such as Christian Ponder, Isaiah Pead, and Pat White had a great week of practice, earn Senior Bowl MVP honors and then fall on their faces in the show. On the other hand, players like Matt Forte, Russell Wilson, and Alfred Morris performed well in this game and have gone on to have great success in the NFL, but more importantly, on our fake football teams. While most of the guys in attendance are quality football players, the cream of the fantasy crop are mostly underclassmen. This year a record 102 underclassmen declared for the draft, with most of the better future fantasy play-makers residing among them. That isn’t to say that some of the Senior Bowl players shouldn’t be on your radar. Here are some guys to keep an eye on…
Jordan Matthews, WR (Vandy): Your prototypical big (6’3 205), physical possession receiver, Matthews is the most likely to be taken in the 1st-round among the skill position players at the Senior Bowl. While he had consistency issues throughout the week and lacks elite speed and explosion, he’s a smooth route runner and will kill teams underneath, taking what they give him. To me, this screams PPR stud. He is polished enough to where he will most likely be an immediate contributor as a #2 at the next level. The ceiling I see for him is to have a rookie season much like Keenan Allen had in San Diego (71/1,046/8). That, again, is his ceiling for this year. Most likely, I see Matthews having a year similar to that of DeAndre Hopkins (52/802/2), although I anticipate more than a measly 2 TDs. Matthews is the SEC All-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, all with mediocre, at best, QBs attempting to get him the ball. That’s not too shabby, because from what I hear the SEC has some pretty good football players. (Also it doesn’t hurt that he’s Jerry Rice’s cousin, I guess he was okay at football too.)
Derek Carr, QB (Fresno State): With his cannon, Derek Carr clearly separated himself from the other QBs in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, although that isn’t saying much. According to many scouts, Carr impresses with his arm strength, accuracy and athleticism. Seems like a scouting report near-identical to his big bro, David Carr. I believe Derek has the tools to be successful in the NFL and can certainly make all the throws. However, his footwork appears to be the biggest issue. If he lands in a favorable situation (unlike his brother with the expansion Texans), where he can sit and learn a bit behind an experienced play caller, he is someone certainly worth keeping an eye on. As it currently stands, Carr appears to be a borderline late 1st, early 2nd-round pick in May.
Charles Sims, RB (West Virginia): Most notably compared to Matt Forte, Sims was clearly the best back in Mobile, AL for the Senior Bowl. His versatility is what stands out to scouts. He has the strength to run inside between the tackles, but also the speed to get outside on the edges and bust a big one. His best trait, however is his receiving skills. He is a complete back that could lead a backfield in the NFL. According to some experts, he has a shot at being the first RB taken in the draft in May and is someone I will be sure to target with it comes time for my dynasty draft.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (Eastern Illinois): Other have a great name, Jimmy G was the 2nd best quarterback at the Senior Bowl, as a last minute addition to the roster due to AJ McCarron stupidly, uh I mean, surprisingly declining to participate. Garoppolo lacks elite physical tools. However, he is an all around solid, but unspectacular, QB who uses his intellect to make quick reads and get the ball out quickly. He lacks the arm strength to make all the throws, but he can make most of them. His main comparison throughout college and throughout the draft process so far is a guy who preceded him at Eastern Illinois, Tony Romo, given his well-rounded, but unremarkable skill-set. From a fantasy perspective, if you are looking for this year’s version of Russell Wilson (a guy who is drafted in the middle rounds and could be a fantasy sleeper), this is your guy. That is assuming, of course, he has a shot to eventually compete for the starting job wherever he lands.
Crockett Gillmore, TE (Colorado State): Another late addition to the Senior Bowl, Gillmore surprised a lot of people with his play. He scored the first TD of the game, a crossing route from Derek Carr he took 17 yards for the score. He ended the contest with 5 catches and a game-high 61 yards and a TD. He is an under-the-radar tight end right now but if he puts on a good show at the combine and his pro day, he may end up going relatively high in the draft. His stats from college aren’t great, but being from Colorado State, I can’t imagine he had a ton of talent around him. I don’t see him as an immediate starter but at 6’6 260, I can see him eventually becoming a viable target in the red zone.
Michael Campanaro, WR (Wake Forest): Being able to even mention Campanaro here speaks to the lack of skill position talent on the Senior Bowl rosters. Campanaro is a quick and shifty little guy in the mold of a lot of slot receivers in the NFL today. He’s just 5’9 and 180 lbs, so he won’t ever be able to be much more than a slot guy and a return man (an added bonus if your league factors in return yardage). He’s is a savvy route runner, finding holes in the zones and making catches over the middle of the field, another guy that should at least be sevicable in a PPR format. He is coming off of back to back 70 catch seasons for Wake Forest. Like Gillmore, I don’t think Campanaro will get a chance to start right away, however, he could eventually carve out a role in an offense in the slot and as a return man. He’s not much more than a late late round flyer in deep dynasty leagues at this point.
Logan Thomas, QB (Va Tech): Oozing with elite measurables (6’6 250) and raw physical talent, Thomas passes the eye test. According to reports, he turned heads all week in Mobile, but not always in a good way. During his weigh in at the beginning of the week, he caught a lot of scouts’ attention thanks to his impressive stature. At practice throughout the week the main word I’ve read to describe his play was maddeningly inconsistent. He showed all the skills – arm strength, mobility, and speed in the open field. However, those skills haven’t ever consistently shown themselves on the field. He struggles with accuracy and making good decisions. His poor accuracy and decision-making shows that he is simply not a good quarterback right now. However, the upside is there for him to eventually become a star in this league, after a lot of time and development, and all it takes is for one team to fall in love with him and turn him into “the guy”. As of right now, he’s a guy I’d grab late and stash for a couple few years and see what happens. The potential is definitely there, or he could fall flat on his face.
Again, the Senior Bowl is just one piece to a much larger puzzle for rookies in the fantasy dynasty draft process. The combine is a bigger piece of it all, as all of the top draft eligible players will be able to show off their physical abilities in a t-shirt and spandex.
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