The college football season has one final game to play this weekend: the Senior Bowl. This is the sport's premier All-Star Game, featuring rosters stocked full of NFL talent. Furthermore, the week of practice allows these draft-eligible Seniors the chance to work with NFL coaches, as the Cowboys; and Jaguars' staffs are in Mobile, Alabama this week to train up the players.
As is often the case, the more meaningful evaluations this week will likely take place on the practice field rather than during the game. One-on-one drills, position switches, and other factors will all be weighed heavily as the week goes along.
As we begin looking ahead to the week, here are some of the big names to watch on the offensive side of the ball for the North and South teams.
Arguably the biggest news at quarterback is who is not participating: Connor Cook from Michigan State, who turned down his invitation. However, there is another potential first-round pick among the players in Mobile this week.
Packers running back John Crockett's old backfield partner is in Mobile this week, as Carson Wentz (6'6", 235) represents North Dakota State on the North squad. Wentz has been climbing into the first-round discussion in recent weeks, and a good week of practice could solidify that assessment. A pair of Pac-12 quarterbacks are present as well in USC's Cody Kessler (6'1", 215) and Stanford's Kevin Hogan (6'4", 218), with Kessler being a prolific pocket passer while Hogan has good mobility.
The South team has an interesting blend of physical talent and accomplishment at quarterback. Jake Coker (6'5", 232) is a prototypical pocket passer who led Alabama to the national title this year. Mississippi State's Dak Prescott (6'2", 230) is one of the new blend of mobile quarterbacks, who rushed for over 2400 yards in his three years as a starter. Brandon Allen (6'2", 210) from Arkansas is another pocket passer, who threw for 50 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions over his last two years.
Last year, David Johnson burst onto the scene in Mobile, and he has posted a great rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals.
In 2016, the South group includes Alabama's second-string running back, Kenyan Drake (6'1", 210), who added a receiving dimension to the Crimson Tide backfield last season behind workhorse Derrick Henry. Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams (6', 223) missed the 2015 season with a foot injury but had a productive 2014 season.
The North team's top back should be Kenneth Dixon (5'10", 212) from Louisiana Tech, another back with excellent receiving skills. He racked up 63 receptions for over 800 yards in his last two seasons, while also rushing for over 1,000 yards each year.
A pair of top fullbacks are here as well: Northwestern's Dan Vitale (6'2", 235) is a very good blocker, while Chris Swain (6'1", 244) rushed for over 1,000 yards this season in Navy's triple option offense.
Looking for the next Rob Gronkowski? How about his brother Glenn? The youngest Gronk played fullback at Kansas State and measures 6'3", 234, but is moving to tight end for this game. Joining him on the south team is Jerell Adams (6'6", 237) from South Carolina. Adams is a tall, fast, athletic tight end who shows promise as a receiver but who will need to demonstrate that he can block as well.
The Big Ten is well-represented at this position as well, as Ohio State's Nick Vannett (6'6", 260) and Iowa's Henry Krieger-Coble (6'4", 250) are the top names. Vannett was not asked to do much as a receiving tight end in Ohio State's offense, but he's a big, willing blocker who has good hands. Like many Iowa tight ends in the past, Krieger-Coble is seen as a solid all-around player who can contribute as both a receiver and a blocker, but who will not blow anyone away with his athleticism.
The Big Ten dominates the North team's receiver group this year. Michigan State wideout Aaron Burbridge (6'1", 208) led the Big Ten in most major receiving categories, but the big, sexy name is Braxton Miller (6'2", 215) from Ohio State. Miller won the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year award as a quarterback in both 2012 and 2013, but he injured his shoulder and missed the 2014 season. When coming back, he did so as a receiver due to the logjam at QB (and lingering issues with that shoulder), and served as a wildcat quarterback and slot receiver, picking up 600 total yards and four scores. The third Big Ten player of note at the position is Rutgers' Leonte Carroo (6'1", 215), who had 29 scores in the past three seasons and averaged nearly 20 yards per reception in his career.
The South team has more varied body types than the North. Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard (5'10", 191) seems to be in the Randall Cobb slot receiver mold, and finished in the top three of the Big XII in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Keep an eye on Paul McRoberts (6'3", 197) from Southeast Missouri State, who brings height and some punt return ability. Also worth a look is Malcolm Mitchell (6'1", 196), who led Georgia in receiving in 2015 but has a lengthy injury history.
At center, former Michigan State Spartan Jack Allen (6'2", 296) leads the way, while Iowa's Austin Blythe (6'3", 290) and Missouri's Evan Boehm (6'3", 320) make up a decently deep group.
The South team has a handful of top prospects, including Cody Whitehair (6'4", 305) from Kansas State and Christian Westerman (6'4", 300) from Arizona State. Baylor's Spencer Drango (6'6", 310) might be a candidate to move inside to guard from the left tackle position that he manned in Waco.
Ohio State's Taylor Decker was not listed on the roster release, despite initial reports that he would be participating. In his place, Indiana's Jason Spriggs (6'7" 305) and Stanford's Kyle Murphy (6'7", 301) will be the top names on the North team. For the South, keep an eye on John Theus (6'6", 303) from Georgia and Le'Raven Clark (6'6", 307) from Texas Tech.