TAMPA, Fla. — Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs is one week away from what figures to be the most pivotal week of competition in his football career to date.
Dobbs is one of eight quarterbacks who have accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl, where he will have an opportunity to showcase his skills to NFL coaches and personnel managers in Mobile, Ala.
Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, the MVP of the College Football Playoff title game, has a standing invitation to the Senior Bowl and could end up throwing next to Dobbs, side-by-side.
Dobbs’ season didn’t end on that big of a stage, but the Tennessee QB did turn in an MVP performance in the Music City Bowl and was playing as well as any signal caller in the country the final month of the season.
Phil Savage, the executive director of the Senior Bowl and a former NFL general manager with the Cleveland Browns, said Watson is considered the more polished passer of the two.
“They are somewhat comparable, but Deshaun is such a pure thrower of the ball, I think that’s probably the distinction, the accuracy is certainly at a different level,” Savage said. “But as far as the size, and the physicality, Dobbs is probably a little more physical of a runner, Deshaun is more shifty and make miss.”
Savage, who also coached under Bill Belichick and helped build the Super Bowl Baltimore Ravens with his input on first-round pick Jamal Lewis in 2000, said Dobbs improved as the season progressed but has room for more consistency.
“I watched Josh in his bowl game, and the thing with Josh is I saw him throw two passes over the heads of receivers on back-to-back plays, and then he throws a beautiful post down the middle of the field,” Savage said. “So the consistency is what people are going to be looking for.”
In addition to Dobbs, other quarterbacks who will be at the Senior Bowl are:
• C.J. Beathard, Iowa
• Chad Kelly, Ole Miss
• Nate Peterman, Pitt
• Seth Russell, Baylor
• Davis Webb, Cal
• Sefo Liufau, Colorado
• Antonio Pipkin, Tiffin
Dobbs’ invitation to the Senior Bowl didn’t arrive until November, when Savage said he started hearing from NFL scouts who noticed the upswing in Tennessee’s offense.
“I thought he was more comfortable down the stretch,” Savage said. “He seemed to be willing to throw the ball down the field more.”
Dobbs’ November was certainly one to remember: The Vols QB completed 80.2 percent of his passes over the four games, compiling 969 yards, 11 TDs, 1 INT through the air while rushing for 4 TDs and 393 yards on 38 carries.
“Josh has got a chance to show at the Senior Bowl that he can transition from what he did at Tennessee,” Savage said, “to what he’ll be asked to do in the NFL.”