The 2021 Senior Bowl is in the books and it was of the more fun ones in the recent past. The first half was a bit slow but the second half picked up steam and turned into a pretty good game. There were plenty of players that increased their draft stock and just as many that dropped their draft stock. Here are a few players that saw their draft stocks move.
Osa Odighizuwa, DL, UCLA
Over the three days of practice, Odighizuwa made a case for having been the most impressive player in Mobile. He was tremendous in run defense, controlling gaps with his length and anchoring despite being undersized. As a pass rusher, he displayed the ability to win with power of finesse as his hands are quick and decisive. Depending on what blockers offered him, Odighizuwa knew how to take advantage using pass rush moves or attacking their chest.
D’Ante Smith, OL, East Carolina
The tackle was listed at just 274 lbs on East Carolina’s roster so weighing in at 294 lbs was huge for Smith. His 35 2/8- inch arms were another standout measurements and it translated to his play on the field. Smith displayed his athleticism with how well he was moving his feet while landing his punch and winning reps consistently in one on ones and team drills. Positional flexibility is important for draft stock and Smith showed he can do it at tackle or guard. Teams that like athletic offensive linemen will be high on Smith after this week.
Janarius Robinson, DL, Florida State
Another athlete with impressive measurements, Robinson came in at 6’5, 266 lbs, an 87-inch wingspan and arms that are almost 36-inches long. That kind of length is almost impossible to block when the defender possessing it is able to play at extension consistently. In team drills, Robinson showed he could do this, converting speed to power at a high level and getting to the quarterback with it. Due to a lack of decisiveness and quickness from his hands, Robinson is a bit of a one-trick pony but being able to convert speed to power is the best baseline to develop upon.
Keith Taylor, DB, Washington
Measuring in at 6’2, Taylor was one of the bigger cornerbacks in Mobile with his physicality as well as his eye discipline impressing evaluators all week. In one on one’s he trusted his technique and stuck with receivers throughout most of their routes, breaking up plenty of passes. He continued this in team drills where he was not picked on at all. Taylor was susceptible to getting grabby but had an excellent week aside from that.
Patrick Jones II, DL, Pittsburgh
The 2020 first-team All-American pass rusher had a great season statistically but struggled to put quality rushes on display in his week at the senior bowl. Jones’ best reps came on inside moves in one on one’s. He played high with a lack of urgency in his moves and struggled to defeat blockers. His effort was still admirable as he did not stop fighting but Jones has a ways to go technically to be successful against NFL tackles from the edge.
Deonte Brown, OL, Alabama
The massive guard weighed in at 364 lbs which is too heavy and it showed up in one on ones where his feet looked slow and opponents ran circles around him. In condensed areas in team drills, Brown looked like his usual reliable self, although he looked slower than he did on tape. Losing weight and regaining some athleticism has to be the biggest offseason goal for the national champion.
Noah Gray, TE, Duke
Gray had a phenomenal week in Mobile and showed what he will do at the next level. Gray showed off elite pass catching ability. He has strong hands and separates well with routes. Gray will be a fun addition to an NFL offense and likely will end up in the top four rounds of the draft.
Drake Jackson, OC, Kentucky
After measuring in with really short arms, Jackson showed length wouldn’t be a tremendous issue for him at the next level with his impressive performance all week. Jackson showed an excellent anchor and really solid movement abilities. Jackson did have some trouble with much longer players in 1-on-1s but won’t be put in that situation too often in the league. Expect Jackson to be a starter in the league at some point.
Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson
Cornell Powell waited his turn at Clemson, but didn’t take long to make a name for himself at the Senior Bowl. He was impressive all week and showed excellent ability as a route runner. We already knew he was a physical pass catcher, but his abilities as a route runner made him a prospect to take a shot on for day three of the draft. Cornell Powell could be a mainstay in the league for a long time.
Shawn Davis, S, Florida
hawn Davis did not have the greatest of weeks in Mobile. He showed some ability as a ball hawking safety, but clearly could not cover and didn’t show the movement skills to be a single high safety in the league. He is going to have to stand out on special teams first and hopefully that will get him a roster spot to work on his craft.
Racey McMath, WR, LSU
Racey McMath didn’t show what you wanted to see from him this week. McMath is a big bodied receiver who wasn’t physical enough. That doesn’t translate to much in the league when you factor in he has poor movement skills. McMath will have to show some sort of athletic trait that we aren’t seeing yet to be a guaranteed draft pick.
Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse
Ifeatu Melifonwu came to play during Senior Bowl week. He showed excellent abilities in off coverage and in zone, which were concerns in his tape. He showed impressive skills in redzone drills and movement ability in space. Melifonwu is a starting corner in the league and will be able to handle an entire side of the field. Melifonwu is a first round talent that shouldn’t fall out of the second round.
Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
As a slot receiving option, Smith showed an ability to win quickly with his feet. His route running was excellent and he separated well. He also showed off strong hands. Considering he showed everything you want from a slot receiver, expect him to be taken late day two or early day three.
