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5 Underclassmen Who Could Benefit from the Senior Bowl

With changes coming to the CFB All-Star games, @AHarbaugh_ gives you 5 underclassmen who could benefit from going to the Senior Bowl.

The NFL draft is the second most-watched football event on the calendar, behind only the Super Bowl. The lead-up to the draft is filled with rumors, risers and fallers, and various events. The kickoff to draft season, however, always starts in the same place: the Senior Bowl.

Every NFL team has a presence there, from scouts all the way up the ladder to general managers. They all make themselves known in and around Mobile, Alabama, during the week as they look to get a head start on rebuilding their rosters.

Despite their title, the Senior Bowl will now open their rosters to underclassmen who also declare for the draft. The East-West Shrine Game and HBCU Legacy Bowl will also be doing the same in accordance with the wishes of the NFL

The unique opening now allows underclassmen who declare for the draft another avenue to prove themselves to NFL teams. Prior to this change, the only place they had to compete under NFL draft pressure was the NFL Scouting Combine.

While every position is important at these all-star events, two stand out as having the best chance to showcase themselves– quarterbacks and receivers. It’s not likely there will be many underclassmen invited to these events, especially the Senior Bowl. That means each invite will be saved for special players who the NFL wants to see more of.

Based on that thinking and the position values, here are some players who could benefit big time from a week in Mobile, Alabama.

Drake Maye, Quarterback, North Carolina 

At first glance of seeing Drake Maye on here, your first thought may be, “Why would he go to the Senior Bowl?” To that, I say, because the Senior Bowl carries a lot of weight within the NFL community and thus those who compete at the event almost always receive a boost. Presently, Caleb Williams is considered by most to be the best quarterback in the draft. There are some, myself included, who see Drake Maye as the top passer. If someone like the Giants or Bears is coaching in the game, then Maye going down there may be enough to get him drafted first overall. 

Emeka Egbuka, Wide Receiver, Ohio State 

Playing in the shadow of 1.01 of rookie drafts can be tough. Emeka Egbuka entered the fall as my WR2 in my summer rankings but has fallen off just a tad. He is still an extremely talented receiver who wins with his route running and physical style, which makes him perfect for the Senior Bowl. One-on-ones at the event are always a must-watch. If someone like Egbuka makes the trip, it would be must-see stuff. While a climb back into the top three of the receiver rankings may be tough, he could restore the first-round talk. 

Rome Odunze, Wide Receiver, Washington

Rome Odunze has seen himself and the entire Washington offense explode this year. In the case of Odunze, he has seen himself firmly enter the first-round discussion, but he could easily earn his way into the top 15, maybe even the top ten. While that may seem rich, the Senior Bowl would be a great spot for him to be around several wide receiver-needy teams in the top ten of the draft, as they are bound to be coaching in the event. The positional need, paired with some early reports on his physical traits, will be enough to see his value rise.

Xavier Worthy, Wide Receiver, Texas 

Xavier Worthy is a receiver who plays a healthy mix of everywhere within the Texas offense. One-on-one drills with Xavier Worthy at the Senior Bowl would be almost comical to watch. Defenders are at a disadvantage out of the gate. Worthy’s twitchy movement, paired with his clean footwork, could allow him to get audible reactions from those watching. Those same traits have boosted previous receivers such as Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk.

Ja’Tavion Sanders, Tight End, Texas

Much like the receivers, the tight ends that move well also find themselves winning during the week at the Senior Bowl. Ja’Tavion Sanders has had a quiet year despite producing well enough at Texas this year. He has the physical traits to be TE2 in this troublesome tight-end group in 2024. If he can show the teams down in Mobile what he can do for someone with his size, he may make heads roll and his draft stock rise.

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