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2021 Senior Bowl: Players to Watch (Fantasy Football)

by Mike Maher | @mikeMaher | Featured Writer
Jan 27, 2021

We aren’t getting an NFL Combine or an East-West Shrine Bowl in 2021, but perhaps the biggest scouting event for the NFL Draft, the Senior Bowl, is still a go down in Mobile, Alabama. Players were measured and weighed and began practicing on Tuesday, and the notes and videos are already rolling in.

Since we’re only worried about the fantasy-relevant players in this space, we won’t talk about the offensive linemen or any of the defensive players. Sure, the right offensive lineman going to Team X could be a boost for that team’s skill position players, but that’s too much projection for an article about NFL prospects in January. We’re going to focus on the sexy positions like quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end.

First things first, all 135 prospects who accepted invites to the Senior Bowl tested negative for COVID-19 once before getting on planes and twice more after arriving in Mobile:

We’ll have coverage on the Senior Bowl throughout the week, but let’s start by getting acquainted with the skill position players. As a quick preview, here is my quick list of skill position players I am most interested in watching during this year’s Senior Bowl. These players have varying degrees of pre-Senior Bowl buzz, but I’m interested in seeing their skill sets outside of their normal situations and comfort zones. All of these players could significantly boost their position on NFL Teams’ draft boards with a big week in Mobile:

Now, let’s get to the complete list.

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Quarterbacks

Ian Book (QB – Notre Dame)

  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 210
  • Wing: 79 1/4″
  • Arm: 31 1/4″
  • Hand: 9 7/8″

Ian Book broke a ton of records at Notre Dame, but is he a legit NFL talent or just a really good college quarterback? He has excellent mobility, but he will have to prove that he has the arm strength to compete at the next level, especially considering his size. Speaking of, here are some interesting size comparisons:

Sam Ehlinger (QB – Texas)

  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 222
  • Wing: 75 1/8″
  • Arm: 30″
  • Hand: 9 3/4″

Sam Ehlinger is another quarterback who may be more built for the college game than the NFL. He reportedly had an up-and-down first day of practice that included being intercepted by Oklahoma’s Tre Brown:

Feleipe Franks (QB – Arkansas)

  • Height: 6’6″
  • Weight: 234
  • Wing: 83″
  • Arm: 33 3/4″
  • Hand: 10″

Feleipe Franks is a massive human being with 10″ hands that, in theory, has the ideal size (even to the point of possibly being too big) to be a quarterback in the NFL. He has a big arm but is definitely going to be considered a project. He, uhh, did this on Tuesday:

Mac Jones (QB – Alabama)

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 217
  • Wing: 79 1/8″
  • Arm: 32 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 3/4″

Mac Jones is a fascinating prospect who could very well be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. But is he as good as he looked in college? Or is he just the product of a stacked Alabama team? Fran Duffy, who works for the Philadelphia Eagles and is excellent at breaking down film and evaluating college prospects, had this to say about Jones heading into Senior Bowl week:

A Heisman Trophy finalist and first-team All-American in 2020, Jones finished his career 16-1 as a starter (he went 3-1 in relief of Tua Tagovailoa in 2019) with an impeccable final campaign this fall. A structured passer with top-end accuracy, ball placement, and touch to all areas of the field, Jones isn’t the most dynamic athlete at the position, but he executed a highly schemed offense as well as can be expected and was an outstanding game manager (which is NOT a negative term) for the National Champions. Can he propel himself into the first round of the draft? That will be one of the big topics of the week in Mobile.

Kellen Mond (QB – Texas A&M)

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 205
  • Wing: 80 1/8″
  • Arm: 33″
  • Hand: 9 1/4″

Kellen Mond has been compared to Jamie Newman (see below) by multiple scouts in that they are big-armed developmental prospects who are likely to get drafted on Day 3. Mond has more experience in college, while Newman may have more upside. The Draft Network’s Jordan Reid had this to say about Mond:

He’s mainly a half-field read thrower that can get the ball out quickly and efficiently when on schedule. While barely scratching the level of an above-average athlete, he has enough athleticism to get himself out of trouble and gain hidden yardage when breaking outside of the pocket as well. He’s strictly a shotgun/pistol quarterback who’s had all of his experience there. 

