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2017 Senior Bowl rosters: Which players bolstered their draft stock this week?

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In Mobile, Ala. this week, the good players were good.

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

A crucial week of Senior Bowl practices has concluded and, well, not much has changed for the players auditioning for the 2017 NFL draft.

Going into today’s Senior Bowl game, which is at 2:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network, Alabama tight end O.J. Howard was widely considered to be the top player. That didn’t change after a series of three practices where Howard flashed with one-handed catches, good size, and athleticism.

Howard could have easily sat out the all-star game, and it wouldn’t have negatively impacted his draft status. Instead, he wanted to prove he was the top tight end prospect and that he could be utilized more than he was at Alabama.

“I know some people out there might say I’m the top tight end in the class, but nothing is certain and I want to prove my case that I’m the guy,” Howard told Emily Kaplan of Sports Illustrated.

If Howard didn’t put in the best week of practice, then Temple defender Haason Reddick most certainly did. Reddick’s NFL position is still somewhat ambiguous, but it doesn’t matter. He played end and rush linebacker at Temple but got shifted to inside linebacker in Mobile, Ala. He starred wherever he lined up, thanks to his pure athleticism and first-step quickness.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock tabbed Reddick as the star of practices, saying “(Reddick) showed he can do a bunch of things and do them well.” It’s impossible to say that Reddick has for sure locked down a top-64 pick, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise if he goes that high in April.

Another player who looked to cement his draft status was Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Questions surrounded him entering the week over whether or not he could hang in practices against FBS competition. Most suspected he would be fine after he had 12 catches for 206 yards and three touchdowns against Washington State to start last season. Still, the questions lingered but he quickly put them to rest.

Even just watching the televised practices, it was clear that Kupp is a smooth route runner who gets open with ease. His hands are good, as is his size. Teams will want to see how he tests next month at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he’s another player who should carry a second-round grade, at worst.

Some of the other wide receivers in attendance — particularly East Carolina’s Zay Jones and Louisiana Tech’s Trent Taylor – performed exactly as expected. They should be solid Day 3 draft picks who pull in plenty of catches out of the slot.

But no receiver at practices helped himself more than Chad Williams of Grambling State. Like Kupp, he had to show he could keep up. He kept up catching passes just fine, but he grabbed headlines for getting into a fight on Wednesday.

If the momentum for Williams is starting to snowball, it’s completely out of control in a good way for Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu. Again, his play shouldn’t come as a surprise after a season in which he had 118 tackles and four interceptions. But what stood out for Melifonwu was his range and athleticism.

An all-star game setting is often unkind to safeties because they’re not utilized much in full team drills. Still, Melifonwu was covering tight ends and receivers with ease and closing on the ball in a hurry. With a good combine showing, his stock might just keep going up and up.

Toledo’s Kareem Hunt was the top running back going into practices, and it showed every day. He’s advanced as a pass catcher, asserted himself in blocking drills and has a solid combination of power and speed running the ball.

Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp got off to a strong start at practice before suffering a high ankle sprain. With Lamp out of the picture, Indiana’s Dan Feeney looked like the best blocker participating. His versatility helped him as he proved to be adept playing both guard and center. He’s this year’s version of Cody Whitehair, a second-round pick of the Chicago Bears who started all 16 games as a rookie.

Much like Feeney on the offensive line, Auburn’s Montravius Adams separated himself on the defensive line. That’s saying something on a South roster that also includes UCLA’s Eddie Vanderdoes, Alabama’s Dalvin Tomlinson, and Clemson’s Carlos Watkins.

Adams’ first step quickness stood out compared to his teammates, and that could help him land in the top 50 of the draft. Vanderdoes had an uneven week. At times he looked dominant, but there were a few plays where he was on the ground. Tomlinson looked good as well, but teams will heavily scrutinize his health because he’s had ACL surgery in both knees.

Teams also will look at the medical report for Tennessee defensive back Cameron Sutton. He missed several games last season but had a nice bounceback at practices playing corner and safety. Iowa’s Desmond King, who also had a good week, will probably move to safety in the NFL.

None of the quarterbacks stood out at practices. Here’s a brief scouting report on each:

  • C.J. Beathard, Iowa: Everyone’s favorite to be the next Kirk Cousins, aka, out of college he projects as a backup with average natural tools.
  • Sefo Liufau, Colorado: Tough with good size, but placement on his passes was off frequently.
  • Nate Peterman, Pittsburgh: Has much of what a team will want in a quarterback but doesn’t have much of an arm, which isn’t a good thing for a signal caller.
  • Josh Dobbs, Tennessee: He sure is athletic, and some team will probably want to stash him on its practice squad.
  • Antonio Pipkin, Tiffin: The small school George Whitfield pupil could only help himself, which he probably did. But it’s an uphill battle for him.
  • Davis Webb, California: He looks the part and could have stolen the show at practices but seemed to be in a holding pattern all week.

