Unlike the NFL Combine, the Senior Bowl took place this year – and there was a lot of hype and buzz surrounding the event. As far as dynasty prospects, the Senior Bowl is not the first place I would suggest to find the next fantasy stud – simply by the fact they are four-year players, it puts a damper on their eventual ceiling. However, it’s a fun week and many of us got to see some smaller-school players show their stuff.
In honor of the wild week we had on Wall Street, I will present the players as stock to the moon, stock up, hold, or stock down. I was unable to attend the Senior Bowl even virtually, so I watched tape, followed along on social media, and gathered information from various sources. You may see some cited comments from people with closer access than I had. I am writing this after the practices during the week as I think that is more important than the exhibition game that will take place on Saturday.
Stock to the Moon
D’Wayne Eskridge, WR Western Michigan (5’9” 188)
I don’t think anyone could have possibly had a better week than the fifth-year senior. First, he weighed in short but not small with a BMI over 27. Then as the practices got underway, social media was exploding with clips of Eskridge embarrassing defensive backs at every turn. I try not to count attributes twice and we knew he was fast heading into the event. What surprised me was his strength at the line and ability to fight press coverage. He displayed a variety of strategies to beat opposing corners, and not simply long speed. I walked away realizing he is a much more complete receiver than I previously thought.
Eskridge is certainly older than most prospects I get excited about but his path to relevance was unusual. He did break out as a true sophomore in 2017, changed positions due to depth chart issues, then got injured in 2019 only to finally explode in 2020 culminating this past week. I think he can break the mold as a prospect who emerged late in his college career and be an asset quickly in the NFL. ESPN’s Todd McShay even went on record that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Eskridge was a first-round pick. I think that’s a bit much but I don’t think anyone helped himself more last week than the Western Michigan product.
Mac Jones, QB Alabama (6’2” 217)
Jones just continued to confirm everything scouts thought he was. You can certainly search for some highlights that show him delicately leading receivers open and exhibiting optimal ball placement. Of course, he did this all season so I don’t think it’s anything new.
What is new is the fact he wasn’t throwing to DeVonta Smith and still showed good anticipation and the ability to put his receivers in positions to succeed. Given this performance, I think he’s very likely to hear his name called in the first round of the NFL draft. For fantasy purposes, I’m a little sheepish given he’s a zero in the run game. However, he should get an opportunity to lead a professional offense in the near future.
Tylan Wallace, WR Oklahoma State (5’11” 193)
Wallace’s strength at the catch point was never in question as he routinely ‘Mossed’ defenders while at Oklahoma State. The knock heading into the event was essentially that he was neither “big” nor “fast” enough for some evaluators. His weigh-in confirmed that he is not an imposing physical specimen, but this is where age-adjusted market share metrics can pull back the curtain and tell us the kid can play.
From the first practice, Wallace continued to shine as he has done since he was a 19-year-old sophomore. He displayed a knack for getting open, especially on short and intermediate routes. His movements are smooth and fluid and he makes impressive catches look routine. This performance, combined with his early breakout and consistent dominance at Oklahoma State, make me bullish on his potential at the next level. I think he is a sure day two pick in the NFL draft.
Shi Smith, WR South Carolina (5’10” 186)
The former Gamecock has always hovered around as a part of the South Carolina passing offense but didn’t formally break out until his senior season with a 33% market share. However, he has been relevant ever since his true freshman season where he hauled in 29 receptions for 409 yards and three touchdowns. He is a highlight waiting to happen, frequently showcasing strong, excellent hands.
In Mobile, Smith looked great again with multiple highlight-reel grabs. He showed a tenacious attitude when attacking the ball and good ability after the catch. I think he may have drawn enough buzz to land a late day two selection which would be huge for his fantasy prospects.
Austin Watkins, WR UAB (6’1” 207)
All Watkins had to do was confirm his CUSA film against stronger competition and he did just that. He showed a knack for beating corners at the line, and played beyond his 6’1” measurement. Sammy Watkins’ cousin is a smooth mover with an excellent frame and could slip into the third round of the NFL draft after a strong showing this past week.
Hunter Long, TE Boston College (6’5” 254)
Like Watkins, Long needed to confirm what most of us can see on his tape. He is a solid tight end prospect who can win both as a receiver and a blocker. He has good size and displays consistent hands as well as quality route running. All in all, he appears to be a solid prospect who should find his way at the top of an NFL depth chart within a few years.
Larry Rountree, RB Missouri (5’10” 216)
While researching players for this week, I was surprised to discover that Rountree did not have a “D” in his name and that he led Missouri in rushing as a true freshman. He has been a staple of the Tigers’ offense for the entirety of his career, yet never quite broke through to the mainstream consciousness. A day two pick would still surprise me but he definitely secured himself as a day three selection this week.
Cade Johnson, WR South Dakota State (5’10” 186)
While North Dakota State gets most of the FCS publicity, Johnson held his own and represented the Dakotas well. He had one of the plays of the week after beating a cornerback deep and securing a one-handed grab in the end zone. He showed good route running skills and the ability to get open. Coming from the FCS level, he probably confirmed enough scouting reports to earn a day three pick in the NFL draft.
