The Senior Bowl practices have wrapped up for the week. While the quarterback rumors have surely picked up in Mobile, Alabama, seniors from around the country have done everything they could to impress NFL scouts and decision-makers this past week.
Every year, there’s one player who stands out enough where he goes from a relative unknown and propels himself into the first round of the NFL Draft. Here are three players the 49ers should take a long look at.
C/G Quinn Meinerz
Had it not been for Alabama’s Landon Dickerson tearing his ACL in December, Meinerz isn’t in this game. The Senior Bowl replaced the starting center from the team that won the national championship with a Division III first-team All-American, and I’m not sure there was much if any, drop-off. That tells you all you need to know about the Wisconsin-Whitewater product.
Senior Bowl: DIII Wisconsin-Whitewater center Quinn Meinerz wrecking Texas DT Graham (1) & UW DT Onwuzurike (2/3) in the first team period yesterday. Whew. pic.twitter.com/sOTHX6vkvb— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) January 27, 2021
Quinn Meinerz is making some this week pic.twitter.com/QcWQo9LF9M— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) January 27, 2021
Good movement 1on1 here in the Inside Run period from @WarhawkFootball OL Quinn Meinerz@dpbrugler will be talking about him on tomorrow morning’s podcast. Good first day - and at a new position at canteen #TheDraftStartsInMobile pic.twitter.com/hywWXwjvyJ— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) January 27, 2021
For Meinerz, the question was, does he belong? Those questions were quickly answered once he stepped onto the field.
Coming in at 6’3, 320 pounds, Meinerz has the desired size for an interior offensive lineman. I went through all of the 1-on-1, 9-on-7, and team reps, and you have to nitpick to find a “bad” rep from Meinerz. He was plenty athletic, but strength wasn’t an issue, either. When Meinerz got his hands on you, you were going to move. He had good pad level, independent hand usage, and he always seemed to have great pad level, which is why you see defenders on their backs in the clips above.
Meinerz made himself a lot of money and is poised to be drafted on Day 2. For what the Niners ask their lineman to do, Meinerz would be an ideal fit at either center or guard.
Meinerz did break his hand on Thursday, but he plans on playing in Saturday’s game.
S Richie Grant
The University of Central Florida product made multiple plays in each period every day. Coaches and scouts are looking for consistency and not flashes. Grant consistently finished plays. Whether punching the ball out on a 1-on-1 rep or intercepting a pass in the red zone.
Grant had some reps at cornerback, and if you didn’t know any better, you’d think that was his natural position.
Richie Grant (@rgrant1525) showing off his physicality in press-man once again on Day 2 at the #SeniorBowl— Sháona Renczkowski (@renczks) January 28, 2021
Makes sure to get his hands on the receiver at the LOS and finishes with another nice PBU pic.twitter.com/CB4rwzS1fA
In the play above, you see patients, physicality, and how Grant can finish.
In this play, Grant shows nice route recognition as he undercuts Florida’s Kardarius Toney for an interception. If you told me Grant had five interceptions this week, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Here are a few more clips from Grant during Thursday’s practice:
Richie Grant had himself a day during Thursday's Senior Bowl practice. I thought he did a nice job of being aggressive and protecting his leverage, but he played with "good eyes" all afternoon, and that allowed him to finish and make plays. pic.twitter.com/yP4UXaaVaX— KP (@KP_Show) January 29, 2021
It’s unclear where Grant will be drafted, but if he runs well at his Pro Day, I doubt Grant makes it out of the second round after this week. He was superb all week.
WR Amari Rodgers
The Senior Bowl is a great opportunity for small school players like Rodgers who went to....Clemson. All jokes aside, Rodgers was excellent this week. He’s in the mold of that “quicker than fast slot receiver.” Unlike most smaller slot receivers, Rodgers proved that he could win deep this week.
Like most slot receivers, Rodgers has a bevy of releases he uses to off the line of scrimmage to keep defenses off balance. During Wednesday’s practice, Rodgers won with a split, squirt, slide, and hesitation release.
Here is Rodgers attacking the ball in the air and making a contested catch. Notice early on in the route how Rodgers lulls the DB to sleep while continuing to break the cushion between the two and selling an inside route.
Here is a split release below. Think of Tyreek Hill and what he did against the Bills on the 70-yarder in the AFC Championship. If executed properly, this is impossible to defend.
It was also promising to see Rodgers make plays with bodies around him:
Jamie Newman can definitely rip it. Great catch by Amari Rodgers. LSU LB Jabril Cox almost had this one going the other way pic.twitter.com/vnwPLJGk1b— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 28, 2021
Rodgers is a player that excels with the ball in his hands as well. Again, it isn’t easy to know where he’s going to go, but Rodgers could be the WR3 and returner the 49ers are looking for. At Clemson, Rodgers had 68 career punt returns in college and took one to the house.