Of the various college football All-Star Games that remain, the one that attracts the best players — and, as such, is of the most use for NFL teams in evaluating draft prospects — remains the Senior Bowl.
The game will be played Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PST, televised on the NFL Network.
Not that it necessarily gives the Seahawks an advantage, but, for the second straight year, the game is run by Jim Nagy, who, from 2013 to 2018, worked in the scouting department for the Seahawks before taking over as executive director of the Senior Bowl in the spring of 2018.
The Seahawks have had their usual contingent of scouts in Mobile, Ala., all week — the practices and interview opportunities with the players are considered a bigger deal than the game itself.
Here’s a look at eight players they’ve undoubtedly had their eye on this week:
Nick Harris, center, Washington
Could Seattle be in the market for a center? You never know, with Justin Britt coming off an ACL injury and entering the last year of a contract that includes a non-guaranteed salary of $8.25 million for 2020 that has had some speculating he could be a cap casualty — and with Joey Hunt now a free agent (Ethan Pocic, who has also played center during his time with Seattle, is also entering the final year of his rookie deal).
Harris is generally considered a likely mid-round pick. He is the only UW player in the game; offensive tackle Trey Adams was initially invited but is not taking part due to a hamstring injury.
Anthony Gordon, quarterback, Washington State
Gordon is the only WSU player in Mobile, making the third straight year WSU has had a QB in the game (after Luke Falk in 2018 and Gardner Minshew in 2019).
Gordon enters draft season having to fend off worries about his arm strength. Minshew’s success last year with Jacksonville will help, though some will also note that WSU was more successful on the field with Minshew a year ago than they were this season with Gordon.
The Seahawks have an uncertain backup QB situation with Geno Smith now a free agent. Seattle has drafted only one QB since taking Russell Wilson in 2012, selecting Alex McGough, who is no longer with the team, in 2018.
Bradlee Anae, edge rusher, Utah
The Seahawks know Utah well, taking two Utes defenders in the draft last year (linebacker Cody Barton, safety Marquise Blair). Could Anae, who was just in Seattle picking up the Morris Trophy as the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12 in 2019, be another? On paper, he is certainly what Seattle needs — a 6-foot-3, 265-pounder with well-documented pass-rush ability. He had 29½ sacks at Utah, tied for the school record.
He earned praise for his work in one-on-one drills during the week, with CBSSports.com draft analyst Chris Trapasso tweeting on Wednesday that Anae “cannot be blocked today in team drills.’’ For now, he is generally considered a Day 2 pick (meaning second and third rounds). Seattle currently has two second-round picks and could get another in the third as compensation for losing Earl Thomas in free agency.
Javon Kinlaw, defensive tackle, South Carolina
Kinlaw may be the highest-rated player in the Senior Bowl field (many of the sure first-rounders sit out the All-Star Games). Seattle needs defensive tackle help regardless of what happens with free agent Jarran Reed (whose situation will be resolved by the time the draft rolls around April 23-25).
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Kinlaw was said to be “ruining people’’ during drills Tuesday, according to NFL.com, which wrote further: “If he convinces teams he can rush the passer during the predraft process, he can push himself toward the first half of Round 1.’’
If so, he won’t be there for Seattle at 27. But for now, the Seahawks are surely scouting him just in case.
Tremayne Anchrum, offensive lineman, Clemson
Longtime Pac-10 basketball fans may recall this name — Anchrum’s father, also named Tremayne Anchrum, was a power forward at USC in the early ’90s, when George Raveling was the Trojans coach.
The younger Anchrum manned the right-tackle spot for Clemson and allowed the fewest amount of pressures in the ACC each of the past two years. Many view him as more likely to be a guard in the NFL — he is the eighth-rated guard prospect by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.
He’s generally considered more of a mid-round pick, and that may be where Seattle will focus on adding to its offensive line, assuming it may want to go defense early.
Eno Benjamin, running back, Arizona State
The Seahawks have some well-documented questions at tailback with it unclear exactly when Rashaad Penny will return from knee surgery, Chris Carson entering the final year of his rookie deal and C.J. Prosise now a free agent. So a running back somewhere in the draft makes some sense.
The Pro Football Network listed the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Benjamin as one of the early standouts, citing both his ability as a runner and as a receiving/blocking back (he had 83 receptions at ASU).
Michael Pittman Jr., receiver, USC
The end of the season showed the Seahawks could use some competition for the third-receiver spot, and 6-foot-3, 219-pound Michael Pittman Jr. is an intriguing prospect.
He impressed in drills at the Senior Bowl before tweaking his ankle Thursday, which might limit what he does in Saturday’s game.
Regardless, he’s on the radar as a potential Day 2 pick at least. That might be more than Seattle would want to spend on a receiver after using three picks on receivers last year. But Russell Wilson can also use as many weapons as he can get.
Evan Weaver, linebacker, Cal
Linebacker is somewhat of a potentially quiet need for Seattle with Mychal Kendricks having suffered an ACL injury and K.J. Wright having just one year left on his contract.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Weaver, a graduate of Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and is generally viewed as potentially sneaking into the second day of the draft.
Weaver will have to answer some questions about his coverage skills to assure he gets taken that high. But he impressed with his speed this week, recording a 19.8 mile-an-hour rating during a punt coverage session, the best for any non-skill player.