Draft prospects have arrived in Mobile, Alabama at the 2018 Senior Bowl, and the time has come for small program prospects to show what they can do against bigger name talent. Scouts have been tracking players for the past six or seven months, but for a lot of prospects, the regular season schedule might mean playing only FCS schools, or playing lower tier FBS programs.
The Senior Bowl does not provide clear cut answers for a lot of players, but for small program draft prospects, it can get them on the radar, or further solidify their standing with teams. They spend a week of practice facing some of the best graduating talent in the country, and for many, it will get them from UDFA to day three pick.
One player from a smaller program who is all but certain to go in the first round is University of Texas-San Antonio edge rusher Marcus Davenport. He stands 6’6 and had 8.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss last season. He was a great player in Conference USA, but the Senior Bowl will be a big opportunity for him to prove he can hang against the best offensive linemen in the country.
ESPN put together a Senior Bowl primer this week, and they offered up some small program names that will be worth watching. Among their list of the 15 best non-quarterbacks, they included Davenport, South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert, and Nevada center/guard Austin Corbett. Davenport and Corbett fit critical 49ers needs, while Goedert could add considerable depth at tight end.
Steve Muench and Matt Bowen offered their thoughts on four small-school prospects worth watching. That group included West Georgia defensive tackle Desmond Harrison, South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard, Dubuque cornerback Michael Joseph, and Murray State cornerback D’Montre Wade. I am particularly intrigued by Joseph, who stands 6’1, 180 pounds, and Bowen describes as having “sweet ball skills” and “power in his pads when he arrives at the point of attack.”
The prospects will be weighing in on Tuesday, and then will have practice the rest of the week leading up to Saturday’s game. Our own Jennifer Chan will be on hand this week, so she will get an up-close look at some of the top prospects on hand.