Last weekend's Senior Bowl means that the key scouting event of the 2021 offseason is already in the books. After picking out a handful of prospects that could intrigue the Patriots last week, the game itself, won by the National team 27-24, provided some greater insight into which players could be good fits in New England.
Earlier this week we laid out how the analytics from 2020 provided a roadmap for where things should go this offseason. Playing off of that, here are some players that stood out from the Senior Bowl that could help fill those needs.
Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
The Senior Bowl MVP got hot in the third quarter of the game, finishing with 173 passing yards and two touchdowns after getting some extensive snaps due to Mac Jones' missing the game with an ankle injury.
"We're talking about a really, really football-smart guy here," said American team head coach Matt Rhule via NFL.com of Mond. "He's got one of those memories. You give him a play and he knows it. He kind of got into a rhythm there in the third quarter, just ripping some seam balls, making some plays. I think he's got a bright future."
Mond might've raised his stock into Day 2 of the draft, but remains one of the second-tier quarterbacks. Still, he checks a lot of boxes and, while he would need time in the NFL to develop, he has the skillset the Patriots could work with.
Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame
Book is likely still a Day 3 selection, but garnered praise for his decision making and short passing ability, both big keys for the Patriots offense. While the all-time winningest Notre Dame quarterback's lack of stature hurts him, his intangibles and athleticism could make him a late-round steal.
Yahoo's Eric Edholm called Book one of the winners of the week. "Overall, it's hard to say Book didn't open some eyes," wrote Edholm. "He won't be for everyone, and his downfield passing will limit his overall appeal, however Book's playmaking ability and vastly improved passing over the past few years must be respected."
D'Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
Eskridge was one of the electric wide receivers to stand out in Mobile, dominating one-on-one sessions against the defensive backs. A former defensive player, Eskridge plays with the kind of competitive edge that would fit in well in New England. Add in more polish than expected as a receiver and Eskridge is quickly shooting up draft boards. His effort, especially as a run blocker, must ping the Patriots radar, while his reported 4.33 40-yard dash time should put him over the top.
Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson
Rodgers led the American squad with four catches for 23 yards and a touchdown. The Clemson product is coming off his best season and projects as a utility receiver who could contribute in a number of ways. He's thickly-built with good hands and would give Josh McDaniels a number of new things to play with offensively.
Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville
Fitzpatrick was the offensive player of the Senior Bowl, with six catches for 90 yards. He might've been under the radar before last week but no more, Fitzpatrick looks like he's ready to make an impact at the next level. A high-effort player with good size (6'2", 202), Fitzpatrick is more of an outside receiver. He had some drops in the Senior Bowl game after 11 targets, but still managed to raise his stock in Mobile.
Demetric Felton, WR/RB, UCLA
Felton was primarily a running back and kick returner at UCLA, but lined up in Mobile as a receiver and showed some impressive versatility, looking smooth and athletic. He had two catches for 28 yards with a touchdown in the game and is the kind of multi-tool player that always seems to intrigue the Patriots. He could add some sizzle to the Pats offense, while providing a jolt to their kick returner group.
Janarius Robinson, EDGE, Florida State
At 6'5", 266 pounds and an 87-inch wing span, Robinson's measurables are a perfect fit for the kind of player the Patriots like on the edges of their defense. He picked up a sack-and-a-half in the Senior Bowl game, and while his college production doesn't jump out, Robinson appears on track to be a better pro, he certainly has the size. Figuring out how he would fit into the Patriots defensive front is the question.
Cameron Sample, DL, Tulane
Voted best defensive lineman at the Senior Bowl by those he was facing all week, Sample is a high effort defensive lineman with some versatility. His best projection is likely in a 4-3 front where he can get upfield, but that should not scare the Patriots off of him, he'd be a similar to fit to what we've seen from Adam Butler. He doesn't have two-gap size and that could limit his value to the Pats, but he's a consistently disruptive player who can play up and down the line and there's always a need for those.
Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
Browning projects as an athletic off-the-ball linebacker in the Patriots system and had a strong week in Mobile. He has the size (6'3", 241), length and tackling ability that is critical to play linebacker in New England. Having some big blockers keeping him clean would help accelerate his development. He even has some pass rush ability off the edge. His tough work against the run might be what's most appealing about him though.
Grant Stuard, ST, Houston
We can't end this without highlighting a special teams demon because we all know how much the Patriots love those guys. Stuard has a non-stop motor and made a big impact in the Senior Bowl with three special teams tackles. Though undersized and never really a candidate to play linebacker, he could be the next in a long line of drafted special teams players who have solid NFL careers with New England.