The Senior Bowl is the unofficial start of the ramping up of the draft process.
As the first major event to come after college bowl season, the game serves as a platform for unheralded prospects to boost their stock and make an impact while playing under NFL coaching staffs and in front of scouts and team management. It also allows top-tier prospects to prove their worth and solidify their status as early picks.
This year’s group features a lot of talented players at essentially every position, some of whom could end up being selected in the first round of the 2020 draft. It also features several prospects who are virtually unknown in some draft circles. Regardless of which side of the spectrum a player may fall on, the Senior Bowl is a perfect platform for a draft prospect to showcase their skills in front of NFL organizations.
With months of tape-grinding in the books, I have gone through the liberty of watching every single prospect that will be at Mobile, Alabama this week. Here are my rankings of all 119 prospects that will play in the game, as well as a positional breakdown of a few positions the Bears would be wise to target.
2020 Senior Bowl prospect rankings
|2||Javon Kinlaw||DL||South Carolina|
|6||Kenny Willekes||EDGE||Michigan State|
|10||Antoine Brooks Jr.||SAF||Maryland|
|12||Harrison Bryant||TE||Florida Atlantic|
|18||Bryan Edwards||WR||South Carolina|
|21||Jordan Love||QB||Utah State|
|24||Prince Tega Wanogho||OT||Auburn|
|28||Cameron Brown||LB||Penn State|
|31||Troy Pride Jr.||CB||Notre Dame|
|34||K.J. Hill||WR||Ohio State|
|35||Essang Bassey||CB||Wake Forest|
|36||Michael Pittman Jr.||WR||USC|
|40||Brandon Aiyuk||WR||Arizona State|
|45||Malik Harrison||LB||Ohio State|
|46||Chase Claypool||WR||Notre Dame|
|48||Terence Steele||OT||Texas Tech|
|51||Eno Benjamin||RB||Arizona State|
|58||Justin Herron||OT||Wake Forest|
|59||Brian Cole II||SAF||Mississippi State|
|66||A.J. Green||CB||Oklahoma State|
|67||Benito Jones||DL||Ole Miss|
|68||DaVon Hamilton||DL||Ohio State|
|69||Alex Taylor||OT||South Carolina State|
|72||Charlie Heck||OT||North Carolina|
|73||Ben Bartch||OG/OT||St. John’s (MN)|
|74||Josiah Coatney||DL||Ole Miss|
|77||T.J. Brunson||LB||South Carolina|
|83||Larrell Murchison||DL||North Carolina State|
|85||Robert Windsor||DL||Penn State|
|86||Braden Mann||P||Teas A&M|
|87||Austin Mack||WR||Ohio State|
|88||Jeremy Chinn||SAF||Southern Illinois|
|92||Quartney Davis||WR||Texas A&M|
|93||Anthony Gordon||QB||Washington State|
|95||Akeem Davis-Gaither||LB||Appalachian State|
|100||Reggie Robinson II||SAF||Tulsa|
|101||Tyre Phillips||OT||Mississippi State|
|102||Jason Strowbridge||EDGE||North Carolina|
|103||Colton McKivitz||OT||West Virginia|
|104||Trevon Hill||EDGE||Miami (FL)|
|106||Keith Ismael||OC||San Diego State|
|109||D.J. Wonnum||EDGE||South Carolina|
|110||Jonah Jackson||OG||Ohio State|
|111||Kindle Vildor||CB||Georgia Southern|
|114||Charlie Taumoepeau||TE||Portland State|
|115||Joseph Charlton||K||South Carolina|
|116||Alohi Gilman||SAF||Notre Dame|
|118||Steve Wirtel||LS||Iowa State|
|119||Tyler Bass||K||Georgia Southern|
Tight ends class stacked with talent
The tight end position is one that the Bears struggled mightily to get production out of in 2019, so they would be smart to make adding talent to the current group of players one of their biggest priorities this offseason. Luckily for them, this year’s Senior Bowl features a lot of impressive prospects.