Jabril Cox - LB - LSU
He was one of the best linebackers of the week. Even though he didn't win the American squads linebacker of the week, Jabril Cox still boosted his draft stock. He was superb in coverage all week, especially in the one-vs-ones and showed his versatility in the team drills and the game. Cox can play in the middle or outside linebacker and can effectively rush the passer. Even if he does give up a catch, he won’t let the ball carrier get too many yards after the catch. His coverage skills alone deserve him to be one of the top linebackers taken.
Elijah Mitchell - RB - Louisiana
Elijah Mitchell should get a shot at an NFL roster with his ability to catch the ball and get those valuable yards after the catch. He does need to work on his game in pass protection. Mitchell was able to create great separation with speed, jukes and even with a little physicality. His ability to pick up the yards after the catch makes him even more dangerous. Now pass protection is a different story. Mitchell would come up to the linebacker too quickly, only to have the defender blow past him to make the play. He did get better as the week went on and showed flashes of what he can do.
Ritchie Grant - DB - UCF
He was voted as the best defensive back of the week voted on by the wide receivers and rightfully so. Ritchie Grant showed outstanding coverage skills against tight ends and receivers. He was able to hang right on the running back’s, limit catches and yards after the catch. Grant has excellent field vision and range, shown by his multiple interceptions made this week. He is another one of those safeties that can play anywhere on the field. Grant boosted his draft stock this week and will probably be selected higher than anticipated.
Hamsah Nasirildeen - DB - Florida State
Like many other players in 2020, Hamsah Nasirildeen saw limited action. He played in only two games for the Seminoles. It was good to see him back on the field and play solid football. Nasirildeen showed outstanding coverage skills against the tight ends and running backs but occasionally struggled against wide receivers. His tackling skills are solid and he rarely misses a tackle. Nasirildeen is a versatile safety with great size and length and can play in really any defense and anywhere on the field.
Kylin Hill - RB - Mississippi State
We always knew that Kylin Hill was an exceptional pass catcher. This week proved that and then some. We could only watch him in three games this year; Hill can catch the ball smoothly and move the ball downfield. Hill showed that he has the skills to be a sleeper in this draft. In pass protection, Hill was very impressive when dealing with the bigger linebackers. He didn’t back away from the challenge and went face-to-face with the defender and kept them at bay. Hill looked very good despite the prolonged time off this past season.
DEMETRIC FELTON, WR, UCLA
Felton made waves this week playing as a wide receiver instead of running back and beating good cornerback prospects. Felton showed quick feet at the line of scrimmage to get immediate separation to make the play. He should no longer be considered a running back, but instead a slot receiver with utility potential.
BENJAMIN ST. JUSTE, CB, MINNESOTA
St. Juste showed a lot of physicality and dog in his game. He was a pass breakup machine, oftentimes because he refused to quit on a play, and using his long arms to get after the ball. St. Juste was the second-best CB on the National Team, behind Keith Taylor.
CADE JOHNSON, WR, SDSU
Johnson had a rough start to the Senior Bowl with his short arm measurements, but his quickness at the line and burst in his breaks showed that he has the speed and quickness to be a slot in the NFL. He will rely completely on short timing routes in the NFL, but there are opportunities for a player like him in the NFL, and he showed that at the Senior Bowl.
SAGE SURRATT, WR, WAKE FOREST
Before Surratt sat out the last day of practice, he was struggling in his jump-ball basketball style of play. His biggest issue was a refusal to use his arms to create separation, despite his size offering him an advantage to use his arms. Once he used his arms to create separation a few times, he saw more success, but it was too little too late for him to improve his stock.
AMBRY THOMAS, CB, MICHIGAN
Thomas was worked all week long, with his best plays using the sideline and tracking players in their hip pocket well enough. He was beaten often in one-on-ones but won a press or two at the line. It was a disappointing week with few shining moments for Thomas.
DEZ FITZPATRICK, WR, LOUSIVILLE
Dez Fitzpatrick had a lot of hype going into the Senior Bowl, and while he won some reps, he was generally quiet. He won more often with his feet than his size, which was surprising. Fitzpatrick was neither impressive nor unimpressive, but his lack of an impressive performance will likely slow any rising stock that Fitzpatrick may have been accumulating.
Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
The 2021 NFL Draft class is being discussed as a possibly historic influx of receiver talent to the league. One name that has largely been overlooked to this point is Josh Palmer. After an impressive performance at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, though, the 6012 and 210-pound receiver should expect his draft stock to rise. Palmer consistently separated with fluid and effective route running. Further, he can play to his size by high pointing 50/50 balls or shielding the catch point with his larger frame. In a deep receiver class, Josh Palmer could hear his name called as early as late day two.
Tre Brown, DB, Oklahoma
The group of cornerbacks at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl was notably deep. Tre Brown of Oklahoma still stood out among bigger-name and more highly-touted prospects. Although he did not play on day three of practices, the smaller corner (5096, 188) was a force in coverage through the event’s first two days. Brown showed off excellent fluidity to stay in-phase through breaking routes. Moreover, he was extremely physical which enabled him to succeed in press coverage and against bigger receivers. Tre Brown’s strong showing may have solidified him as a draftable nickel defender come April.
Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia
The 2021 Senior Bowl may have provided clarity in a tight end class that is ostensibly uncertain after the near-consensus top two. Georgia’s Tre’ McKitty (formerly of Florida State) was arguably the top performer out of the tight end group in Mobile. Although his time with the Bulldogs was less productive than expected, the 6041 and 247-pound tight end confirmed the positive traits he displayed as a Seminole. McKitty has strong hands through contact and was able to make several one-handed grabs in practices this week. He also boasts impressive body control and hand-eye coordination to track and react to the ball. What’s more, he was able to separate from linebackers with above-average route running and from safeties with physicality. Finally, the Georgia product is a serviceable blocker with the potential to grow in that area. After an underwhelming senior season in a new program, Tre’ McKitty has pushed for a spot among the top five - and maybe higher - tight ends in the class.
D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
The Senior Bowl offers players exposure and the chance to boost their draft stock while playing against high-level competition. D’Wayne Eskridge of Western Michigan has taken advantage of this opportunity. The former cornerback boasts excellent fluidity and movement skills which he uses to run clean and sudden routes. He also employs his hands in his releases and up the route stem. Moreover, Eskridge has excellent speed that should allow him to threaten defenses over the top at the next level. Although he dropped the ball now and then in practice, he generally exhibited strong hands through contact. With his speed, general athleticism and route running, D’Wayne Eskridge has forced his way into the first-round conversation.
Grant Stuard, LB, Houston
Some players are entertaining to watch thanks to their hustle and mindset. Grant Stuard certainly falls into that category. The Houston linebacker flies around the field with a high motor and above-average short-area quickness. Still, Stuard played out of control which led to costly mistakes in the Senior Bowl practices. Against the run, he played with poor gap integrity and afforded ball-carriers rushing lanes. Stuard also struggled at the tackle point. He took poor angles and did not break down into contact. While the linebacker has the movement skills to be serviceable in coverage, he played aggressively and with poor technique which precluded him from staying in-phase with running backs and tight ends. Finally, Stuard undeniably lost the weigh-ins - his 2948 arms are below the generally-accepted number for any position and undoubtedly hurt him as a tackler. All in all, Grant Stuard is a small linebacker who plays too out of control to consistently be relied upon. Still, he is a fun player to watch who should sign as an undrafted free agent and may stick thanks to his movement skills and motor.
Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa
In an offensive tackle group that is short on elite talent, the Senior Bowl hosted both potential early starters in contention for first-round picks and NFL depth pieces whose draft projections are unclear. Among that latter group, Alaric Jackson of Iowa is an intriguing offensive lineman who has been discussed as a possible guard/tackle swing player. That said, his performance in Senior Bowl week did not meet expectations. Jackson was inaccurate with his initial punches which forced him into a recovery position early in the snap. What’s more, he consistently played with a high pad level and allowed contact to his frame. Jackson also exhibited a poor anchor early in the week. With all that said, the Iowa product improved from day one to day two and further progressed from day two to day three. Still, the senior’s impressive flashes were separated by stretches of underwhelming play. Despite his concerning performance at the Senior Bowl, Alaric Jackson is a probable draft-selection come April who could develop into a reserve swing lineman.
Baron Browning - LB - Ohio State
As the most athletic linebacker in the draft, Browning turned some heads in the game on Saturday. His week of practice was great, but Browning showed that he can be a force to reckon with in both pass coverage and when he is pursuing the football. His reads and instincts need polishing, but his combination of athleticism and power are certainly going to be hard to look past.
Cam Sample - DE - Tulane
A massive lower body is needed on the defensive line and Sample provides just that. He has certainly proven his worth in Mobile this week with his size, strength, and power. His relentlessness in his rushes and his use of his hands were two standouts that will carry over into the draft in April. Sample can play all three positions on the defensive line, which shows his versatility and his willingness to compete.
Brenden Jaimes - OL - Nebraska
The former Nebraska offensive tackle came out and showed his worth in pass protection in Mobile. We all know that Jaimes can run block well with his superb lower body strength, but his anchor against the pass rush showed up against some of the nations best collegiate rushers. athleticism will need polishing, particularly in his feet, but Jaimes is one of the strongest players in the draft and will dominate with his lower body strength.
Ben Mason - FB - Michigan
The absolute worst thing you can see as a linebacker or safety is a player like Ben Mason running full speed at you. His grit and natural strength is evident in everything he does on the field. He also showed some athleticism in his passing routes in Mobile, something that wasn’t expected of him much in Ann Arbor. A source close to the situation said in December that Mason was getting some middle round looks, and it’s not a surprise that the consensus hasn’t changed. Whoever drafts Mason is getting a world class blocker with some room for immense growth in his pass catching ability.
Dillon Radunz - OL - NDSU
A small school prospect has to impress in Mobile to show that they are capable of competing with the elite players from the power five schools. Radunz came out and performed like a prospect on a mission. His size is tremendous and will translate well to the pro’s. Another area that stood out was his ability to defeat the pass rusher in one on ones. The offensive tackles rarely get wins in the one on one period of practice, but Radunz won multiple matchups against some elite talent.