NFL

Senior Bowl 2021: Mac Jones leads stars out to make big impression in Mobile

By Sports Desk January 26, 2021

In an offseason that has already seen the NFL Scouting Combine cancelled as the league continues to adjust to life amid the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Senior Bowl takes on added importance.

This week's practices and Saturday's game in Mobile, Alabama will be the only chance NFL front office personnel get to see a host of the NFL Draft's better prospects on the field at the same time.

Plenty of members of the draft's elite are missing, but there will still be a large number of intriguing prospects hoping to impress the scouts in the stands with a strong week. 

Here we look at five such players and dive into some of the numbers that have made them worthy of close attention during proceedings in Alabama.

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

The Heisman Trophy finalist surpassed all expectations in his lone season as the Crimson Tide's starting quarterback, stepping into the shoes of Tua Tagovailoa and leading Alabama to the National Championship, which they clinched with a stunning rout of Ohio State.

Jones demonstrated hugely impressive accuracy on downfield throws, a trait reflected in his yards per attempt average of 11.19, which led college football. Decisive and astute in reading the field and making decisions, Jones threw 41 touchdowns to just four interceptions, his TD-INT ratio of 10.25 second in college football behind Zach Wilson of BYU, a likely top-five pick in this draft. 

The challenge for Jones in Mobile will be to demonstrate to those in attendance that his success was not simply a product of the extraordinary amount of talent around him at Alabama and boost his hopes of going in the first round.

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Among the talent Jones had at his disposal in 2020 was monstrous running back Harris, who used his extraordinary physical gifts to put together a dominant campaign.

At 6ft 2in and 230 pounds, Harris possesses a remarkable blend of size, speed agility and power, which allowed him to rack up 30 total touchdowns this past season.

Showing a freakish ability to hurdle defenders in the open field, Harris was seventh in the country with 145.5 scrimmage yards per game.

Teams should not need much more evidence as to Harris' strengths, but with an impressive week at the Senior Bowl on the field and the interview room, he can make sure he comes off the board either late on day one or early on day two.

Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask will not feature in Mobile because of an ankle injury but one of his top targets will be on show.

A versatile receiver who excels as a pass-catcher and as a runner out of the backfield, Toney has proven himself a dynamic weapon in the open field.

He averaged 6.9 yards after catch per reception in 2020. Among wide receivers with at least 50 catches, that put him 13th in the FBS and fifth in the SEC.

His 485 YAC saw him ranked seventh in the FBS and fourth in the SEC among receivers, with his skills after the catch a key reason why he is regarded by some as first-round talent.

Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest

Surratt is unlikely to be taken as early as Toney having opted out of the 2020 season, but he should receive plenty of attention from teams looking for a big-play threat.

In 2019, Surratt led the ACC with 100.1 receiving yards per game, while he also caught 11 touchdowns.

Following a year out of the limelight, Surratt will aim to prove his talents as a downfield weapon can translate to the highest level.

Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State

You can never have too many pass rushers and Toney is among those who will be out to catch the eye of teams looking to bolster their reserves on the edge.

He recorded 20 sacks in four seasons with Penn State and did an excellent job pressuring opposing Big Ten quarterbacks in 2020.

Toney had 16.5 hurries, tied for third in the Big Ten, while his 21.5 total pressures were fifth in the conference.

Having put up those numbers for a poor Penn State team, the next test for Toney is to win his one-on-one battles with offensive linemen during Senior Bowl week.

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