All-Star Games

Ranking the 2016 Senior Bowl Quarterbacks

Written by Bryan Perez on January 15, 2016

Jacoby Brissett gets a chance to prove his draft worth

The 2016 Reese’s Senior Bowl week begins on Tuesday, January 26th with the all important weigh-ins and the first of three heavily scrutinized days of practice.  And despite the rush of underclassmen who have made their NFL intentions known over the last few weeks — and potentially more to come over the next three days — my focus remains on the senior class.

I decided to put together a pre-Senior Bowl ‘ranking’ of each positional group based on my film review and research of readily available background information.  It’s impossible for any one evaluator to know everything about every player on the game’s roster — both on and off the field — but it’s critically important to familiarize yourself with each prospect in order to fully appreciate their practice performances.  You can’t determine the risers or fallers if you don’t have a working knowledge of who they are and what (read more…)


Scouting the Senior Bowl: Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State

Written by Bryan Perez on January 4, 2016

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Aaron Burbridge had quite the senior season.  He enjoyed a true breakout year, more than tripling his previous career highs in receptions and yards.  Collegiate careers like Burbridge’s are the most dangerous and unpredictable for a scout to evaluate.  It’s almost impossible to determine why a player’s production increases so dramatically from one year to the next.  In some cases, it’s a product of player development and opportunity.  In other scenarios, it’s nothing more than a fluke.

For the 2016 NFL Draft, scouts will have to decide if Burbridge seized the moment this year and displayed his true next-level talent or if he was simply a good college football player who happened to be the No. 1 target for a highly touted quarterback.

The Senior Bowl is a great environment to scout receivers.  There are a lot of one-on-one battles with the top cornerbacks in the country; win in (read more…)


Scouting the Senior Bowl: Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State

Written by Bryan Perez on January 3, 2016

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Tyler Ervin, the senior running back from San Jose State, is a player who I hadn’t scouted all that closely until his name was added to the list of 2016 Senior Bowl participants.  He’s an interesting addition to the game in large part because I’m curious as to where the coaching staff will line him up during the week of practices.

Ervin is an all-purpose talent, accruing yardage as a runner, receiver and kick returner.  He had an impressive year as a rusher in 2015, totaling 294 carries for 1,601 yards and 13 TDs (5.4 YPC).  It was by far his best year as a running back, as his previous career high was 888 yards rushing in 2014.  He’s proven to be a valuable target in the receiving game with 45 catches for 334 yards and 2 TDs this season alone.  He’s caught 87 passes during his time as (read more…)


Scouting the Senior Bowl: Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama

Written by Bryan Perez on January 2, 2016

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Kenyan Drake is probably best known for the gruesome leg injury he suffered five games into the 2014 season against Ole Miss.  It was about as bad of a broken leg as you’ll see in football, and it created serious doubt as to whether he’d be able to regain the impressive form that he displayed during his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Drake accepted his invitation to the 2016 Senior Bowl after a senior year that answered most of the injury-related questions.  While he wasn’t as explosive or confident of a runner this past season, he’s still an intriguing option at the running back position because of the likelihood that his best football will be played in 2016 and beyond.

Drake finished this past year (excluding Alabama’s National Championship game) with 76 carries for 407 yards and 1 TD.  He averaged 4.8 YPC, which is a far cry from his (read more…)


Scouting the Senior Bowl: Kenneth Dixon, RB, LA Tech

Written by Bryan Perez on December 31, 2015

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Running back is one of my favorite positions to scout.  Maybe it’s because I grew up during the golden era of the running game, watching the likes of Barry Sanders (Lions) and Emmitt Smith (Cowboys).  The NFL was still a quarterback-driven league back then, but the value (non-monetary) of the every-down back was at an all-time high.

But as much as I love watching and evaluating the position, it still presents some of the most unique challenges when projecting a player’s likely success in the NFL.  Yes, running backs can make the most immediate impact as rookies, but they can also wash out of the league if they are sub-par pass protectors, have ball security issues, or simply lack the athleticism to make the jump from productive collegiate back to capable NFL starter.

Despite the many variables that ultimately impact a running back’s pro career, the challenge to uncover the (read more…)


Scouting the Senior Bowl: Jeff Driskel, QB, La Tech

Written by Bryan Perez on December 29, 2015

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Jeff Driskel has experienced one of the more interesting journeys to the Senior Bowl.  Once considered an elite quarterback recruit and the future of the position for the Florida Gators, Driskel’s time in Gainesville was defined by unmet expectations and inconsistent play.  A season-ending leg fracture in 2013 was a large factor in what went wrong for him, as he started 11 games as a sophomore for the Gators.  He came back in 2014 to start only 6 games and eventually decided to transfer for his final season of eligibility.  He chose Louisiana Tech, a decision that has salvaged his draft stock.

Prior to La Tech, Driskel looked like an average (at best) collegiate quarterback.  He totaled 3,411 yards, 23 TDs and 20 INTs between the 2012 to 2014 seasons with 20 total starts.  In 2012, he ran for more than 400 yards and 4 TDs which was consistent (read more…)


Scouting the Senior Bowl: Dak Prescott, QB, Mississppi State

Written by Bryan Perez on December 28, 2015

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Dak Prescott started his senior season as a player with a lot to prove.  His value for the NFL Draft was a true unknown, as many analysts began the year assuming that Prescott would become the next athletic quarterback likely to be forced into a position change to maximize his NFL opportunities.

The trending narrative around Prescott seems to be that he’s done enough during his 2015 campaign to be evaluated as a true quarterback prospect.  He finished his career at Mississippi State owning 38 school records, including: total TDs (107); pass attempts (1,085); completions (678); completion percentage (63%); passing TDs (64); passing yards (8,742); rushing yards by a quarterback (2,411); and 100 yard rushing games by a quarterback (9).  Needless to say, he was Mississippi State football during his tenure ‘under’ center.

In terms of his 2015 season as a quarterback, he threw for 3,313 yards, 25 (read more…)


Scouting the Senior Bowl: Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State

Written by Bryan Perez on December 24, 2015

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The 2016 Reese’s Senior Bowl has been announcing the names of accepted prospect invites over the last several weeks.  It’s an exciting time for NFL Draft media, as we can finally start preparing for who we are likely to scout for the week in Mobile, Alabama.

One of the notable differences between this year’s game and last year’s  — on paper, at least– is the list of quarterbacks who have agreed to participate.  Last year’s crop was woefully bad.  It looks like this year’s will be fun to watch.

I’ve already touched on one of those quarterbacks, Cody Kessler, here.  This piece will focus on the senior passer from NC State.

Jacoby Brissett was one of the more exciting quarterbacks that I studied during the summer months leading up to the 2015 season.  He met my expectations this year, although he didn’t take that massive jump into first-round consideration.

(read more…)


Scouting the Senior Bowl: Cody Kessler, QB, USC

Written by Bryan Perez on December 22, 2015

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Cody Kessler, the redshirt senior quarterback from the University of Southern California, has been selected to participate in the 2016 Reese’s Senior Bowl.  He’s making the right choice by participating in the game, as his stock as a NFL Draft prospect is far from set.  One thing’s for sure:  He needs to have an overwhelmingly good week in order to enter the “Day 2″  discussion.

Kessler enjoyed a productive final season as a Trojan throwing for 3,315 yards and 28 TDs (with 6 INTs).  He completed over 67% of his passes and added four TDs on the ground.  For his career, Kessler surpassed 10,000 yards passing with 87 TDs.  He had a better year in 2014 when he set school records for completion percentage (69.7%) and completions while tying the school record for TD passes (39).  His accolades include Pac-12 honorable mention after the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Physically, Kessler barely (read more…)


East-West Shrine Game announces early acceptances

Written by Bryan Perez on November 4, 2015

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The annual East West Shrine Game announced its first batch of player acceptances on their website recently, which included Washington State offensive linemen Joe Dahl.  Dahl is being featured here on Draft Breakdown for the 2016 NFL Draft; we’ll be chronicling his journey from prospect to professional.

You can find the complete list of the Shrine Game’s roster here.


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