At the top of this group is Brycen Hopkins, a personal favorite of mine whom I have mocked to the Bears not once, but twice. His athleticism, ball skills, fluidity across the middle of the field and technique as a route runner make him a high-upside target in the second round. Harrison Bryant has flown under the radar in most draft circles, but he also fits the mold as an athletic receiving tight end, and he even has a 1,000-yard season to his name. He will likely be available on Day 3, but he will end up with a higher grade than that on my board.
Jared Pinkney is another intriguing tight end, as he offers physicality and technique as a blocker, as well as strong hands and a well-built frame. If the Bears choose to go for a ‘Y’ tight end to replace Adam Shaheen instead of a ‘U’ to replace Trey Burton, Pinkney could be a good target. Keep an eye on Adam Trautman, a small-school, pass-catching tight end with natural ball skills and impressive production: he had 14 touchdowns this year.
Several intriguing developmental offensive linemen
Part of the Bears’ struggles on offense came as a result of underwhelming play from their offensive line. Though there are still some promising pieces up front, they could stand to add some young talent up front.
My top-rated blocker in this Senior Bowl class is guard Ben Bredeson. Though not the most athletic interior lineman, he’s a hard-nosed, powerful blocker who uses his hands well and has admirable strength in his lower body. If the Bears want to look for a pure guard to draft in Round 2, he would be an enticing option. Other noteworthy guards include Logan Stenberg—a stiff yet strong lineman who plays with heavy hands and a nasty edge—and John Simpson, a late riser up draft boards who also plays with a mauler approach.
This year’s group of offensive tackles is pretty raw as a whole, but it has a handful of players with very high ceilings. Both Josh Jones and Prince Tega Wanogho are long and athletic tackles with value as blindside pass protectors and have upside galore, despite some technical flaws with pad level and hand usage at times. Either one of them could potentially sneak into the end of the first round with a good showing at the Senior Bowl.
Trey Adams could have been a first-round pick in the 2018 draft as a junior, but two serious injuries have him entering the Senior Bowl as a redshirt senior with something to prove. He’s a massive and length tackle prospect with good hand usage and a solid blend of power and agility for his size. He will look to use this game as a chance to remind teams why he was so highly touted before his injuries. Matt Peart and Terence Steele both fit the bill as long and mobile blockers with high motors, while Hakeem Adeniji and Justin Herron are two underweight Day 3 prospects with lots of athleticism for the position who could develop into quality pass protectors with some work in an NFL weight room.
Top-heavy group of quarterbacks
The 2020 class has as many as seven quarterbacks who could potentially develop into starters, and this year’s Senior Bowl will serve as a platform for three of those players.
Justin Herbert tops the list, as the talented Oregon quarterback projects as a potential top-10 pick in this year’s draft. He won’t be an option for the Bears, but his arm strength, mobility, size and sense of anticipation will surely see him drafted early this year.
Jordan Love and Jalen Hurts are two more realistic options for Chicago, and even the former could potentially be long gone if the desire for rookie quarterbacks in the first round is strong. Love is a strong-armed, athletic playmaker who can deliver accurate strikes to any point of the field, showcasing flashes of top-notch ball placement and anticipatory skills. His 2019 tape showed signs of processing regression and raw mechanics, but his upside will see him drafted early.
Hurts took significant strides as a passer this year, improving his accuracy and timing while keeping the athletic ability that projects him as a dual-threat in the pros. His decision-making still needs work, as does his release and his ability to read the field. He might be a reach in Round 2, but he could boost his stock with a standout performance in Mobile.
As far as the rest of the quarterbacks go, Anthony Gordon could be a name worth remembering as the draft process heats up. The regular season leader in passing yards with 5,228 (Joe Burrow was the overall leader in yards but played in two more games than Gordon), the Washington State signal-caller is an accurate passer who can anticipate well and has solid athleticism for the position. He doesn’t have a very high ceiling, but he could be a developmental backup option the Bears could look at.
Check out Lester’s latest T Formation Conversation Podcast as he and EJ Snyder talk all about the Senior Bowl. For those not aware, EJ is in Mobile covering the Senior Bowl practices all week for WCG so give him a follow on Twitter @thedraftsmanFB.