Senior Bowl primer: NFL draft prospects to watch this week in Mobile

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Senior Bowl practices kick off Tuesday, and Pro Football Weekly will be on hand in Mobile, Ala., alongside scouts, coaches and decision makers from all 32 clubs in the unofficial epicenter of the NFL for the week.

PFW's favorite pre-draft event, the Senior Bowl offers teams, media and fans alike unique access to watch more than 110 of the top senior prospects in the nation compete and continue maximizing their draft stock and, for many, move closer to achieving their lifelong dreams.

The practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium are the main attraction, with this year's led by the coaching staffs of Vance Joseph's Denver Broncos (North squad) and Bill O'Brien's Houston Texans (South).

Here are five prospects from each club that PFW will be keeping especially close tabs on.

NORTH

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Maybe you've heard of the Sooners' Heisman Trophy winner and electrifying playmaker. And if not, you likely will have by next week. Mayfield is a former walk-on-turned-collegian celebrity who is as colorful off the field as he is dynamic on it. But Mayfield doesn't come without questions — height, swagger bordering on overkill for some and, again, that celebrity status that teams will undoubtedly want to more closely familiarize with.

Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State

This 6-6, 215-pound playmaker brings rare size and playmaking potential to the perimeter of the North offense. Scott logged 76 catches for 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns last season in the Sun Belt conference. Can he utilize that size against superior competition?

Marcus Allen, S, Penn State

Allen, the godson of Hall of Fame RB Curtis Martin, has more than bloodlines working in his favor. At 6-2, 207 pounds, he's a yoked-up hammer (310 career tackles) who has flashed ball skills but will need to show he can survive in space to appeal to clubs that covet interchangeable safeties.

Tyquan Lewis, EDGE, Ohio State

The 6-4, 265-pound Lewis, who tallied 23 1/2 sacks (top five all-time in school history) and 36 1/2 tackles for loss with the Buckeyes, can wreak havoc. He looks like he can get even bigger, but can Lewis show the edge-setting strength to entice 3-4 clubs as a five-technique, or is he purely an even front rusher?

Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

This MAC product looks like the total package: size, length, athleticism and tenacity. How will he fare vs. big-time edge benders like UTSA's Marcus Davenport and a monster such as Alabama's Da'Shawn Hand, who can play up and down the line? Think MAC blockers can't help their stock in Mobile? See: Fisher, Eric, whose Senior Bowl rise didn't end until he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

SOUTH

Brandon Silvers, QB, Troy

The South roster lacks the QB pizzazz of the North, but Silvers has pretty much lived under the radar. The former Troy standout has big-time experience and plenty of intriguing NFL traits, including size, athleticism and accuracy. This is a chance for Silvers, who'll be a 24-year-old rookie, to prove he belongs on the big stage.

Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State

Unfortunately, his quarterback — Mason Rudolph — will only go through medicals and interviews because of a foot injury. Fortunately, we'll get to see Ateman and fellow Cowboy stud receiver James Washington. Ateman doesn't have the three-year production of his teammate and potential first-rounder, but he exploded in 2017 with more than 1,000 yards and nearly 20 yards per catch. Coming from Mike Gundy's spread offense, Ateman gets his chance to show he can learn a full route tree and play in different spots.

Micah Kiser, ILB, Virginia

With Alabama's Rashaan Evans dropping out of the festivities, the South's ILB spotlight shifts on Kiser, the ascending Virginia product and tackling machine. Kiser is a steady and physical linebacker who can help himself by showing off his coverage ability vs. the North's talented tight ends, including Penn State's Mike Gesicki and Wisconsin's Troy Fumagalli.

Da'Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama

Hand, one of four Alabama players in the Senior Bowl, has immense upside that he's yet to fully unlock. A former five-star recruit, he's a behemoth (6-4, 273) whose explosion and versatility will have a chance to pop off the practice field. But can Hand spend more time in the backfield and turn into a riser, unlike some Alabama front-seven defenders whose stock has gone south in recent springs?

Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

Penny's former teammate, 2017 Eagles' fourth-rounder Donnel Pumphrey, stood out at this event last year, but for different reasons than Penny might. Pumphrey showed Darren Sproles-like traits with his quickness and versatility; Penny certainly has the versatility (NCAA record 8 return TDs) but he's a much bigger and more physical back than Pumphrey. If he shows a three-down skill set to go along with his prolific 2017 production, Penny won't be overlooked in a deep RB class for too long.

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