Below are the players in this year’s Senior Bowl:

Quarterback

North: C.J. Beathard (Iowa), Sefo Liufau (Colorado), Nate Peterman (Pittsburgh)

South: Josh Dobbs (Tennessee), Antonio Pipkin (Tiffin), Davis Webb (California)

Running back

North: Corey Clement (Wisconsin), Kareem Hunt (Toledo), De'Veon Smith (Michigan)

South: Matt Dayes (North Carolina State), Donnel Pumphrey (San Diego State), Jamaal Williams (Brigham Young)

Fullback

North: Sam Rogers (Virginia Tech)

South: Freddie Stevenson (Florida)

Wide receiver

North: Amara Darboh (Michigan), Amba Etta-Tawo (Syracuse), Zay Jones (East Carolina), Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington), Jalen Robinette (Air Force), Jamari Staples (Louisville), Trent Taylor (Louisiana Tech)

South: Travin Dural (LSU), Josh Reynolds (Texas A&M), Fred Ross (Mississippi State), Artavis Scott (Clemson), Ryan Switzer (North Carolina), Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky), Chad Williams (Grambling State)

Tight end

North: Mike Roberts (Toledo), Jonnu Smith (Florida International), Jeremy Sprinkle (Arkansas)

South: Evan Engram (Ole Miss), Gerald Everett (South Alabama), O.J. Howard (Alabama), Blake Jarwin (Oklahoma State), Eric Saubert (Drake)

Offensive tackle

North: Zach Banner (USC), Adam Bisnowaty (Pittsburgh), Julie’n Davenport (Bucknell), Taylor Moton (Western Michigan)

South: Antonio Garcia (Troy), Will Holden (Vanderbilt), Robert Leff (Auburn), Conor McDermott (UCLA), Justin Senior (Mississippi State), Eric Smith (Virginia)

Guard

North: Dion Dawkins (Temple), Dan Feeney (Indiana), Kyle Kalis (Michigan), Jordan Morgan (Kutztown)

South: Jessamen Dunker (Tennessee), Danny Isidora (Miami)

Center

North: Kyle Fuller (Baylor), Tyler Orlosky (West Virginia)

South: Ethan Pocic (LSU), Jon Toth (Kentucky)

Defensive end

North: Tarell Basham (Ohio), Isaac Rochell (Notre Dame), Dawuane Smoot (Illinois), Chris Wormley (Michigan)

South: Keionta Davis (UT-Chattanooga), Daeshon Hall (Texas A&M), Tanoh Kpassagnon (Villanova), Jordan Willis (Kansas State)

Defensive tackle

North: Ryan Glasgow (Michigan), Jaleel Johnson (Iowa), Larry Ogunjobi (Charlotte), Stevie Tu'ikolovatu (USC)

South: Montravius Adams (Auburn), Tanzel Smart (Tulane), Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama), Carlos Watkins (Clemson), Eddie Vanderdoes (UCLA)

Inside linebacker

North: Ben Gedeon (Michigan), Connor Harris (Lindenwood), Jordan Herdman (Simon Fraser), Haason Reddick (Temple)

South: Alex Anzalone (Florida), Ben Boulware (Clemson), Harvey Langi (Brigham Young), Duke Riley (LSU)

Outside linebacker

North: Vince Biegel (Wisconsin), Carroll Phillips (Illinois), Derek Rivers (Youngstown State)

South: Ryan Anderson (Alabama), Tyus Bowser (Houston), Eligwe Marcus (Georgia)

Cornerback

North: Rasul Douglas (West Virginia), Desmond King (Iowa), Brendan Langley (Lamar), Jourdan Lewis (Michigan), Aarion Penton (Missouri)

South: Corn Elder (Miami), Thomas Justin (Georgia Tech), Damontae Kazee (San Diego State), Arthur Maulet (Memphis), Ezra Robinson (Tennessee State), Cameron Sutton (Tennessee), Dwayne Thomas (LSU), Marquez White (Florida State), Tre'Davious White (LSU)

Safety

North: Nate Gerry (Nebraska), Lorenzo Jerome (Saint Francis), John Johnson (Boston College), Obi Melifonwu, (Connecticut)

South: Justin Evans (Texas A&M), Rayshawn Jenkins (Miami), Jordan Sterns (Oklahoma State), Damarius Travis (Minnesota)