Players to watch for - 2018 Senior Bowl

January 23, 2018
Categories: 

Derek Kramer
@DerekKramerWGR

Practices at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama are underway now, with every team's coaching and scouting staff there in full force to watch some of the top senior prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. Plenty of attention will be paid to the quarterbacks, headlined by Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Wyoming's Josh Allen. However, there are plenty of other names to watch during the week of the Senior Bowl, including several players that the Bills should be paying close attention to. 

Remember, the Senior Bowl game itself is not as big of a deal as the week of practice is. Bills fans should recall how EJ Manuel blew up at the Senior Bowl game and had the Bills fall in love with him. We'll have a stock up / stock down from the Senior Bowl as the week concludes as well. 

Here are some players that the Bills could be targeting in the early rounds that are in Mobile, Alabama working to improve their draft stock: 

WR James Washington - Oklahoma State 
5'10", 210 lbs.
2017 Stats - 13 games played, 74 receptions, 1,549 yards, 13 receiving touchdowns, 3 carries, 12 yards, 1 rushing touchdown

Washington was the most dangerous receiver on the big play offense at Oklahoma State, averaging 20 yards per reception and leading the nation in receiving yards in his final season in Stillwater. Washington is being looked at as a potential first rounder by some draft analysts thanks to his sturdy frame, speed that can take the top off of a defense and solid hands. While he's not tall (only 5'10"), Washington also has a solid frame to take hits on contested balls down the middle. A big Senior Bowl week for Washington would boost his draft stock, especially with his college quarterback, Mason Rudolph, having to sit out of the Senior Bowl due to injury. 

PROJECTED ROUND: Late 1st-Early 2nd

DE/OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo - Oklahoma 
6'1", 243 lbs. 
2017 Stats - 14 games played, 75 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumbles recovered

A tough name to pronounce (Ohg-banna Oh-koh-ron-koh), Okoronkwo is one of the pass rushers whose name is popping up in mock drafts as a first rounder. Okoronkwo is a feisty pass rusher despite his size being an issue (only listed at 6'1"), but he makes up for it with sound technique and being very responsible when setting the edge in run defense. Okoronkwo is solid with using a speed rush to beat tackles to the outside and has solid technique to fight with his hands. Okoronkwo is also adpet at dropping back into coverage, which allows his athletic prowess to shine. Okoronkwo is likely best suited for a 3-4 defense as an edge rusher, but Bills coach Sean McDermott loves players that are versatile. 

PROJECTED ROUND: Mid 1st-Early 2nd

DT Harrison Phillips - Stanford
6'3", 303 lbs. 
2017 Stats - 14 games played, 98 total tackles, 17 takles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumbles recovered

Another player being mocked to Buffalo, Phillips is a likely Day Two candidate in a deep and talented defensive tackle group. Harrison is capable of playing both a 3-technique or 5-technique along the defensive line, allowing him to be a fit in several defensive schemes. Phillips has a high motor, which would be welcome to Bills fans after the departure of Marcell Dareus, and is relentless in pursuit. However, Phillips does tend to struggle with seperation using his hands, and often his presence is made through being able to jam up offensive linemen and soak up blockers to create a log jam at the line of scrimmage. There is not a lot to love on his one-on-one techniques, but the production (almost 100 tackles in one season as an interior lineman) cannot be ignored. 

PROJECTED ROUND: Early to Mid 2nd Round

WR DaeSean Hamilton - Penn State
6'0", 204 lbs. 
2017 Stats - 13 games played, 53 receptions, 857 yards, 9 touchdowns 

Hamilton had such a great week at the East-West Shrine Game that he was extended a late invitation to attend the Senior Bowl as well. Hamilton is more of a possession receiver and not a pure burner, but has the speed to take the top off of defenses when asked. Despite his height, Hamilton is strong and able to box out defenders to make tough catches in traffic. While the Bills need more speed at the wideout position, Hamilton is a mid-round candidate for Buffalo in the event that the Bills cannot get a wideout in the first couple of rounds, be it from trading up or not viewing the receiver class as top heavy. 

PROJECTED ROUND: 3rd-4th Round 

We'll have more on the Senior Bowl and on the draft as the Bills offseason carries on here on WGR550 and WGR550.com!