2021 Senior Bowl sleepers

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David Moore
Grambling offensive lineman David Moore

It’s easy to recognize the low hanging fruit. In eying NFL raft prospects, the players with more national exposure and visibility stand out to everyone. It’s those that you have to seek, that may take some effort, who sometimes turnout to be those hidden gems in the NFL.

Work begins in earnest this week at the 72nd Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. It is always an outstanding venue to showcase the skills that may translate to the NFL, either via the draft or through unselected free agency. There are always a handful of sleepers, the hidden gems, usually from smaller non-FBS programs who step out and grab the attention of scouts, coaches and fans.

Some of these small school talents may not only grace NFL rosters in the future but could develop into stardom. Some of these players were not able to showcase their skills in the fall due to cancellations due to COVID-19.

-CB Bryan Mills (6-2, 170) North Carolina Central

The 2019 1st team All American and All MEAC performer had five interceptions and 13 passes defended. He made three picks in single outing against Morgan State. Featuring great length and good breaks on ball, Mills is the third man in school history to earn a Senior Bowl invite joining OG Doug Wilkerson (1970) and CB Robert Massey (1989) drafted by the Saints. Superb cover skills have him currently with a 6th-7th round grade.

-DT Elerson Smith (6-6, 245, 4.75 forty) Northern Iowa

He bends the edge, possessing great length and reach. Also shows a quick first step and bull rush ability. He watches a lot of film. Just a two-star recruit coming out of high school, Smith plays with chip on his shoulder. He made 63 stops, 14 sacks, 21.5 TFL, 14 hurries and two blocked kicks in 2019.

-OG David Moore (6-3, 320) Grambling

A mauler with good technique, he plays with balance and possesses a powerful lower body/ A nasty competitors with tremendous upside, Moore is working with longtime NFL lineman Bruce Matthews leading up to draft to improve his game. Very athletic and able to run well, don’t be fooled by his large frame. He can even dunk a basketball.

-OT Spencer Brown (6-9, 322) Northern Iowa

Another mauler with great feet, Brown wants to dominate. The big and powerful lineman arrived at UNI as a 235-pound tight end. With his off the charts reach and 500 pound on the bench press, Brown is a good pass blocker who is rarely penalized. He models his game after Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan, a three-time Pro Bowler. Brown has 2nd-3rd round potential.

-FS Christian Uphoff (6-3, 195, 4.55) Illinois State

In 2019, he made 15 starts, totaling 70 tackles, 5.5 TFL and two interceptions. Uphoff has shown elite range from center field with a nose for the ball.

-OG Quinn Meinerz (6-3, 320) Wisconsin-Whitewater

The Division III standout played in 15 contests in 2019 and did not allowed a sack. Meinerz models game after Colts All Pro guard Quenton Nelson and Giants standout Kevin Zeitler. He is a 3rd-4th round projection. with intense work ethic. Meinerz trains in the wilderness in Canada and rolls 400-pound jugs at campsites. The workout warrior is a national strength/conditioning All American. Quick off snap, he has great balance and shines as a run blocker. A high grader who rolls his hips, keeps good leverage and his feet moving, Meinerz outs his wrestling background to good use.

D'Wayne Eskridge

-WR/CB D’Wayne ‘Dee’ Eskridge (5-9, 190, 4.33) Western Michigan

He has posted a 10.5 hundred meters and a 23’8″ long jump. Eskridge should test well as a multi-skilled athlete who can play either side of ball. Among fastest draft eligible players, he is a playmaker who has played WR for only four seasons. Eskridge studies Chiefs star Tyreek Hill, copying route running and also likes Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting.

-WR Cade Johnson (5-10, 175, 4.5) South Dakota State

Ranked with no stars as a college prospect, Johnson was a walk-on who became a two-time All American and three-time All Missouri Valley Conference performer. He plays with a ‘something to prove’ attitude. In 2019 stats, Johnson managed 72 catches for 1,222 yards and eight touchdowns. He has 28 touchdowns in 40 college games. As a return specialist, he had 56 kick returns for 1,492 yards with two scores. The extremely hard worker had scouts curious about his dynamic special teams talent.

-LT Dillon Radunz (6-6, 301) North Dakota State

With 32 career starts, Radunz is experienced with the dominant program in the FCS. In ’19 in 682 snaps, he made 63 knockdowns and allowed no sacks. The FCS All American is very intelligent an does not repeat the same mistake. Toughness with a reputation for playing snap to whistle, Radunz plays with passion and runs well.

Here are four others who won’t be in Mobile but may end up as NFL regulars. All fall well into the sleeper category.

-FS Reed Blankenship (6-1, 200, 4.46) Middle Tennessee State

He hits like a linebacker and plays with a hot motor. A draft prospect who would not surprise anyone if taken in the 2nd or 3rd round is very intense but has great range. You can see him as a special teams dynamo. Blankenship made 309 career tackles, 16.5 TFL, eight interceptions and a pair of sacks for the Blue Raiders.

-OT Drew Himmelman (6-10, 330) Illinois State

Top 10 rated at his position by some draft scouts, he made 35 starts and earned 2019 FCS All American recognition. Himmelman arrived on campus as a 6-foot-8, 230-pound prospect with no star ranking. He models his game after Nate Solder of the Giants.

-CB Junior Faulk (6-2, 206, 4.45) Delta State

The Tylertown, Miss. native possesses superb size for the position. A very physical defender, he gets hands on receivers and disturbs route. Faulk is comfortable in man coverage and enjoy film study. His nine interceptions and 13 pass breakups in 2019 made him a finalist for best college player in state of Mississippi as well as an intriguing pro prospect.

-TE Zach Davidson (6-6, 245, 4.75) Central Missouri

The premiere tight end in Division II had 40 catches for 894 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2019. He also doubles as a punter with 44.3 average. Nine of his punts traveled 50 yards or more and 15 were downed inside the 20-yard line.

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Rene Nadeau

CCS/Fox Sports/ESPN/WFAN

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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