Every year the Senior Bowl is an event for top prospects to further increase their draft stock. For others, this is a prime chance for them to make a name for themselves out of nowhere. Due to COVID-19, Senior Bowl week has become even more important in the leadup to April’s draft. The NFL Scouting Combine as we know it, has been cancelled because of the ongoing pandemic. This will force players to perform those usual drills during Pro Days on campus. Thus, the Senior Bowl is the lone major chance for some prospects to make a blip on the radar in front of scouts.
The Kansas City Chiefs top needs heading into 2021 include offensive line, wide receiver and defensive end/edge rusher. Thankfully, those positions appear to be fairly deep in talent, compared to other positions in the draft. This is especially true, regarding the talent pool taking part in this weekend’s Senior Bowl. So, while we still have to wait another week to see Kansas City vie for a second straight Super Bowl, we can still watch a game on Saturday. The players we are focusing on here are more of the unknown players in the draft. Or, they have broke out seemingly from out of nowhere. Here are some of the prospects to keep an eye on during the Senior Bowl game.
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Dillon Radunz, North Dakota State
First from the offensive linemen, we must turn to North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz. Throughout the week, he has continued to shine in practice against pass rushers from Power Five schools. He made an immediate impact on the practice field following the first day. That has continued all week long. In one on one reps, scouts and reporters have pointed out his improved strength and versatility for succeeding at multiple positions on the offensive line. Jordan Reid of The Draft Network tweeted out, “zone blocking scheme teams will have a lot of interest in him.” That could help make him a possible fit with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Due to the pandemic, Radunz and the Bison were limited to just one game in 2020. Their Missouri Valley Football Conference moved its league games to the spring. Their lone action was more of a showcase than anything. It appears that so far, Radunz is one of the prospects who has gained the most this week in boosting their stock.
James Hudson III, Cincinnati
For me personally, James Hudson III has boosted his stock the most of any offensive lineman. He is someone who was constantly burying opposing defenders into the dirt during practice this week. Despite not allowing a single sack and only giving up six total pressures this past season, Hudson III has not been highly discussed among other top offensive line prospects. For a team like Kansas City, they would enjoy infusing his active hands, athleticism and competitiveness into the offense up front.
With his dense frame and technically sound movement skills, teams should not hesitate to take a chance on his upside. If you see some pass rushers fall victim to pancake blocks on Saturday, there is a good chance that Hudson III was the one laying the boom.
Quinn Meinerz, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Quinn Meinerz is just one of the latest small schoolers to make some money at the Senior Bowl. It goes to show that if you ball out, the scouts will ultimately find you. Meinerz has proven that the level of competition is not too big for him. Coming out of a Division III school in Wisconsin-Whitewater, he has fared well in both pass protection and run blocking. Meinerz has lined up at both guard and center during Senior Bowl practices.
Dane Brugler, a draft analyst for The Athletic, tweeted out during a rep how Meinerz “stuns with the outside hand, feet stay balanced and knees bent through contact. And then he finishes. Stock continuing to climb.” Could Kansas City be a possible team to target him in the middle rounds? Meinerz could be one of the latest small school offensive line prospects to be highly selected after breaking out at the Senior Bowl. Some of the latest examples include Ali Marpet (second round pick in 2015) and Ben Bartch (fourth round pick in 2020).
David Moore, Grambling State
Like Meinerz, David Moore of Grambling State has shown the competition level is not too difficult. His raw power is obvious, and opposing defenders have felt the effects in Senior Bowl practices. Not only are his punches vicious and stiff, Moore is unrelenting. When defensive linemen have tried to reach a second gear on a rep, he shuts it down immediately.
Besides his power, Moore has shown astute footwork and a strong lower half to drive opponents backwards. He has performed admirably in run blocking reps and on the interior of the offensive line. Both of those would fit in well with a team like the Kansas City Chiefs.
Robert Jones, Middle Tennessee State
A player who appeared in only eight games during high school football, Robert Jones has continued to answer the bell throughout various points of his career. The Middle Tennessee State product has experience playing both guard and tackle. Developing the finer points of his game, like hand technique for example, are still a work in progress.
During Senior Bowl practices, Jones has simply manhandled opponents. Most notably in a rep against Penn State’s Shaka Toney, Jones absolutely planted him. And it looked entirely effortless. He has shown that he can continuously wall off defenders to where they are forced to alter their pass rush plan. For the Kansas City Chiefs, Jones is a player who would probably be a fine addition in the Super Bowl, if they could have him. Athletic pass rushers like Tampa Bay’s would have a tough test if they had to go up against Jones.
D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
A player whose stock has picked up steam the last few weeks, D’Wayne Eskridge is well developed in many areas. He has experience running a thorough route tree, his explosiveness is highly apparent and he is a dangerous weapon. During Senior Bowl practices, Eskridge has been running by defenders with ease in one on one drills. Meanwhile, that separation ability would be highly coveted on the Kansas City Chiefs offense.
Many teams will be looking for someone at receiver with that speed, fluid routes and run after catch ability. Many believe that not only is Eskridge a winner from Senior Bowl week, he also vaulted his draft stock into Top 50 or Top 75 status. That remains to be seen how true that is. However, Eskridge will be a treat to watch.
Cornell Powell, Clemson
Despite coming from a powerhouse like Clemson, Cornell Powell never really saw the on field chances arise until 2020. He put together a viable season on tape. Powell showed that he can win both down the field or on shorter routes. He finished 2020 with 53 receptions, 882 receiving yards, 16.6 yards per reception and seven receiving touchdowns.
