MOBILE, Ala. — The North team scored 21 third-quarter points to pull away from the South and earn a 34-17 victory in Saturday's Senior Bowl contest at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
But the final result of the game is only a small piece of the puzzle to one of the most important weeks on the Indianapolis Colts' offseason schedule.
In the six days leading up to Saturday's Senior Bowl game, the Colts were able to interview more than 100 of the nation's top draft-eligible prospects, and then watch those players go through three days of intense pro-style practices run by actual NFL teams.
In what amounts to the final opportunity to see some of the top prospects playing actual football until their respective pro days and the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts in less than a month in Indianapolis, the Colts once again took full advantage, just like they did last year, when they would end up selecting six Senior Bowl participants in the 2019 NFL Draft.
In fact, the Colts currently have 20 players on their roster that participated in the Senior Bowl in past years.
With that being said, don't be surprised if multiple players from this year's Senior Bowl are among the team's eight picks heading into the 2020 NFL Draft.
So who were the top performers from the week in Mobile — both in practice and in the game? Here are a few top performers that caught our eye:
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: Herbert wrapped up a solid week in Mobile with game MVP honors on Saturday, connecting on 9-of-12 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown for the South squad, tossing a 16-yard touchdown pass to Florida running back Lamical Perine on their opening drive of the ballgame. But Herbert really won the week prior to Saturday's game with three extremely solid days of practice, when he not only showed off his tremendous arm strength and a good bit of accuracy, but he was also smart with the football. While guys like LSU's Joe Burrow and Alabama's Tagovailoa seem to be the "Tier 1" of the 2020 quarterback class, Herbert certainly could've added his name to that list on some team's boards by the end of the week with his all-around Senior Bowl performance.
Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina: His college stats aren't exactly eye-popping — a combined 82 tackles (17 for a loss) with 10.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in his three seasons at South Carolina — but there's no doubt that Kinlaw's mixture of size and flashes of rare talent on the game film make him the type of interior defensive linemen NFL teams salivate over. At 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, Kinlaw's performance in two-plus Senior Bowl practices this past week — he missed the final day of practice and the game as a precaution as he reportedly dealt with tendonitis in his knee — might've catapulted him into top-10 consideration, however. Kinlaw was absolutely dominant in one-on-one drills against the offensive linemen, using brute strength and terrific quickness to easily get by the protection, and with a little more refining at the professional level, he could be quite the force for years to come.
K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State: Hill is trying to follow the footsteps of his former Buckeye teammates Parris Campbell (now, of course, with the Colts) and Terry McLaurin, who were second- and third-round picks as wide receivers, respectively, in 2019. Hill actually drew tons of comparisons this past week to McLaurin, who saw his draft stock soar after an extremely solid week in Mobile last year. Just about every day in practice Hill did something to make you say "Wow," and most of it was due to his elite footwork and route-running ability. Some receivers just know how to get open, and Hill definitely fits that mold.
Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame: Expectations weren't super high for Senior Bowl's crop of cornerbacks entering the week, but a few of them definitely opened some eyes — with Pride Jr. leading the bunch. It's not like Pride Jr. wasn't already known for his athleticism and speed, but perhaps his biggest issue as a pro prospect was a lack of consistent elite production at Notre Dame, where he had a combined 121 tackles (2.5 for a loss) with four interceptions and 18 passes defensed in his four seasons. But Pride Jr. really turned things up a notch from the very first day of practices in Mobile on Tuesday, stayed consistently effectively on Wednesday and Thursday, and then capped off his week in style with an interception of Colorado quarterback Steven Montez with just less than two minutes left in the third quarter on Saturday. Stock up.
Josh Jones, T, Houston: Jones didn't get off to the best of starts at Tuesday's practice, but he was able to quickly shake off the cobwebs and turn in arguably the best performance by any offensive lineman over the last two days of practices in Mobile. He was particularly sharp during Thursday's final day of practice, turning away fellow Senior Bowl standout Jason Strowbridge off the edge multiple times during one-on-one drills, even burying the North Carolina defensive end in the turf on one rep. At 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, Jones seems to have everything a team could want at the tackle position; depending on the pending decision by left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who is mulling the possibility of retirement, could Jones possibly be in play for the Colts?
Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma: Outside of Kinlaw, Gallimore was without a doubt the most impressive interior defensive lineman throughout the week in Mobile. Gallimore was constantly winning one-on-one battles against the offensive linemen, and he was constantly in the opposing team's backfield during 11-on-11s. Like Kinlaw, however, the 6-foot-2, 304-pound Gallimore didn't exactly scream "dominator" during his college career at Oklahoma, he combined to collect 147 tackles (17 for a loss) with 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in four seasons, but he undoubtedly helped his draft stock with a solid week at the Senior Bowl.
Jason Strowbridge, DE, North Carolina: The Colts have really seemed to like versatile pieces along their defensive line, and one guy that definitely fit that mold this past week was North Carolina's Jason Strowbridge. He's listed at 6-foot-5, 285 pounds, so that's right in the sweet spot of being able to hold his own both at defensive end and inside at defensive tackle, but this guy was lining up literally everywhere during one-on-one drills against the offensive linemen and dominating, and then seeing it carry over into 11-on-11s. At one point on Wednesday he knocked down two straight passes at the line of scrimmage, one of which was probably a sure sack, but you can't hit the QB, so he stayed patient and then put his big arms up and made an impact.