The 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl was the only postseason event where NFL scouts and coaches would be able to get in an in-person evaluation of some of the top talent for the 2021 NFL Draft. This was an event where the top collegiate seniors come and showcase their talents and skills in three practice settings and an NFL coached game. Several players were looking to boost their NFL Draft in front of NFL scouts and coaches. Several participants came into this week with heavy consideration to be selected. Other participants took advantage of the opportunity to potentially boost their potential NFL careers. Here are six participants of the 2021 Senior Bowl week that were able to boost their NFL Draft stock due to their solid performances in the practice and the game last Saturday.
Mac Jones, Carlos Basham Highlight Six Players That Boosted Their Draft Stock at the 2021 Senior Bowl
Mac Jones – Quarterback (Alabama)
Of all participants in the 2021 Senior Bowl, the Davey O’Brien Award winner and the Heisman Trophy finalist was one of the biggest names. Jones was one of several participants in Mobile, Alabama with first-round caliber talent. He was the player who had the most to gain by showcasing his consistent pass selections, strong arm, incredible accuracy, and ability to break down defenses in the pocket. Jones wasn’t able to play in the Senior Bowl game due to a foot injury. He did, however, wowed scouts and coaches in attendance of the practices including Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule. Jones dominated in practices under the coaching staff of the American Squad coached by the Panthers. Carolina could acquire a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft with the eighth overall pick. Rhule connected well with Jones on-the-field and in the meeting rooms throughout the week.
Carlos Basham Jr. – Defensive End (Wake Forest)
Several defensive linemen in the Senior Bowl were stellar throughout the entire week, but none improved their draft stock quite like Carlos Basham Jr. Another participant of the Senior Bowl that had potential first-round caliber talent, the edge rusher from Wake Forest has been up-and-down on the NFL Draft boards between the late first round and the early second round. From the first practice, Basham was one of the most productive and consistent defenders on either squad. He is a prospect that is naturally quick, tough, explosive, and elusive in his moves. In the position portion of the practice, Basham showed his natural ability to hit the bags quickly and violently. Throughout the team periods, he was winning matchups consistently and constantly getting into the backfield. Basham is now back in the consistent first-round range of the 2021 NFL Draft. NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks has Basham going 30th overall to the Buffalo Bills.
Keith Taylor – Cornerback (Washington)
The defensive backs had a ton of pressure against them having to go against talented receivers consistently. Several players in the secondary stood out and some played well throughout the week. No other defensive back had a better week than Washington Huskies cornerback Keith Taylor. Going into the week, he was a player that stood out physically as he was one of the tallest defensive backs at 6’3. Taylor had three great days in the practices as he was either rarely targeted or broke the passes up. In the game, Taylor accounted for two total tackles, one pass breakup, and a tackle for loss. He showed himself to be patient enough to read the play and the ballcarrier as he rallied to finish the play. Taylor showed enough consistency to separate himself from others as he now becomes a potential day two draftee.
Michael Carter – Running Back (North Carolina)
The running back position is one of the hardest positions to evaluate in the 2021 Senior Bowl practices. From day one, however, North Carolina Tar Heels running back Michael Carter attracted attention. He showed himself to be one of the most electrifying and dynamic playmakers in position drills and team periods. His biggest plays in the practice days were in the passing game as we created separation from the opposing linebacker or safety to make himself wide open. He also ran deep routes to where his breakout speed would be the coverage player and make the catch. In the game, Carter rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. He also caught two receptions for 15 yards. Carter has asserted himself as a top-four to five running back in the Draft class due to his performance.
Dillon Radunz – Tackle (North Dakota State)
There were several great offensive linemen in the 2021 Senior Bowl this past week. There could be an agreement that three of the best offensive linemen in the week were non-Power school, an FCS program, and a Division III program. The Overall Practice Player-of-the-Week Award of the 2021 Senior Bowl was award to North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz. He was one of the most consistent linemen in one-on-ones and the team periods. Dillon was rarely a player that was beaten in pass blocking plays or in reach blocks. The Senior Bowl has been successful in helping former Bison standouts like Carson Wentz noticed by NFL scouts and coaches. Last year’s recipient of the award was Justin Herbert, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Radunz’s NFL Draft stock has risen significantly due to his consistency throughout the entire week.
Dez Fitzpatrick – Wide Receiver (Louisville)
Many other wide receivers took the spotlight of the practices early in the week. Former Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick, however, took the spotlight towards the end of the week. Fitzpatrick had a very productive day three of the practice setting but he was more efficient in the game. This past Saturday, Fitzpatrick caught six receptions for 90 yards for the National Squad. No other receiver caught more than four receptions and no other receiver on his team accounted for more than 28 yards. Fitzpatrick displayed his stellar ability to run highly efficient routes and display his reliability to catch the ball and separate himself from the opposing defensive back. He showed himself to be the most consistent receiver in the game as opposed to more electrifying slot receivers. Based on his game performance alone, Fitzpatrick boosted his NFL Draft stock significantly.