Hot Or Not: Senior Bowl Stock report!
By Alex Chinery
The road to the 2021 NFL Draft is well and truly underway. The first major stop on that road is the Senior Bowl, which due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the only major college all-star game taking place in this cycle. A precious opportunity for college seniors and eligible juniors to impress NFL front office members, a few names were able to make a huge impact.
Locking Up QB5: Mac Jones
Coming off a season that culminated in a Heisman Trophy invite and a National Championship Ring, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones came to Mobile with a point to prove. Questions were being asked whether he could be the same player without the embarrassment of riches he enjoyed on the offensive line and in terms of pass catching weapons at Alabama. Jones answered those questions and then some over the course of the week. Replicating the same quick, accurate passing game that dominated his time with the Tide, Jones looked head and shoulders above other passers at the event. His control of the pocket and mental processing in this environment will entice teams with a quarterback need in the 20’s. I would be very surprised if his name isn’t called on night one of this years NFL draft.
The Small School Cult Hero: Quinn Meinerz
My favourite Senior Bowl tradition is a small school prospect coming to the event and showing they can hang with their FBS colleagues. Meinerz, a guard from Division III powerhouse program Wisconsin-Whitewater, turned up to the event weighing 300+lbs and wearing a cropped jersey… the type of move only heroes make…
Meinerz’ play backed up the love he recieved for his uniform choices on day one. All week he stonewalled power five rushers and even tried to play in the Senior Bowl game with a broken hand. For small school prospects like Meinerz, standing out during this process is key. Quinn did, and for all the right reasons.
The Wide Receiver Race: Smith & Eskridge Show Out
I’ve gone on the record with my love for this upcoming wide receiver class. It is filled to the brim with exciting prospects; two of whom showed out this week at the Senior Bowl. Western Michigan receiver Dwayne Eskridge has dominated in the MAC his whole college career, but questions remained over whether his athletic traits would allow him to separate against top competition. In Mobile we got our answer. Eskridge spent the week cooking defensive backs with a mix of athletic and technical prowess. It would still be a shock to hear his name called on day 1, but an early day 2 selection is very much on the cards.
Shi Smith uses just a slight hesitation to freeze the DB which allows him to fight through contact at the break, and then he climbed the damn ladder for the catch #SeniorBowl— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 27, 2021
Audibly said “oh my god, my heart can only take so much” when I saw this pic.twitter.com/EyFN6SywS2
Shi Smith showed just how much of a big play threat he can be during Senior Bowl practices this week. He was utterly dominant at times going deep against some of the best corners on the Senior Bowl rosters, and is a big riser from this week. Fluid footwork and good body control allowed him to pull off some spectacular catches. This, combined with a penchant for the physical, make him a fascinating prospect. Receiver specialist Brad Kelly was very impressed by Smith this week – and when Brad talks about receiver play, we should all listen…
Riding The Green Wave: Cam Sample
Tulane defensive lineman Cam Sample was having a solid week at the Senior Bowl – that was until he exploded on Thursday! Sample was outstanding in one on ones, blowing past all offensive linemen that opposed him with a bevy of pass rush moves. Sample then turned that momentum into an impressive performance in the Senior Bowl game itself, bringing pressure despite the vanilla defensive scheme. For mid to late round projected players coming to this event, all you can do is start the week with solid performances and just let your stock grow as the week goes on. Sample did that and more, making himself some serious money at this event.