Senior Bowl | 2021

Senior Bowl Notes: Best Slot WR; Lots of RB Depth

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The week of practice is almost over and the attention will turn towards Saturday's game in Mobile.

Like always, there are plenty of intriguing storylines coming out of the Senior Bowl.

Whether or not, these are positions of strong need for the Cowboys, this team must pay attention to all scenarios – on every side of the ball.
For instance, this week is showing us that there is plenty of depth at running back – something to keep an eye on later on in the draft.

Here's a look at some other interesting facts from Mobile this week.

Richie Grant makes his case.

The University of Central Florida standout has entered the discussion as one of the top safeties in the 2021 class after a spectacular week of practice. The 6-foot, 195-pounder is a certified ball hawk with the range, instincts and awareness to thrive as a centerfielder in a single-high safety defense. In addition, he is an aggressive hitter with reliable tackling ability and a strong nose for the football. 

In four seasons with the Golden Knights, Grant amassed 290 tackles, 10 interceptions, five forced fumbles, and 17 passes defensed as the designated playmaker on the defense. At the Senior Bowl, the ball hungry defender confirmed his cover skills with big play after big play in one-on-one and team drills. Grant picked off a pair of passes on Day 3 of practice while displaying great eyes and instincts jumping routes in his area. The playmaker's knack for making plays on the ball separates him from others in the class, particularly when factoring in his superb man-to-man cover skills. 

At a time when scouts and coaches are desperately seeking safeties with polished all-around games, Grant's strong showing at the Senior Bowl will send his stock soaring in meeting rooms around the league. 

Plenty of value at running back.

The "don't draft a running back early" crowd will have plenty of options to choose from on Day 2 and Day 3. The Senior Bowl showed a number of intriguing running backs with the potential to thrive as RB1s or complementary playmakers out of the backfield. North Carolina's Michael Carter and Missouri's Larry Rountree are the ones to watch as hidden gems with the potential to flourish at the next level in prominent roles. 

Carter is a "grind it out " runner with outstanding vision, balance, and body control. He squirts through creases flashing nifty feet and stop-start quickness in traffic. The third-team All-ACC selection is also a factor in the passing game with his soft hands and superb receiving skills. Carter is one of the best screen pass playmakers in the draft with his patience and open field skills enabling him to produce explosive plays on low-risk passes. With the former Tar Heel also displaying A-plus blocking skills in pass protection, he has a chance to emerge as a rookie starter in the right situation. 

Rountree is a dangerous playmaker with the ball in his hands as a downhill runner with quick feet and outstanding balance. He is a jitterbug with a mix of shake-and-bake and power that should make in a productive runner in any offense. As a pass-catcher, Rountree is a dependable receiver with strong hands and crafty open-field running skills. He only has 47 career receptions but he has been a solid pass catcher throughout the week. 

Amari Rodgers might be the best slot receiver in the class.

The NFL has become a league of specialists with teams featuring playmakers in roles that ideally suit their talents. Rodgers could tap into the imagination of offensive coordinators with his spectacular skills as a slot receiver. He is an extraordinary route runner with exceptional body control and impeccable timing. The Clemson product not only has a knack for setting defenders up with head-and-shoulder fakes and wiggle but he also flashes enough stop-start quickness to separate from tight coverage out of the break. 

As a pass-catcher, Rodgers' consistency and reliability should make him a potential difference-maker as a third-down playmaker. After watching him torch defender after defender in one-on-ones and seven-on-seven drills, he is primed and ready to occupy a major role as a WR3. 

Is Ian Booker the next Baker Mayfield or Gardner Minshew?

The winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history has an intriguing set of tools that make him an intriguing option as a developmental prospect. Measuring (cite dimensions), Book is a mobile playmaker with a combination of passing skills and running ability that makes a dangerous threat on the perimeter. Although he lacks A-level arm talent, he is a pinpoint passer with the capacity to throw with touch, timing, and anticipation. In addition, he is an accurate thrower on the move with a knack for dropping dimes on bootlegs. 

At Senior Bowl, Book has been a steady performer throughout the week. He has been an efficient passer on short- and intermediate passes. Book's rhythm and decisiveness were impressive as he dropped a series of dimes on 10-15-yard throws. The Notre Dame standout's accuracy makes him an ideal fit in a ball-control offense that features high percentage throws on a variety of play-passes. With Book also showcasing his ability to extend plays with his legs and make accurate throws on the move, the diminutive passer has a chance to become a hot commodity as a developmental player down the road. 

Keep an eye on Keith Taylor as a late riser.

It is hard to find a long, rangy corner with speed and athleticism. That's why scouts are paying close attention to the former Washington standout as a late riser up the charts. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder is an intriguing prospect as a potential bump-and-run specialist on the island. Despite failing to register an interception during his four-year career, Taylor's length and raw ability will intrigue coaches looking for a developmental prospect to work with on the grass. 

At the Senior Bowl, Taylor's athletic potential stood out as he challenged receivers at the line of scrimmage utilizing an aggressive bump-and-run technique. He frustrates pass catchers with his physicality and length early in routes and those traits are hard to find in cornerbacks. Although he needs to clean up his shoddy footwork and inconsistent departure angles, Taylor is the perfect big-bodied corner to play in a system that features press coverage on the outside.

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