MOBILE, Ala. — There was no shortage of quarterback talent at the Senior Bowl, with Heisman winner Baker Mayfield and potential No. 1 overall pick Josh Allen headlining the show. But the Senior Bowl missed an opportunity to give NFL scouts a closer look at a polarizing prospect when it chose not to include Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett.
Now, there are plenty of reasons why the longtime NFL prospect showcase didn’t need Barrett. The eight original choices were all fine selections, and it’s entirely possible all eight of them get drafted before Barrett. Senior Bowl director Phil Savage told Land of 10 after the Senior Bowl on Saturday that the Ohio State quarterback had been on their radar but ultimately didn’t rate high enough as an NFL prospect.
“J.T. was on our list, obviously, all the way since last summer,” Savage said. “He’s been an unbelievably productive college quarterback, but there is a difference between being a college prospect and an NFL player. He was on our list but never quite made it over the hurdle to get an invite. I think the world of J.T. in terms of what he’s achieved at Ohio State. You don’t do what he did in Columbus by accident.”
None of that would have been objectionable had Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph not withdrawn less than a week before practices began. Needing a quarterback to replace him, the Senior Bowl opted for Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee. Which… why?
Lee has all the physical attributes of an NFL quarterback without any of the production. He threw 37 interceptions in 31 college games — including 16 last season at Nebraska — and didn’t stop throwing them at Senior Bowl practices.
my favorite part of the week was watching practice with jerry jones and will mcclay.
tanner lee was coming up for a rep and jerry goes "let's see what the turnover machine has next."
next throw was a pick six.
jerry, with an unlit cigar in his mouth, goes "i still got it."
— charles mcdonald (@FourVerts) January 26, 2018
Barrett did get a week in front of NFL scouts at the East-West Shrine Game, and Lee didn’t. But playing in another all-star game didn’t stop the Senior Bowl from extending a late invite to Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton after he lit the world on fire at the Shrine Game. He made the most of his opportunity, earning rave reviews at the Senior Bowl.
Barrett did well during his week at the Shrine Game, making some lists as a standout practice performer and also getting praise from the coach who worked with him all week. Given his production at Ohio State, though, it would have been nice to see how he fared at the Senior Bowl against a better group of NFL prospects — especially since the player selected ahead of him was no mystery at all.