With the NFL Scouting Combine changing formats this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reese's Senior Bowl was the last opportunity NFL scouts and decision-markers will have to see such a large cluster of top-level talent compete for positioning in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Most who excelled at the Senior Bowl are listed in my first mock draft of the year. Quarterback Mac Jones (Alabama) played well enough during practices to secure first-round grades. Edge rusher Carlos "Boogie" Basham was dominant at the point of attack, showing that his relative drop in production in 2020 should not overshadow his talents. Receivers lacking size but displaying great quickness made names for themselves, with D'Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan), Cade Johnson (South Dakota State) and Amari Rodgers (Clemson) turning heads. Small-school offensive linemen Quinn Meinerz (Wisconsin-Whitewater) and Dillon Radunz (North Dakota State) backed up their tape with outstanding performances against FBS stars.
Another dozen Senior Bowlers could be in the first-to-third-round mix come April, but they just missed the cut here due to fierce competition. About 60 to 70 underclassmen and seniors who were not in attendance in Mobile, Alabama, will also be fighting to go in the first three rounds, so some worthy candidates will have to wait until Day 3 to hear their names called.
The free-agent compensatory picks listed in this exercise are based on Lance Zierlein's projections from last April. The official list will be made available by the league over the next few weeks. Four additional picks were added to the end of the third round for franchises losing minority employees to head coach or general manager positions throughout the league. These teams gain a third-round compensatory selection in 2022, as well. The San Francisco 49ers will also receive a third-round compensatory pick in the 2023 draft because two of their employees were hired away this cycle (Robert Saleh by the Jets; Martin Mayhew by Washington). The two tiers of compensatory picks are listed based on record and strength of schedule.
The Matthew Stafford-Jared Goff trade between the Lions and Rams, which included L.A. sending a 2021 third-round pick to Detroit, is factored into this mock. However, it is not yet clear which of the Rams' two third-round picks the Lions will receive once the trade becomes official on March 17. For now, I'm assuming it will be the Rams' original selection.
School: Georgia | Year: Junior
School: Texas | Year: Junior
School: Clemson | Year: Senior
School: Alabama | Year: Senior (RS)
School: LSU | Year: Junior
School: Penn State | Year: Sophomore (RS)
School: North Dakota State | Year: Senior (RS)
School: TCU | Year: Junior
School: Minnesota | Year: Junior
School: Alabama | Year: Sophomore (RS)
School: Ohio State | Year: Junior (RS)
School: Washington | Year: Senior
School: Boston College | Year: Junior (RS)
School: Purdue | Year: Junior
School: Northwestern | Year: Junior
School: Florida State | Year: Senior
School: North Carolina | Year: Junior
School: Louisville | Year: Junior
PROJECTED TRADE WITH WASHINGTON
School: Syracuse | Year: Junior
School: Florida State | Year: Junior (RS)
School: Penn State | Year: Junior
School: Texas | Year: Junior (RS)
School: North Carolina | Year: Senior (RS)
School: Alabama | Year: Senior
School: UCF | Year: Senior (RS)
School: Michigan | Year: Senior
School: Pittsburgh | Year: Senior (RS)
School: Florida State | Year: Junior
School: LSU | Year: Senior (RS)
School: Washington | Year: Senior
School: Notre Dame | Year: Senior (RS)
School: Iowa | Year: Junior (RS)