After two days of practice, we have been given a lot to unpack from the 2021 Senior Bowl. A few hundred reps, someone on one and some seven on seven, have shown us just a glimpse of the talent that these players have. That being said, there have still been a few risers and a few fallers as we start to assemble our draft board.
What happens in Mobile always shapes the entire outlook of the NFL draft, and this year will be no different. In fact, the 2021 Senior Bowl might be the most important one ever. With the most star-studded group of players to ever attend this game, possibly due to the fact that the NFL combine will not be held as normally scheduled, this year’s event is ever important for players who want to get in front of scouts.
The majority of this year’s evaluation of NFL draft prospects will be done by watching the game tape of players. If players do not have the best tape out there, for whatever reason, the Senior Bowl will be the last chance to show that their athleticism or smarts are enough to get them drafted off of potential. Let’s take a look at three players who have helped themselves so far in the 2021 Senior Bowl practices, and three who might have hurt their draft stock.
2021 Senior Bowl: Stock Up
Jackson has repeatedly held his own against Marvin Wilson and others in the one on ones. Jackson does an outstanding job of staying balanced and squared up to his opponent. He uses leverage well and you can clearly see that he understands what the defensive lineman is trying to do and how to counter against whatever move it is. Kentucky has produced some very good offensive lineman over the years and Jackson appears to be next in the long line of Wildcat big ben in the NFL.
Tuipulotu has a combination of size and speed that will be frightening for opposing lineman. He has very good twitchy athleticism as he sheds blocks and plays the run. He also is a relentless pass rusher from the interior and displayed more than one good move. The lateral mobility that the USC product is showing is exactly what the NFL is looking for in interior defensive lineman nowadays.
Herring has made himself some money, in my opinion, as a pass-rush specialist. He isn’t the biggest player, but I love the tenacity and the acceleration with which he plays with. His motor has not stopped for one second in mobile and he has used that to get offensive lineman in bad spots. Think Trent Cole, and even if he fails to live up to the starter potential that I think he has, his “juice” off of the edge will be invaluable as a backup and special teamer.
2021 Senior Bowl: Stock Down
The big wide receiver out of Notre Dame was slow off of the line and had sloppy footwork into his breaks. He actually left the practice field with an injury, so maybe he was slowed by that today. Regardless, he did not show the type of “juice” that is needed from wide receivers in the NFL today. Also, with speed not being his calling card, he should have been able to show enough physicality at the catch point to make tough catches over the middle. Alas, there he was getting bullied on a slant by Thomas Graham Jr.
Anderson is another one that is in the sloppy technique category. More than once he was seen bending at the waist and failing to get his arms on the defender. He is letting the defender get the hand and body position that they want when he does that. He has got to learn how to block from a low position without bending at the waist and he needs to get his hands onto the inside bicep and the outside pec.
Gholston actually has a lot of potential, in our eyes, because he has scheme versatility without sacrificing speed or power. The issue is that he needs to develop that speed into a move he can harness. The scouting report on him pre 2021 Senior Bowl has pretty much lived up to the hype.
He bull-rushes, that’s his main move, but when that doesn’t work, what does he do? He doesn’t get to another move quick enough and either fails to get his hands up and into a passing lane, or he lets the QB get outside of him. It was just one on ones, but he showed that all to be true. He needs to develop that second move and he can be unleashed.
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