The Senior Bowl tends to have a big impact on where players are drafted, given that NFL general managers are getting a close look at these prospects for the first time. This is especially magnified for quarterbacks. Philip Rivers, Justin Herbert, Daniel Jones, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Joe Flacco and E.J. Manuel all enjoyed outstanding Senior Bowl performances in the past and had improved their draft stock as a result.
There are at least four quarterbacks projected to be first-round picks this year, and a fifth could sneak into the opening frame. Four weren't eligible for this game, while the fifth, Mac Jones, was sidelined with an ankle injury. Thus, no signal-caller who played will be chosen on Thursday night, but one or two of them could be a Friday pick.
I do this every year: I'm going to take a look at how each of the signal-callers performed in the Senior Bowl and what each of their draft range is. This will be followed by a poll at the bottom of the article.
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Mac Jones was the top quarterback invited to the Senior Bowl, so it's a shame he wasn't able to play because of a minor ankle injury. He'll be fine by training camp, which is all that matters. Jones has a chance to sneak into the opening frame as the fifth quarterback, but it's more likely that he'll be chosen in the second round.
2021 NFL Draft Projection: Round 1-2
Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
Like Mac Jones, Kyle Trask sat out the Senior Bowl because of an ankle injury. Trask was once slotted in the latter end of the opening round of my 2021 NFL Mock Draft, but he has since slipped to the second round. Trask has great physical tools, but needs to improve his decision-making and pocket awareness.
2021 NFL Draft Projection: Round 2
Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
Kellen Mond had the brightest moments of any quarterback who played in the Senior Bowl. This was because Mac Jones and Kyle Trask both sat out, but Mond still performed well and helped his 2021 NFL Draft stock.
Mond didn't begin all that well. His first drive featured two checkdowns and a pass that sailed out of bounds deep downfield. He then threw behind his receivers on third and fourth down despite connecting on a great back-shoulder throw to Trevon Grimes for a 23-yard gain earlier on the possession. Mond's next two drives featured a pair of potential interceptions. The first was an apparent gift because Mond misread the defense and didn't see the safety. The potential pick was dropped, however. Mond then nearly tossed an interception on a pass heaved into heavy traffic.
All of this, besides the back-shoulder throw, sounds terrible. Mond definitely began poorly, but he rebounded well after that. He threw a touchdown to Amari Rodgers, fitting the ball through a tight window. He fired a second touchdown later, which was hurled on a slant to Josh Palmer. Mond had the potential to lead another scoring drive when he delivered another nice, back-shoulder throw to Powell along the sideline, but the possession concluded with a Shi Smith drop.
Mond finished 13-of-25 for 173 yards and two touchdowns, winning the MVP trophy in the process. He had been inconsistent throughout his career at Texas A&M, so it wasn't a surprise that he had an up-and-down performance in Mobile.
2021 NFL Draft Projection: Round 2-3
Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest
Jamie Newman has great upside, but he displayed his extremely low floor during the Senior Bowl. His pocket awareness was the worst of any quarterback in the game. He held on to the ball too long in the pocket at times, and on one occasion, he ran himself into a sack.
When Newman had time at his disposal, his accuracy was rather sketchy. He threw way behind his target on the final drive, and he threw an interception, though the defender made a great play to knock the ball out of Marques Stevenson's hands. Newman ultimately threw a touchdown with 49 seconds remaining in regulation, though the official didn't see the ball hit the ground.
Quite simply, Newman looked like a quarterback who hadn't played in two years. This, obviously, makes sense because he made a foolish decision to opt out of the 2020 campaign. This choice has really hurt Newman, who was once considered a second-round prospect. Newman, who went 10-of-14 for 118 yards, one touchdown and an interception, could still sneak into Day 2, but is more likely to be a third-day selection.
2021 NFL Draft Projection: Round 3-5
Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
Sam Ehlinger had two positive drives in this game. The first featured a nice sideline throw to Dez Fitzpatrick, who impressively dragged his toes inbounds. He later found Fitzpatrick on a slant for a gain of 15, which occurred right after he kept the play alive amid pressure and hit a receiver for what would have been a completion if there wasn't pass interference. This possession concluded, however, thanks to a Fitzpatrick drop.
Ehlinger managed to lead his team on a touchdown drive on the ensuing possession. The score wasn't all that impressive though, as Demetric Felton ran into the end zone easily because the defensive back gave him too much cushion.
Ehlinger didn't do anything after that though; he threw behind his receiver on one occasion, resulting in a near-interception.
It wasn't a surprise to see Ehlinger perform like he did at the Senior Bowl (4-of-10, 42 yards, one touchdown). He's a severely limited quarterback, but his ultra-high intangibles might get him drafted on Day 3. He could be a decent backup in the NFL.
2021 NFL Draft Projection: Round 5-7
Feleipe Franks, QB, Arkansas
Feleipe Franks, like Kellen Mond, was incredibly inconsistent in the Senior Bowl. Let's begin with the positives: Franks showed some nice touch on a throw to Dez Fitzpatrick to ultimately set up a touchdown pass to tight end Kenny Yeboah. Franks was also able to connect on a deep pass to Frank Darby.
Now, to the negatives: That pass to Darby should have been a touchdown, but Franks underthrew him. Franks had the opposite issue on a later pass. He had a receiver open deep downfield, but Franks overthrew him for another missed scoring opportunity.
Franks finished 9-of-16 for 122 yards and a touchdown. He has some good physical ability, but his pocket awareness, decision-making and inconsistency with his accuracy are all concerns. He's a third-day prospect.
2021 NFL Draft Projection: Round 5-7
Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
Of all the quarterbacks, I have the least to say about Ian Book. He didn't play very much, and when he was on the field, he was constantly running for his life because his offensive line couldn't hold up well.
When Book had time in the pocket, he threw some ugly floaters, but was also able to connect with Demetric Felton for a fourth down on a slant. Nothing came of this, however. Book managed to throw the ball toward the end zone later, but the pass was picked on a Hail Mary.
Book went 5-of-11 for only 48 yards and an interception. He also scrambled four times for 18 rushing yards. He doesn't look like he has any NFL tools, but his scrambling ability could allow him to compete for a job in the CFL.