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Senior Bowl primer: 40 NFL draft prospects you need to know

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Allen: 'it's about finding the right fit' (1:17)

Projected first-round pick Josh Allen talks about the upcoming Senior Bowl and NFL draft. (1:17)

All eyes will be on quarterbacks Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, this week. It's a chance for the two most intriguing quarterbacks in this class to get in front of NFL scouts, coaches and front-office executives to show why they should be high first-round picks. Apart from the on-field aspect, they will both be able to do interviews and classroom sessions to prove themselves off the field. This is a huge week for both in the battle of who's going to be the top pick in the 2018 NFL draft -- and Allen and Mayfield will be coached up by the staff of the Denver Broncos, who have the No. 5 overall pick.

It's also an important event for many other NFL draft prospects, who will get the chance to compete against the best of the best. Though a few potential first-round picks pulled out of the event, the roster is still solid.

We asked our NFL draft experts -- Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr., Matt Bowen and Steve Muench -- to pick out the best and most intriguing prospects who will be in Mobile. Before we get into that, here's a quick primer on the Senior Bowl:

  • What is the Senior Bowl? It's an invite-only showcase event for the best seniors in college football, though some underclassmen who have procured their degrees -- like Allen -- are invited to participate as well. The prospects are split into two teams and coached by NFL coaching staffs.

  • Which NFL teams are coaching? The Denver Broncos staff will coach the North team, and the Houston Texans staff will coach the South.

  • When are the practices? Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. There are 90 minute-sessions for each team on Tuesday, and two-hour sessions the other days. Coverage on Wednesday and Thursday begins at 1:30 ET on ESPNU/WatchESPN.

  • When is the game? Saturday, Jan. 27, at 2:30 ET on NFL Network.

  • Where can I find out more? The full rosters can be found here.

Let's start with assessments on each quarterback in attendance -- using their Scouts Inc. rankings -- then hit the best of the rest, and we're including which team each prospect is playing for and what number they're wearing. Let's run through 1-40, in no particular order:


What Todd McShay is looking for from each QB

Expectations are different for every quarterback who accepts an invite to Mobile. With that in mind, ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay is keeping an eye on different things depending on the prospect and his opportunity. Here's what he's hoping to see out of every signal-caller this week:

1. Josh Allen, Wyoming

Team: North | Uniform number: 17 | Overall QB ranking: 3

This week is a great opportunity for Allen to showcase his elite skill set on a level playing field. Mayfield faced better competition throughout his career, but Allen never had the clean pockets or the reliable pass-catchers that Mayfield was afforded at Oklahoma -- especially in 2017. With that in mind, Allen needs to show more consistency with his footwork (and subsequently his accuracy). His career 56.1 completion percentage in college will be a frequent discussion topic during the pre-draft process. The tape shows a quarterback who can make the tough throws look ridiculously easy at times; now he needs to show he can make the routine throws consistently. As a side note, I think Allen will do well in the classroom and his experience in a more pro-style system should give him a mental edge over some of the other spread-based QBs. -- McShay

2. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Team: North | Uniform number: 6 | Overall QB ranking: 4

I'm actually more interested in seeing Mayfield's numbers at the weigh-in than anything he does on the field this week. Is he really 6-foot-1 or is that a stretch? Based on standing eye to eye with him, my guess is he's a little under that number. Is his hand span 9 inches or less? The five-year NFL combine average for QBs is 9.5 inches, and anything under 9 is concerning. It won't define his career, but the list of sub 6-foot QBs who have had sustained success in the NFL is a short one. -- McShay