01 Feb Five Risers and Fallers From Senior Bowl Week
With no NFL Combine and limited access/availability for pro days, the Senior Bowl is more important than ever this year. This past week might be the last time prospects get to meet face-to-face with scouts and general managers until draft day. For some players, that will be a blessing and for others, it will take some Jordan Belfort-like sales skills to improve their draft stock.
Below is a look at ten players who fall into either of those two categories.
Quinn Meinerz, IOL, Wisconsin Whitewater
Meinerz was a late addition to the roster and certainly made the most out of the opportunity. He stood out all week not only with his dominant pass and run blocking, but also for his uniform choice as he rocked belly-out swag every single day. Seeing as he was the smallest of small school prospects there, you have to respect that level of confidence.
The Division III product consistently planted defensive linemen and proved he belonged amongst the Power Five competition he was facing. Meinerz went from an unknown prospect to a guy who will likely get drafted in late April.
Dwayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
Heading into the week, Eskridge was a bit of an unknown player and considered a run-of-the-mill, mid-tier receiver in a rather deep draft class. However, it only took him one day in Mobile to stand out among the rest. The Bronco was constantly winning in one-on-one drills and proved that he is more than just a deep threat, despite his limited experience as a receiver.
Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia
With limited production at two different schools – only 56 career receptions for 628 yards and three touchdowns – McKitty is a very interesting prospect. There are little to no doubts about his prowess as a run blocker, but he needs to prove himself in the receiving department. The good news is, that is exactly what he did at the Senior Bowl.
McKitty measured in with 11-inch hands and those were put to good use in the clip below. Also, he seemed to have an easier time separating in Mobile than he did at Florida State and Georgia.
Keith Taylor, CB, Washington
Taylor was another less than perfect prospect heading into the week. He has always shown the speed to cover deep routes and at just over 6’2″ tall, he certainly has the length NFL teams are looking for in cornerbacks. The problem is, he struggled to use those long limbs to get interceptions and pass breakups at Washington.
However, the Husky was constantly able to get his hands on the ball this past week. To the best of my recollection, Taylor did not record any interceptions during practice, but he took a big step in the right direction just by having active hands and showing some better ball skills.
Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia
Most notably, Fields stood out as a blitzing linebacker. He showed a wide array of pass rush moves and was able to beat tight ends, running backs, and fullbacks pretty much all week. The Mountaineer has also displayed some impressive man coverage skills in the past, so his ability to significantly impact the passing game will undoubtedly make him an intriguing draft prospect for NFL scouts and GMs.
Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama
Senior Bowl week started great for Leatherwood. He measured in with over 34-inch arms, which should have been able to silence the “move to guard” crowd regarding his NFL future. However, the possibility of the National Champion sliding inside quickly regained steam as he struggled to hold down the edge in pass protection, especially in one-on-ones against Miami edge defender Quincy Roche.
Ben Skowronek, WR, Notre Dame
Skowronek did not enter the Senior Bowl with a ton of hype and unfortunately, that did not change as the days went on. On day one, he struggled to beat press coverage and even ended up on the ground a couple of times when facing smaller defensive backs. He exited the next practice early with an injury, and while that is not his fault, that means the Golden Domer only had one chance to prove himself, and that did not go very well.
Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest/Georgia
During the first practice, Newman faired alright and did not necessarily stand out, good or bad. Wednesday was a different story as I witnessed him throw a series of three ugly passes; one where he skipped it to the receiver, one where he missed high for an interception, and another that was just a poor decision and also lead to a pick.
All week the signal caller did not look comfortable in the pocket and the rust of not playing this year was noticeable.
Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
At Florida State, one of Nasirildeen’s strengths was that he was extremely versatile and could potentially fill different holes for teams. In Mobile, he was given plenty of one-on-one reps as a slot corner against wide receivers and struggled to win, often looking very out of place in man coverage.
The Seminole did have his moments during the week and will likely still be drafted high, but he might be a few tools short of the Swiss Army knife he was previously profiled as.
Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh
Daniel Jeremiah mentioned this during the broadcast of the Senior Bowl game, but Jones struggled to make an impact during practice and was the victim of the Meinerz clip above. The pass rusher did manage to turn it around on game day with a sack, so maybe he is just not much of a practice player. Regardless, he had a less than stellar showing, leading to some uneasiness about his status as a potential second-rounder.
- A Bay Area native who has a dysfunctional relationship with the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders.
- Matt played college football and was a recruiting assistant at Division 3 Willamette University, where he received his BA and MBA.
- He has worked in the industry as a journalist, film analyst for PFF, and graduated from the Scouting Academy.