It was a fun and busy week from Mobile, Alabama and the lovely campus of the University of South Alabama. With the Senior Bowl now in the books, I assembled an All-Senior Bowl Fantasy starting lineup from both the National and American teams based on the three practices I was in attendance for and the game itself. I will be looking at each player’s current Dynasty Rookie Draft selection range and where I think they end up after NFL Draft capital is assigned.
QB: Michael Penix Jr, Washington
While no QB really sizzled at the Senior Bowl practices, Penix Jr. was comfortably the best QB of the National Team, which includes his Oregon rival Bo Nix. The Washington signal caller brandished the second and third-level arm talent we saw from him at Washington, which was an important distinction from a rather risk-averse group of National team passers. However, I would have liked to see Penix do more on the move with some designed rollouts after completing just 9-of-36 passes outside of the pocket for 89 yards, a TD, and an interception during the season. The standard Dynasty Rookie Draft order of the Tier 2 QBs has generally gone Nix, J.J. McCarthy, Penix Jr. over a range of 1.08-2.09. I think we should see that trend pivot to McCarthy, Penix Jr, Nix going forward.
RB: MarShawn Lloyd, USC
Lloyd is my vote for the camp’s outstanding rusher. He impressed in all phases of the game and gave rise to hopes that Lloyd could be one of the few potential impact fantasy RBs in the 2024 class. At 5’9/217, Lloyd checked in seven pounds above his collegiate billed weight of 210 pounds. Despite the added bulk, he still showed the acceleration, hands and aggression we saw from him all season with the Trojans when he finished top five nationally among RBs in yards after contact (4.35) and yards per reception (17.2). Lloyd had been trending as a mid-third rounder in January rookie fantasy mocks, but I think he ends up in the mid-to-late second round range once draft capital is assigned.
RB: Kimani Vidal, Troy
This Senior Bowl RB class sure has a type: squat but nimble backs with some meat on their bones. Vidal is perhaps the mode for that archetype weighing in at a stocky 5’7/215, but possessing unnatural contact balance for a player of his stature, which helped Vidal stand out among National Team rushers. It was a continuation of Vidal’s dream season where he led the nation in rushing while breaking a robust 94 tackles (2nd in FBS - Tahj Brooks No. 1 with 96). Vidal has a wide range in early Dynasty Rookie mocks, going from the end of round three all the way down to Free Agent status. While I want to temper my fantasy expectations with Vidal, he shouldn’t be going undrafted under any circumstances, considering the unsettled nature of this RB class, and is a worthwhile shot in round four.
WR: Roman Wilson, Michigan
The primary aerial weapon for the run-heavy national champion Michigan Wolverines, Wilson set out to prove that his skills translate to the NFL level. He did that, and more, as Wilson destroyed everyone in a Day 1 performance that officially announced his arrival as a fantasy relevant playmaker that deserves respect. It wasn’t just the fact nobody could stay with him in 1-on-1’s, but Wilson made numerous impactful receptions in the team session, while ending the day with a true cherry-on-top highlight reel catch against fellow camp standout CB Quinyon Mitchell. A virtual afterthought in pre-Senior Bowl Dynasty Rookie drafts who was trending as a late-third rounder, Wilson is a top-10 WR worthy of a second round rookie selection in my opinion.
WR: Ricky Pearsall, Florida
WR2 was a somewhat tough call with Brenden Rice, Javon Baker and Malachi Corley all having big moments during the three-day practice sessions. However Pearsall’s expert-level hands and ball tracking ability, combined with advanced footwork and defensive manipulation make the Florida product my other selection from the National squad. At 6’0/193 Pearsall is big enough to keep from getting bumped off his routes and flex outside where he lined up 42% of the time over his five-year collegiate career. There are some athletic limitations, but Pearsall should run a brisk 3-Cone drill with the upside to be more than just an ultra-dependable chain mover. I think he settles in the late-third round in rookie dynasty leagues come draft season.
TE: Theo Johnson, Penn State
It was a true breakout performance this week for Johnson, who had buzz entering camp, but still had questions since his usage was lower than some of the more hyped tight ends due to the run-based nature of the Penn State offense. The strapping 6’6/257 full-sized tight end caused havoc for opposing linebackers all week with his strength at the contact point, use of leverage to wall off defenders and ability to extend outside his frame to make tough catches. I haven’t seen Johnson taken earlier than the fifth round in pre-Senior Bowl rookie mocks, and he goes undrafted in many of them. I expect that to change as he enters the TE3 debate behind Brock Bowers and Ja’Tavion Sanders.
RB/DB: Sione Vaki, Utah
A rare two-way contributor, Vaki moonlighted at RB when he wasn’t holding down the starting safety position at Utah alongside fellow senior bowler, and my cousin, Cole Bishop. With injuries pressing him into service at running back, Vaki averaged 7.5 yards per carry on 42 touches with a superb 94.0 PFF offensive grade on the ground, but also a staggering 18.5 yards per catch while reeling in 11-of-14 receptions for 203 yards, 3 TDs and a 93.1 PFF receiving grade. He’s a wild card, but Vaki looked the part in the offensive drills, is considered an elite athlete who should show out at the Combine and would be a very intriguing all-purpose weapon at a sturdy 5’11/211. Vaki is a legitimate fourth or fifth round sleeper, you might want to consider selecting late in Dynasty Rookie Drafts if the team that drafts him indicates he will get reps on offense.
