G5 Standouts Ball Out at 2018 Senior Bowl

The 2018 Senior Bowl wrapped up in Mobile, Alabama Saturday afternoon as the South beat the North 45-16. It is the unofficial start of NFL Mock Draft season for football nerds. This year’s edition will go down as a game in which players from G5 (or lower) conferences dominated. Compiling a list of standouts form outside Power Conferences was an arduous affair because so many of them played well. Two of the most talked about guys among scouts all week were G5 guys: Wyoming’s Josh Allen and UTSA’s Marcus Davenport.

Allen and Davenport delivered on the field Saturday and during the week of practice preceding it, but so did several other players from the Group of Five. Even a couple standouts from FCS schools made the list in the form of Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta and South Carolina St LB Darius Leonard. There were players invited from Divisions II and below as well, including Alex Cappa, offensive tackle for the Fighting Blunt Wraps of Humboldt State and Michael Joseph of DIII Dubuque. But for the sake of brevity and focus, I chose to focus on the guys that stood out.

Shaquem Griffin – OLB/DE, UCF

4.0 tackles, 1.0 solo

Practice? PRACTICE? ARE WE TALKIN BOUT PRACTICE?

Yes, we’re talking about practice.

Shaq Griffin tore it up in practice and won the award for best practicer of the week. Scouts are looking past defect (lack of left hand) and giving him a shot. He seemed to make the most of his opportunity this week, capping it off with a four-tackle performance on Saturday. He showed tremendous versatility as he worked at DE, LB and even Safety in practice. At worst he’ll see time at Special Teams at the next level.

projected round: 5th – 7th

Marcus Davenport – DE, UTSA

2.0 tackles 0.5 sacks, 1 TD 19-yard fumble recovery

The talk of the week on the defensive side of the ball was Marcus Davenport. The DE prospect out of UTSA has drawn comparisons to a young Calais Campbell. He’s 6’6 260, strong, fast, and raw. The CUSA Defensive Player of the Year has crept up draft boards with his performance in Mobile. He added a half sack and a touchdown on 19-yard scoop and score Saturday playing for the South team. If he develops more pass rush moves, he could be a destroyer at the next level.

projected round: Top 15

Josh Allen – QB, Wyoming

9/13 C/ATT 158 yds 12.2 ypc  2 TD 0 INT, 5 carries for 19 yds

Josh Allen, 6-4 237, was the headliner of the entire week along with Baker Mayfield, and he delivered Saturday with a two-touchdown performance. He threw a  27-yard touchdown pass to Notre Dame TE Durham Smythe and a 16-yarder to CMU TE Tyler Conklin. Allen won the North MVP award and was vastly more efficient than the other two North QBs: Mayfield and Nebraska’s Tanner Lee.

Allen had an up and down week of practice, but overall I would say he helped his draft stock this week in Mobile. It’s entirely possible the Cleveland Browns take him with the first pick. While never having a completion percentage above 60% at Wyoming remains a red flag to me, he does look like an NFL QB. Sometimes guys are built for the NFL, he has the size, he has the arm strength, and he plays in cold weather. If you’re a Browns fan (bless your heart), you can quickly talk yourself into drafting Allen.

projected round: Top 10

Kyle Lauletta – QB, Richmond

8-12 C/ATT 198 yds  24.75 ypc 3 TD 0 INT

Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta won the Senior Bowl MVP. The 6-3 215 Lauletta, completed 8-of-12 passes for 198 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was the best QB on the field Saturday. He threw a beautiful 75-yard TD strike to DJ Chark in the 3rd period.

