On a rainy Saturday afternoon in Mobile, Alabama, some of the best players came together to play the annual Senior Bowl game. Since 1950, the Senior Bowl has produced some notable names that have gone on to have great success in the NFL. Recently, some of the notable names have included Jimmy Graham (2010), Richard Sherman (2011), Aaron Donald (2014), and Carson Wentz (2016). Although much of the focus of this event was on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Wyoming Quarterback Joshua Allen, this game featured two lesser known quarterback who stole the spotlight from both Mayfield and Allen. From viewing this game, I was extremely impressed by the level of talent on both sides, particularly from Team North who dominated this game from the very beginning.
Quarterback Kyle Lauletta (Team South) It is players like Lauletta, that makes this event worthwhile. Few knew much about the University of Richmond, let alone about the name Kyle Lauletta. Lauletta came into the second half of the game and from the minute he threw the ball, one was able to see the accuracy and efficiency in his throws. By no means was Lauletta the flashiest player, but he is the type of quarterback that can get the job done. I believe he could make the case to be a starter on an NFL team in a few years. In all, Lauletta went 8-12, for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns (one short of tying the record), and was named Team South’s Most Outstanding Player; which speaks volumes because Team South had numerous ‘outstanding performers’ on their side.
Quarterback Mike White (Team South) Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White was without question the best player on the field in the first half of the game. Simply, everything White threw in that half was accurate and on point; from what I viewed, he rarely missed. Though Lauletta was slightly more accurate, White had the stronger throwing arm. White played one half of football went 8-11 for 128 yard and a touchdown. From viewing how easy he made it look out there, one can only imagine what his stats would have been if he had played the entire game.
Wide receiver DJ Chark (Team South): When your statline reads 5 receptions for 160 yards, it generally means that you had a great day. To say the least, Chark feasted on the Team North corners, running smooth routes and showing the type speed that made him highly regarded by NFL scouts this year. Chark was unquestionably the best receiver in this game and he solidified this with two big receptions; one for 63 yards, and a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown from quarterback Kyle Lauletta.
Quarterback Joshua Allen (Team North) After a forgettable first half, Allen came back in a big way in the second half and showed everyone why he is arguably the best quarterback in the entire draft class. Considering his stature at 6’5″, 250 lbs, Allen displayed the type of mobility that is uncommon in players of size. He is absolutely smooth and calm in pocket, even when encountered by pressure from the edges, and he seems to always find a way to get the ball thrown to an open man. In that second half, everything Allen threw was virtually perfect; that was confirmed with his second touchdown pass to tight end Durham Smyth. The only reason why the game was remotely close was because of Allen; had he played the remainder of the quarter, Team North would have had a chance. He finished 9-13 for 158 yards, yet these stats did not do his day justice. In the days prior, Allen was heavily scrutinized for his accuracy and his performances against Power Five Conference teams during his time in Wyoming. On this occasion, none of that matter as he showed all the potential of being a big time player in the NFL.
Defensive lineman Marcus Davenport (Team South) Davenport is as true a competitor as there is in college football. On Tuesday, Davenport had a rough outing in practice as he was continuously dominated by offensive linemen during one-on-ones. Marcus Davenport’s performance in this game showed that Tuesday was nothing more than an aberration. Davenport accounted for a half sack, a touchdown on a fumble recovery, and was constantly in the backfield creating problems for the quarterbacks on Team North. One of the noted attributes that I noted watching him is his ability to bend the edge effectively, a skill that is essential for edge rushers.
Safety Jeremy Reaves (Team South) Reaves had as productive a day as anyone on defense could have had; 8 tackles, an interception and pass breakup. Reaves is not overly athletic, but he had a knack for details and has great football IQ. From what I viewed, quarterbacks on Team North had a difficult time completing passes deep; generally this was the case when Reaves was playing. It remains to be seen if Reaves will be invited to the NFL combine in March, but he made a great impression in this game.
Running back Rashaad Penny (Team South) Coming into this game, Penny drew comparisons to a Senior Bowl alumni who eventually became the NFL’s rushing leader this season, Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Penny not only displayed excellent straight line speed and the ability to seamlessly break tackles, but he also was a dual threat with his ability to catch the ball in the open field. Penny ended the day with 137 total yards, including a 73-yard catch-and-run touchdown run. If one were to ask who was the best athlete in this game, one could make the case that Penny was that person.
Linebacker Darius Leonard (Team South)
Defensive lineman Jayln Holmes (Team North)
Long Snapper Tanner Carew (Team North)
Defensive lineman Andrew Brown ( Team South )