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Second-rounder? Arizona’s Nick Foles will show his skills at Senior Bowl

Nick Foles

Nick Foles passed for a conference record 361.17 yards per game this season. Photo by Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

It doesn’t much matter right now if former Arizona Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles is rising or falling on the NFL draft boards.

He will begin his first major post-graduate exam in a few weeks — and that will start to tell the tale.

Foles is headed to the Senior Bowl, his father Larry confirmed Friday, where he will get a chance to work out for a week in front of scouts from every NFL team. The game will be played Jan. 28 in Mobile, Ala.

“He just has to go out and prove himself,” Larry Foles said.

“I told him, ‘It’s all you now.’ You can’t say this or that anymore. Now, it’s how well you prepare and how you do.”

For the record, Foles’ stock does seem to be on the rise. NFLDraftScout.com — which supplies analysis for CBSSports.com — recently elevated Foles to the 49th-best prospect nationally and the fifth-best quarterback available.

That list includes Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, a pair of juniors who have yet to officially declare for the draft.

Rob Rang, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, said the preseason projection of Foles as a second-round pick seems to be holding up.

“The same things we were excited about Foles before the season are still there,” Rang said. “He’s a big, strong kid who put up great numbers throughout his entire career.

“What is going to be absolutely critical is how he is going to perform at the Senior Bowl. That is his shot. It’s going to be apples to apples.”

Rang’s highest-rated senior quarterback is Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill, who also will be at the Senior Bowl. Boise State’s Kellen Moore, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson have been reported as the other quarterbacks attending the Senior Bowl.

“The biggest concern that I have always had with Nick Foles is the offense at Arizona allowed him so many short to intermediate passes,” Rang said.

“While we are seeing more and more NFL teams incorporate that type of attack into what they do, he is going to be challenged in Mobile to throw the ball deep. If he can do that, it’s going to really help his grade.”

And if not …

Well, in any case, Foles just has to be taken somewhere in the draft to be the highest-selected quarterback from Arizona in 50 years.

The Lions drafted Eddie Wilson in 1962 with the 24th overall pick, which was the 10th selection in the second round. After that?

Brian Linstrom was taken with the first pick of the 16th round (391st overall) in 1972 and John Conner was selected in the 10th round (277th overall) in 1985.

That’s it.

Foles shouldn’t have much trouble clearing those low hurdles.

Foles — who received his official invitation to the NFL Combine on Friday — is headed to Irvine, Calif., early next week to begin formal postseason training under the auspices of the Athletes First agency.

Foles’ appearance in the Senior Bowl will mark the sixth time in the past seven years that an Arizona player attended the top postseason game for NFL hopefuls. Defensive end Brooks Reed participated in the 2011 game.

Related link: Where does Foles’ record-setting season rank among the top 12 UA sports stories of the year?

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