The Super Bowl is set with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Kansas City Chiefs. Fans of the other 30 NFL teams will of course tune in to watch the game, the commercials and the halftime performance. But they’re also taking an early look at the 2021 NFL Draft, which is now under 100 days away (April 29-May 1).
With Senior Bowl practices beginning this week in Mobile, Ala., ahead of the game on Saturday afternoon, it’s a good time to take an early look at the NFL Draft analysts’ boards and see where prospects are projected before the workouts begin. Hamsah Nasirildeen, Marvin Wilson and Janarius Robinson will participate in workouts and play in the Senior Bowl (Saturday at 2:30 p.m., NFL Network).
Here are comments from three media outlets on FSU prospects:
Asante Samuel Jr.
The cornerback is viewed highly due to his coverage skills and lineage with the asterisk of height (FSU has listed Samuel Jr. at 5-foot-10 and 184 pounds). According to Pro Football Focus, Samuel Jr. allowed just 179 receiving yards in his eight games in 2020 and quarterbacks had a passer rating of just 46.2. After Samuel Jr. had two interceptions in the opener against Georgia Tech, quarterbacks just didn’t test him nearly as often.
There will always be a knock on a corner who is under 6-foot, but Samuel has drawn comparisons to his dad (Asante Samuel, who played from 2003-13, was also 5-10 but very productive with 51 interceptions and 439 tackles).
Samuel is viewed as as a late first-round pick or early second-round pick. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has him at No. 34 on his top 100, while Pro Football Focus also has him at No. 34 on its top 100. CBSSports.com has Samuel at No. 46 on its top 100.
Nasirildeen was limited to just two games (13 tackles and an interception), but his 2019 film caught the attention of NFL scouts. Beyond being a productive safety with more than 100 tackles, Nasirildeen is a thumper and erases big plays. Had he been healthy, Nasirildeen may have been viewed as a slam-dunk first-round pick. His desire to return late in FSU’s 2020 season reinforces his character to the Seminoles’ coaches and thus the NFL teams who are evaluating him. Nasirildeen simply could have opted out but he didn’t, remaining active in position meetings, on the practice field and on the sideline. Nasirildeen’s evals right now are all over the place — No. 36 by CBS, No. 42 by PFF and No. 73 by the Athletic — but expect the Senior Bowl will be an opportunity for him to showcase his talent and solidify himself as a potential first-round pick.
The defensive tackle has wildly mixed early evals from draft analysts. He is listed at No. 35 on CBSSports.com’s list, 61st on PFF’s list and is not listed on Brugler’s top 100. The challenge with Wilson clearly is how to evaluate a 2020 season with high expectations — Wilson was a unanimous preseason All-American — but one in which he delivered just 17 tackles, two QB hurries and one sack in six games. Some of that production was due to double-teams and injury, but Wilson needs to reinforce his capabilities at the Senior Bowl and pre-draft workouts.
The defensive end has been cited by some, including the Senior Bowl staff, as having the prototype body size (FSU listed him at 6-5 and 260) as well as pass-rushing skills that are worthy of evaluation this spring. Robinson isn’t high on analysts’ draft boards but if he interviews and tests well, he could prove worthy of a mid- or late-round pick.
The Senior Bowl practices will be held this week and the game is on Saturday, with coaches from the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers leading the instruction.
Some all-star games have been canceled due to the pandemic. The East-West Shrine practices and games, typically held in Tampa and St. Petersburg, are taking the year off. And the NFLPA all-star game, usually held in Southern California, is also not being played this year.
The NFL Combine will also not be held in February-March in Indianapolis, with a focus instead on Pro Days at campuses around the country. Interviews with prospects will be done virtually and a plan is being formulated to do medical tests.
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