There’s no NFL combine this year—so really for people like me that LOVE to break down and scout prospects—THIS IS IT. Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Alabama kicked off today as we got to see some live action of the future NFL stars of tomorrow.
I’m here to give you a few snippets of what I saw on the NFL Network coverage with the likes of Andrew Siciliano, Bucky Brooks, and Daniel Jeremiah. Then later in this column I’ll give you a few tidbits off of Twitter that I could find.
First let’s get to the coverage from NFL Network. What were some of the plays shown on NFL Network?
Texas QB Sam Ehlinger — The Texas QB hit Ole Miss tight end Kenny Yeboah with a perfect pass down the middle—but Yeboah dropped it. Ehlinger then followed it up with a pretty nice run. Ehlinger was praised by Senior Bowl staff for getting an early jump on the playbook at the beginning of the week and it appears to be paying off.
Virginia Tech RB Khalil “Juice” Herbert — The running back from Virginia Tech had a really nice run in a drill. Herbert was one of the most electrifying running backs in all of college football in the 2020 campaign.
The 5’9, 212 pound Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native is one of the most explosive players in the country who can move the rock from a variety of positions, as a running back, as a pass catcher, and as a kicker returner.
Herbert was fifth in the country in rushing yardage in 2020 (1,182 yards). He was also eighth in the country in yards per carry (7.7).
The kid is a home-run hitter who can take the it distance in the blink of an eye. He’ll definitely be a prospect to keep an eye on in Mobile and in the NFL Draft.
Florida/Arkansas QB Feleipe Franks — Franks had one of the uglier looking throws that the NFL Network showed, where he hit Cal defensive back Camryn Bynum right in the hands on a pass.
Bynum was drawing a lot of internet buzz leading up to the Senior Bowl and he looks like he’s not disappointing early. Daniel Jeremiah praised Franks for his improvement at Arkansas and how good of a season he had this year. Jeremiah said that Franks got to a place “that he never thought he would be” as far as improving as a passer. Jeremiah is right. I agree with him—but throws like that are exactly why I can’t get excited about him as a consistent contributor in the NFL.
Oklahoma RB Rhamondre Stevenson — Rhamondre had a nice screen catch from Franks. Not only does Rhamondre Stevenson have one of my favorite names in the 2021 NFL Draft class but holy cow do I LOVE, LOVE the way this guy plays.
His combination of wiggle, size,speed, and power in the open field are absolutely breathtaking. His spin move mesmerizes me. I got to watch him in the Cotton Bowl. I’ll never forget the run against Florida when he made seven defenders miss as he danced his way into the end zone. For a man that big to have that kind of balance to make all those guys miss—it tugs on my heart strings! What can I say but I am ALL IN on Rhamondre Stevenson.
Stevenson apparently caught a couple of passes today—according to Daniel Jeremiah. For a player his size, Stevenson is blessed with a jaw dropping level of versatility. He’s excellent at lining up as a wide receiver. He’s 6’0, 232 pounds and is crazy fast for a player that size. Just writing about it gets me excited. The kid is a BEAST.
Notre Dame QB Ian Book—Ian Book had a nice pass to the right side of the field to “Juice” Herbert of Virginia Tech. Book’s spirals always come out of his hand so beautifully—and it’s one of the reasons I love him so much. He also hit a nice pass to a tight end down the middle. I couldn’t figure out who the tight end was but once again a pretty looking ball from Book. Love me some Ian Book.
Read more of my predictions for Mr. Book in the first article in my series here.
Wake Forest WR Sage Surratt—He had one of the nicer catches of the day as he had a leaping grab down the sideline from Ian Book. It was a beautiful catch by Surratt that wouldn’t have happened without his acrobatic ability to go up and get the football.
I really like Surratt as a receiver prospect in this draft class. Both are big time offensive weapons position that can do some serious damage. Trust me—do not sleep on this guy. Big time playmaker. He sat out the 2020 campaign due to COVID—but is already making great use of the showcase in Mobile.
Western Michigan WR D’Wayne Eskridge—Eskridge had a really nice catch on Cal’s Camryn Bynum—which is not an easy thing to do by the way. He had the catch in one-on-one drills. ESPN’s Field Yates noted that Eskridge was the most impressive player he watched today. So he’s drawing rave reviews early. I like Field’s work so I trust his eye when it comes to that analysis.