Jamie Newman (QB – UGA)

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 235
  • Wing: 76″
  • Arm: 30 1/2″
  • Hand: 10″

Jamie Newman is a big-armed toolsy prospect who has a lot to gain at the Senior Bowl. He is likely to be drafted on Day 3 as a developmental quarterback, but a good showing in Mobile could boost his stock. After one day, it sounds like he is off to a good start.

Running Backs

Michael Carter (RB – UNC)

  • Height: 5’7″
  • Weight: 202
  • Wing: 73 1/2″
  • Arm: 29 1/8″
  • Hand: 9″

From The Draft Network’s Joe Marino:

North Carolina running back Michael Carter was a steady presence in the Tar Heels backfield since 2017 but truly broke out over his final two seasons, where he collected 2,669 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns. He has terrific vision, burst, elusiveness, receiving skills, and decision-making as a runner that makes him so productive. While he is on the leaner side, Carter is a good inside and outside runner. He does well to make intelligent and timely cuts while blending patience with decisiveness, making his blocks right, and running to daylight. While he isn’t overly dynamic when it comes to contact balance and breaking tackles, he is slippery and his wiggle enables him to find yards after contact. For a team looking to employ a two-back system, Carter would be an outstanding complementary option to another back that brings size and power components to the table. 

Chris Evans (RB – Michigan)

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 219
  • Wing: 78″
  • Arm: 31 1/2″
  • Hand: 10″

Chris Evans was apparently already generating some buzz in NFL scouting rooms heading into the Senior Bowl. A big week in Mobile could push him from the late rounds to the middle rounds of the NFL Draft.

Demetric Felton (RB – UCLA)

  • Height: 5’8″
  • Weight: 189
  • Wing: 74 1/8″
  • Arm: 31 3/8″
  • Hand: 9 3/8″

Ladies and gentlemen, we could have our first significant riser of Senior Bowl Week. Demetric Felton weighed and measured pretty small, but he could have some appeal as a Swiss Army knife slot WR/change-of-pace RB.

Najee Harris (RB – Alabama)

  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 230
  • Wing: 81″
  • Arm: 33 3/8″
  • Hand: 10″

If I’m Najee Harris, I’m not sure I even participate in the Senior Bowl. What more does he have to prove after what he just showed in the College Football Playoff?

Khalil Herbert (RB – Virginia Tech)

  • Height: 5’8″
  • Weight: 204
  • Wing: 71 3/4″
  • Arm: 30 1/8″
  • Hand: 8 5/8″

I covered Khalil Herbert in our recent 2021 East-West Shrine Bowl Notable Invites story and had this to say:

Herbert is likely going to be a Day 3 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft because of his promise as a one-cut runner but uncertainly about his overall game. He appears to be a smart runner who excels in space and is able to utilize his blockers but lacks explosiveness. According to The Draft Network’s Joe Marino, what “Herbert is lacking is a proven ability to contribute on passing downs,” both as a receiver and as a pass blocker. Those are two very coachable things, but he’ll need the right landing spot and the right opportunity. Marino thinks he can be a “fringe lead back and outstanding No. 2,” which makes him at least worth a stash in deep formats if it looks like his eventual NFL landing spot features the right blend of coaching and opportunity.

Kylin Hill (RB – Mississippi State)

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 214
  • Wing: 73″
  • Arm: 30 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 5/8″

Kylin Hill is another late-round prospect who could jump into the middle rounds with a big week in Mobile. Here’s a fun thread of Hill’s highlights on Twitter:

Ben Mason (FB – Michigan)

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 256
  • Wing: 79″
  • Arm: 32″
  • Hand: 9 3/8″

Ben Mason is a fullback and is likely to either go undrafted or get grabbed in the seventh round by a team looking to avoid having to compete for him in undrafted free agency. Could this rep alone get him drafted?

