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Senior Bowl 2021: Day 2 practice notes and observations

Insight on the second day of practice for the 2021 Senior Bowl.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Day two of the Senior Bowl practice is arguably the most important one, especially for players at several key positions. It allows players to truly get acclimated in the given game plan and allow teammates to get somewhat accustomed to each other. On day two of practice and in anticipation to Saturday’s Senior Bowl game, we saw a few prospects that took necessary steps in the right direction of improving their draft status. Let’s highlight the key observations from today’s practice.

Day 2 observations

  • In taking a closer look at the interior offensive linemen on the day, a couple of road graders stood out and left a great impression. Grambling State’s David Moore and Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Quinn Meinerz were in the spotlight for all of the right reasons. Both were stout in pass protection drills and Moore in particular won his 1-on-1 battles against Florida State’s Marvin Wilson and Wake Forest’s Carlos Basham.

Meinerz on the other hand, crop-topped his jersey with his belly hanging out but his highlights consisted of pancaking interior defensive linemen effortlessly. The draft stock of both probably improved considerably on the day—remember, there’s no formal Combine and the Senior Bowl has taken on a new importance—and both stood out amongst other highly recognizable offensive linemen.

  • If the Falcons are looking to add another playmaker to the their offense, one pass catcher at practice was able to make plays left and right. Clemson’s Amari Rodgers showed why he is one of the best playmakers on both Senior Bowl rosters.

Rodgers made dazzling catches in 1-on-1 drills, was crafty as a route runner on 7-on-7 drills, and in special teams drills was to catch punts cleanly as the veteran punt returner that we know him as. His lack of size will scare off a number of teams, but there is no denying how dangerous Rodgers can be with the ball in his hands. High-powered offenses should find him intriguing.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
  • I, for one, appreciate the season that veteran safety Keanu Neal produced in 2020. Neal bounced back from a torn Achilles in 2019 and show his hard-hitting prowess on a consistent basis. However, he is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. It remains to be seen if the new staff resigns Neal or lets him search for his payday elsewhere.

If they choose to let him walk and look to the draft his replacement, Florida State’s Hamsah Nasirildeen could be a strong replacement and a replica in several key aspects.

Nasirildeen is a chess piece of a defender. At 6’4 225, he is able to line up at free and strong safety as well as see the occasional duty in a “Joker” type role as a hybrid safety/linebacker. He missed all but two games in 2020 as he recovered from injuries but Nasirildeen is a day two prospect that may not last long on day two if his draft status continues to ascend.

  • I came into Senior Bowl week wanting to see Penn State’s Shaka Toney and Pittsburgh’s Patrick Jones II taking that next step as edge rushers. I have not seen such so far after two practices sessions. Of course, there is always day three as well as the game itself on Saturday. In addition, there is also their pro days and also their collegiate tape to fall back on.

Both are better than what they have showed during practice this week. Hopefully, they are able to reach that potential and possibly exceed it, but it’s important to show out for teams this week.

  • One non-football observation: I have been in awe of the music being played throughout the stadium as the players stretched prior to practice. From Lil Wayne to Jeezy to Jay-Z to Bobby Shmurda, as a huge hip hop fan, I have been fairly entertained by the music selection prior to the popping of the pads by the players. It’s another plus to being here as we gear up for the Senior Bowl.