While we may not be able to physically be at the 2021 Senior Bowl practices and game, due to the ongoing pandemic, we still have you covered at overtime heroics, via the virtual media credentials that @alex2thesimpson and myself have obtained in an effort to keep you updated. Today, the rosters for the American and National squads were announced.
There were a few surprises, Alabama QB Mac Jones being excluded was the biggest one, and there are sure to be a few changes throughout the week, as well. Especially when injured players will have to inevitably be replaced on the squad by a player currently sitting at home. Those players will be one’s to watch, as well, as they are hungry and motivated that they weren’t invited to the 2021 Senior Bowl. For now, we will take a look at the current rosters in order to gain a little perspective on who to look out for this week.
2021 Senior Bowl
The American squad is led by Kadarius Toney, Alex Leatherwood, and Carlos Basham Jr. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the trio were all graded in the top-five players to be participating at the 2021 Senior Bowl. Out of the three, Toney is the one to keep an eye on the most. We all watched Tyreek Hill sprint his way to a Chiefs postseason record for receiving yards in a game and did most of the work after the catch. Toney has that type of electric ability.
In our opinion, Toney is the clear-cut best receiving option on the American side and he will be matched up with the best cornerbacks on the National squad all week long in practices. This will go a long way in determining his draft slot, as his limitations as a route-runner and smaller stature are the questions he has to answer this week. Teams will be pressing Toney at the line all week and throwing him off of his go-routes and screens in an effort to expose him. We will soon find out if Toney is closer to Hill… or closer to Tavon Austin.
The National team is led by Heisman Trophy-winning Alabama WR Devonta Smith, Notre Dame’s all-time winningest QB, Ian Book, and the Surratt brothers, Sage and Chazz. While we will not be treated to the brothers battling each other as opponents, as we have the past few years when Wake Forest has played North Carolina, it will still be a great side to keep an eye on. Book is looking to prove that he can win games from the pocket without bailing too early and looking to run. He might be on the wrong team, however, as the Dolphins will be coaching the National team.
Miami has still not hired an offensive coordinator, making them an interesting team to be preparing players for the NFL. Being on the National side, with Panthers OC Joe Brady’s playbook, would do wonders for Book’s draft stock. However, it is Smith, not Book who is in the best position to shine this week. Miami is in desperate need of a wide receiver and is getting the closest possible look at the player many consider the best at that position in the draft.
This will be a good way for Miami to determine if they feel they need to take Smith at three, if they feel they can trade down to get him, or if they decide to pass on him altogether.
Missing Star Quarterbacks
Both teams will be without possibly the best quarterback on their respective 2021 Senior Bowl rosters. As mentioned before, Mac Jones (not injury related) is not participating in the on-field part of the Senior Bowl. Many were excited to see him outside of the “Alabama bubble” but Jones, possibly cunningly, has decided that everyone will have to use their imagination. The move doesn’t scream “competitor”, but could possibly be in Jones’ best interests if he felt his 2021 Senior Bowl receivers would only hurt his draft stock.
Also missing from the on-field portion of the 2021 Senior Bowl will be Florida QB Kyle Trask. It would be been fun to see Trask and Jones trade out receivers in Toney and Smith and see how each other fared. Alas, much like the Surratt brothers matchup, we will just have to wait for the next one, which will come on a Sunday and not a Saturday.
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