Can Quinn Meinerz follow in Ali Marpet’s footsteps after strong Senior Bowl performance?

Entering the 2021 Senior Bowl, Quinn Meinerz out of Wisconsin-Whitewater was a relative unknown in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Division III center was hoping to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ali Marpet and Ben Bartch. Pro Football Network’s Lead Draft Analyst Tony Pauline discussed Quinn Meinerz’s performance at the 2021 Senior Bowl in the February 3rd edition of the Draft Insiders show.

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Quinn Meinerz stood out for all the right reasons at the 2021 Senior Bowl

Quinn Meinerz’s performance at the 2021 Senior Bowl earned him a place among PFN Analyst Oliver Hodgkinson’s biggest draft winners from the week. He also earned a mention from fellow PFN analyst Ian Cummings as one of the standout performers from practice on Wednesday. These sentiments were echoed by Pauline on the Draft Insiders show.

“A guy who basically did what a small school guy has to do when he goes to the Senior Bowl. Not only proved that he belonged, but dominated. And that is what Quinn Meinerz did on the offensive line every day that he practiced.”

After losing his senior season, the DIII prospect needed an outstanding showing in Mobile — he did. For a small-school prospect like Quinn Meinerz, turning up at the Senior Bowl and simply showing you belong may not be enough to increase your draft stock significantly. However, as Pauline discussed, both on the show and in his recent NFL Rumors article, Meinerz went above and beyond proving he simply belonged at the showcase event.

Meinerz had a strong week against some of the best defensive linemen at the 2021 Senior Bowl

For Quinn Meinerz, the Senior Bowl presented a step up in the talent on the opposite side of the ball. However, Pauline discussed how Meinerz not only handled that step up, he seemingly took it in his stride.

“But really from the word go, you could tell that this guy was there to compete. And he was just devastating, dominating some of the best players there. In edge-rush drills, he shut down Patrick Jones, he handled Osa Odighizuwa of UCLA on multiple occasions. Ta’Quon Graham, the quick athletic defensive tackle from Texas, (Meinerz) annihilated him the last day of practice.”

To put that into perspective, Meinerz was able to dominate players who, as of January 24th, ranked 33rd (Jones), 145th (Odighizuwa), and 291st (Graham) on Tony Pauline’s 2021 NFL draft big board.

Quinn Meinerz was able to demonstrate his versatility during the 2021 Senior Bowl week

Meinerz’s positional flexibility added to his performance in Mobile. Pauline highlighted how Meinerz lined up at all three positions across the offensive line. That flexibility can be crucial for a young offensive lineman trying to break into the league.

The ability to play at all three positions across the offensive line could be the difference between a player making a roster out of camp or finding himself on a practice squad. Meinerz impressed in his more natural position on the interior of the offensive line. However, he also played well at tackle against one of the best pass rushers in this year’s class.

Meinerz drew comparisons with Ali Marpet for his performance at the 2021 Senior Bowl

Naturally, when a small-school player like Quinn Meinerz has a good performance at the Senior Bowl, the comparison will be made to Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Ali Marpet. Pauline discussed how Meinerz’s performance at the Senior Bowl reminded him of Marpet’s performance back in 2015.

“I harkened back to Ali Marpet, who will be playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl, and the performance he had at the Senior Bowl. When he was dominating players like Danny Shelton, who was a first-round pick. It was a similar sort of situation for Quinn Meinerz.”

Marpet became just the second D3 player selected to the Senior Bowl and the first since 1990. He also played at all three positions across the offensive line, and his performance, especially against Shelton, was widely noted. Marpet ended up being selected in the second round (pick 61) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In his six years in the league, he has started 85 games and was selected as a 2021 second-team All-Pro by Pro Football Network.

Quinn Meinerz is a different style of player to Marpet

Despite the comparison’s being drawn between Meinerz and Marpet, they have different styles as offensive linemen. Pauline highlighted the differences in that playing style on this week’s show.

“He is a different sort of offensive lineman to Ali Marpet. Marpet is more of your mobile, zone-blocking lineman, where Meinerz is more of your power-gap, punch you in the mouth, small-area blocker — more scheme-specific.”

This difference is key when considering Meinerz’s potential draft floor in 2021. The specific nature of offensive line schemes means the range of outcomes for Meinerz in the 2021 NFL Draft is wide. Pauline currently has Meinerz graded as a fourth-round prospect. However, if he tests well, Pauline hears that Meinerz could be selected on Day 2.

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Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN