The 2021 Senior Bowl may not have carried the rock star names of last year’s standouts such as Los Angeles Chargers quarterback sensation Justin Herbert or San Francisco 49er Javon Kinlaw. The global pandemic has a habit of disrupting an abundantly prolific college football season. Don’t let COVID-19 outbreaks ending seasons fool you. This was arguably the most intense game in a few years. A pandemic robbed these athletes of a full season but no stone was left unturned in Mobile, Alabama.
One might look at the litany of players who had seasons cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak and full-blown sit-outs like Georgia transfer quarterback Jamie Newman by way of Wake Forest and infer that the loss of season would utterly hinder the potential production those players could have; nevertheless, you wouldn’t know the difference by watching the highly competitive game that the National team, lead by Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores managed to hold on for a 27-24 victory.
Much to the chagrin of the American team and Carolina Panthers Coach Matt Rhule, the American team had a late scoring drive with under a minute to go and a successful two-point conversion lead by Newman but were prevented from going for an onside kick because its against the rules of the annual All-Star game itself.
National quarterback Kellen Mond won Senior Bowl MVP after going 13-25 for 173 yards and two passing touchdowns. The Texas A&M recording-breaking signal-caller along with members of both teams did a great deal in raising their draft stock en route to the 2021 NFL Draft.
With the 17th overall pick in the 2021 draft, the Las Vegas Raiders have glaring holes to fill on the defensive line that still lingers from the Khalil Mack trade that rears its ugly head worse than the presence of a black hole at the end of our galaxy. Teams like the Indianapolis Colts have the highest number of Senior Bowl draftees on their roster over the past three years and have found success that the Raiders have either overlooked or outright missed on.
These players set themselves apart on the biggest stage college football could provide them and would be welcome upgrades to a Raider roster in need of PRODUCTION and ACCOUNTABILITY.
Amari Rodgers: Receiver
The former Clemson Tiger was a consistent safety valve for top quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence and consistently beat defensive backs all week in Mobile. Rodgers had four catches for 23 yards and a hard-earned touchdown catch that caused him to get smacked by a safety and a corner in the back of the end zone. That level of focus, toughness, and hands have maligned the Raiders at the worst times. The former Tiger’s versatility as a returner and rehabilitation from a torn ACL could make him an upgrade over former Tiger Hunter Renfrow or a replacement if Nelson Agholar cashes in during free agency. Either way, Rodgers would provide great depth with a career and skill set that is accountable and translates to productivity.
Jabril Cox: Linebacker
The three-time FCS National Champion from North Dakota State only needed one season at LSU to earn the legendary #18 jersey but also show he could play at the highest level of college football. Cox did just that all week with his speed, coverage ability, and physicality. At 6’4, 230lbs, Cox is what the Raiders have been missing for so long at linebacker but refuse to fix. Aside from the fact that they routinely passed on great LSU linebackers and defensive backs for well over a decade, the current crop of Raiders linebackers plays highly inconsistent with not enough physicality at the point of attack.
Free agent signing Cory Littleton is at his best when he’s not your best linebacker and more of a playmaker. Cox has proven his leadership at every level and against elite competition in Mobile. He’s a must-watch prospect between rounds two and four who could continue developing into a foundational piece of your favorite team’s linebacking core.
Demetric Felton: Running Back/Receiver
The former UCLA standout is everything the Raiders wanted in last year’s fourth-round pick Lynn Bowden Jr. It’s fair to say the Raiders gave up on Bowden way too soon. Vegas traded him to the Miami Dolphins. However, Felton’s receiving ability is far superior. Based on his time at UCLA in Chip Kelly’s system and his dominant performance at the Senior Bowl, the future appears bright. Felton plays strong for his size and showed great separation on routes and 50-50 balls. He could surface as the piece needed to take gadget plays off first-round pick receiver Henry Ruggs III. As a result, Ruggs can evolve into the full-time receiver that the franchise expects. Felton’s versatility as a receiver who can play running back is more transferable than Bowden Jr.
Quinn Meinerz: Guard/Center
Simply put, the D-III Wisconsin-Whitewater prospect not only dominated against FBS talent. Meinerz was voted the best lineman by his fellow peers. Despite breaking his hand during the week he showed grit and intelligence that screams Gruden Grinder. Richie Incognito is in the twilight of his career and rehabbing a foot injury. All-Pro center Rodney Hudson doesn’t have much time left being the best center in football and Gabe Jackson might be a cap causality. John Gruden and Mike Mayock might take the thinking out of it and just draft a baller. Overthinking and undervaluing is a big problem with this franchise. Meanwhile, snagging Meinerz up before his stock rises too high into the first round seems smart.
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