Senior Bowl Winners

2021 Senior Bowl: Ten Biggest Winners

  • 2021
  • 2021 NFL Draft
  • 2021 Senior Bowl
  • Alabama
  • Amari Rodgers
  • Clemson
  • D'Wayne Eskridge
  • Daelin Hayes
  • Dillon Radunz
  • Draft
  • Jabril Cox
  • LSU
  • Mac Jones
  • NFl Draft
  • North Dakota State
  • Notre Dame
  • Osa Odighizuwa
  • Quinn Meinerz
  • Richie Grant
  • Senior Bowl
  • UCF
  • UCLA
  • Western Michigan
  • Wisconsin-Whitewater
By Daniel Kitchen January 31, 2021 0 Comment
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From the start of Tuesday’s opening practice to the last snap of Saturday’s game, two teams of players absolutely left it all on the field at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. With no NFL Scouting Combine to work out for teams, the Senior Bowl offered players their best chance to make a live impression for teams and improve their draft stock.

The list of players who can be considered Senior Bowl “winners” (standouts, stars, beneficiaries — whatever term you like most) is extensive. No fewer than 30 players helped their draft stock in some major way in my eyes at Mobile. Here are the ones (ordered by position) who had the best overall weeks in Mobile, and will be drafted higher as a result.

Be sure to review our biggest winners from Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday’s practices!

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

He was already the biggest name at the biggest position entering Mobile. But Kyle Trask’s injury and subsequent withdrawal put Mac Jones on center stage to prove he was worthy of a first-round draft pick. After an OK first day, Jones’ Wednesday and Thursday made him one of the Senior Bowl’s winners.

Taking more chances and attacking the intermediate and deep levels of the field, Jones made the type of throws teams have to see to select a quarterback in the Top 32. He consistently displayed accuracy and delivered the ball where only his receivers could get it. He played with confidence and was the best QB in Mobile by a mile.

Even without taking snaps in Saturday’s game due to an ankle injury suffered Thursday, Jones proved that the first round buzz around him is legit.

Demetric Felton, RB/WR, UCLA

Felton scored the first touchdown of Saturday’s game by taking a short pass and freezing Georgia corner DJ Daniel. Daniel, voted the American team’s top CB this week, joined a lengthy list of players who couldn’t match Felton this week.

Following the lead of Memphis’s Antonio Gibson last year, Felton took reps at both RB and WR in Mobile. He was visibly one of the fastest and most agile players at the Senior Bowl. He may have looked even better at WR than RB, his natural position. That route in the video above on Oregon’s Thomas Graham Jr. was one of the filthiest plays from the whole week. He kept a low center of gravity, and his balance permitted making moves as a receiver and ball carrier that defenders physically couldn’t perform themselves. That also made him one of the best returners on either roster as well.

Felton is going to be a very fun player in the NFL. In the right system, he is a dangerous weapon, one who can be directly responsible for winning games.

D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan

Among players who did not compete all four days, Eskridge may have helped himself the most. The electric receiver came in as one of the fastest players in the draft and was one of the most impressive during practices.

Eskridge generated more separation than anyone on the National roster Tuesday. On a straight line, DBs rarely kept up, and there was even less hope of doing so whenever the Bronco made a cut during his route. His reps weren’t just consistently good — Eskridge looked like a bonafide star.

Coming into Mobile, Eskridge had a similar, speed-based skill set to Florida’s Kadarius Toney, a potential first-round pick. His work was comparable to the Florida star, and he may have played his way from Day 3 into the first round.

Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson

Many players had a signature day of practice where they established themselves as a standout for 24 hours. Rodgers was one of the most consistently great players and one of the few who could have been deemed among the “Senior Bowl winners” after every practice.

Along his routes, Rodgers was as good as Eskridge, Toney, and anyone else at creating separation. His cuts were sharp, and he had the speed, burst, and explosiveness to hit another gear at any point during his route. Rodgers is pound-for-pound one of the toughest football players on the field at any time. He fought through bigger corners for catches all week in practice and showed his fearless attitude by bringing in a touchdown and holding on through a big hit during Saturday’s game.

Athleticism is also part of Rodgers’ toolbox, shown when he got up to catch a two-point conversion during the game. So are drops, which he had a few of and needs to cut down on. Even with those, Rodgers is one of the Senior Bowl’s overall winners. There is no reason he shouldn’t be a Day 2 pick and a starting option in the slot.

Quinn Meinerz, C, Wisconsin-Whitewater

There is standing out at the Senior Bowl. And then there is becoming a folk hero of the event and a fan favorite of the entire country.

