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NFL draft: Quarterback prospects highlight Senior Bowl invitations

The Senior Bowl invitations and acceptances are rolling in, with the game announcing its first 100 players who are expected to report the premier pre-draft game for the week of Jan. 20.

Naturally, the quarterbacks hold the initial interest, and the Senior Bowl has announced its first four at the position. They are Washington State’s Anthony Gordon, Utah State’s Jordan Love, Michigan’s Shea Patterson and Colorado’s Steven Montez.

A look at the quarterbacks

Love, a redshirt junior, is eligible for the Senior Bowl because he graduated this month. He’s one of the 2020 NFL draft’s most divisive prospects — and one of the most talented at the position. Love declared for the 2020 draft after a disappointing season in which it looked like he was pressing, and the loss of the previous coaching staff and nine offensive starters from 2018.

Is Love a first-round prospect? Some NFL scouts believe he might be with a strong pre-draft process. A recent marijuana citation won’t help his cause, but Love could start the ball rolling with a strong week of practice and performance in the game down in Mobile, Alabama the way Daniel Jones did last year before becoming the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.

The Senior Bowl will be a big part of Utah State QB Jordan Love's process before the 2020 NFL draft. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

There will be more QBs added to the two squads’ rosters, coached by NFL staffs that will be announced later.

Executive director Jim Nagy mentioned on the Senior Bowl roster reveal show the names of LSU’s Joe Burrow, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts as possibilities to be added. Nagy said the game’s officials have been in contact with all three quarterbacks, adding that they’re all waiting to see how they’re feeling after their teams’ bowl games and playoff contests.

Surprising season for Washington State QB

Gordon is perhaps the biggest surprise on the list considering where he was entering the season. Beating out Eastern Washington transfer Gage Gubrud, Gordon had only five pass attempts prior to 2019 but has thrown for 5,248 yards and 45 touchdowns — including nine in the UCLA game — with 16 interceptions.

The Cougars have had their past two starting quarterbacks drafted — Luke Falk with the 199th pick in 2018 and Gardner Minshew with the 176th pick in 2019. Both started games in the NFL this season, and the success of Minshew with the Jacksonville Jaguars this season can only help Gordon. It would not be stunning to see him drafted higher than either of his former WSU teammates.

Mixed bag for Michigan’s Shea Patterson and Colorado’s Steven Montez

Patterson is an interesting study, as his college career at Ole Miss and Michigan didn’t meet the hype of his high school recruiting. Playing for four different offensive coordinators at the two schools didn’t help, and Patterson has played some of his best ball down the stretch. Nagy mentioned that Patterson’s strong finish was a big reason why he made the cut at the Senior Bowl.

Montez also had an uneven career for the Buffaloes, but he has prototypical size and — as he said in August — one of the strongest arms in college football. Although his statistics haven’t changed much over each of the past three seasons, his physical traits could get him drafted and make him a developmental prospect.

The rest of the roster will be unveiled later on the Senior Bowl’s website.

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