MOBILE, Ala. – As we did with the Senior Bowl North squad earlier, here are six of the most interesting prospects from the South squad through three days of practices.
These aren’t necessarily the six most interesting players, or the six best. Just six that seem, to this untrained eye, to have earned a second and third look. Players are listed alphabetically.
Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU – He hasn’t been a standout performer here, maybe because he’s still new to football and the new structure, new coaching and new surroundings of the Senior Bowl take some getting used to. But scouts have been watching Ansah all year, and they’ve seen the Ghanian who came here hoping to play basketball blossom into a pass-rushing machine and likely a first-round pick come April. He was twice cut from BYU’s basketball team, ended up running the 400-meter dash against guys half his size and will be the project of some team hoping to turn him into a Jason Pierre-Paul like impact player down the road.
Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida – The workhorse for the Gators last fall, he’s been the same for the South team this week and has probably improved his draft status in the process. Gillislee knows how to find daylight and has displayed a nice second gear after finding it. He’s solidly built at 5’11, 207, proven productive and durable and is clearly the top runner in Mobile this week. He looks like a guy who will be helping an NFL offense sooner rather than later.
Vance McDonald, TE, Rice – Rice doesn’t produce a bunch of NFL players, but it has produced a likely top-100 draft pick here. McDonald is 6’4, 262, has an 82-inch wing span and is blossoming as a tight end at a time when the tight end position is booming in the NFL. The Senior Bowl’s two best tight ends are probably both on the South roster, with McDonald getting the edge over Tennessee’s Mychal Rivera at this point.
Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State – He’s a shade under 5’10, and that might make him more of a mid-second rounder. But McFadden has displayed the confidence and ball skills of a first-rounder this week, challenging the South’s best receivers and showing up to compete in every drill. He thought about coming out and trying the draft last year, but he comes this year as a more polished product and someone looking like an immediate contributor at a premium position.
Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech – While Baylor’s Terrance Williams is the biggest and likely most coveted receiver on the South team, Patton has made quite an impression. He’s big enough (6’0, 202), been both fast and smooth and has made several impressive catches. During Wednesday’s practice he drove Georgia’s Tavarres King from the numbers all the way through the sideline during a special teams drill, making his teammates and scouts take notice that he’ll do what it takes to get on the field immediately.
Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas – Wilson has made a strong — though not unanimous — case as the best of the six quarterbacks here this week, and he understands a strong showing was necessary. While West Virginia’s Geno Smith declined the Senior Bowl invite, Wilson accepted early and has played with a sense of urgency. “We didn’t have the best year and I didn’t have a great year,” he said. “I knew I had to get here, get some things cleaned up and show that I can be an NFL quarterback.” Teams are always going to take a second and third look at gifted quarterbacks, and Wilson has at very least shown he’s capable of better than his senior season film was.