With Senior Bowl invite season in full swing, there will be debate about which top prospects deserve the recognition of an invitation. Being invited is prestigious in its own right, but it also presents an opportunity for prospects to improve their draft stock.
Last season, wide receivers such as James Washington and DaeSean Hamilton parlayed good showings at the Senior Bowl into solidified draft position. With the potential wide receiver class being as deep as ever, the Senior Bowl will be a chance for players to separate themselves from the pack.
So far, Umass’ Andy Isabella has been the only wide receiver to announce an invitation to the event. Last year there were 13 healthy wide receivers participating in Senior Bowl practices and game. For the sake of even distribution among the North and South roster this year, I’ve listed 14 players at the position that I would like to see in Mobile.
*Check out TDN’s Senior Bowl Acceptance and Invite Tracker to stay fully updated*
1. Andy Isabella, UMASS
Already invited and likely to accept, Isabella is currently leading the FBS in receiving yards. The diminutive receiver uses his quickness and natural feel for coverages to consistently get open over the middle. As sure-handed and reliable as they come, expect Isabella to quickly build a rapport with the quarterbacks during Senior Bowl practices.
2. Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
One of the more imposing figures at the position, Butler should follow in the footsteps of fellow Iowa State Cyclone Allen Lazard and perform during Senior Bowl practices. While he’s shown the ability to win contested catches and pick up yards after the catch, the 1 on 1 periods will be an opportunity for Butler to showcase more ability in terms of route running.
3. David Sills V, West Virginia
A touchdown machine at West Virginia, Sills V could be paired up with college quarterback Will Grier in Mobile. Sills V needs to prove his athleticism can translate to the next level, as well as potential fits into pro-style offenses.
4. Jalen Hurd, Baylor
The converted running back is still relatively new to the wide receiver position, but his athleticism has made the transition much easier as he’s produced excellent numbers in Baylor’s offense. The Senior Bowl would provide Hurd an opportunity to showcase his growth at his new position.
Former Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd (slot left) got on the scoreboard in his first game as a Baylor WR
Impressive body control and natural hands at the catchpoint pic.twitter.com/jQifDkXUV7
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) September 7, 2018
5. Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
The JUCO transfer has had outstanding production in his two seasons at Buffalo, eclipsing 2,100 yards and 23 touchdowns with games still to play. His smooth route running and sure-hands will be coveted by NFL teams, but the Senior Bowl would provide an opportunity for Johnson to prove his traits will translate against better competition than he regularly sees in the MAC.
6. Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska
One of the more nuanced route runners in the class, the 1 on 1 periods at the Senior Bowl would be a prime opportunity for Morgan to show off his separation ability. If he attends, he is the likeliest to have a DaeSean Hamilton-esque rise.
7. KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State
With sure hands and technical ability as a route runner, Johnson is one of the more underrated wide receivers in the class. With good outings this season against the likes of Minnesota, UCLA, and Boise State, Johnson has produced enough positive film against solid competition to earn an invitation.
KeeSean Johnson pic.twitter.com/0562M1gDZf
— NFL Draft Videos (@NFLDraftVideos) November 1, 2018
8. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
The box-out, catch radius specialist would be fun to see during goal line 1 on 1 reps. With 11 touchdowns through 9 games this season, Arcega-Whiteside’s presence would also be invaluable to see which defensive backs can compete on jump balls.
9. Parris Campbell, Ohio State
We know that Campbell is an electric and elusive ball carrier in space. His shiftiness and short-area quickness should translate into his route running, but realistically has yet to do so. Ability-wise, Campbell is definitely worthy of an invitation, and it would be an opportunity for him to showcase a more all-around game.
10. Miles Boykin, Notre Dame
Boykin has been a bit of a one-year wonder, but he has excellent size and strength for the position. His consistency has been much improved this season, and the Senior Bowl would be a place for him to continue to show off his 50/50 ball prowess.
11. Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
Samuel entered the season in the conversation for WR1, but his production has been held back this season by his quarterback play. The Senior Bowl would be an opportunity for him to right those wrongs, and show off his route running and elusiveness.
12. Preston Williams, Colorado State
A decorated track athlete and former top recruit to the University of Tennessee, Williams just oozes talent. Despite only producing at a high-level for one season, he has a rare combination of size and athleticism. Williams would be following the path of fellow Colorado State Ram Michael Gallup from the 2018 Senior Bowl.
All-America and @biletnikoffawrd candidate Preston Williams in 2 games vs. the SEC this season:
– 21 catches
– 260 yards (130/gm)
– 2 TDs
– This catch: pic.twitter.com/4yLXLtmww0
— Colorado State Football (@CSUFootball) November 9, 2018
13. Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Hall has always been more talent than production, but the Senior Bowl would be a chance for him to show that he can live up to his potential. Hall has been injured for a stretch of time this season, and this would provide an opportunity for him to prove he is back to full strength. Hall would be following fellow Missouri Tiger J’Mon Moore from the 2018 Senior Bowl.
14. Damarkus Lodge, Ole Miss
One of the more polished wide receivers in the potential draft class, Lodge has the athleticism and body control to be an excellent NFL wide receiver. Stuck in a bit of a logjam at the position for Ole Miss, Lodge could use the Senior Bowl to prove he’s capable of being a #1 guy at the next level.