Three Sun Devils were invited to the 2020-2021 Senior Bowl.
It’s a huge step for WR Frank Darby, CB Jack Jones, and CB Chase Lucas, as this is a key step in garnering attention to be called during the 2021 NFL Draft.
There are going to be a lot of scouts at the game on January 30, 2021, and here’s what each player needs to show this season and in the bowl to prove themselves to NFL scouts:
Frank Darby, WR: Darby is an elusive downfield threat on the field, and came into his own down the stretch of the 2019 season.
Darby battled drop issues early in the year but snapped out of it quick enough to post a 2019 campaign that showed some promise for the next season, and maybe in the NFL.
After the regular season, 41% of his 58 career catches had been for 20 or more yards. He ended up finishing the year with 19.87 yards per reception, which was no surprise to savvy college football fans, who had been eyeing him all year as one of the better deep threats in the nation.
In his first year with ASU (2017), he averaged 26 yards per catch, and in 2018, he averaged 20. He maintained his impressive yards per reception totals while also building his statistical resume in all three years in Tempe.
He went from 9 catches for 234 yards and two touchdowns in 2017, to 21 catches for 421 yards and two touchdowns in 2018.
His breakout in 2019 saw 31 receptions for 616 yards and eight touchdowns, and a spot at WR1 for the Devils if he sees a spring season.
He has good enough size at 6’1,” 200 lbs, but needs to get stronger to impress the scouts.
His route tree is very limited and hasn’t been effective outside of the deep passing game. He’s going to get overpowered by physical corners in the NFL if he can’t get stronger and more physical.
He can get there; it just certainly needs to be a point of emphasis leading up to the draft. Chances are, he’s going to go up against very physical, NFL-ready corners in the Senior Bowl.
Jack Jones, CB: After missing football in 2018 due to academic ineligibility, and pleading guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor charge of commercial burglary, Jones had quite the return to football in 2019.
A former 5-star recruit, Jones showcased plenty of that big-time talent.
At 5’9,” 170 lbs, Jones isn’t the biggest corner but makes up for it with his anticipation and football IQ.
He’s impressive in off-man coverage and in zone coverage.
He needs work, however, in his press coverage. That starts in the weight room, but also extends to being willing to really take on those tough assignments against big and physical receivers.
This is attainable for Jones. He’s already overcome adversity and has a little bulldog in him already.
If he can get stronger and hopefully pack on some weight, he’ll have a lot of eyes on him at the Senior Bowl.
It remains to be seen if he’ll get a lot of opportunities in press coverage this season, but he could get the benefit of the doubt come draft time even if there are still questions there.
Take Virginia’s Bryce Hall, for example. He didn’t have many opportunities to prove himself in press coverage at Virginia due to their scheme, and still got drafted in April. Keep tabs on the athletic and speedy Jones this spring.
Chase Lucas, CB: Anyone who follows high school football in Arizona was excited to see how Lucas would pan out at an in-state school. A running back at Chandler High, his position switch speaks to his athleticism.
He has NFL athleticism; he’s just, unfortunately, struggled with consistency in the last two seasons.
He had a promising 2017 but ended up regressing due to inconsistency in 2018 and 2019.
Some of these issues were in key moments of key games, too. For instance, he got burned when covering K.D. Nixon in 2018 for a 51-yard pass, which set up the game-winning score for a Colorado team that Arizona State should have beaten.
The rest of his 2018 remained uninspiring, but again, his talent speaks loudly, and he deserved a look to return to 2017 form.
2019 started out really well for the first few games, but like many on defense, he saw his performance dip after the 5-1 start to the season.
What is concerning about Lucas’ performance were which teams his lows were against.
When facing a top-tier college football receiver who ended up getting drafted this year in USC’s Michael Pittman Jr., Lucas really struggled. He got eaten up early in the contest, and Pittman posted 13 catches for 146 receiving yards. The worst part about this was that Pittman was actually hobbled and not fully healthy in that game. Also, USC had all three of their first three running backs on the depth chart out that game. Lucas knew they were going to pass and got torched.
Also, Lucas looked lost against Oregon State, giving up four 15+ yard receptions in the first half of the game, including a 40-yard touchdown pass to another player who was drafted in 2020, Isaiah Hodgins.
To have these hiccups when given the real competition that NFL scouts look at is a little disappointing. However, acting as if Chase Lucas can’t perform at a level where he can deserve to be drafted is just ignorant.
The talent Lucas has, as well as the strong performance he put on display in 2017, and the beginning of 2019, keeps him on the draft radar.
All three of these athletes can certainly prove themselves as guys that should be drafted. It won’t be a surprise if any of them have their names called in the 2021 draft. To have the best showing at the Senior Bowl, however, there are things each of them can improve upon.