2021 Senior Bowl: American Team Risers and Fallers from the Week

The 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl week has concluded. Over 130 players showed off in front of NFL coaches, scouts, and the media. The National team knocked off the American team 27-24 on Saturday, with Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond winning the MVP award.

Every year, I pour over my notes from the entire week and name five RISERS and five FALLERS from each team. So, with that being said, let’s look at the American team players who may have boosted their draft stock and look at the players who may have hurt theirs.

AMERICAN TEAM RISERS

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Jones was far and away the top quarterback on the field for either team during practice this week. His command during the team drills did not go unnoticed. I questioned his ability to make the tight window throws he will have to make at the NFL level. I saw enough this week to alleviate those concerns. Much to the chagrin of the local crowd, Jones didn’t play in the game on Saturday. I think Mac Jones has a real chance to go in the 20-32 area of the first round now.

D’Anta Smith, OT, East Carolina

There were some questions about whether Smith was a guard or tackle circulated coming in this week. Those questions are no longer there. Smith measured in at 6-5 294 with 35.5-inch arms and an 85-inch wingspan. While he may need to add a few more LBs he never really struggled in the 1-on-1s. If he can woo over some teams in the lead up it wouldn’t shock me if he snuck into round one.

Cam Sample, EDGE/DL, Tulane

I viewed Sample as more of an interior defensive lineman coming into the week. I now think he is a two-down edge player that kicks inside on sure passing downs. Sample is so quick with his hands and first step. He showed it all week in practice and then in the game on Saturday. Sample had seven tackles and half-sack and multiple hurries. He won the game’s Defensive Player of the Game Award. Sample will be a value pick in the second round where he will likely be selected.

Jabril Cox, LB, LSU

Cox transferred from North Dakota State to LSU with the mission to show he could show that he could be a better NFL prospect. He accomplished that goal. Cox was the best coverage LB in practice all week. He has exceptional read and recognition skills and excellent closing speed. Cox is built for the way the NFL game is played today. He will be another value pick at the top of day two.

Richie Grant, S, UCF

There may not have been another player jump out more in practice than Richie Grant this week. The former UCF ballhawk showed those skills this week. He had three INTs in practice while also forcing a fumble. Grant should test well and be a mainstay in an NFL secondary for years to come. I probably saw him as a mid-day three guy coming into the week. Grant should parlay this week into a day two selection.

*BONUS* Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee

I didn’t think highly of Josh Palmer coming into this week. I thought he kind of just went through the motions. Then he started running routes like a slot receiver in a big WRs body. Palmer measured in at 6-1 210 pounds with 33-inch arms. He has excellent hands and body control. Palmer will probably test well. He moves firmly into the day two category for me now.

AMERICAN TEAM FALLERS

Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest

Could it be rust? Am I being too hard on Jamie Newman? The former Demon Deacon (and two-month Georgia Bulldog) hadn’t thrown a competitive pass since the 2019 Pinstripe Bowl. On Tuesday, Newman looked like a world-beater. The train went off the tracks after that. Newman was inaccurate and consistently was careless with the football. Newman has the size and physical tools a team will want to develop but that now will likely come as a late-round pick.

Quintin Morris, TE, Bowling Green

Morris was listed at 6-4 while at Bowling Green but measured in at 6-2 on Tuesday. Morris struggled as a blocker during the week but was athletic as a receiver. Morris will have to an H-Back or a big WR that contributes a lot on special teams to make it at the NFL level. He is likely a day three selection or a priority free agent.

Charles Snowden, EDGE/LB, Virginia

Snowden is 6-6 232 with 34-inch arms and an 82-inch wingspan. Not the typical linebacker build, to say the least. This is why I viewed him as an edge rusher coming in. The practice week should have been so important to be able to show how he can operate in space. Unfortunately, an injury prevented him from ever taking a practice snap. So, now we are all left to our imaginations about how this transition will work. I am just not willing to gamble a Top-100 pick on hopes and dreams.

Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas & Bryan Mills, CB, NC Central

I grouped these two together because they are both FCS corners who came to Mobile this week to prove themselves and both fell flat. Both struggled in 1-on-1s all week. Rochell sat out Thursday’s practice and didn’t play in the game. Mills had one great play during the game but that was essentially the highlight of his week. I think both will get looks in the early portion of day three but I know they were hoping for more after this week.

That concludes our coverage of the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. Stay locked into Deep Fried Draft for all of the coverage of the 2021 NFL Draft, including a new mock draft this week.

Image courtesy of Rusty Costanza

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