UCLA RB/WR Demetric Felton—The first thing that stands out about Felton is his excellent agility, and his ability to change direction in the blink of an eye. I watched him win two one-on-one drills. He shook an Oklahoma defensive back in the open field and made a really nice catch in the open field.
His natural position at UCLA was running back. He’s displaying his versatility this week—repeatedly roasting defensive backs in the passing game. He earned some early praise tonight on NFL Network. It was either Daniel Jeremiah or Bucky Brooks that named him as their standout performer that was turning heads. I think it was Bucky Brooks.
Either way, Felton is showing out early in Mobile and he is really fun to watch.
Alabama QB Mac Jones—Mac Jones threw a beautifully placed ball to Clemson WR Cornell Powell (more on him in a bit) on a slant. A lot of people, from Colin Cowherd to Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah—have brought up the difficulty of evaluating Mac Jones. He throws behind an offensive line that mirrors the great wall of China. He’s got one of the best running backs in college football (Najee Harris) and a Heisman Trophy winning wide receiver (Devonta Smith) that is always WIDE open. Did I mention baby Tyreek Hill in Jaylen Waddle? The weapons at his disposal were absolutely absurd at Alabama. So the biggest question with Jones is how will he look when everything around him is not the very best.
Jones’ ball placement is absolutely perfect. I love the spiral he spins and I love his ball placement.
As good as Tua was at Alabama, it’ll be very interesting to see if Jones is better than Tua in the NFL. I could see it happening. Jones is really, really good. I can’t doubt the guy. Sure, his wide receivers were wide open—but he was always placing the football EXACTLY where it needed to me. Ball placement is huge for me. I really like Mac Jones and am happy he’s at least practicing this week for NFL scouts. I don’t think he’s playing in the game on Saturday—but at least showing up in Mobile is a plus for him.
Clemson WR Cornell Powell—Powell is one of my favorite wide receivers I watched during the 2020 college football season. Sure, he saved his best season for last at Clemson—but god was he incredible this year. Powell is blessed with a level of toughness and contact balance that are beautiful to watch in combination with his receiving ability. I’ve seen him spin away from tacklers in the open field. He is deceptively strong with the way he fights away tackles from defensive backs. He’s just got that dog mentality in him that nobody is bringing him down. He’s tough, tenacious, and has remarkable contact balance. You better buy all the stock in the world on this guy because he is a special, special talent.
Northwestern LB Paddy Fisher—Paddy Fisher had a really nice tackle in team drills where he absolutely drilled an opposing running back. The guy is an absolute tackling machine. It turns out that Fisher is only the sixth player in Northwestern history to rack up over 400 tackles in their career. What an animal!! When I look at linebackers from college to the NFL—I LOVE players that rack up tackles. If you’re a tackling machine—let’s just say we’re going to be friends. I don’t care about your 40 time, etc. I want players that can HIT and make tackles on a routine basis. This guy is a tackling machine and quite honestly—could end up being the next Luke Kuechly. There are few things about linebackers that I love more than great instincts and excellent tackling ability.
Scouts question his athletic ability, but it’s hard to not see him being a player at the next level after what I’ve seen.
Some other notes from one on one drills
Receiver #85 in the Tennessee uniform made a nice diving catch. It’s tough for me to figure out what player is what here but I am guessing this was Josh Palmer—who drew rave reviews from Daniel Jeremiah today as well. I don’t have access to official roster numbers—so this is a bit of an educated guess. It might have been somebody else. Either way—epic catch.
Clemson WR Amari Rodgers—Clemson has another tantalizing wide receiver prospect in the NFL draft. There’s a couple of things you can count on in life, death, taxes, and Clemson cranking out some absolutely INSANE football talent. You don’t make it to the national championship game without incredible players and Amari Rodgers is yet another superstar wide receiver out of Death Valley. He made a really nice contested catch in mid-air. I really like Rodgers a lot at the next level. The kid can play—plain and simple.
