The 2021 Senior Bowl is now behind us, and Super Bowl 55 is just days away. The NFL offseason is right around the corner, and it’s time to again dive into the mailbag to discuss various topics around the league. Without further ado, let’s dive into NFL rumors and 2021 NFL Draft news!
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Related | NFL Draft and free agency news from the 2021 Senior Bowl
This week’s installment will cover my 2021 NFL Draft prospect rankings and a slew of questions about quarterback rumors around the NFL. But first, we start with some talk and NFL rumors about the events down in Mobile at the 2021 Senor Bowl.
NFL Rumors & Draft News: The Tony Pauline Mailbag (2.03.21)
Which players helped their stock the most down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl?
There were several players who boosted their NFL Draft stock last week down in Mobile:
Mac Jones — he was on the money all week, and his timing with pass catchers who were basically strangers was impeccable.
D’Wayne Eskridge — he only practiced for two days, but no one could cover him, and he caught almost everything thrown to him.
Trey Smith — he was dominant at times throughout the week and played intelligent football.
Quinn Meinerz — he put together an absolutely dominant performance almost every time he took a snap. As I stated last week, it reminded me of Ali Marpet’s performance (though they are different types of blockers).
Keith Taylor — he played tough, physical football all week and did a great job shutting down opponents.
Richie Grant — he answered any concern people had about his ball skills and ability in coverage.
It sounds like Alabama QB Mac Jones had a strong week in Mobile. Is he now destined to be a first-round pick in April?
I believe Jones ends up in the first round and think he deserves to end up in the first round. I do believe it will be the bottom half of the round, however.
What do you think the New England Patriots might look to do at quarterback this offseason? There were NFL rumors suggesting the Patriots sniffed around Matthew Stafford. Are they more likely to go the veteran QB route over drafting a rookie QB?
Word at the Senior Bowl was that the Patriots would look to potentially trade or sign a QB in the offseason. If that does not work out, they will consider drafting a passer early — though not necessarily in the first round.
Was there any truth to the NFL rumors that the 49ers were heavily involved in trade talks for Matthew Stafford? Do you think SF will move on from Jimmy Garoppolo? If so, who might they turn to next?
I heard nothing in Mobile that would lead me to believe the Niners were “heavily involved” or “close” to trading for Matthew Stafford. There were several teams — including the Niners — interested in Stafford, as they feel he can push them over the top.
Are there any rumors around the NFL suggesting that the Eagles hiring of Nick Sirianni gives an edge to either Carson Wentz or Jalen Hurts in their QB competition? Is there a chance Wentz is no longer with Philadelphia in 2021?
There’s definitely the chance of the latter. As far as who has the edge in the competition as of today, there was no mention of that at the Senior Bowl.
Do you think there’s any chance the Texans can smooth things over with Deshaun Watson and keep their superstar quarterback in Houston?
As of Tuesday afternoon, people in the league told me it’s not a foregone conclusion Watson will be traded. The Texans want to keep him, and the asking price may be too high.
There was a lot of buzz about OL Quinn Meinerz at the Senior Bowl. Was it real buzz or just media buzz? How high do you think he can go in the NFL Draft, and any NFL rumors about what’ll be his best position at the next level?
Meinerz was dominant every single day — anyone who says otherwise wasn’t watching Senior Bowl practice. He shut down Patrick Jones during edge drills, manhandled Ta’Quon Graham, and obliterated Osawaru Odighizuwa on multiple occasions. He was that good last week, and his performance was even more impressive considering Wisconsin-Whitewater did not play last season.
I think he will be equally adept at center or guard. Right now, I grade him as a fourth-round prospect (he was graded as a fringe seventh-rounder by scouts over the summer), but if his testing numbers equal what I’m hearing, Meinerz will jump into Day 2.
Do you think Kadarius Toney did enough in Mobile to move into the first round on teams’ draft boards? And did D’Wayne Eskridge play himself into the Day 2 conversation?
No, and yes.
Toney has improved his draft stock from the start of the 2020 season, but he’s a second-round prospect.
Eskridge cemented himself as a Day 2 guy, though I believe he’ll be selected in the third round.
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Tony Pauline is Pro Football Network’s Chief Draft Analyst and Insider. Follow him on Twitter @TonyPauline and follow PFN on Twitter @PFN365 for all the latest NFL rumors and draft news.