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Roundtable: Senior Bowl Expectations

1. Every year there's a player who greatly exceeds expectations at the Senior Bowl—like Dee Ford, who shot up draft boards with a great performance in 2014. Who's someone who could take scouts by surprise this week?

Andrew Hirsh: Noah Spence. As someone who transferred from a college football powerhouse (Ohio State) to a smaller school (Eastern Kentucky), pre-draft evaluations will have a big impact on where Spence gets picked. An explosive defensive end who can line up on both sides of the ball, he has the raw physical skills needed to succeed in the NFL. He fared extremely well in the Ohio Valley Conference; question is, can he thrive against the best seniors in the country?

Jay Adams: Braxton Miller. The quarterback-turned-wide-receiver had an impressive senior season at Ohio State with 8.8 yards per catch along with four touchdowns at his new spot. Miller is raw and has a ways to go, but the Senior Bowl can really be a big stage for him to show that he can compete with some of college football's best at the position he's projected to play in the NFL.

Kelsey Conway: Jeremy Cash. The Duke safety showed his versatility this season while also lining up at cornerback and outside linebacker. Cash's ability to produce in multiple positions, makes him a desirable prospect. He's known to be a force against the run and excels as a pass-rusher. The most successful defenses in the NFL can stop the pass and the run, and Cash has proven he is able to do both. 

2. Who's one prospect you believe will impress?

AH: I wouldn't be surprised if Sterling Shephard, wide receiver out of Oklahoma, has a big game. An electric athlete with enviable speed, he can posted 86 receptions, 1,288 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns this year, establishing himself as the Sooners' best pass-catching option. The All-Big 12 First-Team selection is undersized at 5-foot-10, so it'll be important for him to prove that height isn't an issue against stiff competition. 

JA: I'm expecting big things out of Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland. I expected the same during the national championship game and I didn't see too many dominant flashes from him, and maybe that's because Clemson's defensive effort overshadowed that of the eventual national champs. Ragland is everything you like in an inside linebacker and he'll be an easy, early Day 1 pick in April, but he'll have to show teams this week and going forward that he's got the range to cover tight ends and slot receivers in the NFL.

KC: RB Kenneth Dixon. The Louisiana Tech standout hasn't garnered a lot of attention nationally, but according to experts, he's a hidden gem. Over four years, he recorded 87 total touchdowns and 5,452 total yards of offense. He's truly a triple threat running back: he can run, catch and block.  The Senior Bowl has become a proven platform for players whose names aren't talked about often in the early talks, to make a case for themselves with enough time to increase their stock.

3. Who's one prospect Falcons fans should keep an eye on?

AH: Reggie Ragland. Atlanta will likely make changes to the linebacker corps, and Ragland, Alabama's defensive leader, could certainly be an upgrade at that position. Dan Quinn and his staff put a premium on speed and physicality, and Ragland fits the bill. I'll be paying attention to his coverage skills and rush defense. 

JA: Michigan center Graham Glasgow is starting to get more attention after he put together a solid performance during the East-West Shrine game last week — both during practices and in the game itself. He's versatile with the ability to play center and guard. With the Falcons' struggles at the spot since Todd McClure retired, Glasgow could be one of those guys you take a shot at in the middle rounds if he continues his rise on the road to the draft.

KC: Sheldon Rankins out of Louisville. The DT compiled 14 sacks and 111 tackles over the past two seasons. He's praised for his ability to stop the run and he has the versatility to play inside along the defensive front and on the edge. Dan Quinn's defense is built upon being able to stop the run first, which is a strength of Rankins.

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