While the Senior Bowl has a different vibe to it this year, there are many reasons why it has more implications for a prospect’s NFL Draft stock than ever before. Many players will be able to boost their stock and put their name on the radar of NFL teams months before the Draft. With the talent and depth at both the linebacker and running back position, this week is bigger than ever before for these players.
Day one of Senior Bowl practices is in the books. There were numerous players that stood out early on and there were also a few prospects that looked like they needed to shake off a little rust. Let’s take a look at how the linebackers and running backs looked on the first day.
Chazz Surratt - LB - UNC
One prospect that has been getting quite a bit of hype over the summer is Surratt, who is getting talked about as an early-round prospect around the league. With a strong showing at Senior Bowl practices, he has a chance to set himself apart from some of these other guys. Surratt wasn’t targeted much during the 7-on-7 drills. He did a great job at getting proper depth in his zone drops and reacting to underneath passes. He was smooth and explosive transitioning from his backpedal to closing downhill. Surratt showed that he has the athleticism to cover running backs out of the backfield and the speed to stick with them. He didn’t flash anything that we weren’t aware of already but he did confirm the type of athlete that we knew he was.
Michael Carter - RB - UNC
The explosive Carter was talked about as one of the better running backs in this class, that is, until his teammate, Javante Williams stole the show. Those two were a tremendous duo throughout the season but Carter seemed to get pushed aside by draft analysts as the year went on. Carter measured in as one of the shorter prospects but weighed in at 202 pounds. On day one of practices, he showed off his burst and speed. He took the top off of the defense on a few occasions during 7-on-7s and held his own against linebackers in pass protection. Carter may not be the biggest running back on the field but he appears to have a strong work ethic and is one player who will put in effort on every rep.
Rhamondre Stevenson - RB - Oklahoma
The new and improved, svelte Stevenson weighed in at 227 pounds, after being listed at over 240 pounds for the majority of the season. One question was his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Stevenson showed some of the best hands on the team during the first day of practice. He caught a few passes with a defender draped on his back. He showed he has smooth hands and can secure the ball and turn upfield quickly. One area where Stevenson struggled was pass blocking. For a bigger back, you expect him to be able to hold his own and match the strength of a linebacker but he was getting blown up consistently and wasn’t holding a strong anchor. That will be something to watch going forward in practices but he firmed up some of the questions scouts had about his abilities coming into the event.
Baron Browning - LB - Ohio State
The highly talented Browning didn’t practice much. He came in on a couple of plays during 7-on 7s as well, as OLB vs. TE/RB routes. He displayed a lot of strength and power when he was engaged. His plan for the day appeared to get acclimated and stay loose but he didn’t plan to perform many drills. It will be interesting to see what his plan for practice is in the coming days.
Tuf Borland - LB - Ohio State
One player who struggled on the day was Borland, who wasn’t getting great reads on running backs coming out of the backfield when asked to cover out in the flat. He would also get too deep into the line of scrimmage on play-action passes in 7-on-7s and would allow easy completions over his head. Borland would often find himself turned around in zone coverage and looking for his man, rather than reading the quarterback’s eyes and reacting to where the ball was headed. Promising practices are ahead for Borland. This was just day one.
*Be sure to check back throughout the week for our exclusive coverage of the Reese’s 2021 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. For more in-depth scouting reports, be sure to reserve your copy of the 2021 NFL Draft Bible Publication!