Senior Bowl week has come and gone.
The American Team and National Team each had three practices in Mobile, Alabama before Saturday’s game where the American Team beat the National Team, 27-24.
Jim Nagy and his staff deserve a great deal of credit for still holding the event amid the current COVID pandemic. It was a little different than usual, but it provided one of the few opportunities for draft prospects to be seen by NFL teams before the draft later this spring.
With that being said, here are a few players WEEI.com's Ryan Hannable, Andy Hart and Nick “Fitzy” Stevens like for the Patriots following the week.
WR Shi Smith (South Carolina)
Smith put together a solid week, capped off with three receptions for 57 yards, including a 32-yarder, in the game. Standing 5-foot-10, 186 pounds, he’s known for his speed and certainly could be a player the Patriots target later in the draft. This wide receiver class is said to be one of the better ones in recent years, so it would not be a surprise at all to see the Patriots tap into it given the current state of the position.
DL Cameron Sample (Tulane)
The Patriots will likely be targeting a defensive lineman somewhere in the draft and Sample certainly improved his stock. He was named the defensive player of the game, finishing with seven tackles and 0.5 sacks, but he stood out even before the game. Sample was named the top American Team defensive lineman from the three days of practice, so it truly was a great week for the Tulane product. Sample is likely a Day 3 selection, but based on his performance this week, has a chance to be an impact player at the next level.
FB Ben Mason (Michigan)
Fullbacks don’t get talked about much in the draft, but it’s been evident over the last few years how much better the Patriots run game is with a fullback leading the way. It’s unknown what Dan Vitale’s (opt-out) situtaion is and Jakob Johnson could be upgraded. If the Patriots want to go that route, Mason could be an option late on Day 3, especially if he can consistently make blocks like this:
RB/WR Demetric Felton (UCLA)
Given his relationship with Chip Kelly, Belichick should have the inside track to plenty of information on this versatile offensive option. Felton (5-9, 190) saw plenty of reps at receiver during Senior Bowl week but also proved himself as a ball-carrier option down the stretch of his college career for the Bruins. The Patriots love versatile offensive weapons and Felton might fit that mold after notching a touchdown in Mobile. Not sure if you heard, but New England could use some guys who can catch the ball and make plays, as Felton did with his touchdown early in the Senior Bowl.
OL Quinn Meirnerz (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
If there was a star in the trenches during Senior Bowl week it might have been the Division III guard. His well-developed belly made the rounds on social media, but he more than held his own against the increased level of competition he faced in practice before being held out of the game due to a broken hand. His feisty effective play in practice and want-to-play attitude is admirable, but even for a Patriots team that has David Andrews and Joe Thuney set to hit free agency
DL Osa Odighizuwa (UCLA)
Did we mention Bill Belichick has a good relationship with Chip Kelly? Anyway, Odighizuwa is an undersized defensive lineman with upside. As New England retools its defensive front – with Adam Butler likely to depart in free agency – a disruptive option like Odighizuwa might make sense. There were times during Senior Bowl week that the Bruins defender was borderline unblockable.
NICK “FITZY” STEVENS
QB Kellen Mond (Texas A&AM)
The four-year starter at Texas A&M did nothing to hurt his draft stock as a solid early to mid-round pro by being the Senior Bowl MVP. Mond is someone I’ve watched, enjoyed and even mentioned as a possible Pats target to groom. He’s strong, fast, plays bigger than his size and has arm to spare. He threw some darts into tight windows Saturday, which is something you love to see. It didn’t hurt that PFF had him as the highest rated offensive player Saturday, too. The only issue could be his Senior Bowl coach, Matt Rhule, who raved about Mond’s performance all week, is the Carolina Panthers coach, and they too will be in the draft market for a QB this spring.
WR Amari Rodgers (Clemson)
From practice to game day, Rodgers, the son of former National Champion and Steelers QB Tee Martin, looked pro ready. Anyone who was a four-year contributor on Dabo Swinney’s Clemson squad - always in the College Football Playoffs and a National Champion - merits consideration. But Rodgers, who plays the slot and outside, flashed more than a resume that said, “I caught passes from Trevor Lawrence in college.” He showed quickness, great moves to shake open, precise route-running and the toughness to make big catches, as evidenced by his touchdown and two-point conversion catches. He will be a plug-and-play pro, perhaps in the Tee Higgins mold. Considering how talent starved the Pats are at wide receiver? Second round, yes please.
LB Baron Browning (Ohio State)
Another player I highlighted in the Armchair GM series, Browning, who faced pro caliber competition in college, can flat out move at linebacker. And the fact that he can do so at his size - 6-foot-3, 240 pounds - makes him all the more impressive and desirable, at the pro level. A potential mid-rounder before the Senior Bowl, his performance Saturday now has some thinking he might push his way into the first round. He would be a perfect pick to help Pats rebuild their linebacking corps in Round 2 — just like Rodgers.