MOBILE, Ala. — The Senior Bowl had yet another exciting day of practice on Wednesday. The National and American teams both had strong standouts and even losers from Tuesday rebounding in a big way. The action-packed day is impacting draft stocks for these players. Who is rising and who is dropping in Mobile?
Winner: Quinn Meinerz
No one was a bigger winner today than Wisconsin-Whitewater center/guard Quinn Meinerz. A Division III player, Meinerz came into the Senior Bowl with the opportunity to set his stock. In the past, Ali Marpet, Alex Cappa, and last year, Ben Bartch, all made claims and raised their stock as a result of their week in Mobile. Meinerz is doing the same.
At Wisconsin-Whitewater, Meinerz mauled defenders like it was nothing. It turns out that it is translating to the Senior Bowl. Meinerz threw Patrick Jones into the turf in the one-on-ones, mauled Osa Odighizuwa in the team session into the dirt, and otherwise a massive barrier. Meinerz lost maybe once the entire day in one-on-ones and was the best offensive lineman on the National squad today. In addition, he is getting great experience at center and showing he can do it at a high level. He is elevating himself into a Top-100 pick.
Loser: Ian Book
The quarterbacks have not been too impressive this week. Mac Jones is clearly the best right now while Jamie Newman looks like the best from a physical tools perspective. Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book tried to make himself stick out on Wednesday by pushing the ball down the field. However, his arm just does not seem good enough as his balls fluttered and were erratic. In the short and intermediate game, Book was accurate. Still, it was offset by Book holding the ball for too long or bailing on clean pockets. In other words, Book looked liked he did at Notre Dame, which will put a cap on his draft stock.
Winner: Demetric Felton
On all points, Felton was another massive winner with a repeat performance from Tuesday. Working both as a receiver and running back, Felton toasted cornerbacks all day. A sweet whip route showcasing Felton’s quick feet and excellent hips was just the start of an impressive day. The highlight of Felton’s day was a double move that got Thomas Graham with a throw-by room to accelerate vertically. Even in the team session, Felton looked explosive in-between the tackles. He is proving he can do everything he is asked to do at a high level.
Loser: Rhamondre Stevenson
On the other side of the spectrum for running backs, Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson had a tough day. For such a big back pushing 230 pounds, it would be expected that Stevenson would be a high-level pass protector. However, Stevenson really struggled in pass protection drills on Wednesday. It seems to be largely a hand placement issue than anything, as Stevenson is getting controlled far too often. He did show some flashes of receiving ability, so it was not a complete loss, but Stevenson does have to better on Thursday.
Winner: Tylan Wallace
Perhaps the best receiver at practice today, Wallace put on a show. No one could cover Wallace one-on-one with his decisively crisp routes and releases. Wallace has made tough grabs with no separation but is separating with great footwork and physicality. It is the fact that he has won in multiple ways that should get scouts excited for Wallace’s showing. Wallace is showcasing that he is a complete receiver.
Loser: Sage Surratt
After not playing all year, it was noticeable that Wake Forest receiver Sage Surratt has significant rust. He is not handling physicality well. That likely will change as he gets more comfortable. However, something that may not change is his inability to separate. He could not do it at Wake Forest and had to make contested catches consistently. The fact that he is not separating in the one-on-ones is concerning since contested catches are not super sustainable at the NFL level.
Winner: Richie Grant
The UCF safety has consistently been really solid all week. Grant has had a few high-quality reps in man coverage despite being a deep safety for most of his time with the Golden Knights. He has shown the ability to attack the catch point and the ball consistently all week. Add in the physicality and grit he has played with consistently and Grant is undoubtedly turning heads in a weaker safety class. Already a likely Top-100 pick, Grant can push into the Top-50 as he continues a strong week.
Loser: Hamilcar Rashed Jr
The standout Oregon State pass rusher came into with serious play strength concerns despite some obvious intriguing athletic traits. Listen, the burst is always going to be there for Rashed as a rusher. He is a natural mover in space and a nice athlete. However, he just does not have the hand usage or play strength to stack and shed blocks consistently. The fact that he does have lower half stiffness does not help when trying to reduce his surface area around the arc. Rashed may move to off-ball linebacker at the next level.
