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2017 Senior Bowl: Five players who need to play well

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How to watch today’s game, and players who need to perform

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NCAA Football: Mississippi at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The accepted wisdom when it comes to scouting All-Star games is that you move players up, or down, your board based on their performance during the week. How they do in one-on-one drills, scrimmages, and how they apply coaching over the course of the week all factor in to teams’ takeaways.

There are many scouts, however, who believe that their play in the game itself shouldn’t count against a prospect. After all, football is the ultimate team sport, and these teams are thrown together over the course of three days by unfamiliar coaches, using concepts that are unfamiliar to many college players, and modified rules. The game is something like mandatory extra credit on an exam. The prospect has to do it, but a good performance can only help their grade, while a poor one is discounted.

Let’s take a look at five players at crowded positions who could use a positive performance on the field to help boost their stock.

Daeshon Hall (DE, Texas A&M) - The “other” defensive end from Texas A&M, Hall is often overlooked in favor of potential first overall pick Myles Garrett. He had a strong week of practice, showing off his length, athleticism, and terrific inside move. Hall will need to show that he can win on the outside against an entire offensive line and work to make a name for himself outside of Garrett’s shadow.

Dawuane Smoot (DE, Illinois) - Smoot has one of the best first steps in the Senior Bowl, but he will need to show that he can deal with blockers head on. Scouts noted that the power aspect to his game was lacking and he needs to improve disengaging from blockers and in run defense. And like Hall, he would benefit from a strong performance to help separate himself in a crowded edge rusher class. [Prospect Profile]

Haason Reddick (DE/LB, Temple) - Reddick started to answer questions when he measured bigger than anticipated. He then had a strong week of practice where he showed off dynamic pass rushing potential and improved as an off-ball linebacker throughout practices. The icing on the cake that could secure a draft spot on the first two nights would be a strong performance in the game itself.

Michael Roberts (TE, Toledo) - Roberts came in to the East-West Shrine game as a largely unknown tight end from a small school. He first made waves at the Shrine game with his exceptional hand size, but backed it up with surprisingly solid play as both a blocker and a receiver. That earned him an invite to the Senior Bowl where he has continued to build on his showing at the Shrine game. The tight end class is the strongest it has been in years and a prospect like Roberts needs to take advantage of every opportunity to distinguish himself. If he can do so on the same field as OJ Howard and Evan Engram, it will go a long way toward boosting his stock.

Desmond King (CB, Iowa) - King is one of the more highly-regarded cover corners in a strong draft class. However when scouts saw him in one-on-one drills against wide receivers, some began to move him out of the cornerback class altogether and reclassify him as a safety due to perceived athletic limitations. Complicating matters is the fact that King was actually clocked as the fastest player in North practices. If he can stand out on the field as a cornerback, it will go a long way toward convincing teams to keep him at the more valuable position.

Game Details

Time - 2:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel - NFL Network

Announcers - Mike Mayock, Daniel Jeremiah, Andrew Siciliano

Online - NFL.com/Watch, Verizon Mobile