With 2020 Senior Bowl invites starting to be accepted by top prospects across the nation, I think it’s time to start highlighting the event and the players who can benefit from it most. To preview some of those prospects, I’ve come up with four NFL comparisons for players who have already accepted their invite to Mobile.
Matt Peart, OT, Connecticut (6'6, 305) - Branden Albert (6'5, 310)
Many may not know Matt Peart’s name, but that will change in January. The Senior Bowl is an opportunity for lesser-known players to have their breaking out party. Think about guys in recent years like Nathan Shepherd and Terry McLaurin. I think Peart could be one of the biggest risers from this event. His physical profile, style of play, and background is very similar to Branden Albert, a former Pro Bowl offensive tackle who played guard in college. Like Albert, Peart is a former basketball player with most of his college experience at guard. However, it is clear that his home in the league is at tackle with his athleticism and length. If he can hold up well against some of the event’s top pass rushers during the week of practice, he may rise into early-round consideration.
Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU (6'0, 185) - Desmond Trufant (6'0, 190)
I’ve been a big Jeff Gladney fan since the very beginning, and it’s not even because of his elite athleticism — it is because of his competitive toughness. Whether it’s at the LOS, in run support, or at the catch point, Gladney is, pound for pound, one of the most physical cornerbacks in this draft class at 6’0, 185 lbs. A similarly sized cornerback with same kind of 4.3 speed and alpha mentality is Desmond Trufant. Like Trufant, Gladney can turn it up in an instant and put the clamps on receivers in man coverage. Gladney’s ceiling in the NFL is likely somewhere close to Trufant’s level, as well.
Josh Uche, EDGE, Michigan (6'2, 250) - Uchenna Nwosu (6'2, 250)
Josh Uche is a tweener, hybrid outside linebacker who has value as both a pass rusher and space player. He has limited length, but a surplus of explosiveness and agility. His physical profile is not as appealing as other prospects, but his tape is excellent. Looking at this description of Uche as a prospect, it is almost identical to how I viewed former USC linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, coming out of the 2018 NFL draft. Both players are about 6’2, 250. They win in very similar ways as pass rushers — with agility, quick inside counters, and instincts. Like Nwosu, I think we will see Uche get looks at both off-ball linebacker and edge defender in Mobile, which will only boost his value as a position-flexible defender at the next level.
Evan Weaver, LB, California (6'3, 240) - James Laurinaitis (6'2, 245)
You may know California senior linebacker Evan Weaver as college football’s tackling king. He’s about to reach 300 combined tackles over the last two years. This crazy production is so fun to watch on tape because it seems like he is just around the ball on every play. He may not have the athleticism of today’s off-ball linebacker, but his quick diagnose and attack skills make him look like he is the fastest player on the field. Similarly, James Laurinaitis was a tackling machine in college who had underwhelming athletic traits — 4.8 speed, which is what I expect Weaver to run. However, like Laurinaitis, I think Weaver will have a solid NFL career as a starter because of his football intelligence, consistency, and intangibles.