Winner: Tre Brown
Here is a young man who is earning himself some cash this week. Tre Brown had an underrated, but solid showing on Tuesday, but on Wednesday he may have been the best cornerback on the National team. The Oklahoma cornerback has fantastic feet and lateral mobility. Brown mirrors receivers with great kick-step action. With an interception and multiple pass breakups in one-on-one action, Brown is rising in a big way coming out of Wednesday.
Loser: Jamie Newman
Newman’s tools are incredibly intriguing. He has a howitzer for an arm and great mobility to create plays out of structure. The question is always consistency at every other level for Newman. Newman looked erratic with his accuracy and his footwork was a mess. More concerning, Newman did not seem to process the defense in any meaningful way, throwing multiple interceptions on the day due to inaccuracy and mental processing.
Winner: Tre McKitty
Maybe the most impressive tight end of the week, Georgia tight end Tre McKitty has dazzled scouts with numerous one-handed catches in the one-on-one drills. He has 11-inch hands, for the record. McKitty’s functional athleticism in space makes him a mismatch. He was not used heavily in that role at Georgia, but McKitty has all the tools to be a better receiver in the NFL than he was in college. His stock is going up.
Loser: Shaka Toney
After a decent showing on Tuesday, Shaka Toney took a step back on Wednesday. He was manhandled by Middle Tennessee State Tackle Robert Jones on an ill-fated spin move. Toney seemed to not have the anchor or play strength to take on bigger, more powerful guys and was washed on multiple reps in the team period as well. Overall, a down day for Toney who started off the week well.
Winner: Robert Jones
Speaking of Jones, what an impressive day this young man had on Wedsnesday. It was not just the stick of Toney that was impressive, albeit that was quite the highlight. It was the nimble feet and heavy hands that Jones showcased both at tackle and on the interior at guard that was impressive. Jones plays with good strength and has a lot of power behind his frame. His reps today should boost his stock greatly.
Alan Saunders provided reporting from Mobile.
Steelers Met with Minnesota CB Benjamin St. Juste at Senior Bowl
University of Minnesota cornerback Benjamin St. Juste met with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Senior Bowl, according to a report by Justin Melo of The Draft Network, who said St. Juste felt a “great connection” with the Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
St. Juste is a big,6-foot-3, 205-pound cornerback, that specializes in man-to-man coverage, and would also be a good fit for the Steelers’ Cover-3-heavy scheme.
— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) February 15, 2021
A native of Montreal, Quebec, St. Juste spent his first two collegiate seasons at Michigan before transferring to Minnesota in 2019. He immediately became a starter for the Golden Gophers, starting nine games as a redshirt sophomore, and five of Minnesota’s seven as a redshirt junior in 2020.
He finished his collegiate career with 62 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, and 11 passes defended, with the vast majority of those statistical contributions coming during the 2019 season.
St. Juste is largely considered to be a mid-round pick and would be a player the Steelers could hope to groom as a future starter behind Joe Haden and Steven Nelson. Justin Layne, who has served in that role for the last two seasons, was passed over for playing time in 2020 by slot man Cam Sutton and even undrafted free agent James Pierre, so Layne does not appear to be a part of the Steelers’ future plans.
The contracts of Haden and Nelson are currently set to expire after the 2021 season, so drafting an eventual replacement will certainly be on the radar for the Steelers this offseason.
Slot corners Sutton and Mike Hilton are set to become free agents this offseason and if they are unable to be retained, the slot would likely become a more pressing need. St. Juste does not project to be a quality slot option, and with just a season and a half of starting collegiate experience, also figures to be a player that will take some polishing before thrust into a major role.
The Steelers drafted a fellow Canadian in the 2020 NFL Draft, taking British Columbia native and Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool in the second round.