One of the final players added to either roster and from the smallest school, Meinerz belonged in Mobile. Despite jumping from Division III to blocking premiere FBS rushers, his reps were strong. He stonewalled ends and interior D-linemen, surrendering little ground and finishing blocks with intensity.

Even in his absence from the field, Meinerz stood out. After breaking a bone in his hand, the Whitewater lineman argued with Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores to be able to play in Saturday’s game. It is that competitiveness, along with his play in practice, that makes Meinerz one of the Senior Bowl’s biggest winners. 32 teams in the NFL desperately need a lineman like him.

Dillon Radunz, OL, North Dakota State

Major awards are skewed toward specific positions, as evidenced by Kellen Mond’s winning of the MVP award during Saturday’s game. Yet it was Radunz, an offensive lineman, who was named the Practice Player of the Week at the Senior Bowl.

Radunz, like Meinerz, had his season canceled and jumped from a lower level (FCS) to face largely FBS competition. He displayed no rust at The Senior Bowl, but plenty of strength to win his blocks. Radunz was one of the multiple players to take snaps at two spots, playing both left tackle and left guard. He maintained good footwork in both; he also displayed bend and the ability to anchor and stall his man outside the pocket.

I had Radunz as a player who needed at least a season of learning before becoming a starter. With his dependable performance at multiple spots on the line this week, I’ve changed that thought. Radunz is ready to play major snaps in the NFL, and I wouldn’t rule the first round out just yet.

10 Things I Learned At Senior Bowl Practices

Daelin Hayes, DL, Notre Dame

Hayes put himself on the map with a strong Tuesday showing in practice. He followed that up with additional plays the next two workouts, finding the backfield and QB every day.

The Notre Dame end was quick to engage and beat blockers, with deceptive speed to execute his moves. What made his breaks part the line so devastating was how quickly they occurred. He disrupted plays and chased QBs out of the pocket before routes could develop. Hayes forced multiple errant throws and scrambles and was one of the only linemen to be a major problem every practice.

In a weak pass-rushing class, Hayes capitalized on an opportunity in Mobile that can earn him a larger role than previously expected as an NFL rookie. A likely Day 3 pick before the first practice began, Hayes would not be a surprise at any point on Day 2 now.

Osa Odighizuwa, DL, UCLA

The defensive line group was one of the best all-around units in Mobile. Among those players, the best player and one of the biggest Senior Bowl winners was Odighizuwa.

The Bruin showed off a completely unfair blend of speed and power all week. With his reaction time and initial burst, he won some reps purely with his speed. He also had the power to walk guards back in the pocket and even stood up against perfectly executed double teams during practice. But what really set him apart was how he could blend his speed and power games together. At the flip of a switch, he could go from winning with a bull rush to disengaging and breezing by with speed.

Odighizuwa’s skill set and athleticism make him a dangerous threat to put on the interior of the defensive line. He forced a fumble in Saturday’s Senior Bowl to show that he can play, and at the Senior Bowl, truly deserves to be called a winner. His stock should firmly be in Day 2 now.

Jabril Cox, LB, LSU

One of the more high-profile names on defense coming into Mobile, Cox looked the part of a Top 50 pick, having one of the best weeks of a linebacker on either roster.

Most of the linebackers in Mobile struggled greatly in coverage; opposing running backs routinely burned them in 1-on-1 drills. Cox was a notable exception and stood out as a result. He stuck to targets along routes and was physical at the catch point to break up passes. On the occasion he was burned or lacked the speed to keep up, he closed on throws and made hard contact to separate the ball.

With his speed, Cox also showed some good reps as a pass rusher. His athleticism is his biggest asset to succeed as an NFL starter, and that should absolutely be the projection for him after he solidified his stock as no worse than a second-round pick.

Richie Grant, S, UCF

Despite the incredible talent at the receiver position this Senior Bowl, many defensive backs fought back and did more than hold their own. Grant is the leader of those players.

Marked by big plays, like picking off Jamie Newman on Thursday or getting in a hit on Chris Evans Wednesday, Grant had a nose for the ball all week in Mobile. His instincts to play as the eyes of the defense were evident, but so were his coverage skills to play closer to the line. He has the hips and burst to stay in receivers’ pockets in man coverage, and the vision to shut down his area in zone.

There shouldn’t be a question as to who the best safety was in Mobile. For teams that prefer versatile safeties, Grant stands out as a starting option on Day 2.

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Here to discuss and examine all things NFL Draft. Occasionally sarcastic. Life is better with more scrambling QBs.

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