Elijah Mitchell (RB – Louisiana)

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 215
  • Wing: 76 5/8″
  • Arm: 31″
  • Hand: 9 3/4″

From Kyle Crabbs over at The Draft Network:

Mitchell has a dense frame, plenty of contact balance, and soft hands, all of which added up to a highly productive career with the Ragin’ Cajuns. Mitchell accounted for 46 total touchdowns and 3,864 yards from scrimmage over his four years with the program, all while splitting time with backs like Trey Ragas and Raymond Calais. Mitchell has upside to become a more well rounded and prominent threat for teams who aren’t looking for explosiveness from their backs out of the backfield given his frame and pass-catching skills-but because of his athletic profile, he is likely to be a victim of positional value and a lack of priority via the NFL draft process. Mitchell’s floor is as a bottom of the roster back and if he lands with a team filled with capable ball-carriers, he may end up bouncing around the league before falling into a depth role. 

Larry Rountree (RB – Missouri)

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 216
  • Wing: 73 1/2″
  • Arm: 30 1/4″
  • Hand: 9 1/4″

Larry Rountree is one of my must-watch prospects in Mobile, and I think he is going to climb a lot of draft boards this week.

Trey Sermon (RB – Ohio State)

  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 213
  • Wing: 79″
  • Arm: 32″
  • Hand: 9 1/2″

Trey Sermon is in Mobile for the week but isn’t playing. He is likely to be a Day 2 pick in the NFL Draft.

Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – Oklahoma)

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 227
  • Wing: 75″
  • Arm: 30″
  • Hand: 9″

Rhamondre Stevenson is a running back who will have a ton of eyes on him this week. He was listed as much heavier this season in Oklahoma but weighed in at 227 in Mobile, which could be a perfect playing weight for him. He was an above-average athlete at closer to 250 pounds, so could dropping almost 25 pounds allow him to take his game to the next level in the NFL?

Wide Receivers

Devonta Smith (WR – Alabama)

Devonta Smith declined to weighed or measured at the Senior Bowl but will reportedly do both at Alabama’s Pro Day workout. He was listed by Alabama at 6’1″ and 175 pounds this season, which means that he is probably lighter and an inch or two shorter. Despite his slight frame, he is an explosive player and is a lock to be drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft and could go as high as the Top 5.

Nico Collins (WR – Michigan)

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 215
  • Wing: 79″
  • Arm: 32 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 3/8″

Nico Collins is likely to be drafted on Day 2 of the NFL Draft based on his size and athleticism alone, and he is off to a strong start in Mobile. This is one of many solid reps from Collins on Tuesday:

Frank Darby (WR – Arizona State)

  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 194
  • Wing: 76 1/8″
  • Arm: 31 3/8″
  • Hand: 9 5/8″

Frank Darby is projected to be a late-round wide receiver with a lot to gain this week. He caught the eye Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline on Tuesday. Pauline currently has him projected as a sixth-round draft pick, but it sounds like he might consider changing that projection.

D’Wyane Eskridge (WR – Western Michigan)

  • Height: 5’9″
  • Weight: 188
  • Wing: 74 1/8″
  • Arm: 30 1/8″
  • Hand: 9″

Eskridge may be small, but he’s explosive. Multiple reports had him turning heads on the first day of practices:

Dez Fitzpatrick (WR – Louisville)

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 202
  • Wing: 80 5/8″
  • Arm: 32 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 1/4″

Dez Fitzpatrick is another late-round wide receiver who could improve his stock this week. He had an up-and-down first day that included the rep below, and he was also the intended target on the aforementioned Sam Ehlinger interception.

