One of the hallmark offseason events on the NFL team building calendar is the Reese's Senior Bowl. Since I've been covering the event in 2014, it's continued to grow in stature for teams, media and, most importantly, the prospects. Since 2014, the Texans have looked to the Senior Bowl to bolster the roster. Nick Martin, Jordan Akins, Charlie Heck and Tytus Howard are four Texans that spent a week in front of the throng of important NFL decision makers. So, it begs the question - who will be next from Mobile?
With that question in mind, and Senior Bowl week on the horizon, I figured we could look at the prospects headed to the Senior Bowl by position. We start today with the cornerbacks.
Players headed to Mobile (as of 1/14/2021)
D.J. Daniel, Georgia (6-1, 185)
Kary Vincent Jr., LSU (Nickel - 5-10, 185)
Keith Taylor, Washington (6-3, 195)
Elijah Molden, Washington (Nickel - 5-10, 190)
Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon (5-11, 197)
Tre Brown, Oklahoma (5-10, 186)
Bryan Mills, North Carolina Central (6-2, 180)
Ambry Thomas, Michigan (6-0, 183)
Mark Webb, Georgia (6-1, 200)
Aaron Robinson, UCF (Nickel - 6-1, 193)
Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas (6-2, 195)
Rodarius Williams, Oklahoma State (6-0, 195)
Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse (Safety/cornerback - 6-3, 213)
Tre Norwood, Oklahoma (Nickel - 6-0, 194)
Opt outs/Playing football for the first time in a calendar year.
Kary Vincent Jr., LSU - Vincent Jr. wasn't the only LSU player to opt out in 2020 but he might have the most to gain with a strong week in Mobile. The speed is evident as he was a former track star as well, running for the LSU track team while in Baton Rouge. But, he's probably best served to play the inside/slot. Now, don't misunderstand, that's a HUGELY important position in the NFL these days and Vincent stands to make an impression playing well at that spot in coverage.
Thomas Graham Jr., Oregon - I could see Graham, more so than Vincent, playing on the outside, but he also has some nickel abilities as well. I don't know if the Pac-12 waffling on a season played a role in his opt out, but he stayed with his decision to opt out. He knows he has an opportunity in Mobile to show that his three years as a starter were not all for naught
Bryan Mills, North Carolina Central (6-2, 170) - the opt out was sort of forced on Mills as most FCS schools moved football to the spring season. Mills, with his sights set on the NFL, decided to opt out and get ready for the Senior Bowl. He's a long, rangy corner who will have plenty to overcome; however, there's recent precedent for FCS players starring in Mobile and hearing their names called early in the draft - Kyle Dugger (Patriots), Jeremy Chinn (Panthers) and the big fella we know Tytus Howard.
Ambry Thomas, Michigan (6-0, 182) - The B1G didn't help any of their players' causes with the in, the out and the back in and Thomas was one of those guys with NFL aspirations that was caught in the crosshairs.
Family Matters - Players with family connections to the NFL
Rodarius Williams, Oklahoma State - I really thought Williams took a huge leap in 2020 and improved his overall draft stock. His brother Greedy Williams was a second round pick for Cleveland in 2019.
Ifatu Melifonwu, Syracuse - the cornerback/safety hybrid is the brother of Obi Melifonwu, who was drafted in the second round out of U Conn in 2017.
Elijah Molden, Washington - his dad Alex was an All-American cornerback at Oregon, which preceded an eight year NFL career with the Saints, Chargers and Lions.
Intrigue Meter is high
Robert Rochell, Central Arkansas - The Bears didn't play a full FCS schedule but even a shortened season allowed Rochell to get in seven games worth of film. I called a couple of his games when he was a youngster so I'm really intrigued to see him up close again.
Aaron Robinson, UCF - Watching Robinson a couple of times on film, I'm not completely sure where he should play. Down deep, I think he should move to safety but I'm intrigued to see him cover inside, and out, before saying that for a fact. He played a ton on the inside at UCF, with a stud safety like Richie Grant behind him.
Crush Alert - My positional crush - I have one every year at each position.
Molden - Playing at the University of Washington, it's a shame that more people aren't aware of him. In the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl MVP, a win over Boise State, he finished with nine tackles, 0.5 TFL, one forced fumble and one INT. Furthermore, he was a 1st team All-Pac-12 honoree and a 2nd team All-American (PFF). In the truncated 2020 season, Molden was again 1st Team All-Pac-12 playing in just four games. Between the lines, he's a ballhawk, an excellent tackler and a team leader. As noted above, he's the son of former University of Oregon Hall of Fame cornerback Alex Molden, who locked down the outside in coverage. In contrast, the younger Molden plays safety/nickel with a smooth ferocity that makes him one of the nation's best defensive backs. His understanding of the game is outstanding and watching him on film, he plays the game with a controlled aggression - knowing when to go make the play, yet not get caught out of position if the play comes back his way.