Report: Steelers Met With MTSU OL Robert Jones at Senior Bowl
All 32 NFL teams met with Middle Tennessee State Offensive Lineman Robert Jones this week, including the Steelers, per Justin Melo of The Draft Wire.
#MTSU OL Robert Jones met with all 32 teams at The Senior Bowl. Lots of interest in a riser that had a great week in Mobile.
— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) January 30, 2021
Jones came in with solid measurements in Mobile on Tuesday, coming in at 6-foot-4 and a sturdy 319 pounds. His arms were 33-inches, indicating that they meet the often talked about threshold to play offensive tackle in the NFL. Jones filled out the rest of his physical profile with a 79-inch wingspan and hands clocking in at 9 5/8 inches.
The Steelers have clear needs at all three positions on the offensive line, but especially at offensive tackle. Jones was selected Honorable Mention All-Conference USA in 2020 after an impressive Senior campaign with the Blue Raiders.
Jones did not play in Saturday’s Senior Bowl game, but his week of practice was impressive. He went up against some of the top rushers in the draft and won most of his reps. Wednesday, in particular, was Jones’ best day in Mobile. He buried Shaka Toney into the dirt during one-on-ones in perhaps one of the most impressive reps by any offensive lineman during the week.
MTSU OL Robert Jones with one hell of a rep vs Shaka Toney. Great footwork by Jones on this play. Jones stuck out in a great way on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/P7t2wYRiYj
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 28, 2021
The other three teams specifically interested in Jones could, at the very least, use depth along their offensive line. Jones is a riser coming out of Mobile and will likely be selected between rounds 4-6 in April at the 2021 NFL Draft.
North Carolina RB Michael Carter Makes Splash in Senior Bowl Homecoming
MOBILE, Ala. — North Carolina running back Michael Carter grew up attending the Senior Bowl when he was a youngster from nearby Navarre, Florida.
In his one and only chance to the play in the game, he made an impact.
Carter’s fourth-quarter touchdown run put his squad ahead for good, while bringing the crowd to its feet in appreciation of the local star in what became a 27-24 victory for the National team at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the campus of South Alabama on Saturday.
.@8kMike finds the end zone.
— Carolina Football (@TarHeelFootball) January 30, 2021
Carter also had a long run in the first quarter that set up another score. He finished with eight carries for 60 yards to lead all rushers in the game and also grabbed two passes for 15 yards.
After an interception by Pitt safety Damar Hamlin, the National team was able to add to the lead. Arkansas quarterback Felipe Franks found Ole Miss tight end Kenny Yeboah in the end zone for a 26-yard score. Franks finished 9 of 16 for 122 yards to lead the National passers.
Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman hit Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes for a 10-yard score in the final seconds, but the National team was able to run the clock out.
The game appeared to be one-sided early in favor of the National squad, but Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond led a pair of second-half touchdown drives to bring the American team back from a two-score deficit.
Mond led consecutive touchdown drives in the third quarter, connecting on touchdown passes to Clemson’s Amari Rodgers and Tennessee wide receiver Josh Palmer to cap drives of 58 and 42 yards.
Mond started the game after Alabama quarterback Mac Jones was held out with an ankle injury suffered in practice on Thursday. He completed 13 of 25 passes for 173 yards to lead all passers and also rushed twice for 11 yards.
The National dominated the first half. UCLA wide receiver Demetric Felton scored on a 12-yard pass from Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger in the first quarter. The score was set up by a 27-yard rush by Carter. Memphis kicker Riley Patterson added a pair of field goals to make the score 13-0 at the half.
Louisville’s Dez Fitzpatrick led all receivers with six catches for 90 yards for the National team. South Carolina’s Shi Smith caught two passes for 53 yards to lead the American squad.
Defensively, Tulane defensive lineman Cam Sample led all players with six tackles for the American squad. Florida State defensive lineman Jnrius Robinson had 1.5 sacks, while Hamlin and Florida’s Shawn Davis had interceptions.
The National team was coached by the staff of the Miami Dolphins and head coach Brian Flores, while Matt Rhule and his Carolina Panthers staff led the American team.