While the news that defensive coordinator Don Brown was leaving UConn for Boston College was disappointment for the program, there was some good news this week: three players have accepted invitations to the Senior Bowl rosters. Cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh Wilson, and defensive end Trevardo Williams will all travel to Mobile, Ala. next month to take part in a week's worth of practices before playing in the All-Star game that also serves a more important purpose: it provides NFL coaches and scouts with a glimpse of this year's crop of draft-eligible prospects.
Over the summer, we listed UConn's top-5 prospects as identified by NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang. Some six months later and not much has changed:
1. TE Ryan Griffin
2. OLB Sio Moore
3. CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson
4. CB Dwayne Gratz
5. DE/OLB Trevardo Williams
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that neither Griffin or Moore will be at the Senior Bowl, but it's also worth remembering that this is a national all-star game; every program has great players. In that sense, it's impressive that Gratz, Wreh-Wilson and Williams were recognized.
Now it's a matter of what they do with that opportunity. Several years ago, Matt Forte went from just another college running back to the Bears' second-round pick based in part on his dominated Senior Bowl performance. Two years ago, Michigan pass-rushing specialist Brandon Graham catapulted himself into the first round with a strong week in Mobile (he was taken by the Bears).
Williams is undersized for his position but he's arguably the fastest defensive end in the country. He'll have to prove he can play outside linebacker at the next level. Gratz and Wreh-Wilson, meanwhile, are both physical, cover cornerbacks who were the glue of UConn's secondary. To our untrained eye, we thought Gratz had the better senior season but the ultimate decision on their prospects will be based on their offseason workouts. And that starts with the Senior Bowl.