During this week’s practices, Powell has shown off a knack to separate quickly off the line of scrimmage. He also mentioned how the transition to an NFL playbook has not been difficult. “The playbook is very similar to the one I ran in college. The transition has not been too hard for me,” Powell said. Understanding the mental side and verbiage of the game, while possessing tantalizing physical traits, could make him a natural fit with a team like the Kansas City Chiefs.
Austin Watkins, UAB
A cousin of current Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Austin Watkins has proved he can play just about anywhere in the formation. He has the look and attributes of a standard X receiver on tape. Yet, Watkins has done exceptionally out of the slot at the Senior Bowl. His vertical game is what stands out the most, as he made a nice catch up the seam during one practice day.
While Sammy is expected to be gone in 2021, adding Austin would give Kansas City a big bodied, physical presence at receiver. His route running is refined. The blocking he displays is superior to other receiver prospects. And finally, his naturalness and competitiveness to fight for the football stand out immensely.
Marquez Stevenson, Houston
A natural deep threat, Marquez Stevenson is a speed demon. Nicknamed “Speedy”, he is well suited at creating separation and exploding off of the line of scrimmage. What stood out the most during Senior Bowl practice, was his focus to move upfield. He rarely wastes time in dancing in the open field.
In fact, Stevenson may just be a near replica to the receivers Kansas City already has. He has said that he models his game after Tyreek Hill. “Guys that can take the top off the defense like him, that’s who I watch and what I’m about.” Stevenson also added he has run a 4.38s 40 yard dash. Most of all, he plays bigger than his body and style suggest and his routes are fairly crisp.
Josh Palmer, Tennessee
Finally, we have Josh Palmer from Tennessee. He was frequently underused by the Volunteers. But man, does he scream big play threat. As NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah noted this week, “Palmer looked smooth and fluid in one on ones. He was able to get over the top of coverage and track the ball well. There wasn’t a lot of buzz around him coming into the week, but I thought he was really consistent today.”
Watching Palmer this week, Kansas City would love to have someone that can be strong at the catch point like him. He fights through contact on any chance he gets. Elsewhere, his size is an asset for him while he continues to develop.
Jordan Smith, UAB
One of my favorite non-Power Five prospects entering Senior Bowl week, Jordan Smith is a force off the edge. His size and length are gifts. In addition, Smith uses every ounce of it that he can. He is a natural bender off of the corner when rushing the passer. It appears he has a wide array of pass rush counters. Smith possesses enormous strength, power in his hands and technically sound agility.
For a team like the Kansas City Chiefs, Smith could be used in a multitude of ways. He can rush from a standing up position or with his hands in the dirt. Meanwhile, Smith has an interchangeable presence that could allow him to move around the defensive formation.
Janarius Robinson, Florida State
Weigh ins at the Senior Bowl can either hurt or help a player’s stock, depending on the position. For Janarius Robinson, his weigh in boosted his stock tremendously. Checking in at 6’5”, 266 pounds he led all players in three key measurables. This included arm length (35 3/8 inches), wingspan (87 inches) and hands (11 inches). In 2020, Robinson totaled 26 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks, five quarterback hurries and two pass breakups.
Coming out of Florida State, a struggling program which was once a powerhouse, the players can only go up from here. Possessing desirable traits, the Seminoles prospects just don’t appear to be coming from a well coached team. Robinson would do just fine joining a staff like Kansas City. His size, physical dominance and upside would make him a natural fit.
Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA
A hybrid defender out of UCLA, Osa Odighizuwa is a bit undersized at 6’2”. Yet, his long arms (34 inches) allow to shed blockers and scrape from the weak side quite often. Odighizuwa showed his run defense prowess a great deal this week. His backside knife and chase allow him to prevent cutback opportunities. Simply, he slices through at difficult angles to create havoc in the backfield.
Similar to the aforementioned Smith, Odighizuwa may be a fit to move around the defensive formation. Kansas City would likely not hesitate to add his strength and run defense knowledge to the team. Furthermore, Odighizuwa provides athletic upside and is fundamentally sound at the point of attack.
Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina
At Coastal Carolina, Tarron Jackson finished his college career with 42 tackles for loss and 24.5 sacks in 41 games. His upper body strength, relentlessness and motor have helped him overcome double teams. He faced those quite often in college football. Moreover, his physical style of play is a nice asset to pair with his smooth movement skills and fluidity.
Still refining the natural aspects of playing defensive end, Jackson would fit in with the Kansas City Chiefs aggressive mindset. He plays like every play is his last. In a way, Jackson reminds me a little bit of Emmanuel Ogbah, who wrecked opposing blockers in his lone season with Kansas City.
Elerson Smith, Northern Iowa
Northern Iowa’s football season was moved to the spring due to COVID-19. Therefore, Elerson Smith was in need of a strong showing in Mobile, Alabama this week. So far, he has made the chance pay off. Not only can he best opposing offensive tackles, but guards as well. Smith presents major natural traits for a potential pass rusher.
Kansas City would certainly enjoy adding someone with length, athleticism and bend that he has. His pass rush counters are still developing. But, Smith can explode off of the line of scrimmage and surprise blockers. Could the 6’7”, 255 pounder make his way into the top 100 picks?
Be on the lookout for more FPC Kansas City Chiefs draft coverage throughout the winter and spring. You can watch the 2021 Senior Bowl on NFL Network, Saturday January 30th at 2:30 eastern time. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.