Lauletta, 6-2 217, solidified himself as a legitimate NFL prospect on Saturday. He was a fringe prospect before coming to Mobile, now he’s a sleeper. All-Star showcases are weird environments for QBs. New staff, new players, limited playbook, a sense of tension in the air due to it being an audition for the next level. If a QB can navigate all that and rise to the occasion, it speaks to their poise and maturity.

projected round: 5th – 7th

Rashaad Penny – RB, SDSU

9 carries 64 yards  7.1 ypc  34 long, 1 catch, 73 yards 1 TD, 1 KOR 15 yards

San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny was the South MVP and was their best offensive weapon all day. The SDSU workhorse, Penny caught a throw from UVA QB Kurt Beckert and outran the North defense to the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown pass with 12:35 left in the second quarter. Penny also had a 34 yard run, averaged over 7 yards a carry, and even returned a kick for 15 yards. I could easily see him as an NFL starter at the next level, carrying the torch of great Aztec running backs.

projected round: 2nd – 4th

Mike White – QB, WKU

8-11 C/ATT 128 yds 16 ypc 1 TD

WKU QB Mike White was dropping dimes in the first half of the Senior Bowl including a 63-yard bomb to D.J. Chark. He went 8-11 for 128 yards and 1 touchdown. The 6-4 221 White has prototypical NFL size and is an intriguing mid-round project to stash away on your bench for a couple seasons. He’s a 2nd, possibly early 3rd day pick. While Lauletta had the better day, White played well enough to confirm his status, or even improve it.

projected round: 2nd – 4th

Tre’Quan Smith – WR, UCF

5 targets, 5 receptions 83 yards and a TD

Smith, 6-2 202, was a major target on the South team. While LSU’s D.J. Chark ran wild on the day and Smith made the most of his five targets. Possibly crept up into the 2nd day with his performance.

projected round: 2nd – 4th

Jordan Akins – TE, UCF

5 targets, 2 receptions 31 yards

6-3 246 Akins had soft hands in practice and stood out among his Tight End counterparts with 5 targets which tied his UCF teammate Tre’Quan Smith for 2nd on the South team. He could be creeping up into the mid rounds after a good week in Alabama.

projected round: 4th – 7th

Ito Smith – RB, Southern Miss

9 carries 35 yds, 4 targets, 2 catches 2 yards

Smith, 5-9 201, was the South’s 2nd leading rusher after Penny. Solid performance. Got a key 1st round pickup late in the game. Mid-to-late round pick.

projected round: 3rd – 5th

Brandon Silvers – QB, Troy

1-2 9 yards in mop up duty. Uphill battle to break into the back-end of the draft. Prospect at the next level with NFL size and plenty of experience.

projected round: 6th – 7th

Michael Gallup – WR, Colorado State

6 targets, 3 catches 60 yards

Gallup, 6-0 197, lead the North team in receiving. His highlight for the day was a 31-yard pass from Josh Allen. Fast, good route-runner, soft hands. Mid-round pick.

projected round: 2nd – 4th

Jeremy Reaves – S, South Alabama

8 tackles, 6 solo, 1 INT

South Alabama safety Jeremy Reaves had a solid game all-around, topped off my his interception of Nebraska QB Tanner Lee at the end of the 3rd quarter. He might of crept into Day Two with his week and performance Saturday in his home stadium.

projected round: 3rd – 5th

Darius Leonard – LB, South Carolina State

14 tackles, 5 solo

Technically not a G5 team at SC State but we’ll make an exception for the guy who lead the South team in tackles. Mid-round pick. Special teams guy, possible ceiling as a Telvin Smith/Jessie Tuggle type LB.

projected round: 4th – 5th

Trayvon Henderson – S, Hawaii

10 tackles, 5 solo, 1 pass breakup

Henderson had a huge game, lead the North team in tackles. How does Hawaii qualify for the North when it is located further south than the entire continental U.S? Nevertheless, he helped his stock tremendously. Solidly a day three pick at this point.

projected round: 5th – 7th

Will Hernandez – OG, UTEP

At 6-3 340 the offensive guard out of Texas-El Paso dominated both run and pass blocking drills all week and has been the talk among scouts. He might of crept up into a sleeper choice in the back-end of the 1st round after Bruce Feldman mentioned him as the top guard prospect. UTEP had a miserable year on the field but Hernandez still got the invite. That goes to show you NFL scouts are more open minded to prospects from outside the P5 than they were in the past. We’ll see how he does at the combine.

projected round: 1st – 3rd

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