NFL Analysis


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2024 Senior Bowl: Biggest Takeaways From This Year's Game

Feb 1, 2024; Mobile, AL, USA; American quarterback Spencer Rattler of South Carolina (2) throws the ball during practice for the American team at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl officially wrapped up after the game's conclusion on Saturday. It was an outstanding week of practice, with several players on both sides of the ball improving their draft stock. But which players were able to help themselves during the game? And which ones left a lot to be desired? Here are the biggest takeaways coming out of Mobile, Ala.:

Biggest Takeaways

Spencer Rattler Stands Out Among Quarterbacks 

In terms of name value, the 2024 Senior Bowl class might have been the best in recent memory. Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr., Sam Hartman and Joe Milton III were household names coming into the week, with many starts in college football. Unfortunately, none were consistent, and it was a disappointing week for the quarterbacks.

But the one quarterback who shone during the week was Spencer Rattler. After a rocky college football career, Rattler did everything he needed to improve his draft stock. His teammates voted him the top quarterback on the American team, and it wasn't particularly close. He had a fantastic week of practice, which certainly translated to the game.

Rattler only played two drives on Saturday but led the American team down for a score on the game's first series. He threw a beautiful fade route for a touchdown and finished 4 of 4 for 65 yards. We shouldn’t overreact to one week of practice and one All-Star game, but Rattler was the best quarterback in Mobile. And it wasn’t particularly close. He won’t be drafted as high as Nix or Penix, but he certainly improved his stock this week. 

Braden Fiske, DT, Florida State 

Before the first snap, Braden Fiske was already one of the day's biggest winners. After several injuries on the National Team, Fiske offered to switch teams to help out. His willingness to be a team player will go far in the eyes of talent evaluators, but his play during the Senior Bowl was highly impressive. 

Fiske had an impressive chase-down tackle on a running back on the first drive. He was on the other side of the field, but his effort allowed him to make a tackle to prevent a big run. On the first play of the next drive, Fiske made an impressive tackle behind the line of scrimmage. 

Fiske is widely expected to be a Day 3 pick, but his performance this week increased his stock. He's been incredibly productive over his career, racking up 21 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks over the past two seasons. He's got all the makings of a solid rotational defensive lineman who might be able to develop into a starter on the right team. 

Plenty Of Day 3 Running Backs Worth Monitoring 

The 2024 running back class is among the weakest we've seen at the top in recent years. There is an excellent chance that a running back won't be picked inside the top 50 selections. If that’s the case, it would be the first time that it’s happened since 2014, when Bishop Sankey (Tennessee Titans) was the first running back off the board.

There is even a chance that there isn’t a running back selected in the first two rounds, which hasn’t happened since 1963 when Charley Mitchell (Chicago Bears) was the first running back off the board in Round 4.

However, there are a lot of interesting running backs who can be had on Day 3. Any could make an impact right away in the NFL. The Senior Bowl showcased several of those backs, including TCU's Emani Bailey.

Bailey touched the ball on the first five plays, racking up 35 yards. He looked decisive as a runner and was able to make multiple defenders miss behind the line of scrimmage. He was the leading rusher (53 yards) and totaled 79 yards from scrimmage. Teams looking for an explosive back on Day 3 will love Bailey’s well-rounded game.

Dylan Laube from New Hampshire was another running back who impressed during the week of practice and in the game. Laube is the only running back in college football to record 1,000-plus rushing yards and 100-plus catches over the last two seasons. He racked up over 1,100 receiving yards and nine TDs in the passing game in the previous two years. He was also highly productive as a runner but will make an NFL roster as a passing down back.

NFL coaches and scouts requested that Laube run routes from the slot during practice, and he thoroughly impressed. Laube could have a role similar to Kevin Faulk in the NFL as a passing down back who can help out on special teams. In a class that is weak at the top, it could benefit players like Bailey and Laube later in the draft.

North Carolina wide receiver Devontez Walker at the Senior Bowl
American defensive back Tykee Smith of Georgia (5) deflects a pass from National wide receiver Devontez Walker of North Carolina (14) during the first half of the 2024 Senior Bowl football game at Hancock Whitney Stadium. (Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports)

DeVontez Walker’s Rough Week Continues 

It was a rough week for Devontez Walker. Coming into the week, Walker was widely viewed as the top receiver prospect on the National Team. That certainly didn’t translate to the practice field. Walker had five drops in one practice, and his route running left a lot to be desired. However, there was hope that his talent would take over in the game and he could leave the week on a high note.

On the first play of offense for the National Team, it ran a flea-flicker with Nix tossing a dime down the field. The ball hit Walker in his left hand, but he could not pull it in. It doesn't count as a "drop" because Walker couldn't get both hands on the ball, but it was another play he couldn't finish.

On the next drive, Nix targeted Walker again on a pass to the sideline, and he flat-out dropped it. That one wasn’t disputable, and it was clear that Walker started to get frustrated with himself.

Walker saw six targets during the Senior Bowl but failed to catch any. Walker had some first-round buzz going into the week, but that has undoubtedly quieted down now. In a strong wide receiver class, he couldn’t afford to have an inconsistent week in Mobile. Unfortunately, that is how things played out.