QB: Spencer Rattler, South Carolina
I was lucky enough to interview Rattler, who was named the MVP of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and was struck by how he handled the hectic Senior Bowl Media Day scrum. Unlike the tightly scripted podium-only interview at the NFL Scouting Combine, it was a Black Friday-esque free-for-all when it came to speaking with players. I observed Rattler calmly and confidently answer some pretty invasive questions and handled himself in a professional manner for the entirety of the event. I feel confident asserting that Spencer’s multi-destination collegiate experience in the midst of the QB1 spotlight helped mature him now that his NFL Draft moment has arrived. Couple that with the poise and command Rattler exhibited through both the practices and game, and I expect to see Rattler drafted in the mid-third Round as the rookie dynasty QB7…or possibly higher?
RB: Ray Davis, Kentucky
While Emani Bailey had the most productive Senior Bowl of the American rushers, the three backs on this list all out-performed Bailey during the practice sessions and are better projections to the NFL level in my opinion. Davis (5'8/220) is a fifth-year, between the tackles grinder who was able to display the receiving down acumen that scouts wanted to see from him. The UK bell cow beat defenders on a wide variety of routes, highlighted by a gasp-inducing, one-handed reception down the seam that was one of the signature plays of the week. Davis is a great Round 4 speculation pick with upside in hopes that he can land a backup role should injuries strike.
RB: Michael Wiley, Arizona
Contrary to Davis, Michael Wiley’s receiving credentials are unassailable, as Wiley eclipsed the 300 yard barrier though the air in each of the past two seasons, while averaging a Power Five leading 2.15 yards per route in 2023. While Wiley was just as potent on the ground in 2022, earning a sterling 93.2 run grade (5th in Power 5) with a national best 4.66 yards after contact average. The fact that Wiley has led the nation in both yards after contact (2022) and yards per route (2023) is drastically underreported. It’s not like he’s a scat-back either who feasts on passing down run lanes, with the Wildcats RB checking in at a sturdy 5’10/209. The problem Wiley has faced is the rumor that he was/is banged up this season, which hampered his ability to take contact between the tackles this year with the same reckless abandon as his wildly successful 2022 campaign. In the practices, Wiley was able to break multiple long runs, which was a rarity, in addition to making a series of solid catches with his calling card smooth hands. Wiley is currently off the five-round Rookie Dynasty draft radar and is the type of RB I could see rising up NFL Draft boards in short order. He’s a sneaky Round 4/5 draft throw I’ll be targeting in the leadup to draft day and a potential 2024 sleeper.
WR: Ladd McConkey, Georgia
McConkey is the most pro-ready prospect of any skill position player and is going to be a problem at the next level due to his mastery of defender manipulation and lightning-quick breaks. The 5-11,187-pound dynamo is routinely throwing three or four different subtle fakes into each route to keep opposing corners guessing, routinely turning National Team DBs around on his cuts. I’m convinced that McConkey is a high-floor, medium-ceiling caliber player at the NFL level who could be a weekly fantasy contributor ends up in a favorable landing spot like Buffalo or KC. He’s a locked-in Round 2 Dynasty selection that I can’t wait to watch run a 3-Cone drill in Indy.
WR: Xavier Leggette: South Carolina
Leggette had a disappointing Day 1 showing that was a result of him dogmatically insisting on running sideline fly routes that got smothered in 1-on-1’s and 6’s until finally settling in and catching a pair of nice 10-yarders in the 11’s period. Leggette took that lesson to heart and proceeded to deploy a full route tree in Day 2, which resulted in one of the most dominant single-day practice showings of the entire camp. He exhibited an unnatural turning radius for a 6-1, 223-pound wideout whose calling card is his ability to burn opponents both downfield and with the ball in his hands. Legette won in all route phases while also having a flair for the dramatic, winning an early end zone jump ball that was an early indicator of his day to come. Leggette has solidified his Round 2 NFL Dynasty selection status and will likely have an ADP in the 2.02-2.07 ballpark.
TE: Ben Sinnott, Kansas State
Giant TCU TE Jared Wiley probably had a better all-around showing, but we don’t get points for blocking and Wiley strikes me as a bit too long-legged to cut sharply and profiles as a better real-life inline tight end than a fantasy asset. So i’m going with Sinnott as the starting fantasy TE for the American squad, as the Kansas State alum showed advanced separation and agility, but also failed to haul in a few passes that could have heightened his performance to the unquestioned top TE on his team. Sinnott had a good weigh in at 6-4/254 pounds, finished 3rd in P5 with a scorching 2.02 yards per route average and has the kind of H-Back/FB/TE positional versatility that could garner him touches from a variety of alignments. I think he is still very much in play for the TE3 spot, with the Combine being the determining factor in just how dynasty relevant Sinnott will be on draft day. He’s a nice shot in the fourth right now, with R3 upside if he tests well.
RB: Cody Schrader, Missouri
I had to go with Schrader at swing after the squarely-built 5’082/207-pound SEC bell cow exceeded my expectations over Senior Bowl week. The former DII All-American made it to Missouri the hard way and is a classic overachiever who gnashed his way to 277 carries and 39 rushes of 10-plus yards for a double-digit win Tigers program. Primarily used as an outlet option in the passing game as opposed to a focal point, Schrader caught the ball much better than I expected and proved surprisingly crafty in his method of attack when breaking down defenders. While his long-speed is never going to be De’Von Achane-esque, Schrader is an instinctive, tough, one-cut style back who knows how to get skinny in the hole and finishes with authority. Don’t forget about Schrader in rookie drafts once the 4th Round rolls around if you’re looking for an RB depth piece.