The 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl is just around the corner with practices taking place this week and the game kicking off on Saturday, January 30 at 1:30 p.m. Central.
In a draft season full of uncertainty, it’s nice to have a reliable constant in the form of the premier collegiate all-star game. And, for the second-straight year, Windy City Gridiron will have live coverage from Mobile, Alabama.
I’m excited to head down to the Senior Bowl for the week, as not only will achieve a personal goal of mine, but it will also help aid my draft coverage in a year that has plenty of uncertainty surrounding it.
The Bears took advantage of last year’s game to find late-round prospects, as fifth-round rookies Trevis Gipson and Kindle Vildor both took part in the Senior Bowl festivities in 2020. With the talent in the 2021 class, they would be wise to target a few participants from this year’s game, too.
To prepare for this week’s action, I went through and watched all 145 prospects who have accepted invitations to the Senior Bowl and ranked them accordingly. Here is my Senior Bowl big board for the 2021 class.
2021 Senior Bowl Big Board
|6||Liam Eichenberg||OT||Notre Dame|
|8||Dillon Radunz||OT||North Dakota State|
|9||Quincy Roche||EDGE||Miami (FL)|
|11||Carlos Basham Jr.||EDGE||Wake Forest|
|12||Marvin Wilson||DL||Florida State|
|13||Patrick Jones II||EDGE||Pittsburgh|
|16||Chazz Surratt||LB||North Carolina|
|17||Sage Surratt||WR||Wake Forest|
|18||Tylan Wallace||WR||Oklahoma State|
|19||Hamilcar Rashed Jr.||EDGE||Oregon State|
|21||Rodarius Williams||CB||Oklahoma State|
|22||Baron Browning||LB||Ohio State|
|23||Hamsah Nasirlideen||S||Florida State|
|25||Richard LeCounte III||S||Georgia|
|26||Hunter Long||TE||Boston College|
|27||Michael Carter||RB||North Carolina|
|31||Kylin Hill||RB||Mississippi State|
|32||Shaka Toney||EDGE||Penn State|
|33||Kenny Yeboah||TE||Ole Miss|
|34||Adetokunbo Ogundeji||EDGE||Notre Dame|
|35||D'Wayne Eskridge||WR||Western Michigan|
|40||Ben Skowronek||WR||Notre Dame|
|47||Robert Rochell||CB||Central Arkansas|
|48||Divine Deablo||S||Virginia Tech|
|49||Dan Moore Jr.||OT||Texas A&M|
|50||Robert Jones||OG||Middle Tennessee State|
|52||Wyatt Hubert||EDGE||Kansas State|
|53||Aaron Banks||OG||Notre Dame|
|54||Janarius Robinson||EDGE||Florida State|
|58||Khalil Herbert||RB||Virginia Tech|
|59||Trey Sermon||RB||Ohio State|
|61||Spencer Brown||OT||Northern Iowa|
|69||Justin Hilliard||LB||Ohio State|
|70||Carson Green||OT||Texas A&M|
|71||Quintin Morris||TE||Bowling Green|
|74||Christian Uphoff||S||Illinois State|
|77||Bryan Mills||CB||North Carolina Central|
|80||James Hudson III||OT||Cincinnati|
|82||Riley Cole||LB||South Alabama|
|84||Kellen Mond||QB||Texas A&M|
|85||David Moore||OG||Grambling State|
|92||Daelin Hayes||EDGE||Notre Dame|
|93||Shi Smith||WR||South Carolina|
|95||Tarron Jackson||EDGE||Coastal Carolina|
|98||Larry Rountree III||RB||Missouri|
|101||Cade Johnson||WR||South Dakota State|
|102||Tony Fields II||LB||West Virginia|
|103||Darren Hall||CB||San Diego State|
|105||Thomas Graham Jr.||CB||Oregon|
|106||Royce Newman||OG||Ole Miss|
|109||Jonathon Cooper||EDGE||Ohio State|
|110||Tuf Borland||LB||Ohio State|
|111||Jaylon Moore||OT||Western Michigan|
|113||Frank Darby||WR||Arizona State|
|114||Robert Hainsey||OG||Notre Dame|
|120||Jack Anderson||OG||Texas Tech|
|121||John Bates||TE||Boise State|
|128||Ian Book||QB||Notre Dame|
|129||Elerson Smith||EDGE||Northern Iowa|
|130||D'Ante Smith||OT||East Carolina|
|133||Michal Menet||C||Penn State|
|135||Jose Borregales||K||Miami (FL)|
|145||Ryan Langan||LS||Georgia Southern|
Offensive linemen galore
The Bears enter the 2021 offseason with their offensive line being one of their biggest needs. Luckily for them, they should have plenty of talented linemen to watch at this year’s Senior Bowl.
Five of my top 10 players participating in this year’s Senior Bowl are offensive linemen. More specifically, three of my top eight players are offensive tackles, which projects as a bigger need for the Bears than their interior offensive line.
