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

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.”

28 responses to “The Senior Bowl can crush a player’s draft stock, too

  1. If you were injured….Then you should not have played….hello…If you are good enough to play for pay……you will get there…..stop making excuses….they didn’t go after you, they are paid to make decisions, jeez, this guy sounds like a jilted bride….

  2. Great lesson for Love, in the NFL its about performance. Nobody cares if you’re injured, hurt or whatever, when you step on the field you are judged on performance. Now what he has to do is perform and have a career, it doesn’t matter now where he was drafted. The playing field is leveled so go perform and have longevity.

  3. Puhleeze……. no one ‘went after (him)’. C’mon…. people *love* pro athletes. All the people who wrote about him, were media around him… they’re jocksniffers! They *want* to be around those guys; why else would you bother to write about them if you didn’t?

    Everyone wants to see these guys do well and succeed, whether it’s the Senior Bowl or the combine or (gasp!) even class and getting their degree.

    He had what amounts to a final job interview and didn’t do well in it. Happens all the time in America.

    And if he chose not to skip the Senior Bowl when he could have, it was because he gambled that he *would* do well. So let’s not feel too sorry for him. He took a calculated risk and it didn’t work out in his favor in the end.


    Get or take better advice.

  4. Hate to break it to Love, but being able to play well in the big games is something that’s necessary in the NFL. So yeah, it’s appropriate to ignore your body of work if you are unimpressive in a bowl game. There are NFL QBs that struggle with big games — they look solid in the season, but when the game matters, they choke. That’s why the media keeps stats as to how QBs do in playoff games, etc. The prior 10-12 wins are meaningless if your team doesn’t advance. Saying after the fact — “but I was injured” is pointless. Anyone can say that. We saw both Tom Brady and Ben Rothlesberger play games in casts last season without whining about how they shouldn’t be judged on their performances. You step out on that field, you are warranting that you are there to play.

  5. This is a also good lesson to those people who whine when certain athletes don’t participate in all the combine events. There’s too much at stake.

  6. One game don’t make you a first round “player”. Locker and Ponder will find out soon enough. Kaepernick did that his whole college career.

    Most coaches and scouts don’t rely on just the Senior Bowl performance or lack of playing. Of course there is always the Vikings.

  7. I remember watching some of the pass rush drills at the senior bowl and specifically recall him absolutely getting worked. Considering how long and uh, ‘unique’ the pre-draft process is, I guess the lesson is when in foubt, don’t work out

  8. obviously 167 players were better…..welcome to the job recruitment process……better known as reality

  9. solder dropped as well…he was projected as a top 5, to what many felt to the 2nd round, until the pats made a huf=ge reach at 17……….von miller ate his lunch so bad it made him the #2 pick

  10. Under weaknesses, scouting reports consistently warned that DeMarcus does not photograph well. One likened his look to “a drugged sheep”. Another mentioned “the sullen, bovine, eyes”.

  11. So he’s positive the only reason he slipped was because of his bad Senior Bowl week? Based on what? The fact that draft gurus had him rated highly beforehand? No team that rated him as a 1st rounder would completely drop him based on a week of Senior Bowl practices. Probably just wasn’t rated as highly as the “experts” thought he was to begin with.

  12. I think Love was overrated before the Senior Bowl. He got drafted about in the right spot. I watched him several games and there was not a lot to love.

  13. Maybe he really wasn’t a 1st rd grade, because thats tough to fall 5 rounds. There is so much misinformation about the draft its hard to tell what is fact and what is fiction. Only time will tell if his body of work outweighs his bad senior bowl. The law of averages would tell you that it will.

  14. Ok Love, no more excuses. Here is your chance.Become a star for the Vikings and the draft will just be a bad memory.

  15. “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.
    He’s right the SEC is tougher then the NFL. The reason they go on to the NFL is 5 years of SEC play is all the body is capable of handling. If a player was to attempt a 6th year they would end up paralyzed. The NFL allows SEC players to continue playing football without risking serious injury.

  16. I don’t know if Love will excel as a pro but any OT who can start 20+ games in Petrino’s NFL-style offense and keep Ryan Mallet and his Sleestak-fast feet upright gets a high grade from me.

  17. Love’s stock dropped when Cameron Heyward absolutely ABUSED him in the Sugar Bowl. Anyone who watched that game knew Heyward was the real deal, and Love was a bum.

  18. Man. Drafted by the Vikings AFTER the fall. Poor dude just can’t catch a break…

  19. Love is a classic case of someone who was a victim of overanalysis. Pro Football Weekly downgraded Love becuase he has a thin lower body. Why not knock him because he doesn’t photopgraph well. Please. The tape does lie. He may have stunk up the joint Senior Bowl week but you don make all-SEC playing like a bum.

  20. kibawib says:
    May 7, 2011 10:17 PM
    *tape doesn’t lie.

    Exactly, it’s the same process for every team outside of Oakland. Guy over/under performs at a post draft event and the scouts are then prompted to go back and take a closer look at the game film. Obviously Loves performance at the Senior Bowl encouraged scouts to go back and look at the tape and learned that he was in fact overrated.

    By the way, contrary to popular belief you can make All-SEC and still be a poor pro prospect. For example didn’t that linebacker from Bama get his butt handed to him during Hard Knocks? The only thing All-X Conference guarantees is scouts taking a look at you.

  21. And the 168th pick went to… who?

    Come on, can’t believe the article didn’t mention which team drafted him.

  22. I’ve watched some pretty phenomenal players put ip a bad game here and there, it happens to even the most elite players. Sometimes because of injury, sometimes just because.

    Now, for all those who seem to think he is a bad player, I’m sorry but you don’t make 1st team all SEC/Big 10 if you suck. Also, one should keep in mind that this guy projects as a guard or right tackle in the NFL, and that he was playing LT against a future top-10 pick, with a serious injury that would severely effect his performance, at the time.

    All in all, this was a great late round pick by the Vikings, and I really hope it works out.

  23. I’m not sure what the big issue is here…. If you can get a guy who was that decorated in the SEC in the 6h round, it’s not a wasted pick. Besides, from everything I’ve read about him, he’s unlikely to be a T in the NFL. Looks to me like Hererra’s replacement at a bargain. I say good pick.

    Now, Mistral Raymond, on the other hand…….

  24. Most coaches and scouts don’t rely on just the Senior Bowl performance or lack of playing. Of course there is always the Vikings.

    have you watched any film on ponder-most pro ready qb in this draft-google christian ponder sport science and watch what this kid can do-he sure looks like the real deal-good head on his shoulders and cant stand to lose-he will be a good qb-

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