Senior Bowl week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. The opportunity to watch these young men go out and perform with the best senior talent from all over the country — not for or a win or loss, but to simply improve — is incredibly fun.
As we gear up for the Senior Bowl on Saturday, let’s go back to the week of practice and look at the Arrowhead Pride Draft Team’s All-Senior Bowl picks.
Running back: Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech
Hebert edged this one out because it’s especially challenging to impress as a runner at the Senior Bowl, but he found a way too. He made some strong cuts in team and 9-on-7 drills and was always looking to find the proper back-side gap before a defensive player let up.
X-wide receiver: Josh Palmer, Tennessee
There were a handful of bigger receivers that could fit this role in Mobile, but Palmer ended up with the most consistent and complete performance across the board. He showcased the best hands, consistently plucking passes outside of his frame and through contact, and he was able to work on all three levels of the field.
Z-wide receiver: Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
Wallace makes playing receiver look incredibly easy. He was the smoothest and quickest operating receiver in Mobile with the ability to make all of his feints and fakes with the slightest tip of the shoulders or head. This allowed him to stack receivers as he froze their feet easily and constantly got a jump on them. He did show some weakness in the press-release drills and it may force him off the line of scrimmage in the NFL.
F-wide receiver: Cade Johnson, South Dakota State
Johnson made waves early and often at the Senior Bowl and kept it going the entire week. His quickness and toughness through his route stem allowed him to separate at will against any type of coverage on a variety of routes.
Tight end: Trey McKitty, Georgia
McKitty stood out in a rather mediocre tight end group for simply making some highlight catches. His blocking had some ups and downs, and he may not be a plus athlete but he does present a mismatch at the catch point for defensive backs.
Offensive tackle: Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State
During the first day, Radunz was clearly shaking off some rust, but he was able to bounce back as the week went on. Excellent flexibility and movement allow him to match guys up the arc in pass protection and climb to the second level against the run.
Offensive guard: Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin White-Water
The darling of the Senior Bowl week easily makes this team. His ability to bend and block from off angles while continuing to work his feet to reposition his body really stood out. Meinerz looked like the best moving interior lineman on the field both in short areas and when working across the field. There really wasn’t any aspect of his performance that showed weakness.
Center: David Moore, Grambling State
Moore had the best week of practice across the board from my viewpoint. The improvement he showed from day one to day two and three was outstanding, and the floor started plenty high. Any time his hands latched onto a defender, that rep was as good as over and usually resulted in the defender in the dirt or driven backward until the whistle blew.
David Moore was seriously unbelievable yesterday.— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) January 28, 2021
Just moving DTs around at will and locking them in place as soon as they try to work and counter. pic.twitter.com/nkielAdf6m
Offensive guard: Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
Banks is another incredibly large interior lineman that was generating movement throughout all three days. With surprisingly nimble feet for a guy his size, Banks was able to hold his own in pass protection drills while absolutely dominating run blocking drills.
Aaron Banks coming out of the blocks like someone pissed him off pic.twitter.com/tOKIuHAQE5— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) January 26, 2021
Offensive tackle: Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
Leatherwood probably hoped for a slightly better week, but he did a good job clawing back from a slow start going up against some edge rushers that were difficult matchups. He utilized his length really well in pass protection and when he was able to land his hands before a rusher got to their third step, he finished the rep quickly.
Quarterback: Frisman Jackson, Carolina Panthers WRs coach
This quarterback class was one of the worst ones in a long while. Beyond just the lack of pure physical and mental traits, this group of quarterbacks preferred to take check-downs or scramble for first downs over even attempting difficult throws. Jackson, on the other hand, was throwing dimes all day long to the American Team’s wide receivers in their individual drills.
Defensive end: Daelin Hayes, Notre Dame
Defensive end, interior rusher, off-ball linebacker, power rusher, run defender, speed rusher, life of the team. Those are all boxes checked by Hayes through this week of practice, and he may have earned as much money as anyone not named Meinerz.
Defensive tackle: Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
Giving this spot to someone who only played a single day isn’t something I wanted to do, but this defensive tackle class looked significantly less impressive as soon as Onwuzurike stopped putting pads on. On day one, he was nearly unblockable with his length and speed, and he knew it as he called it good after Tuesday.
Defensive tackle: Cameron Sample, Tulane
This pick was going to go another direction until the very final practice of the entire week. Sample had been solid all week long, steadily improving and showcasing his versatility on the outside and inside, but it wasn’t until the last day that he had one of the best performances in any single session, earning him this spot.
Defensive end: Jordan Smith, UAB
Smith has the best physical profile out of all of the edge rushers there and that’s the only reason he got this nod over Quincy Roche. Both guys were tearing up the offensive tackles with their ability to run the arc and bend around the edge, but Smith’s ability to play the run and throw in a few more power rushers got him this spot.
Jordan Smith showing off the level change and flexibility around the corner pic.twitter.com/gC3g1UXBL4— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) January 27, 2021
Linebacker: Jabril Cox, LSU
Cox showed why he was a highly sought-after linebacker in the transfer portal with his ability to cover tight ends and running backs to all three levels on the field. His athleticism was hard to ignore and guys were dreading when they drew him in their one-on-one reps.
Linebacker: Baron Browning, Ohio State
Browning wasn’t quite as good as Cox in the coverage drills but he was impressive in his own right with his ability to move like he did at 240 pounds. Where he really stood out was as a pass rusher — and his ability to thump into the trenches during team drills.
Cornerback: Aaron Robinson, UCF
Robinson looked like the most comfortable and versatile cornerback at the Senior Bowl with the ability to play inside, outside and every type of coverage that was asked of him. His physical nature at the stem and his ability to never panic during the route really stood out all week.
Nickle: Tre Brown, Oklahoma
Brown’s slight frame will be a limiting factor, but you can’t tell him that. He may have shown the best ball skills out of all of the defensive backs, consistently raking balls out of the receivers’ hands or downright going to get the ball. His fluidity and feisty demeanor keep him locked into the hip pocket of the wide receivers.
Safety: Richie Grant, UCF
Grant was the Quinn Meinerz of the defensive side of the football. He played extremely well from the jump but had arguably his best day on the final day of practice, making multiple interceptions in team drills. Even more impressive for Grant is that he got a lot of run at boundary cornerback and still looked great there.
Richie Grant | S | UCF— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) January 29, 2021
Grant wasn't playing around on the final day of practice even tho he was kicked out as a boundary CB.
Great I.D. and close on the slant for a pick and then deconstructs a block and gives a good pop on the end-around. pic.twitter.com/zK9QOCvcLy
Safety: Tyree Gillespie, Missouri
Finding another safety that stood out was rather difficult because it’s a tough situation in which to shine. Either playing just a deep half zone against timid quarterbacks or matching up with the quicker, shiftier slot receivers in man makes it hard to impress. Gillespie was able to make some waves as a run defender from his safety position, which gets him this nod as a physical, thumping box safety.
Cornerback: Benjamin St. Juste, Minnesota
This final cornerback spot was hard because no one else was well rounded or strong from start to finish, but what St. Juste was able to do in any form of press-man situation was impressive. Easily the best press technique, pop in his hands and strength at the line of scrimmage made him catch some eyes in Mobile.