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What to watch for at the Senior Bowl

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NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-South Practice Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

The Senior Bowl will be played today, January 28, at 2:30 p.m. EST on NFL Network. As the premier college football all-star game, the Senior Bowl is chock full of NFL talent. For the Ravens, the Senior Bowl boasts rosters loaded with players that fill big needs. The following is a list of players that Ravens fans need to keep an eye on during the game.

North Team

Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington

Kupp impressed scouts throughout the week. The small school receiver proved to have an excellent combination of speed, size and hands. After the second day of practice, Pro Football Focus wrote the following concerning Kupp, “Wide receivers stole the show during the North team practices, and Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp was the star. He looked very smooth running routes and getting in and out of his breaks, and gave Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis — who allowed an extremely low passer rating of 47.1 into his coverage this year, and for the most part performed well on Wednesday — a few problems in team drills. Kupp graded extremely well in the small sample of Eastern Washington games PFF has covered (we grade every player on every game involving at least one FBS opponent), and averaged a ridiculous 4.68 yards per route run against Washington State in the season opener.”

Kupp continues to shoot up draft boards, and for fans/analysts/scouts that haven’t been able to see Kupp in game action, today provides a great opportunity to see him go up against the best of the best.

Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina

Jones, along with Kupp, have been two members of a group of wide receivers that impressed everyone throughout the week. Despite becoming the NCAA’s all time receptions leader this year, Jones came into the Senior Bowl as a relatively unknown prospect. Jones has great speed and hands, and reminds me very much of Doug Baldwin. He fights through contact to make the tough catches, like the one below.

Jones has made incredible catches throughout the week, and has emerged as a wide receiver who can be a playmaker from day one. Jones burned Desmond King, one of the best corners in this year’s draft class, earlier in the week.

Desmond King, CB, Iowa

Despite being burned badly on the above play, King has been stout in coverage throughout the week. King is a smaller corner, but has kept up with bigger receivers, showing speed that had not appeared on tape previously. King actually said that he had his best meeting with the Ravens, and that Baltimore would be a perfect fit.

Because of his size, scouts and analysts project King as a safety long term, but with a strong showing in today’s game, King could cement himself as a corner.

Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan

Lewis’ week defined inconsistency. At times he looked unbeatable, but at others he was burned easily (see Cooper Kupp). Lewis however remains one of the best cover corners in this year’s class. Lewis, like King, is a smaller player, but Lewis may have better ball skills than King (remember Lewis’ interception against Wisconsin). Lewis has work to do in today’s game to prove that his inconsistency in practice was a fluke, and that he truly is the dominant cover corner from his past two years at Michigan.

Hassan Reddick, LB, Temple

Reddick has come out of nowhere to impress everyone at the Senior Bowl. Reddick was used as an edge player at Temple, but has transitioned to more of an inside linebacker role this week, a role in which Reddick has excelled. The Temple product recorded a strip sack, but impressed in coverage. Reddick’s strong coverage skills come from when he walked onto Temple as a cornerback. He has changed positions multiple times, but LB seems to be where he can shine. The Ravens need a linebacker with coverage skills to replace Zach Orr, and Reddick may be the solution.

Honorable Mention: Dawuane Smoot, DE/OLB, Illinois

South Team

Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina.

Coming into the week, analysts had doubts about how Switzer would translate to the NFL. However, the UNC product has proved those doubters very wrong. Switzer led all receivers at the Senior Bowl in explosive moves in each of the first two practices. Read more about Switzer and how he fits the Ravens here.

Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee

LSU’s Tre’Davious White will not play in the Senior Bowl game, and thus, Sutton could see more snaps. More snaps is exactly what the former Volunteer needs, as a mid-season injury has plummeted his draft stock. Previously one of the highest regarded corners in the nation, Sutton needs the Senior Bowl to reclaim that status. Sutton seems to have had a solid week based on reports. The Senior Bowl will provide scouts and fans one last opportunity to see how well Sutton has recovered, as well as how he matches up against Kupp, Jones and others.

Ethan Pocic, C, LSU

Pocic is one of the best centers in this year’s draft class. The Ravens need to move on from Jeremy Zuttah, despite his having been named to the Pro Bowl this year. Pocic is an excellent option to replace Zuttah. Pocic won his one-on-one matchups throughout the week. At 6’7”, Pocic is huge, and he uses his size to his advantage. Keep an eye on him in the middle of the South line today.

The Ravens love selecting players from the Senior Bowl, and this year will be no different. One of the players on this list could very well be a future Raven. The players on this list are by no means the only players to watch, however, as this year’s Senior Bowl is stacked with talent. It’s sure to be a good one.