Trevon Grimes (WR – Florida)

  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 217
  • Wing: 77″
  • Arm: 31 3/8″
  • Hand: 9 5/8″

Trevon Grimes is another must-watch prospect for me this week. Projections for him are all over the board, with some scouts having him as high as Round 3 and others dropping him into Round 6. For my money, I’m expecting a big week from Grimes that cements him as an early Round 3 pick.

Cade Johnson (WR – South Dakota State)

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 186
  • Wing: 71 /12″
  • Arm: 29″
  • Hand: 9 3/8″

Cade Johnson is generating some early buzz in Mobile, but it is worth noting that his skillset-excellent quickness and agility-is the hardest thing for defensive backs to cover in this wide-open 1-on-1 setting. Still, he is impressing early and is someone to watch who could jump from a borderline UDFA to a sixth-round pick.

Racey McMath (WR – LSU)

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 224
  • Wing: 79″
  • Arm: 31 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 1/4″

Based on name value alone, Racey McMath jumps to the top of the list. However, he leaves a lot to be desired as an NFL prospect.

Josh Palmer (WR – Tennessee)

  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 210
  • Wing: 79″
  • Arm: 33″
  • Hand: 9 3/8″

Jordan Palmer is turning some heads early on in Mobile, though I think the “Rounds 3-4 range” evaluation is a bit aggressive. He’s more likely in the Rounds 5-6 range, even with an impressive week.

Cornell Powell (WR – Clemson)

  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 205
  • Wing: 79″
  • Arm: 32 1/8″
  • Hand: 10″

Cornell Powell seems like the kind of wide receiver who is solid but unspectacular and carves out a perfectly cromulent NFL career as a reserve wideout. It’ll be interesting to see if he can improve his stock this week.

Amari Rodgers (WR – Clemson)

  • Height: 5’9″
  • Weight: 211
  • Wing: 74″
  • Arm: 30″
  • Hand: 9 1/2″

I had this to say about Amari Rodgers in the aforementioned East-West Shrine Bowl story:

Probably quicker than he is fast, and at 5’9″ is probably destined for slot and return work in the NFL. Still, he is thick enough and strong enough to play at the next level, provided he continues to develop. In the right system, he could be a rotational slot wideout, a returner, and a player who can rotate or motion into the backfield for touches almost immediately. With more NFL offenses spreading out opposing defenses, Rodgers could be an ideal developmental slot wide receiver who thrives in space. Appears to have great vision, balance, and a feel for zone coverage. 

Like Cade Johnson above, Rodgers’s quickness is a huge advantage in these early drills. It will be interesting to see how he looks throughout the week and into Saturday.

Ben Skowronek (WR – Notre Dame)

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 211
  • Wing: 80 1/4″
  • Arm: 32 5/8″
  • Hand: 10″

Ben Skowronek has good size but probably just doesn’t have the athleticism to succeed in the NFL. He’ll need an excellent week to even be considered in the late rounds of the draft, and it doesn’t sound like he is off to a good start.

Shi Smith (WR – South Carolina)

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 186
  • Wing: 75 1/2″
  • Arm: 31 1/4″
  • Hand: 9 3/4″

Shi Smith may have had the best first day of practice of any player at the Senior Bowl, and he is well on his way to improving his stock. He is currently projected to be a Day 3 pick, but it sounds like that could change.

Marquez Stevenson (WR – Houston)

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 182
  • Wing: 75″
  • Arm: 31″
  • Hand: 8 1/2″

Marquez Stevenson is a burner who could solidify his standing as a Day 2 pick with a big week in Mobile.

Sage Surratt (WR – Wake Forest)

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 215
  • Wing: 79″
  • Arm: 32″
  • Hand: 9″

Sage Surratt is another player on my must-watch list, and he is already off to a hot start with a few highlight-reel plays on Tuesday. I could see him jumping from the Rounds 5-6 conversation into Round 4 and possibly even the end of Round 3. He didn’t play a single snap in 2020, so this week is huge for him.

