MOBILE, Ala. — Terry McLaurin must have thought for a moment that he was being interviewed for a front office job rather than a wide receiver job.
McLaurin said he was asked in a meeting with the Cardinals this week if he would take Nick Bosa with the first overall pick.
You know, the one the Cardinals currently hold.
There has been a lot of that this week for McLaurin. While he is here at the Senior Bowl, two of his Ohio State teammates who figure to go very early in the upcoming draft are not. Teams therefore are using this opportunity to not only evaluate McLaurin as a wide receiver prospect but pick his brain on players such as Bosa, the pass rusher who is recovering from surgery to repair a core muscle injury, and quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
“I’ve gotten questions about everything,” McLaurin said. “I have no problem deferring and talking about my teammates. Those are my guys. They work really, really hard. I work hard too, but if I have the chance to pump them up, I’m going to take that opportunity.”
He did the same with the media.
On Bosa, who left school after an early-season injury to focus on rehabbing for the draft, McLaurin said he was a “great teammate” and that the Ohio State players were not upset by the decision to leave.
“He has a life-changing opportunity,” McLaurin said. “While we missed him and we wished we could have had him, we understood.”
And on Haskins, McLaurin raved about how much the red-shirt sophomore grew as a leader in his one season as the starting quarterback. McLaurin was the senior captain, an honor he took seriously, but he eventually was glad to be unseated by Haskins.
“His throws are always going to be great, but at that position he’s going into where he’s going to be a top-10 pick, he needs to be a great leader,” McLaurin said. “The maturation he had from TCU where he was unsure and we struggled on offense [Ohio State trailed 14-13 at halftime of an eventual 40-28 victory] to the time in the Maryland game [a thrilling 52-51 victory], he was taking over our offense and I was deferring to him. That’s what you want to see out of your quarterback.”
Other players at the Senior Bowl ran into similar issues, spending time talking about their teammates at an event at which they are supposed to be flaunting their own abilities. That’s because many of the hottest names in the draft process are not at the Senior Bowl. The players the Jets will select with the third overall pick and the Giants will select with the sixth overall pick probably aren’t at this event.
Pass rusher Josh Allen of Kentucky, offensive tackle Jonah Williams of Alabama and defensive linemen Quinnen Williams of Alabama and Ed Oliver of Houston won’t be on display until the Combine.
And the most intriguing prospect, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, was talked about by plenty of scouts throughout this week but was not in town. The opposite of the old axiom about children, he was heard but not seen.
There are 103 juniors and underclassmen who have declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. That’s enough for their own bowl game if someone wanted to put it together: the Non-Senior Bowl.
Such an event doesn’t exist. Yet. So for now, the easiest portal to the top players is through their older, perhaps wiser teammates who will be coming off the board in later rounds.
McLaurin figures to be drafted. He’ll most likely be a mid-round pick and scouts project him as a solid No. 2 receiver in the NFL.
His ability as a talent evaluator is less clear. He wound up telling the Cardinals that yes, he would take Bosa with that first overall pick. Whether they wind up listening to him — and how that works out — remains to be seen.