In an offseason that has already seen the NFL Scouting Combine canceled as the league continues to adapt to life amid the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Senior Bowl takes on further significance.
This week’s training and Saturday’s game in Mobile, Alabama will be the only chance that NFL front office staff can see a number of better NFL Draft prospects on the pitch simultaneously.
Many members of the Draft elite are missing, but there will still be a large number of interesting prospects that hope to impress the scouts in the stands with a strong week.
Here we look at five of these players and dive into some of the numbers that made them worthy of special attention during the Alabama proceedings.
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
The Heisman Trophy finalist surpassed all expectations in his one season as the starting quarterback of the Crimson Tide, stepping into the shoes of Tua Tagovailoa and leading Alabama to the National Championship, which they conquered with an extraordinary rout of the state of Ohio.
Jones demonstrated hugely impressive accuracy on downhill shots, a trait reflected in his 11.19 yard-per-attempt average, which led college football. Determined and astute in reading the field and making decisions, Jones threw 41 touchdowns in just four interceptions, his 10.25-second TD-INT ratio in college football behind BYU’s Zach Wilson, a likely top five pick in this one. draft.
The challenge for Jones in Mobile will be to prove to those in attendance that his success was not simply a product of the extraordinary amount of talent around him in Alabama and to raise his hopes of going to the first round.
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Among the talents Jones had in 2020 was the monstrous running back Harris, who used his extraordinary physical gifts to put together a dominant campaign.
At 6ft 2in 230lbs, Harris possesses an amazing blend of size, speed, agility and power, which allowed him to rack up 30 total touchdowns last season.
Showing a bizarre ability to hinder defenders on open court, Harris was seventh in the country with 145.5 scrimmage yards per game.
Teams shouldn’t need much more evidence of Harris’ strengths, but with an impressive week at the Senior Bowl on the pitch and in the interview room, he can make sure he gets off the scoreboard either late on the first day or early on the second day.
Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask will not be present at Mobile due to an ankle injury, but he will be showing off one of his main goals.
A versatile receiver who excels as a pass interceptor and as an off-court runner, Toney has proven himself to be a dynamic weapon in the open field.
He averaged 6.9 yards after catch by catch in 2020. Among wide receivers with at least 50 catches, this led him to 13th place in the FBS and fifth in the SEC.
His 485 YAC saw him ranked seventh in the FBS and fourth in the SEC among receivers, with his post-capture skills a major reason he is considered by some to be a first-round talent.
Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest
Surratt is unlikely to be caught already after Toney gave up on the 2020 season, but he should get a lot of attention from teams looking for a big threat.
In 2019, Surratt led the ACC with 100.1 yards in reception per game, while also capturing 11 touchdowns.
After a year away from the limelight, Surratt will aim to demonstrate his talent as a downfield weapon capable of translating at the highest level.
Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State
You can never have too many passing runners and Toney is among those who want to attract the attention of teams looking to bolster their reserves to the limit.
He recorded 20 layoffs in four seasons with Penn State and did a great job putting pressure on the Big Ten quarterbacks in 2020.
Toney had 16.5 runs, equaling third place in the Big Ten, while his 21.5 total pressures were fifth in the conference.
Having put these numbers in for a poor Penn State team, the next test for Toney is to win his one-on-one battles with the offensive linemen during Senior Bowl week.
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