3 B1G players I'm looking forward to watching in the Senior Bowl
It’s not a make-or-break week, but for the 12 B1G seniors in Mobile, Ala. this week, it’s a significant part of the pre-draft process.
Though it lacks many of the major top prospects, the Senior Bowl will still feature household B1G names with guys like Trace McSorley and Karan Higdon. The game itself, which will be played on Saturday, will have plenty of next-level eyes on it.
Here’s who I’m looking forward to watching.
1. Trace McSorley, Penn State QB
Nobody thinks that McSorley is going to be an NFL starter. I’m not necessarily saying he will be, but we’ve learned what McSorley does to people who doubt him. He makes them look stupid. Like, the same people who thought he was a college safety probably didn’t enjoy watching McSorley become the most prolific quarterback in Penn State history.
We’ve already seen so much of McSorley that it might be easy to assume we know all of his strengths and weaknesses. But it is worth mentioning that the game is trending in McSorley’s favor. Having true dual-threat quarterbacks who can also stretch the field is key. Even though McSorley won’t be the biggest, fastest or strongest-armed quarterback in Mobile, perhaps his combination of skills on display will prompt a team to want to grab him on Day 3.
There are some obvious factors working against McSorley, though. The last we saw of him, McSorley was playing on what Penn State initially called a broken foot in the Citrus Bowl. He denied that diagnosis, though he’ll still have to show he’s healthy.
And while he weighed in at the 6-0, 200 pounds that he was listed at, he measured as having the smallest hands of any quarterback at the Senior Bowl.
Penn State QB Trace McSorley: 6-0 1/4, 200. Hand just 9 1/8. Smallest quarterback at the #SeniorBowl.
— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) January 22, 2019
That means he’ll have an extra close eye on his arm strength.
It’ll be interesting to see how McSorley, who dealt with drops galore from his receivers in 2018, will handle a week like this outside of his usual Penn State surroundings. It’ll be a basic system and a pretty simple game plan. McSorley is at his best when there’s something to play for in between the lines.
Considering how many people McSorley is trying to prove wrong, he’ll definitely have something to play for on Saturday.
2. Terry McLaurin, Ohio State WR
I’m always interested how the guys who don’t really jump off the charts with their measurables perform in this kind of setting. McLaurin is one of those guys. He does the little things well. Whether that’s being a reliable target in space or making key blocks, McLaurin isn’t necessarily the guy who’s going to suddenly shoot up draft boards.
McLaurin was never the leading receiver on his own team, and up until this past season, he really didn’t play in a pass-happy offense. But in terms of downfield threats, few in Mobile can do what McLaurin can. He developed a nice rapport with Dwayne Haskins and finished with double-digit scores as a result.
Due to his lack of size — 6-0, 205 pounds — it’ll be natural for some to think that McLaurin is more of a slot guy. But given the amount of smaller receivers dominating the NFL landscape like Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyreek Hill, McLaurin might be another one of those mid-round guys who a team just wants to move all over the place because of how many things he does well.
McLaurin doesn’t need much volume to make his presence felt. He could easily make a loud, 80-yard statement by the time the day is done.
J.T. Barrett to Terry McLaurin for 84 yards to open scoring against the nation's No. 1 defense… just as we all drew it up. pic.twitter.com/CkZKs6mJqC
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 3, 2017
3. Anthony Nelson, Iowa DE
Nelson was part of that loaded group of Iowa defensive ends, yet he found a way to tie for the B1G lead in sacks (9.5) in 2018. He’s not lacking the production or the size for the NFL — he measured in at 6-6 1/2, 272 pounds — which was why he left Iowa with a year of eligibility remaining.
What Nelson does best is get pressure on the quarterback. He won’t have much help from the second level because of the rules of the game on the defensive side, so we’ll get to see more of him in one-on-one matchups. Ask B1G tackles how that usually goes. Like he did against Nebraska, it’s fun to watch someone like Nelson take over a game from the defensive end position.
He’s known for using his hands well and wreaking havoc right in a quarterback’s face. He’s not going to blow anyone away with his freakish abilities, but he can boost his stock by dominating his matchups and getting to the quarterback in basic fronts.
As we know, edge rushers can rise in a hurry. Someone with 23 career sacks and a big Senior Bowl performance could definitely do that.