In recent years, a standout performance at the Reese’s Senior Bowl has been the best way to quickly boost your NFL Draft stock. This year, it is more important than ever. Multiple “All-Star” games have fallen by the wayside. Furthermore, the 2021 NFL Combine will not be as we know it. The 2021 Senior Bowl represents the best opportunity to impress in front of NFL decision-makers. With that being said, our team of NFL Draft analysts on the ground in Mobile bring you their Senior Bowl top performers and risers from Tuesday’s practice.
Risers who improved their 2021 NFL Draft stock from Tuesday’s practice at the Senior Bowl
The Senior Bowl is an annual college football All-Star game, showcasing the top NFL Draft prospects who have completed their college eligibility and intend to make the step up to the NFL. The game and the week of practice preceding it are a key part of the NFL Draft process, giving players the opportunity to improve their stock. The 2021 Senior Bowl will be no different in this regard.
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PFN Draft Analyst and NFL Insider Tony Pauline’s Senior Bowl top performers and risers
Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest
Jamie Newman was not the best quarterback on the field today. However, considering he did not play in 2020 after opting out, then had a terrible start to the day, his finish was epic.
Newman displayed all the physical skills you want in a starting passer and has a next-level arm. More than anything else, his passes were on the mark today when they had to be. He displayed timing and touch on throws as well as good ball placement.
Newman was also very effective throwing on the move. In fact, near the end of practice, he rolled outside the pocket, and rather than take one of two safe options just a few yards away, Newman slung the ball twenty yards downfield on the move, into the hands of his tight end. His 2021 NFL Draft stock will be one to monitor throughout the week.
Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech
His blocking was terrible, yet Khalil Herbert was terrific in every other aspect. He runs behind his pads, has an explosive burst, and shot through the running lane, avoiding defenders. He showed good footwork and excellent short area quickness, making defenders miss. His vision and the way Herbert used blocks was also impressive. Herbert also caught the ball well out of the backfield.
Kylen Granson, TE, SMU
Kylen Granson looked complete today and performed much better than expected. He’s not the biggest tight end, but he did a terrific job blocking all day. Granson also made a lot of difficult receptions during drills and in the scrimmage. On the occasion he missed a pass or block, Ganson showed resiliency and quickly rebounded to produce on the next snap.
PFN Draft Analyst Ian Cummings’ Senior Bowl top performers and risers
Daelin Hayes, DE, Notre Dame
Daelin Hayes was of the group that helped their NFL Draft stock the most on the edge. The 6-foot-3, 261-pound defensive end showed a little bit of everything. He was quick off the line, extremely physical with his hands, and he also showed flashes of impressive bend around the corner. For a player who never quite put it together on tape, he was one of the top performers and improved his NFL Draft stock at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday.
Levi Onwuzurike, DL, Washington
Levi Onwuzurike had himself a day. The Washington defensive tackle is incredibly long and explosive, and he was incredibly active getting penetration on the interior. He also used his length to establish a strong anchor in run defense. He can do a better job converting and keeping his balance in the backfield, but he has impressive traits.
Onwuzurike sat out the 2020 season to prepare for the NFL Draft. That preparation showed on Tuesday. I graded him as a Round 2 prospect prior to the Senior Bowl. If his NFL Draft stock continues to rise this week, he could play his way into Round 1 contention as the first defensive tackle selected in April.
Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
Similar to fellow small-school offensive tackle prospect Spencer Brown, Dillon Radunz had his early struggles. But the NDSU tackle rebounded, showing his resilience in the trenches. There were a few instances where his lacking density hurt him, and he’ll need to work hard to avoid getting out-muscled and out-maneuvered by FBS defenders.
Nevertheless, Radunz worked his way back with impressive displays of balance and footwork in pass protection. Rebounding from adversity is important, and Radunz showed his ability to do that, on top of possessing the necessary athletic tools.
PFN Draft Analyst Jarrett Bailey’s Senior Bowl top performers and risers
Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
This isn’t the conventional riser for a few reasons. Hamsah Nasirildeen’s coverage skills need some fine-tuning if he wants to succeed at that position at the next level. That said, his nose for the ball and closing speed at the line of scrimmage was evident throughout practice. He is the best box safety in the draft, and if he goes to the right spot, that could be his predominant role.
Richie Grant, S, UCF
UCF’s Richie Grant has flown under the radar in comparison to the other top safeties in this class, but he was constantly making plays during practice. There was a play in which he was the lone deep safety. Mac Jones threw to his side of the field to his man who had a step on the corner, and Grant came over the top and nearly had an interception while breaking up the pass. He has ballhawk ability that will continue to be highlighted throughout the week.
Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
Shi Smith had a very impressive sideline catch in which he adjusted in mid-air to complete the process of the catch and make sure he maintained possession. His size and speed would make him a very good asset to plug in the slot of any offense looking for a guy with sure hands and speed that will give him a lot of YAC yardage.
Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest
While Sage Surratt was somewhat up and down in Tuesday’s practice, his skill and large frame are undeniable. He had an absolutely phenomenal year for the Demon Deacons, with 107 catches and 15 touchdowns. His size will serve him in the red zone at the next level, and also as a go-to outside threat.
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