Longhorn seniors Marquise Goodwin, Alex Okafor and Kenny Vaccaro have been invited to the Senior Bowl. While Vaccaro, one of the top safety prospects in the 2013 draft class, declined his invitation, Okafor and Goodwin will get another chance to impress scouts and rise up NFL draft boards in an all-star contest of the best college senior prospects in the country Saturday in Mobile, Ala.
The Senior Bowl brings together the country’s best college prospects in a game managed by the coaching staffs of two NFL teams. Scouts, general managers and coaches from all 32 NFL teams are ever present among the gridiron. The pressure is on to impress and all the athletes are hoping to catch the eye of a scout and earn a spot on an NFL roster.
“Everybody here has the same goal, they want to increase their stock and potentially go higher in the draft.” Defensive end Alex Okafor told nepatrotsdraft.com “That’s what everybody that’s out here is working toward.”
Okafor looks like a strong candidate for a leap into the first round of the draft with a strong performance in the Senior Bowl and a good showing at the NFL combine. After a 4.5 sack, defensive MVP performance in the Alamo Bowl, his momentum is headed in the right direction. His versatility to play either 4-3 or 3-4 as defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid will appeal to coaches using either scheme. In practice, Okafor has been performing well rushing the passer and is showing his enormous potential.
Though it may be hard to emulate Von Miller’s 2011 defensive performance in the Senior Bowl that solidified his draft status and led the Broncos to select Miller second overall, Okafor has a good chance at a top 20 pick should he continue the hard work he’s already done in burnt orange.
Marquise Goodwin has also been impressive and showed great quickness and Olympic-quality technique during practice. Like Okafor, momentum is on his side —just ask the Oregon State defense. A 64-yard run and 36-yard catch both ended in touchdowns for Goodwin in his final game as a Longhorn. However, the depth in this year’s class of wide receivers means he could be waiting until round 5 or 6 to get his name called at Radio City Music Hall. His exceptional speed, along with his impressive vertical, should move him up NFL draft boards, but a good showing in the game could see a team use a third round pick on him.
Senior running back D.J. Monroe was not invited to the Senior Bowl, but did get a bid to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Monroe helped the National Team to a 34-0 win with 62 all-purpose yards including a 31-yard return on the opening kickoff.
The Senior Bowl will be held in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. The game will also be televised Saturday at 3:00 p.m. on the NFL Network.