Florida WR Kadarius Toney—Toney is one of the most explosive all-purpose threats in this draft class and has some lightning quick speed. He had a really nice TD catch in a drill. The kid can do it all—rushing, receiving, and punt returns. He’s the type of game-breaking playmaker that all coaches covet. He also had a nice interview with the NFL network crew tonight. Funny player with a good sense of humor about him.
South Carolina WR Shi Smith—Shi Smith had easily the most impressive catch of the day when he soared in the air and fully extended his arms behind his head to catch a pass. Absolutely unreal catch. He beat a Michigan defensive back on the play—but wow—what a CATCH.
You can watch the catch here if you want to see the clip.
Shi Smith ? ? #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/XRZU5kwm7b
— Nick Faber (@NickFaberNFL) January 26, 2021
Smith put up solid but not spectacular numbers in his 2020 season. Let’s just say if he’s making catches like that—I want him on my NFL roster. Yes, please, and thank you. Smith also earned praise from Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah for being a standout on Day 1 during the recap show. If he keeps doing that—he’s going to make himself some money.
Twitter Notes From Day 1
Here are a couple of notes from reporters at the Senior Bowl that I found interesting.
ECU OT D’Ante Smith absolutely manhandled an opposing defensive player in a drill. What can I say but you love to see that kind of tenacity from your OL. You can watch the clip here:
? Former @ECUPiratesFB OT D’Ante Smith @B1GSmoove showing out today at the #SeniorBowl ?☠️ pic.twitter.com/oHhM7oqypJ
— Pirate Radio ☠️ (@PR927FM) January 26, 2021
Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest—Lots of people were raving about Jamie Newman from Day 1 as a “winner.” Various sources on Twitter. What can I say but I’m excited about Newman and hope he does really well at Senior Bowl week. I LOVE him as a player—just thought he should have used the extra year of college eligibility. He could have come back to college and possibly been a first rounder next year. Anyways—good to see him showing out. Lots of people loving up on him on Twitter. No surprise from me.
Thomas Graham, Jr., DB, Oregon—Graham, Jr. looked amazing in the footage of one drill where he stuck to his man like glue. Prior to 2020 he led FBS in pass breakups. It looks like he’s continuing to do work and maintaining his elite defensive back status. Check out the footage here:
#Oregon CB Thomas Graham Jr. is making a good impression with his coverage abilities @seniorbowl
Prior to 2020 he led FBS in Pass Break ups. @MileHighHuddle pic.twitter.com/UbfhlZrh6i
— Luke Patterson (@LukePattersonLP) January 26, 2021
Quincy Roche, DE, Miami—Roche is one of the best defensive end prospects I watched the whole 2020 college football season. He’s a player that immediately jumps off the tape. His first step is lightning quick and his ability to bend around the edge is natural and effortless. This guy is going to be an absolute savage in the NFL. I have no doubt in my mind.
When Quincy Roche is on the opposing defense—pull up a seat. Butter your popcorn. Odds are a sack is coming real quick.
Roche and Azeez Ojulari (UGA) are two of my favorite defensive end prospects in this draft class. Opposing quarterbacks in the NFL are going to have nightmares about both players for years to come. Roche beat Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood on a drill—which is impressive because Leatherwood is one of the best at his position.
Miami's Quincy Roche gets the edge on Alabama's Alex Leatherwood.#SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/BAF5Ke0gN6
— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) January 27, 2021
Deonte Brown, OL, Alabama—Alabama’s offensive line in the 2020 season was—like it usually is—built like the Great Wall of China. That’s no exaggeration. They had behemoths from tackle to tackle that quite frankly block out the sun. Deonte Brown was one such mammoth wall of humanity that helped the Tide to another national title.
What did he weigh in today, you ask? 6’3 ¼, 364 pounds. Jesus Christ. To whoever has to line up across from this guy in the NFL—I got two words for you son—prayers up. You’ll need them. Lots of them. Check out his picture here:
Them: the perfect OL prospect doesn’t exist
You: meet Alabama’s Deonte Brown pic.twitter.com/xzfBI3l71d
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 15, 2021
Good Lord that is a mountain of a man.
Keep checking back later in the week for more Senior Bowl coverage this week as I’ll have some more recaps/breakdowns of prospects! That’s it for now, and don’t forget to check out Forgotten Sports Heroes on Facebook!