Khalil Herbert, RB Virginia Tech (5’8” 204)
Given his measurements, Herbert falls into a fairly meh-for-fantasy group of prospects a la Darrell Henderson and Devin Singletary. Typically a back of his ilk will be sanctioned to a change of pace option in the NFL. That being said, I think the fifth-year senior really helped himself this week.
Practice reports consistently praised his elusiveness and quickness at the line of scrimmage. These are qualities I also saw on his Virginia Tech tape. I need to be careful not to bump Herbert for skills I knew he had but the community at large probably was exposed to his talents for the first time. He still seems like a day three pick to me, limiting his fantasy potential.
Nico Collins, Dez Fitzpatrick, Josh Palmer, Trevon Grimes
I am lumping all these receivers into one group because they seem to fit a similar profile. They all measured 6’1” or taller and are fluid movers who failed to dominate on their college teams. Collins had the most success of the group at a young age, just barely achieving 20% a market share as a sophomore. The rest just never quite put it all together for a dominant season. Each of these four had their moments this past week, possibly moving up some draft boards. I find it difficult to get too excited about any of them and think their likely role is the third option on an NFL team.
Kenny Yeboah, TE 6’3” 247
The jumbo WR really showed some true tight end ability this week. While he came into the event as a glorified receiver, he showed a lot more during the practices. The reports generally praised his blocking with Pro Football Network saying “he was standing up opponents during drills, and most importantly, Yeboah was blocking with terrific mechanics.” If he is a more complete tight end, it could go a long way in securing some significant draft capital.
Elijah Mitchell, RB Louisiana (5’11” 218)
Mitchell is basically just a good back. He’s not great, he’s not terrible. He looks like a fine RB2 on an NFL team but I don’t see anything exceptional. Practice reports have been fine, he’s solid in most areas. This week I was looking for any reports of surprising agility or speed and could not find any.
He didn’t really wow in any way, but showed a strong running style and ability to gain yards after contact. What I saw on film was a guy who could get what’s blocked and occasionally slip one man and earn a big gain. He does have soft hands that should get him a spot on a roster in the NFL but I don’t see a sneaky fantasy option here.
Kylin Hill, RB Mississippi State (5’10” 214)
The reports were mixed on Hill as some days he seemed to play without the ferocity he needs at his size, and at other times not quite as fast as he’d need to be for a change of pace back.
Generally, he’s a decent prospect but may fall into a “tweener” category. I can see him kind of like a Zack Moss who is good but isn’t quite exceptional enough in any one area to win consistently. I didn’t read or see anything about him this week that makes me want to change my opinion on him.
Rhamondre Stevenson, RB Oklahoma (5’11” 227)
I really didn’t catch much buzz for this prospect over the course of the week. At weigh-ins, he generated some excitement because he had lost 20 pounds off his listed weight at Oklahoma. However, what I saw on film was inconsistent athleticism and a guy who played at almost 250 pounds but wanted to move like a 215-pound back. I never saw a lot of aggressive running that you’d expect from a frame like that.
He frequently wanted to make decisions his body just couldn’t execute and it appears this carried over into the Senior Bowl practices where he didn’t do much to impress. He generally was slow despite the weight loss and I didn’t see anything reporting flashes of physicality. As a parting shot, Pro Football Network reported that “he was vomiting a lot early in the week. Need to see if he was sick or just out of shape” which raises my eyebrow at least. In the end, if he can’t impress at 227 pounds I am not sure what there is to get excited about.
Sam Ehlinger, QB Texas (6’1” 222)
This week simply confirmed what I thought about the kid. He was a gritty, tough hometown hero that lacked any kind of elite ability for the next level. His arm strength was clearly out of place and he’s not enough of a runner to make a difference in the NFL. He’ll get drafted and probably be a backup for a while though.
Kadarius Toney, WR Florida (5’11” 189)
For me, the Senior Bowl confirmed that his weaknesses are really there. While Toney can juke anyone out of their shoes, he also plays out of control and can lose even himself on any given route. If he throttled back a half measure, he’d still win against most opponents and perhaps be able to concentrate on catching the ball more often.
For me, it’s not the publicized drops that bother me, it’s the obvious lack of body control. He is a flashy player and absolutely will make some highlights at the next level but I can’t envision any sort of consistent contributor unless he can harness his amazing athletic ability.
Noah Gray, TE Duke (6’4” 240)
From what I can tell, his Senior Bowl was a disaster. He was routinely used and abused by defenders in blocking drills. He didn’t appear very athletic and doesn’t have a strong collegiate resume to stand on either. I know there are some Gray fans out there but he looked out of place in Mobile.
- Senior Bowl: Stock Up and Stock Down - February 1, 2021
- Bowl Game Previews: December 31 - December 31, 2020
- Bowl Game Previews: December 30 - December 30, 2020