Overshadowed during the football season by players at their same position who hailed from Bowl Championship Series schools, cornerbacks B.W. Webb and Robert Alford this week have done their best to show NFL talent evaluators that they are just as talented and capable of success on the next level.
Webb, a William & Mary product, and Alford, of Southeastern Louisiana, appeared to hold their own during the three most closely scrutinized practices of Senior Bowl week. Webb showed his versatility as he got physical with receivers in press coverage and also displayed good speed and anticipation in coverage downfield.
Alford was fluid in coverage and was quick to change direction and displayed good closing speed. Both corners also showed their capability as kick and punt returners.
“After the first day of getting the jitters out, we’re out there on the field playing ball,” Webb said. “Just showing them that small-school guys can play as well.”
Both Webb and Alford went to smaller schools after drawing limited interest from colleges following high school. William & Mary was the only team to offer Webb a scholarship. Both corners are on the smaller side (Webb is 5-10 and weighs 183 pounds and Alford is 5-9, 183 pounds). But they have both been able to use their speed and good technique to make up for any size limitations this week.
“I’m definitely a confident player, and I’m going to talk when I get on the field,” said Webb, a Newport News native. “Definitely have great ball skills, just a great corner. People might think since I’m a small guy, I might not be very aggressive, but I can throw people around a little bit.”
Alford entered his senior season well aware of the questions about him. Because of his size and the teams he faced, teams wondered about his ability to transition to the NFL.
So the Hammond, La., native aimed to answer any questions with his play for Southeastern Louisiana, and specifically listed making it to the Senior Bowl – where he could prove himself against top competition — as one of his goals of the season.
“The big knock that I had at the beginning of this year was that I couldn’t compete against the top players on this level,” Alford said. “But that’s what I’m out here for: to prove to coaches and GMs that I do belong out here. It’s a big deal.”
Both players are believed to carry mid- to late-round draft grades, but they both believe that they are just as talented as players projected to go ahead of them.
Using the small-school knock as motivation, both Webb and Alford aim to continue to dispel those notions in the next three months as they prepare for the Combine, pro days at their schools and pre-draft visits.
This week’s showing at the Senior Bowl is a crucial first step they believe.
“There’s definitely going to be the doubters out there, saying I can’t play with this person, but this is what this week is about,” Webb says. “I look to quiet people down.”