MOBILE, Ala. — The Senior Bowl officially wrapped up practices in Mobile on Thursday after inter-squad switching between the Dolphins and Panthers. Both continued strong performances and bouncebacks were on display on Thursday’s action-packed slate. Who is trending up and down after Thursday in Mobile?
Winner: Alex Leatherwood
After two days of ups and downs, Leatherwood put together a solid performance on Thursday. There are always going to be concerns about the stiffness in his lower half, and it could make him a guard at the next level, but Thursday was where Leatherwood’s hands were showcased. Leatherwood stonewalled both Wyatt Hubert and Quincy Roche on multiple ocassions with great play strength and precise hand placement. His length showed up on Thursday. It was probably not the week Leatherwood wanted, but it was a good way to end the week.
Loser: Jamie Newman
For the second day in a row, Newman ends up on the wrong side of this list. The requisite tools for Newman are there in spades, but that was known coming into the Senior Bowl. If he wanted to improve his stock, Newman had to showcase better, more consistent accuracy. That accuracy has been increasingly sporadic as the week has drawn itself out. Newman missed multiple open receivers in the team session and seemed gunshy to ever push the ball down the field. Once he did, Newman threw yet another bad interception. It was a week to forget for the Wake Forest product.
Winner: David Moore
Coming into this week, Moore, a Grambling alum, was a relatively low buzz player, but his buzz is now soaring into a potential Top-150 pick after his time in Mobile. Moore played at both center and guard and was fabulous in one-on-ones and in the team sessions. His play strength, in particular, was great. Moore moved people all week and gave up little ground with a shallow anchor. His athleticism is rather solid as well. With the versatility and performance level that Moore showcased, he will only go up from here.
Loser: Drake Jackson
Jackson’s rough week muddies the waters as to where his stock really is at this point. His length is a severe issues and he was beaten repeatedly on multiple days. Thursday was no different in one-on-ones, where Jackson was sloppy with his footwork and he did not have the anchor ability or core stregnth to deal with a bull rush up the middle. Not all is bad, as Jackson seemed decent enough in the team session, but there are just not a lot of high-end traits there.
Winner: Kylin Hill
Hill came into Mobile wanting to prove that he could be a three-down, lead running back at the next level. If that was the aim, Hill wonderfully executed his vision on Thursday. Hill appeared to be quick and deceptive in his routes with soft hands. As a runner, he seemed to have legitimate juice to create yards around the edge. Hill was incredibly competitive in pass protection and won a number of his reps. His stock is only going up after this week.
Loser: Grant Stuard
Thursday was undoubtedly the worst day of the entire cycle for Stuard. His athleticism is space was always a question, but he looked tight in the hips and overall clunky when moving in free space. As a result, lots of his coverage reps were absolute disasters. He simply looked like he did not belong there. Stuard looked like a linebacker who has the ceiling of a special teams ace, but will almost never see the field on the defensive end.
Winner: Damar Hamlin
Pitt safety Damar Hamlin’s week has flown under the radar, but he has been one of the best safeties in the one-on-ones, there is no question. A former cornerback, Hamlin showcased that acument and repeatedly was either compeittive at the catch point or had multiple pass breaks ups, and that continued on Thursday. Hamlin’s stock is increasing after a strong week in Mobile.
Loser: Sam Ehlinger
Trying to learn and perfect the NFL offense, Ehlinger’s day was rocky at best. A lot of his passes just did not seem to have the air or velocity behind them needed. In the team session, Ehlinger missed a wide open receiver. Ehlinger just did not look like someone an NFL team should take any higher than Late Day 3 given a lack of enticing NFL physical traits. The arm talent did not seem to be there, and he did not have the accuracy to make for it either. Overall, a pretty bad Thursday for Ehlinger.
Winner: Michael Carter
Carter seens to prove each practice that he has a little more to his game. On Wednesday it was the receiving ability, and that was something he displayed once again on Thursday. However, today it was Carter’s shiftiness and elusiveness that was on dispaly in the team session. Carter’s lateral quickness and explosiveness are impressive and Thursday he made defenders miss with ease. Despite his size, Carter is a junkyard dog in pass protection that at the very least slows down most rushers he faces. It was another strong practice for Carter.
Loser: Tuf Borland
It has been a rough week for the Ohio State product in Tuf Borland. He just seems to be a guy, quite literally. There is not a lot that separates him from the pack other than a high football IQ. He is tight in the hips, does not have sideline-to-sideline range, and is a blatant liability in coverage. Overall, Borland looked limited on Thursday, which continued the trend from the previous two days.
Winner: Dillon Radunz
One of the best lineman in Mobile this week, Radunz was consistent on Thursday. His nimble footwork and outstanding core strength are massive traits as to why he held up against power and speed rushers alike on Thursday. Radunz is graceful and has excellent balance to anchor down and not give up any significant ground on any given rep. He showcased he had the traits be a Top-50 pick.
Alan Saunders contributed 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.