Kadarius Toney (WR – Florida)

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 189
  • Wing: 74 1/2″
  • Arm: 30 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 1/2″

Kadarius Toney is projected as a Day 2 pick. He probably isn’t going to rise much higher than he already is, as many scouts already see him as a starting NFL wide receiver, albeit one who spends the majority of his time in the slot.

Tylan Wallace (WR – Oklahoma State)

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 193
  • Wing: 73 1/2″
  • Arm: 32 5/8″
  • Hand: 9 1/2″

Tony Pauline has a Round 2 grade on Tylan Wallace, and many NFL scouts see him as a starting Z wide receiver. Could he sneak into Round 1 with a big week? That remains to be seen, but it sounds like he impressed just about everyone on Tuesday:

Austin Watkins Jr. (WR – UAB)

  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 207
  • Wing: 76″
  • Arm: 31″
  • Hand: 9 1/2″

Austin Watkins Jr. is a late-round NFL Draft prospect who needs a big week to improve his stock. He is a former JUCO transfer who still has some growing to do in the route-running department, but his combination of size, speed, big-play ability, and success at UAB make him an intriguing developmental prospect.

Tight Ends

John Bates (TE – Boise State)

  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 259
  • Wing: 79 1/4″
  • Arm: 32 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 5/8″

Tony Pauline currently has John Bates going undrafted, but Bates apparently made a good impression on Tuesday:

Kylen Granson (TE – SMU)

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 242
  • Wing: 79 1/2″
  • Arm: 32″
  • Hand: 9 3/8″

A somewhat undersized tight end prospect at just 6’2″, Granson will need to prove he can compete against the top-level talent at the Senior Bowl in order to get drafted on May 1.

Noah Gray (TE – Duke)

  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 240
  • Wing: 78 1/8″
  • Arm: 31 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 3/8″

Noah Gray is a former quarterback who is a detailed route-runner but might be too small to be a traditional in-line tight end and not explosive enough to be a true mismatch movement tight end. Still, he has an intriguing skill set, albeit one that might relegate him to being a depth tight end unless he can prove he is strong enough to play in-line consistently at the next level.

Hunter Long (TE – Boston College)

  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 254
  • Wing: 83″
  • Arm: 33 3/4″
  • Hand: 9 3/4″

Hunter Long is another one of Fran Duffy’s players to watch at the Senior Bowl:

The best tight end in this class is Florida Gators star, and Philadelphia native, Kyle Pitts. But the guy who put up the biggest numbers at the position behind Pitts was Long, who flourished for the Eagles this fall. Long was featured as a pass catcher much more often in the improved offensive scheme utilized by BC under the new coaching staff, and his ability to win at the top of the route is impressive. But keep in mind, he earned All-ACC honors a year ago as well because of his role as a blocker in their previously run-heavy scheme. Long is a two-way player at the position, giving him a good shot at starting potential in the NFL.

Tre’ McKitty (TE – Georgia)

  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 247
  • Wing: 81″
  • Arm: 32 1/4″
  • Hand: 11″

A Day 3 prospect, Tre’ McKitty was on nearly everyone’s list of Day 1 winners on Tuesday. He’s on my must-watch list as a potential riser.

Quintin Morris (TE – Bowling Green)

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: –
  • Wing: 80 3/4″
  • Arm: 32 1/2″
  • Hand: 10 1/2″

Another Day 3 tight end prospect, Morris had a forgettable first day in Mobile.

Kenny Yeboah (TE – Ole Miss)

  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 247
  • Wing: 80″
  • Arm: 33 1/4″
  • Hand: 9 3/8″

Kenny Yeboah is going to be a Day 2 pick in Aprile. This week in Mobile might determine just how high he goes. So far, so good.

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Mike Maher is an editor and featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaherand visit his Philadelphia Eagles blog, The Birds Blitz.

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