With the NFL Draft looming next April, the senior class is down to roughly half of a season to finish off their college careers with the best possible impression.
According to NFL.com’s Chad Reuter, 5 SEC players headline a Top 10 list of seniors needing to prove to scouts that they’re worthy of the hype they received heading into the season. The list is headlined by Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly, who is joined by Alabama’s Tim Williams, LSU’s Travin Dural and Tennessee’s Cameron Sutton and Joshua Dobbs.
Reuter said Kelly “needs a great second half to the year to convince general managers that he’ll be a great pick despite his off-field transgressions and occasional lapses in judgement on the field. If he can limit turnovers while making use of his stable of receivers in those games, he’ll be on the right track toward alleviating concerns about his game. Scouts will be evaluating his maturity on and off the field, as well as his ability to stick throws in tight windows.”
Of Dobbs, Reuter said “NFL scouts don’t know what to think about Dobbs right now. Is he the team leader that brought the Vols back for multiple comeback wins, sometimes with NFL-caliber throws? Or is he the guy who struggled from the pocket early in the year and against Texas A&M at times last weekend? Dobbs is an intelligent, hard-working leader with great intangibles. But if he can’t show scouts he can consistently win games with accurate throws and solid in-game decision-making, then they’ll view him as a third-day (Rounds 4-7) flier rather than a top-100 pick with starting potential.”
Reuter said Sutton “was playing well before fracturing his right ankle against Ohio in Week 3. Coach Butch Jones has said there’s a possibility he’ll return late in the season. I hope he can return to field this year because as talented as he is, there are 10-12 cornerbacks that could be fighting for first- and second-round consideration in 2017. Missing so much time in his final collegiate season could put him at a disadvantage against other CBs that were able to show their wares throughout the season.”
Reuter also said Williams “was considered one of the top pass rushers in the country coming into the year. He started off a bit slow. He possesses the size, athleticism, and strength to be an elite player — a strong finish to the year would push him up the draft board.”
Reuter said Dural “is in a tough situation because of the Tigers’ shortcomings at the quarterback position. He’s averaging less than 10 yards per reception and has one touchdown; those are not the numbers scouts want to see. Dural can’t control when the ball is thrown to him, but he can make the most of his opportunities if he beats physical coverage with violent hands, breaks tackles, catches the ball consistently and works hard to come back to his quarterback when the play breaks down.”
The full list is as follows: