Whole Nine Sports

Top Seniors Across the Country

Mark Heaney
Follow Mark @HeaneyNFLDraft
Follow Whole Nine Sports @WholeNineSports

In exactly 200 days the 2021 Draft season will kick off in Mobile with the Senior Bowl. It seems a little premature to talk about an event that will happen in about 6 months, but the potential participants of the Senior Bowl are supposed to start their senior year in less than 2 months! Whether or not this coming season actually takes place is still to be determined but until we have a definitive answer of that we might as well show some of the top seniors in the country some love… In this article I’ll be discussing and showcasing some of the guys who I expect to be big players in Mobile next January. Let’s get into it!

Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

There are a couple guys on this list that I fully expected to declare for the 2020 draft and OSU’s Shaun Wade may top that list. Wade was overshadowed at times by the hype for Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette, both of those guys ended up being first round picks in April and honestly, I think Wade could’ve been a 1st as well if he declared. This coming season will be his first shot at being an outside CB and I really think the transition from the slot will be seamless for him. His lightning quick feet, press ability, and aggressive play will be difficult for opposing receivers to deal with. He’s got good size at 6’1” and has great speed to pair with it. The questions for Wade will be how he transitions to outside corner (like I said earlier I don’t expect it to be any problem), and if he can ramp up some turnover production. He had a better 2018 season in TO’s with 3 INT’s, that number fell to just 1 last year. Wade will be a part of a very strong CB class and although he may not be the top corner off the board next April, I fully expect him to be the top Senior corner in this coming class.

Carlos “Boogie” Basham, EDGE, Wake Forest

I’m a HUGE fan of this guy. Basham was one of many Demon Deacons that broke onto the scene with a big year last season. Prototypical size, amazing motor, great production, advanced pass rush moves. Boogie has a lot of tools to work with, if he continues to improve like he has each year at Wake he is in for a huge senior campaign. He’s more of a power rusher then a speedy one but I could see him trimming down slightly from 275 lbs. so he can get quicker with his pass rush moves and specifically his spin move. Basham played some on the IDL but I don’t expect that to continue this year, I think he’s going to be a premier EDGE rusher in the ACC and there’s not a ton of reasons to keep moving him around the line if he continues being that deadly on the outside. I think he would’ve been a 2nd/3rd round pick if he came out this past draft, staying this year to polish off some things could lead him into the 1st round in 2021

Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

I’ve been waiting for Etienne in a draft for years at this point. He would’ve been my RB1 last draft class but his decision to stick around at Clemson for another year means he’ll be my RB1 for the 2021 draft class instead. His game is as fun to watch as any running back in college football: The burst, pure speed, and home-run ability is electric. Etienne has been a workhouse for the Tigers over the last three years, totaling 518 carries which could cause some NFL concerns about longevity but, he has stayed relatively healthy for a guy with so much tread on the tires. His production in the passing game jumped last year, in 2018 he had just 12 receptions in 15 games and that went all the way up to 37 catches in the same amount of games. The more important stats for him come in the run game, where he’s been a dominant force for the last two seasons. In both 2018 and 2019 he eclipsed 1,600 rushing yards, 200 carries, and has put up 24 and 19 touchdowns in just those two years. The fact that he’s been able to continue his crazy production in the run game while in such an electric passing offense is impressive to say the least. He could use some more patience and like I mentioned earlier his workload at Clemson could create some questions. Overall, this guy in my eyes is a stud, and I’m excited to watch him get the Senior Bowl MVP in January…

Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama

This is my big comeback guy to watch for this season. Moses would’ve been one of the first linebackers taken in the draft this year but an ACL tear in August essentially forced him back to Tuscaloosa for his senior year. The fact that he missed all of last season has him flying under the radar but in my opinion, he should be FAR from flying under the radar. Moses reminds me a lot of his former teammate and current Tennessee Titan, Rashaan Evans. Like Evans, Moses has the ideal size for a current day NFL inside linebacker, possesses more than enough hit power, and has been very productive when on the field for the Crimson Tide. His athletic ability can’t be questioned, his chiseled frame and speed when in pursuit is top level. Moses’ ACL tear does pose major questions however, and not just from a durability standpoint. In 2018 he showed some problems with on-field IQ, and the way to correct that problem is in large part with on field experience. I’m sure he’s improved in this area since we last saw him, he’s known for being incredibly passionate about the game and I’m certain he’s done a good amount of film study because of that, but the fact that he hasn’t been on the field for so long could cause problems. If Moses can pick up where he left off in 2018 AND improve in the mental side of the game, he will be the centerpiece of the Alabama defense.

Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia

The main headline of the Senior Bowl is always the quarterbacks. Justin Herbert this year, Daniel Jones before that, you get the memo. The guy who I could see stealing the show in January is Wake Forest grad transfer Jamie Newman. I’ve been able to see Newman throughout his career since I’m so close to WF and I have to say, I’m not the leader of the Newman hype train but he’s improved drastically since he came in. He’s a legit dual-threat QB, his arm ability has seen a big improvement recently and his running skills are top notch for a college QB. He isn’t a game breaking speedster, but you can see he has really good vision and strength when he takes off. Newman still needs to answer some questions, specifically about his overall passing skills. His overall accuracy (specifically on deep balls) is a big question. In recent years Wake has been a heavy run offense but we saw WF air it out a lot more last year with the emergence of Sage Surratt and Kendall Hinton. While Newman did have his moments and put up some good stats the consistency was not really there. Jamie is now facing harder competition at Georgia so the pressure will be on to show some improvement in the mechanical and accuracy part of his game. I’m excited to see if he can use the coaching and talent improvement to his advantage.

Honorable Mentions

Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State. Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama. Nico Collins, WR, Michigan. D’Eriq King, QB, Miami. Marvin Wilson, IDL, Florida State. Quincy Roche, IDL, Miami. Osa Odighizuwa, IDL, UCLA. Trey Smith, IOL, Tennessee. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama. Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana.