Professional football’s all-star game, the annual satire known as the Pro Bowl, is considered an afterthought, college football’s all-star proceedings take on enormous importance for the prospects partaking.
Leading up to the Super Bowl, some of the best the amateur level has to offer get one last chance to hone their skills in a game situation, with the East-West Shrine Game, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and Senior Bowl all going down over the past two weekends. With the New York Giants holding an abnormally high draft pick, selecting second overall in this April’s draft, these games took on a bigger meaning, as the Dave Gettleman-Pat Shurmur duology prepares to oversee their first rookies.
With so many prospects on the Giants’ list, here’s who helped their cases to dress in blue this summer…
QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
Playing with the North squad in the Senior Bowl, Allen worked with ex-Giants offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, now the new Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach. Allen got off to a pedestrian start in the first half, throwing for just 14 yards, but rose to the occasion in the second half, going 8-for-9 for 144 yards and two touchdowns, giving the North their best offensive opportunities all game.
Allen struggled against elite competition in his final experiences with the Cowboys, but his strong performance against the South’s best defenses was certainly encouraging. With the possibility of taking a quarterback in the first round a realistic possibility for the first time since Phillip Rivers was traded for Eli Manning, Allen’s Senior Bowl work certainly helps his chances to be heir apparent if he’s still on the board.
LB Chris Covington, Indiana
The Giants’ went through a nightmarish season a linebacker, with injuries forcing undrafted rookies and free agents stand-ins to take on important roles as the season went on.
Under Jerry Reese, the team was reluctant to take linebackers, having not selected one during the draft’s first two days since they welcomed Clint Sintim in during 2009’s second round.
Covington, named IU’s defensive player of the year, made a strong case in the Collegiate Bowl, a rare bright spot in his American side’s 23-0 defeat. Covington led all defenders with nine tackles, and tallied a sack and a half. If the Giants continue their relative youth movement at linebacker, headlined by B.J. Goodson, Covington could be an intriguing project.
OT Brett Toth, Army
Toth is the definition of a project when it comes to football terms. He won’t play in the league for at least two years, due to the noblest of causes, honoring his military commitment.
The first Black Knight to appear in the Senior Bowl, Toth went double duty, appearing on both Senior Bowl and Shrine Game rosters. He had a solid day in each, opening holes and providing solid pass protection. If the Giants are willing to wait, Toth could be a solid late round pickup.
RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
The leading rusher in the nation played to form in the Senior Bowl, pickup up 64 yards against the North’s top unit. A consensus All-American, Penny had a tough act to follow when he replaced the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher, but was more than up to the challenge with 2,027 yards.
The Giants have taken a running back on the draft’s third day in each of the past two seasons, and there are far more pressing needs on the roster. But if Gettleman continues Reese’s tradition of taking the “best player available,” Penny would be an intriguing option.
S Jeremy Reaves, South Alabama
Don’t let the small school fool you. Reaves did a solid job on the South’s defense, holding the North to little in the early going of the Senior Bowl, which was held at his alma mater’s football home, Laad-Peebles Stadium.
Not only did he stop a fourth down early in South territory in the first half, he later picked up an interception, Nebraska’s Tanner Lee being the victim. Under the right guidance–and who better than elite safety Landon Collins?–Reaves can blossom into a shutdown defender.