The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

January 23, 2014

Senior Bowl a perk for prospects who stick around

(Continued)

"We concern ourselves with the guys on our list that come out to compete," said Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, who's leading the South team. "With the juniors coming out now, it places much more emphasis on this opportunity there. There are so many evaluations that take place that you can come here and see a lot of guys in a three-day period. That part's great."

The Senior Bowl has averaged 10 first-rounders over the past nine drafts. The NFC Championship game between San Francisco and Seattle featured quarterback alums Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson.

You never know who you're going to run into at Senior Bowl practices, or nearly run into.

"We ran an out route and I went to throw it and the ball was headed right at (Jets coach) Rex Ryan, so I was hoping my guy would catch it so he wouldn't send those extra blitzes at me later on," said Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, whose brother David was the No. 1 overall pick after playing in the 2002 Senior Bowl.

This year, nine eligible, uninjured players turned down invitations, including Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde and Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner.

It might not affect their draft status, but NFL teams do notice.

"Personally, I believe when you're given an opportunity to go out and compete and show what you're capable of doing, you should take advantage of every opportunity," Atlanta Falcons and North coach Mike Smith said.

Top talents like Matthews, Mosley and, of course, Clowney and Manziel aren't likely to need a week like this to help their stock. Others can benefit either in the draft or down the line as free agents with impressions made in Mobile.

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