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The Senior Bowl can crush a player’s draft stock, too

DeMarcus Love Pic

When it comes to the Senior Bowl, we tend to focus on the positive impact practices and the game have on draft stock. This January, Colin Kaepernick helped himself immensely by showing the ability to play under center after spending his Nevada career in a shotgun offense. Christian Ponder was the Senior Bowl MVP after his arm appeared shot in the Chick-fil-A Bowl less than a month before.

Arkansas tackle DeMarcus Love entered the 2011 Senior Bowl rated higher than both Kaepernick and Ponder. He was a projected first- to second-round pick, having started 37 games for the Razorbacks and earned consensus first-team All-SEC honors as a senior. Love was a two-time team captain.

But Love struggled on the practice field in Mobile. Scouts and draft analysts ripped Love’s athleticism and technique. After a decorated college career, Love was suddenly considered enormously overrated.

So he went from a top-50 draft prospect to the 168th overall pick.

"[The Senior Bowl] could have made me or broke me, and it broke me,” Love told Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “People saw an opportunity, and they went after me.”

Love revealed to Fowler that he suffered a knee injury in the Razorbacks’ Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State, and experienced swelling at the Senior Bowl. Love isn’t using it as an excuse, but knows he probably should’ve pulled out of the pre-draft event.

“It was one of the biggest blows I’ve taken in my life,” Love said. “It’s hard to judge a guy on one event. They don’t see you’re injured; they see that you had a bad day. I’ve been playing in the SEC, playing against great competition, and all that goes away after one event.

“I’m the same guy that might’ve had that first-round grade.”