One of the most important weeks in the NFL draft process wrapped up Saturday with the 71st annual Senior Bowl game. The Bryan Floors national team won the American squad of Matt Rhode by a score of 27-24.
In keeping with tradition, the Senior Bowl provided college football’s top seniors with the opportunity to showcase their skills and their potential value for all 32 FFL teams.
The New England Patriots value the game and have probably more than any other team than the drafting or signing of eight Senior Bowl alumni in the last two seasons. Without a doubt there is something more to be gained this draft season, so with that in mind, let’s take a look at those who set themselves apart, for better or worse.
Winner: WR Amari Rodgers
In the rare case of a player whose stock has soared between his last college game and the Senior Bowl, Amari Rodgers continued that trend with his game on Saturday. Playing in the slot and broadly divided, Rodgers showed some versatility and success from both locations. His touchdown hit a superb shake rout between the two defenders during the hit and his catch on a double-digit conversion came to the formation where he went wide open without any trouble.
Winner: EDGE Ellerson Smith
It is difficult to have a better series than the start of the first quarter of Allerson Smith. In a four-play stretch he recorded a quarterback hit (with a bad router passing call), a first down-saving tackle from the back, and an tackle on an end-Ill where he controlled the edge by staying home. . He alone protected himself from the field. Smith played a few good plays here and there for the rest of the game but it was the opening series that landed him here.
Loser: Ozzie Donte Brown
It was a tough week for the man, who was comparing Michael Onwenu as Donte Brown struggled in pass protection. He was initially blown up by a strip-sack. He then missed a crucial block at number four and the running back was stopped. The speed and agility of the foot is nowhere where it needs to be to play and to succeed at the next level.
Winner: WR / RB Demetric Felton
We all wondered whether Felton could switch the switch back to wide receiver. Felton showed that he could be accompanied by a solid touchdown reception, showing some small field quickness and root running skills. He also got a chance to show quickness to run for a touchdown.
Winner: FB Ben Mason
A Gym Rat Fullback From Michigan? Bill Bellistic is on the phone as we speak.
Loser: EDGE Jordan Smith
During the draft process I have mentioned how much I like Jordan Smith’s equipment but worry about his on-field IQ and the coaching he receives from the staff at UAB. The frequent mistakes he made in Saturday’s game made it clear that he needed to become a real player at the next level.
Loser: WR Frank Derby
Frank Derby’s biggest question coming in the week was whether he could show some consistency. With more drop (2) than catch (1) it is safe to say that he was not able to change the narrative. The flashes are there, and they are terrific, but he did nothing to help himself on game day.
Winner: CB Keith Taylor
It is not often that you will see a guy giving two touchdowns and still make a list of these. Apart from a small misstep and a missed call, Taylor was perfect. He has got great size and length and shows incredible patience in man coverage. There is not one man who will descend for several stops and move on. The man earned himself well on Saturday.
Winner: WR Dez Fitzpatrick
This is evident by the statline (6 catches for 90 yards), but Dez Fitzpatrick was wide all day. A fluid route runner with reliable hands, Fitzpatrick proved that he was much more than the number two receiver from Lewisville. He greatly improved his draft stock. He was also open for a 50+ yard touchdown but was missed by quarterback Felipe Franks.
Winner: RB Michael Carter
The man, who averaged 8.0 yards per carry in 2020, continued his way to an average of 7.5 yards per rush on Saturday, including an incredible touchdown run that greatly sealed the national team’s victory. He proved that his size should not play a factor in his draft stock. Michael Carter is the real deal.
For those of you who are wondering, some of the potential Patriots targets on this list are Amari Rodgers, Dez Fitzpatrick and Ben Mason. All played very well and were given slots in places where New England has a lot of draft capital.