The Reese’s Senior Bowl week is upon us, marking a significant set of practices, interviews, and weigh-ins for the best seniors in the 2021 NFL Draft. Prospects will finally get to change their stock for the better against legitimate competition all week at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Last year’s Senior Bowl saw quarterbacks headline the event, with Justin Herbert, Jordan Love, Jalen Hurts, and others showcasing their talents.
The 2021 group won’t draw the same attention, but their play this week will play a significant role in the draft’s second and third days. With that said, how do the 2021 Senior Bowl quarterbacks stack up?
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Ranking the top quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl — American Team
Mac Jones, Alabama
Mac Jones isn’t the best quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft — that title belongs to Trevor Lawrence. He isn’t the second, third, or fourth-best either. Still, Jones operated college football’s most explosive offense and won a championship with the Crimson Tide in 2020. It’s clear that despite his limitations, he’s the best of the Senior Bowl quarterbacks down in Mobile.
The most apparent reason for Jones’ fall to QB5 is his pedestrian physical tools. He lacks the arm strength to separate himself from the pack of mediocrity — frequently underthrowing should-be touchdowns and inherently limiting the windows that he can test. Additionally, Jones isn’t the athlete the modern NFL has grown fond of. In a changing game, Jones seems left behind in this group of Senior Bowl quarterbacks.
Without the ability to win by improvising with his legs, there’s more pressure on Jones to be an elite pocket passer. He may not have the requisite arm talent, but he does have the intangibles worthy of a top-50 selection. He’s turnover-averse and will be able to meet the mental processing requirements from the jump. Thus, he’ll likely be off the board by the end of Round 2.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Another passer from college football’s elite, Kellen Mond is undoubtedly in the conversation for the second-best quarterback in Mobile. His physical tools aren’t spectacular, but his above-average athletic profile and arm talent are more than serviceable for the next level.
Despite some ill-advised tight-window throws and a poor sense of pressure, there’s enough above the shoulders for Mond to find success in the NFL. He processes post-snap coverages well and is willing to throw strikes under pressure. Strong mechanics allow him to find success with timing routes and deliver from multiple different arm angles.
Mond is a developmental prospect that could eventually become a competent starting quarterback but projects better as a high-level backup. If he can limit the turnovers, he may see the field sooner rather than later. Ultimately, he may not be the second quarterback selected from the senior class, but the talent is there to outplay his draft slot.
Jamie Newman, Wake Forest
One of the reasons Jamie Newman has the most to gain from any of the Senior Bowl quarterbacks this week is because of his declaration’s unanswered questions. Scouts were excited after Newman decided to transfer to Georgia, but an early opt out ended that dream. We have no idea what Newman looks like outside of a poorly designed Wake Forest offense.
What we do know, however, is that Newman holds impressive physical traits and good athleticism. He’s got a big arm that is prone to inconsistencies with placement, particularly downfield. His out of structure upside is apparent, but he’ll have to build upon the plays that his athleticism and 6’4″, 230-pound frame make easy for him.
In the future, there’s a road to starting NFL games. He’ll have to heal the wounds of an ugly Wake Forest offense first, and showing out this week is the next step in that process. Newman’s median and ceiling are both similar to Mond’s.
Florida quarterback, Kyle Trask was due to be present at the 2021 Senior Bowl. However, he reportedly withdrew on Monday due to an ankle injury.
Ranking the top quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl — National Team
Feleipe Franks, Arkansas
Feleipe Franks was Trask’s predecessor for Dan Mullen’s Florida squad but transferred to Arkansas after a season-ending injury cost him his starting spot. He had a decent year with the Razorbacks, even beating a ranked Mississippi State team. Still, it was clear the team was not up to usual SEC standards.
Truthfully, his film is a bit underrated, and he can do some damage in and out of structure. Unfortunately, teams will likely pass on his unrefined skills due to his age, barring a sensational week. He has got a chance to push himself into the second tier of senior bowl quarterbacks, even if his stock doesn’t skyrocket.
Ian Book, Notre Dame
Outside of starting for a marquee school, Ian Book shouldn’t appeal to many QB-needy teams. He is underdeveloped mentally and physically, sporting a short stature and woefully limited arm talent. He’s quick to drop his eyes and forces himself out of the pocket, magnifying his struggles against pressure. Like Trask, his playmakers unsurprisingly make up most of his production.
This season, Book has shown some growth. He’s better managed his athleticism and quickened his processing speed. In an offense that will keep him in structure and within his average arm’s effective range, Book has a shot to be a serviceable quarterback with some more development.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas
Probably a low-level backup at the next level, Sam Ehlinger possesses substantial size and athleticism for the position. He lacks nuance in the pocket and struggles with pressure, and doesn’t compensate with impressive arm talent. He would pose an immense challenge to any offensive coordinator if asked to start. All in all, he is likely close to his ceiling as a passer.
One thing the Longhorn legend has going for him, however, is a potential position change. He won’t make waves as a wide receiver or tight end, but his future employer shouldn’t rule out a Taysom Hill-like role. He poses a threat as a ball carrier and has shown enough to give him opportunities to throw the ball. Even with a solid week at the Senior Bowl, Ehlinger would be a surprising draft pick at the quarterback position.
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