The pre-draft evaluation process will be unlike any other that we have seen in recent memory. After having a virtual draft a season ago, there was thought that it would be the only one in league history. Now with that feat most likely being challenged, we’re starting to see the effects still hampering the NFL draft process.
Many postseason all-star games have announced that they will be unable to take place this season, but the Senior Bowl—the pinnacle of postseason all-star competitions—is still on track to happen. We’re already starting to see some notable names unrevealed as participants in the event. Here are five names that should have scouts and evaluators excited already.
Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
After only playing one game this season in a showcase against Central Arkansas, Radunz was only afforded a single opportunity to put new tape out there of him performing during his senior season. Despite that, there still remains lots of intrigue surrounding the Bison left tackle as he’s been the stalwart of the team's offensive front since his redshirt sophomore season (2018). Known for his smoothness as a pass protector and demeanor as a run blocker, scouts will be paying close attention to Radunz to see how he adjusts to the bump in competition as he’s competed against FCS rushers on a weekly basis throughout his career. If he’s unfazed by the increased competition levels, he has a chance to improve his stock overall.
Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest
It was an eventful second half of the calendar year for Newman, as he announced that he would transfer from Wake Forest and later attend Georgia. After never playing a down for the Bulldogs and later announcing his intentions to enter the 2021 NFL Draft, there were plenty of rumors floated as to why he quickly exited Athens and began preparing for the next level. There’s still a large gap of mystery that surrounds his entire draft stock.
After a highly successful redshirt junior season that saw him challenge and set many new school records for the Demon Deacons, we haven’t seen him in live action since 2019. After gathering opinions about Newman, it’s impossible to develop a consensus because of the varying degrees of optimism surrounding him. Involved in an unconventional offense that saw lots of different types of mechanics and techniques taught, it’s difficult to project how he translates to the pro game. One thing that is for certain is that the week of practices leading up to the Senior Bowl will weigh heavily on the stock of Newman entering next April, as that will be the only artifacts that teams have to go off of since his time in Winston-Salem.
Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
Last Monday, there seemed to be a mass exodus in Tallahassee. The most notable name that seemed to have played his last down for the Seminoles was Wilson. It was surprising to many around the league to see the massive defensive tackle return to school in the first place. Upon announcing his decision, Wilson told the Tallahassee Democrat, “I already had thoughts about coming back, really wasn’t focused on the league, I really was focused on finishing out what I started at Florida State.”
Upon his return, many were expecting him to dominate exactly how he did as a junior, a year in which he recorded career highs in tackles (44), tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (5.0) in nine games played. Those numbers and moments never came to fruition and Wilson’s career in garnet and gold came to an unexpected conclusion as head coach Mike Norvell announced that he would be moving forward following a minor knee surgery.
Wilson's presence in the middle is notable, but his consistency as a pass-rusher will be a key aspect to monitor during the week of practices in Mobile. Having a rush plan is an area that he’s displayed, but it has been in an inconsistent fashion. From day one in the NFL, his ability to clog gaps and stuff the run won’t be questioned, but if he’s only able to do that and is labeled as a two-down run stopper, it will be challenging for him to fulfill the first-round tag he had coming into the 2020 season. Regardless, every aspect of his week at the all-star event will be placed under the microscope following an abrupt end to his career with the Seminoles.
Hamilcar Rashed Jr., EDGE, Oregon State
When it comes to grading explosiveness, bend, and twitch up the field, the Beavers' edge rusher is the complete package. Fresh off of a season where he recorded a school record 22.5 tackles for loss and finished third in the country with 14.0 sacks, that type of production will quickly garner national attention and generate buzz in league circles. Rashed Jr. is an ideal fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but his ability to rush the passer is already a naturally born trait included in his package of gifts.
With an effortless ability to corner and close to the quarterback and entering a league always searching for the next crop of rushers who are able to do so, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Rashed Jr. eventually becoming one of the biggest risers of the event.
The great aspect for the Beavers' record-setting edge rusher is that this is an event that is tailor-made for his abilities to shine. Because of the one-on-one portions of practice where the offensive and defensive lines compete against each other with the eyes of multiple executives and position coaches bearing down on them, it won’t take long for the synchronous traits of Rashed Jr. to create chatter among everyone watching.
His production as a pass-rusher is legit, as he has many high-quality sacks where he dips, rips, and finishes, but his potential in many areas is still untapped. The biggest hole in his game remains in pass coverage as he looks a bit uncomfortable when asked to occupy space as a spot dropper, but it’s his ability to rush the passer that will be considered the bread and butter of his draft profile overall.
David Moore, IOL, Grambling
When it comes to the Senior Bowl, the prospects that it tends to be the most impactful for are non-FBS prospects that get exposure against FBS players. From Carson Wentz to Jeremy Chinn, we’ve seen how much three practices and a standout performance in a competitive game can go toward the draft stock of a prospect. Why? It can be difficult for evaluators to separate the traits of a prospect from the competition they are facing as they tend to be dominant on a weekly basis. The week in Mobile serves as a great litmus test to what they could look like against NFL-level competition. Also, it’s always interesting to observe how these prospects adjust to the speed of the game in position and team specific drills.
The FCS player that lots of teams will have eyes on this year is Grambling guard David Moore. A barrely and low to the ground type of player, he has a well developed understanding of how to use his leverage to his advantage and finish through the echo of the whistle. As a small school offensive lineman it can be very difficult to stand out amongst the pack, but Moore has been at his best when the Tigers have played upper level opponents. During the 2019 season, Moore’s performances against Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech are the two that kick-started his possible NFL future. In those contests, it didn’t take long to notice No. 60 as he’s constantly competed and held his own despite playing a higher level opponent.
As far as offensive lineman, there will be few prospects that have a bigger microscope on them than Moore. He’s seen as a mid-to-late round prospect, but could raise his stock with a successful week.