• Goodwin, Okafor, and Vaccaro invited to Senior Bowl

    Longhorn seniors Marquise Goodwin, Alex Okafor and Kenny Vaccaro have been invited to the Senior Bowl. While Vaccaro, one of the top safety prospects in the 2013 draft class, declined his invitation, Okafor and Goodwin will get another chance to impress scouts and rise up NFL draft boards in an all-star contest of the best college senior prospects in the country Saturday in Mobile, Ala.

    The Senior Bowl brings together the country’s best college prospects in a game managed by the coaching staffs of two NFL teams. Scouts, general managers and coaches from all 32 NFL teams are ever present among the gridiron. The pressure is on to impress and all the athletes are hoping to catch the eye of a scout and earn a spot on an NFL roster.

     “Everybody here has the same goal, they want to increase their stock and potentially go higher in the draft.” Defensive end Alex Okafor told nepatrotsdraft.com “That’s what everybody that’s out here is working toward.”

    Okafor looks like a strong candidate for a leap into the first round of the draft with a strong performance in the Senior Bowl and a good showing at the NFL combine. After a 4.5 sack, defensive MVP performance in the Alamo Bowl, his momentum is headed in the right direction. His versatility to play either 4-3 or 3-4 as defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid will appeal to coaches using either scheme. In practice, Okafor has been performing well rushing the passer and is showing his enormous potential.

    Though it may be hard to emulate Von Miller’s 2011 defensive performance in the Senior Bowl that solidified his draft status and led the Broncos to select Miller second overall, Okafor has a good chance at a top 20 pick should he continue the hard work he’s already done in burnt orange.

    Marquise Goodwin has also been impressive and showed great quickness and Olympic-quality technique during practice. Like Okafor, momentum is on his side —just ask the Oregon State defense. A 64-yard run and 36-yard catch both ended in touchdowns for Goodwin in his final game as a Longhorn. However, the depth in this year’s class of wide receivers means he could be waiting until round 5 or 6 to get his name called at Radio City Music Hall. His exceptional speed, along with his impressive vertical, should move him up NFL draft boards, but a good showing in the game could see a team use a third round pick on him.

    Senior running back D.J. Monroe was not invited to the Senior Bowl, but did get a bid to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Monroe helped the National Team to a 34-0 win with 62 all-purpose yards including a 31-yard return on the opening kickoff.

    The Senior Bowl will be held in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. The game will also be televised Saturday at 3:00 p.m. on the NFL Network. 

  • Braves unite Upton brothers in trade with Diamondbacks

    For the first time in their professional careers, the Upton brothers will unite on the same team. On Thursday, it was announced that the Arizona Diamondbacks had agreed to trade Justin Upton to Atlanta, where he and his brother BJ, whom Atlanta just signed in November, will roam the outfield of Turner Field.

    Going to Atlanta along with Upton is third baseman Chris Johnson. The Braves were forced to part with a large package of players in order to match the hefty price tag for Upton. Heading to the desert to be future Diamondbacks are pitcher Randall Delgado, utility man Martin Prado, and minor league players Nick Ahmed, Zeke Spruill, and Brandon Drury.

    Upton, drafted number one overall in the 2005 draft, had enjoyed a sizeable run of success with the Diamondbacks. In 2011, he finished fourth in NL MVP voting while leading the Diamondbacks to a National League West title.

    All the goodwill began to unravel in the winter after his breakout season due to constant trade rumors surrounding the star, and a subpar 2012 campaign that saw him hit .280 with only 17 homeruns. Upton’s name had been attached to different trade rumors since the hot stove began to warm in November, and now the Diamondbacks and Upton can finally part ways.

    The last time the Braves pulled off a seven player deal, it was the Mark Teixera trade of 2007 that saw them deal future all stars Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, and Matt Harrison to the Texas Rangers. Hopefully for the Braves, they won’t find out down the road the cost of reuniting the Upton brothers was just as expensive.