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2011 Senior Bowl: Big Ten Well Represented, But Can The Players Up Their NFL Draft Positions?

Saturday, January 29th, sees the return of the college football Senior Bowl to be played in Mobile, Alabama. The game, televised on the NFL Network at 2 P.M. CST, will pit some of the best players of the 2010 season (including several prominent Big Ten names) in a battle for guts, glory, and a high NFL draft stock.

Because, that's really what this game is about. Oh sure, the game advertises its charitable connections and, much like the already concluded East-West Shrine Game does in fact produce significant contributions. But, the real point of this (and all other post-season exhibition games) is to function as an additional advertisement for the players looking to enter the NFL Draft. These games, much like a phenomenal performance at the NFL Combine, can and often do affect the draft position of players come April. Last year, after a solid performance in the East-West game, Mike Kafka of Northwestern raised his draft stock by as many as two rounds. Originally predicted as a mid-Sixth rounder, Kafka ended up being selected in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Senior Bowl is a bit unique as an exhibition game, in that the athletes playing in it are already expected to be drafted highly before the game starts. This includes projected No. 8 pick (in Mel Kiper's first mock draft of the year) Von Miller, a linebacker out of Texas A&M, projected No. 12 pick Nate Solder, offensive tackle out of Colorado, projected No. 18 pick Cameraon Jordan, defensive end, out of Cal, projected No. 20 pick Ryan Kerrigan, defensive end out of Purdue, projected No. 22 pick Anthony Castonzo, offensive tackle out of Boston College, projected No. 23 pick Gabe Carimi, offensive tackle, out of Wisconsin, and projected No. 29 pick Christian Ballard out of Iowa.

Other highly touted NFL prospects including Roy Helu, Jr., Colin Kaepernick, Jake Locker, Casey Matthews, Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder, and Titus Young will also be making appearances.

So why should you tune in tomorrow (assuming you're one of the, like 10 people in the country who actually gets the NFL Network)? Well, frankly it's because outside of the Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl, you've got little in the way of football excitement for the next several months. Might as well fill up like a Wisconsinite at an all you can eat fish fry night.

If you do happen to tune in, keep an eye out for these Big Ten players...

North Team:

Christian Ballard, No. 46, DL, Iowa

James Brewer, No. 73, OL, Indiana

Gabe Carimi, No. 68, OL, Wisconsin

Ross Homan, No. 58, LB, Ohio State

Greg Jones, No. 53, LB, Michigan State

Lance Kendricks, No. 84, TE, Wisconsin

Ryan Kerrigan, No. 91, DL, Purdue

John Moffitt, No. 70, OL, Wisconsin

Dane Sanzenbacher, No. 8, WR, Ohio State

Stephen Schilling, No. 52, OL, Michigan

Ricky Stanzi, No. 12, QB, Iowa

Even if you can't watch the game, check back here as we'll provide post-game updates and thoughts on the notable performances of the day from these Big Ten players...