MOBILE, Ala. -- The pro football world has convened in Mobile for the Senior Bowl this week, but one person not here is soon-to-be pro linebacker Khalil Mack of the University at Buffalo.
Mack is expected to be picked in the top half of the first round of the NFL Draft in May and opted to sit out the college all-star game. That has become a common occurrence for the very top senior prospects.
Mack is one of nine seniors who were invited and were healthy but opted not to play. The reasoning is easy to understand. If it's obvious you're a high first-round pick, then there's little benefit to playing in the all-star game and seeing your stock potentially slide ... or exposing yourself to injury.
Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews, viewed as a sure-fire top-five pick, is the most prominent senior to sit out the game. The other healthy scratches were: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State; C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama; Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State; Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State; Shane Skov, LB, Stanford; Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State; and A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama. Not all of them are first-round prospects. McCarron may go in the middle rounds.
Other possible first-round picks not playing due to injury include: UCLA LB Anthony Barr, Michigan OT Taylor Lewan and TCU CB Jason Verrett.
The top senior prospect who is playing in the game probably is Fresno State QB Derek Carr. There could be seven to 10 first-round picks in Mobile this week.