The 2020 Senior Bowl ended with the North team defeating the South team 34-17.
Plenty of prospects undoubtedly boosted their stock following this performance. At the same time, several others missed the mark completely. Here are five of the biggest takeaways from Saturday's game and what they mean for the 2020 NFL Draft class going forward.
Running Backs Capitalize On Opportunity
The all-star game format is not an ideal showcase for running backs because there is little to no contact in practice for these ball carriers. They do get valuable reps in pass protection and one-on-one looks as receivers out of the backfield, but as pure runners, there is very little they can gain from the practice setting. However, that changed in the actual game, and most of the Senior Bowl running back prospects capped off their week with big performances.
UCLA's Joshua Kelley was the game's leading rusher with 105 yards on 15 carries, icing the game for the North team with a 13-yard run in the fourth quarter. Of all the running backs in Mobile, Alabama, I thought Kelley looked like the most poised and sharp ball carrier. His cuts in practice were explosive, and his play strength was on full display in the game. Nobody wanted to tackle him in the fourth quarter after he kept pounding the rock, and with what he showed in pass protection drills in practice, I think many teams will view him as a three-down back.
Two other running backs that stood out were TCU's Darius Anderson and Florida's Lamical Perine. The first two touchdowns in Saturday's game went to these two backs in the passing game. Perine caught a pass in the flat by Oregon’s Justin Herbert and broke a few tackles on his way to a 16-yard touchdown. A quarter later, Anderson got the North team on the board with a 75-yard score on a wheel route thrown by Michigan's Shea Patterson. Both Perine and Anderson averaged over six yards per carry in this outing, showing different sides to their game than what is displayed on tape.
Utah EDGE Bradlee Anae Has Breaking Out Party
The most dominant player in Saturday's game was undoubtedly Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae. He was a one-man wrecking crew in this game, finishing with three sacks and several other pressures. His hand technique and vast toolbox of counter moves made him the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year, and it's scary to think he took his game to another level at the Senior Bowl. He dominated one-on-one drills, exposing poor timing and footwork by the offensive tackles with his unpredictability. Anae's three-sack performance Saturday was just a glimpse of what he did throughout the week, and despite measuring in with 32-inch arms, I believe he should firmly be in the top-50 conversation from here on out.
Not A Great Day For Offensive Tackles
Whether it was the speed of Michigan's Josh Uche, the power of Syracuse's Alton Robinson, or the intensity of Anae, the offensive tackles in Saturday's game had no answer in pass protection. There were countless sacks in this game, and much of the blame goes to offensive tackles like Texas Tech's Terence Steele, Oregon's Calvin Throckmorton and South Carolina State's Alex Taylor. All three of these prospects were turnstiles and responsible for the quarterbacks being under constant pressure in the pocket. A big credit goes to the aforementioned pass rushers, but for Steele, Throckmorton and Taylor, Saturday was a "burn it and forget it" kind of tape they will never want to revisit.
Washington State's Anthony Gordon Emerges As Legit QB Prospect
The only player in this game with multiple touchdowns, Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon put on a show. He finished Saturday with 69 yards through the air, two passing touchdowns and a 67 percent completion rate. Gordon came into this week with several question marks, especially with his background in an air raid offense. Scouts and coaches wanted to see if he could read the entire field, go through progressions and throw accurately at all three levels of the field. He completed each of those tasks throughout the week of practice, and he followed it up with the best showing of any quarterback. Herbert took home the MVP from Saturday's game, but make no mistake about it, Gordon gained the most from any quarterback in Mobile.
Notre Dame CB Troy Pride Jr. Finishes Dominant Week
With LSU's Kristian Fulton, TCU's Jeff Gladney and Ohio State's Damon Arnette all absent from the Senior Bowl, the week was a prime opportunity for an under-the-radar cornerback to stand out. That cornerback was revealed to be Notre Dame's Troy Pride Jr. He was lights out in press and off man coverage all week long in the one-on-one drills against a talented wide receiver group. His speed and quickness on the boundary were expected, but he contested every catch point with aggressiveness and an opportunistic mindset, something he did not show much on his college tape. The biggest concern I had with Pride's tape was his assertiveness, and we got the most confident version of him yet. He was undoubtedly the best cornerback on the practice field, and then he followed up a dominant week with a 33-yard interception in the Senior Bowl. Pride helped his NFL draft stock more than any other defensive back in Mobile.