The top interior blocker is Creed Humphrey, a three-year starter at center for one of the best offensive programs in college football. Though he’s a left-handed center, his technique, intelligence and power at the point of attack project him as a Day 1 starter along just about any NFL offensive line. Another three-year starter at a blue-blood program is Alex Leatherwood, who brings great length, agility, versatility and intelligence to the table. Both linemen stand a chance of going in the first round.
Liam Eichenberg is another blocker who stands a strong chance of going in the first round. His combination of length, power, hand usage and football IQ projects him as a future starter at either left or right tackle. Dillon Radunz may not have the experience against NFL-caliber talent that Eichenberg has, but he is more athletic and has the flexibility, raw power and length needed to develop into a high-quality starting option at tackle. With just one 2020 game on his resume, this week will be crucial for the North Dakota State star. Trey Smith could be even higher on this board if not for a blood clot suffered in 2018, but his raw power and nasty edge at the point of attack give him upside as a mauler at guard.
There are a handful of talented prospects outside of my top 10, as well. Landon Dickerson won’t be able to participate in game action due to a torn ACL, but pre-injury he looked the part of an early Day 2 talent. Deonte Brown is another Alabama blocker with starter upside, packing a nasty punch in his 350-pound frame. Ben Cleveland lacks top-notch quickness, but he has a great frame with raw power allocated throughout his frame that could see him drafted early than where I have him on my board.
As for small-school offensive linemen, remember Northern Iowa’s Spencer Brown, Middle Tennessee State’s Robert Jones, Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Quinn Meinerz, and Grambling State’s David Moore. Any one of them could propel their draft status with a great week of practice at the Senior Bowl.
A cutting EDGE class
It’s unlikely the Bears will draft an edge rusher early, given their offensive needs and their inability to get out of Robert Quinn’s contract. The Senior Bowl has its fair share of intriguing pass-rushers, though, and the Bears may want to consider adding some young, defensive depth to their roster.
In an edge rusher class without significant high-end depth at the moment, there are several prospects who could jump into that territory with a strong Senior Bowl week. Quincy Roche is an athletic and flexible edge prospect with great production at the collegiate level, notching 54 tackles for a loss and 30.5 sacks in four seasons. Carlos Basham Jr. is a tweener prospect who, despite being 275 pounds, brings impressive first-step burst and finesse in his hands.
The Day 2 edge rusher depth continues a little further down the board, too. Patrick Jones II had 17.5 sacks and 24 tackles for a loss over the past two seasons and plays with great quickness and a high motor on a down-by-down basis. Though he lacks an ideal frame at 6-foot-4 and just 236 pounds, Hamilcar Rashed Jr. is an explosive, flexible and flat-out fast pass-rusher. Another pass-rusher who fits that athletic, yet undersized mold is Shaka Toney, whose first step is one of the quickest in the 2021 class.
Two prospects with great physical tools and a high physical ceiling are Vanderbilt’s Dayo Odeyingbo and Notre Dame’s Adetokunbo Ogundeji. The former is a 6-foot-6, 276-pound freak of nature with violent hands, while the latter specializes in his polished use of hands and quickness off the snap.
Several breakout wide receiver candidates
The Bears could very well be in the market for a wide receiver early in this year’s draft. If they choose to look into a receiver on Days 2 or 3, then they would be smart to look in the direction of any of this year’s Senior Bowl wide outs.
DeVonta Smith is the star of the group, coming off of a phenomenal Heisman-winning season for Alabama. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to participate in workouts due to his thumb injury. Outside of Smith, Kadarius Toney stands out as the biggest name of the bunch. The dynamic playmaker broke out for Florida in 2020 by showcasing his elite athleticism, vision and contact balance after the catch. He currently projects as a Day 2 pick, but he could sneak into Round 1 with a strong Senior Bowl outing.
Tylan Wallace is another Day 2 prospect worth noting as a well-rounded, athletic route runner who finishes his collegiate career with 205 catches, 3,429 yards and 26 touchdowns in four seasons. Sage Surratt was a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster but may be one of the most intriguing: he opted out of the 2020 season, but he is a big-bodied and physical target who had 66 catches, 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns in just nine games in 2019. He projects well as a late Day 2 pick who could rise up with a strong week.
Though Toney, Wallace and Surratt stand out as the most highly-touted receivers in Mobile this week, it’s the sleepers lower down the board who stand out. Austin Watkins had a down year statistically in 2020, but the UAB ‘X’ receiver has great length, route-running intelligence and strong hands in contested-catch situations. Ben Skowronek is fairly unproven from a production standpoint, but he is a big receiver at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds who has sticky hands and great ball skills in the red zone. He filled in very well for Notre Dame in the same role Chase Claypool filled in 2019.
Both Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell are athletic and agile playmakers who excelled in Clemson’s offense this year, and both managed to break out after taking a back seat in their previous three seasons. Keep an eye on both D’Wayne Eskridge and Marquez Stevenson, as both are explosive and agile Day 3 prospects with value as kick returners.