The Senior Bowl is always a springboard for a variety of NFL draft prospects, but it's typically a relatively small part of the pre-draft process. This year, things might be different. With on-field workouts at the NFL combine cancelled, the week in Mobile, Alabama will likely be a little more important for coaches, scouts, and GMs as they prepare for the draft.
And we got plenty of impressive performances at this year's Senior Bowl, even if some of the marquee skill-position from Alabama didn't workout. Let's pinpoint which prospects did the most good for their draft stocks in Mobile.
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Jones is going to be picked in the first round. That's my post-Senior Bowl not-exactly-bold prediction. Despite ridiculous efficiency in 2020 for the national champion Crimson Tide, there was still plenty of chatter about Jones' physical limitations pushing him into the second round.
Now, after a stellar week of Senior Bowl practices -- he didn't play in the game -- Jones' stock has been boosted enough that I feel he's essentially locked himself in the first round. In Mobile, Jones threw with pinpoint accuracy and fantastic anticipation to receivers he didn't have any established rapport. A strong week of passing at the Senior Bowl always bodes very well for a quarterback's stock because coaches love to see one thrive in a difficult environment.
Cameron Sample, DL, Tulane
Per Pro Football Focus, Sample finished with the highest win rate in one-on-one drills during the week of Senior Bowl practices among all players. There's your stock-elevating development right there. At 6-foot-2 and 274 pounds with arms over 32 inches, Sample has a unique build that allows him to win the center-of-gravity battle when he dealing with bigger blockers, and his first-step off the ball along with his patented straight-arm (and counter off it) make him a load to deal with on every rep.
Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
Mond won Senior Bowl MVP for his performance on Saturday, and while that award hasn't always translated to NFL success -- which shouldn't be surprising -- Justin Herbert did take home those honors last year.
The long-time Texas A&M starter did only complete 13 of 25 passes but threw two well-placed touchdowns. It was a strong week of practices for Mond too. Altogether, he did a fair amount of good for his stock, and is now squarely on the (early-ish) Day 2 conversation.
Carlos Basham, EDGE/DL, Wake Forest
Much as been made about Basham's athleticism and size blend, and it allowed him to dominate the week of practices in the trenches. While he didn't play in the game, he made his mark on coaches and scouting departments when most are in attendance leading into the game with an array of power and quickness regardless of where he was lined up and which type of blocker he faced.
Basham projects as the trendy defensive end on early downs and nickel rusher in clear-cut passing situations. He probably was a first-round prospect before the Senior Bowl, now you can lock him in there, and he could go top 20.
Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
A squatty, savvy, YAC slot wideout in the Deebo Samuel mold, the 5-9, 211 pound Rodgers surprisingly won with nifty route-running tactics throughout the week of practice, and he caught a touchdown in the game on a play in which he took contact mid air and held on.
Somewhat underrated for most of his Clemson career due to the stars around him, Rodgers did not back away from the spotlight in 2020 and went over 1,000 yards. He's a very safe, high-floor prospect who completely looked the part of a reliable, and unique slot at the Senior Bowl.
Quinn Meinerz, OL, Wisconsin-Whitewater
There's typically a small-school blocker who rises to the occasion at the Senior Bowl and gets picked somewhere in the first four rounds of the draft. In 2020, it was Ben Bartch. The year before that, Trey Pipkins. In 2018, Brandon Parker. In 2017, Julien Davenport. Can forget about Ali Marpet in 2015 either.
Meinerz is next. He was voted the best OL during the week of practices by his peers at the Senior Bowl. Proving he wasn't just DIII strong, Meinerz routinely punished top competition in one-on-one drills both in the run game and in pass protection. His mixture of quickness off the snap, serious pop, and constantly moving feet allowed him to completely control just about every rusher.
Dillon Radunz, OL, North Dakota State
Radunz was named the overall practice player of the week. Last year, that player was Herbert. The athletic tackle who protected Trey Lance for the Bison made it known he wasn't simply a finesse blocker who'd get pushed around when playing up a level of competition.
He has a real opportunity to go somewhere in the second round, given the athletic gifts that are clear on film and the control and surprising power he demonstrated against Power 5 defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl.
Richie Grant, S, Central Florida
Grant's hips and flexibility are that of a cornerback, and he strikes like a safety. Plus, he has tremendous range from the deep middle. Teams will love that positional flexibility because safeties have significantly more man-coverage responsibilities than they did a decade ago.
Always authoritative against the run, Grant did not hold back during the week of practices in run-game drills nor did he in the game. At UCF, he had around 260 tackles over a three-year stretch to go along with 10 interceptions and 16 pass breakups, and he was the same ball magnet during Senior Bowl week.