Dodging the Watch List
Every year it seems like a prospect emerges from out of nowhere. Last year we saw Texas Christian defensive lineman L.J. Collier transform from an afterthought into a first round selection. Alabama State tackle Tytus Howard made his name on the draft circuit and elevated himself into the top 25 picks. These players you're about to see mentioned might not be making jumps that severe, but they are some of the biggest surprises in all of college football so far. These players were not included on the massive Senior Bowl watch list that dropped at the beginning of the year, but scouts are certainly taking notice of them now.
Anthony Gordon - QB - Washington State
Things looked to be set in stone when Eastern Washington phenom Gage Gubrud transferred to the Wazzu program. While Gubrud wasn't able to maintain his hot start throughout his FCS career, the 48 touchdown and 5160 passing yard season of 2016 still loomed large for media members looking in from the outside. A year after grad transfer Gardner Minshew started Minshew Mania in Pullman, it was time for the next Mike Leach protege to take the wheel.
Then Gubrud struggled to win the starting job throughout the summer. Then he struggled to win it heading into week one. Then Anthony Gordon went out against New Mexico State and threw for 420 yards. Then 464. Then 440. Then 570 against UCLA with NINE touchdown passes. Let's just say Gubrud's collegiate career is over. The man in Pullman is now Anthony Gordon.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds (and looking every part of it), Scarlett has the size and strength to run between the tackles and absorb hits without taking much damage. He's a physical runner who is smart with lanes he picks. He's not much of a threat when it comes to the passing game, but he can be effective with fighting off blitzers
Cameron Scarlett - RB - Stanford
It seems like Stanford has been a running back factory over the last few years. While part of it is due to the amount of emphasis that is placed on the run game, there is no doubt that the school knows how to produce talented runners. In 2016 we got Christian McCaffrey. In 2017 and 2018 we got Bryce Love. Now in 2019 we're getting the emergence of senior running back Cameron Scarlett, who has always made for a good rotational guy in the Stanford backfield. Scarlett doesn't have the big play ability of his old teammates, but he does have an NFL body with the production that teams will want from a senior.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds (and looking every part of it), Scarlett has the size and strength to run between the tackles and absorb hits without taking much damage. He's a physical runner who is smart with lanes he picks. He's not much of a threat when it comes to the passing game, but he can be effective with fighting off blitzers. Scarlett is far from a lock for the Senior Bowl at this point in the process, but he should be able to garner enough interest to at least make the Shrine roster.
Omar Bayless - WR - Arkansas State
One of the biggest breakout players in all of college football has been Omar Bayless, who is currently leading the nation in receiving yards (at just under 1000 through 7 games). Bayless had a fairly productive season last year with the Red Wolves, but has since become a top target with the departure of Kirk Merritt and Justin McInnis.
Bayless has much more buzz around scouting media than either of the aforementioned players, but it might not be enough to overcome an incredibly deep senior receiver class. He might end up relegated to the Shrine game, but it wouldn't be a bad consolation price for such a big season.
John Penisini - DL - Utah
It was a bit of surprise to see Penisini left off of the Senior Bowl watch list when it dropped in August. Although he doesn't have the measurables of his teammate Leki Fotu, he does have an incredibly fiery approach to the position. With active hands and enough power to move guys around, Penisini seems like the type of late rounder who could elevate his stock at the Senior Bowl. It seems like a fairly deep at defensive tackle, but he should be able to draw some consideration after putting together another solid year with the Utes.
If Penisini does end up not getting the invite, don't be surprised to see him end up at the Combine after a good performance at the Shrine game. He's one of those underrated players who could end up as a late riser with his performance on the draft circuit.
Jonathan Greenard - EDGE - Florida
Now here's probably the biggest one that people will want the Senior Bowl staff to answer on. In fact, Jim Nagy has already stated that Greenard was overlooked due to missing the 2018 season due to injury. Even the best of us can overlook talented guys coming from difficult situations though, so no fault to the Senior Bowl staff.
Greenard posted a staggering 15.5 tackles-for-loss during his 2017 season with the Louisville Cardinals, but he suffered a season-ending wrist injury on the first series of his 2018 season. After sitting out a season for recovery, Greenard decided to take his talents to a better team by heading south to Gainesville. His season has been a bit shaky as of late due to some minor injuries from week-to-week but there is no doubt that he has firmly set himself on the Senior Bowl radar. It would be a stunner if Greenard didn't get the invite after being one of the better edge rushers in college football this season.
To read more on Greenard, check out my scouting report on him. Just click here.
Jordyn Brooks - LB - Texas Tech
Brooks wasn't injured last year like Greenard, but he was incredibly inconsistent for the Red Raiders. The uber-long linebacker prospect has some tremendous flashes on tape, but there was always a question of when that athletic potential would click. It seems like that time is finally arriving after a ton of time in the oven. Brooks is often brought up in the discussion of top senior linebacker, and it's no surprise given how bigger names have fared.
With Troy Dye, Malik Harrison, Evan Weaver, and Joe Bachie all having mediocre seasons, it's pretty much a lock that an athletic phenom like Brooks will end up getting a Senior Bowl invite. The bigger question will be whether or not he backs up the potential with his testing at the NFL Combine in March.
Logan Wilson - LB - Wyoming
From a stats standpoint it was always a little confusing that Wilson didn't get put on the initial watch list. The senior linebacker had a total of 304 tackles over the last three seasons with the Cowboys, but it seems like he may have been overlooked. He's more of a brutish run stuffer than a true three down linebacker at this stage of his career, but he should be able to make some ground on the rest of this seemingly weak class if he gets a Senior Bowl invite.
The lack of competition will certainly make his argument stronger, but at worst Wilson should be looking at a shot in the Shrine game. If he ends up impressing there we could still see him get a late call-up to the Senior Bowl.
Damar Hamlin - S - Pittsburgh
This one was a little bit baffling to me. Hamlin hasn't always made good on his physical tools, and he doesn't have the typical frame of an NFL safety. That said, the long arms of the Pittsburgh product make it incredibly tough to get away from him in space. He moves with an easiness that is desirable for the position, and has enough of an impact in the pass game to work as a two deep safety.
There is a lot of room to grow for Hamlin as he goes through this draft process, and it would be a surprise to see him not at least draw interest for a ticket to Mobile. A loaded senior safety class might be the catalyst for missing out, but from a pure talent perspective he deserves to be in the discussion.
Douglas Coleman III - S - Texas Tech
Arguably the biggest surprise on this entire list, Douglas Coleman III has come from out of obscurity to be the nation's leader in interceptions. A nickel corner who made six starts as a junior, Coleman transitioned to a more traditional safety role after the graduation of Vaughnte Dorsey and Jah'Shawn Johnson. Since then Coleman has pulled in 6 interceptions while catching the eyes of media members.
If he can continue to produce and force takeaways there's no chance he ends up missing out on the all-star game process, even if he does have to settle for the Shrine Bowl. His testing numbers at the Combine will likely end up being the key to his draft stock when April rolls around though.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this article feel free to hit me up on Twitter @WhatsOnDraftNFL to share your thoughts! Until next time, cheers!