The week of practices for the 2024 edition of the Senior Bowl have concluded, as the American and National sides prepare for gameday on Saturday, February 3rd.
Both of the players representing the Mid-American Conference made some genuine strides during the practice sessions, with both Toledo defensive back Quinyon Mitchell and Western Michigan defensive lineman Marshawn Kneeland adding to their stock with great performances.
We take measure of both prospects as the majority of the Senior Bowl activities are in the rear view mirror.
Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell
- Height: six foot and three-eighth inches
- Weight: 195 lbs.
- Arms: 31 and one-eighth inches
- Hands: nine and one-eighth inches
- Wingspan: 75 and six-eighths inches
Mitchell was a revelation in Mobile, emerging from the practice sessions as one of the event’s best overall players. Mitchell was already a fairly high-rated prospect coming into the Senior Bowl as a potential late first-to-early-second round pick. The prevailing narrative on Mitchell suggested this week would be instrumental in determining if he would stay in that range.
Instead, he exceeded it, propelling himself into the mid-first round range thanks to his performance during one-on-one drills and 11-on-11 sessions.
Mitchell at one point did not allow a single catch in one-on-one drills, and notched several pass break-ups and interceptions throughout the week, using his length and speed to make plays.
In this one-on-one rep, Mitchell lines up against USC receiver Brenden Rice (a projected Day 2 pick) and never loses a step, staying attached at the hip and anticipating the pass before Rice can get in position to make the play, ultimately getting the interception.
Mitchell also showed his ability in a “best-on-best” situation, lining up against Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson. Mitchell once again maintains sticky man coverage, keeping step-in-step with Wilson despite the start-and-stop motion and maintaining that straight-line speed through to the end of the play (an incomplete pass sailing over Wilson’s head.)
Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell is the best defensive player at Senior Bowl & this is the best rep of the week! pic.twitter.com/SOBJeZGLlH— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 31, 2024
Mitchell also looked the part in 11-on-11 drills. On this rep against Brendan Rice, Mitchell sits in zone coverage, keeps his eyes on the quarterback, then takes a great first step to get in front of the receiver and break up the pass while the receiver tries to set up for the catch-and-run.
One last 11-on-11 rep to leave on here before going into superlatives. Mitchell is lined up to play man coverage on a quick RPO look, but he sticks to his man and gets the pass break-up on sheer speed.
Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell looks like he belongs with his play at the #SeniorBowl so far.— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) January 30, 2024
6 INT and 37 PBU in his last two seasons. Freak athlete with a high football IQ and a scrappy edge — I’d be stunned if he doesn’t go Round 1. pic.twitter.com/VsycycPC1R
Mitchell was mentioned as a standout all over NFL media in all three days of practice coverage by NFL Network thanks to his stellar performance, especially on Day 2. He wasn’t satisfied, however, noting he dropped several interceptions on the day and lost a rep to Roman Wilson on a gnarly one-handed catch.
“I know I belong and I’m gonna always try to dominate,” Mitchell said to NFL Network’s Eric Edholm. “So, Round 1, Round 2, whatever it is, I try not to get into all of that. I just want to compete and win whenever I’m out there.”
Lance Zierlein of the NFL Network has put Mitchell in the potential CB1 mix, giving this assessment of the Toledo prospect:
“Mitchell is a riser. He entered the week squarely on the radar for scouts with his combination of size and game film, but it’s different when you see him in person. Mitchell utilizes a lot of trap coverage techniques off of press, where he makes an early leverage declaration and forces the receiver to release outside. From there, he has shown off the speed and body control to stay in phase with receivers and has the physicality to close off the catch space. “
Leger Douzable of CBS Sports also effused praise on Mitchell after Day 2, noting after watching Mitchell “It looks like he’s out for a jog. … Probably the highest-rated defensive player here.” Mitchell’s verified 4.3 40-yard dash likely has a lot to do with that, with Dane Brugler of The Athletic suggesting in his Top 50 Big Board (where Mitchell is currently #35) that speed gave Toledo coaches confidence to leave him out on an island.
So far, so good for Mitchell, who will likely next look towards the NFL Combine as a potential Top 30 prospect.
Western Michigan defensive lineman Marshawn Kneeland
- Height: six-foot-three
- Weight: 268 lbs.
- Arms: 34 inches
- Hands: nine and one-eighth inches
- Wingspan: 83 and three-eighth inches
Marshawn Kneeland has been considered a rising prospect in a deep defensvie edge class in most draft circles and performed to expectations during his practices in Mobile— though it should be noted that he was the fastest defensive lineman by GPS radar on the National squad by nearly a full mile-per-hour.
WMU DL Marshawn Kneeland was cooking in today's practice... pic.twitter.com/8E08Sb3KZh— Jeff Risdon (@JeffRisdon) January 30, 2024
Kneeland sees himself as a defensive end at the pro level, but showed off a flexibility which combined with his size and speed will propel him up draft charts.
“I’m excited to showcase the full range of my capabilities” Kneeland told The Draft Network’s Justin Melo earlier this week. ”NFL scouts know that I’m powerful. They also know that I played against Group of Five, not Power Five competition. There are some questions that come with that. I want to prove that I can maintain my level of play against everybody in this draft class. Hopefully, the scouts will trust in my ability to do it against anybody in the NFL as well.”
The Grand Rapids, Michigan native certainly showed off some great potential in Mobile this week, impressing the assembled crowd with his combination of speed and power.
Kneeland had a few highlight plays during 11-on-11 sessions, showing off some great power moves along the way. His athleticism is immediate, even on reps where he doesn’t get a win. Lined up against Florida’s Kingsley Eguakun, Kneeland immediately gets the first step and straightens out his arms to gain separation before pursuing the QB. Eguakun recovers to get Kneeland out of the play, but it still forces a pressure and was ultimately counted as a sack.
A similar story here on this one-on-one rep vs. Arizona’s Jordan Morgan. Morgan initially gets the step on Kneeland to meet him at the point of attack, but Kneeland meets him directly head-on and gets stuck in the hold, pushing Morgan backwards on sheer will.
Western Michigan’s Marshawn Kneeland is a day 2 EDGE player that I’m excited to watch this week.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) January 30, 2024
Displays some of his power and just pure energy that he plays with on this play. pic.twitter.com/jjh7Imc86o
Kneeland’s motor is non-stop; even on this lost rep to Washington’s Roger Rosengarten, Kneeland is still trying to work his away around with his speed and bend to maintain the pressure on the backfield. It’s a rep which both players were pretty heated on, as they exhanged pleasantries afterwards.
Roger Rosengarten vs Marshawn Kneeland gets a little chippy pic.twitter.com/DlsCClo3b6— Parker Blake (@ParkerBlake60) February 1, 2024
On this 11-on-11 rep vs. projected first-round pick Taliese Fuaga, Kneeland gets leverage by taking advantage of his speed to gain positioning, then using a forklift/swipe move to get past the block and place pressure on the quarterback.
Gorgeous forklift-swipe move from Western Michigan edge Marshawn Kneeland who also got Fuaga on an inside spin earlier at the top of the QB’s drop. Nice day for him. pic.twitter.com/vdqNeRdKnW— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) January 31, 2024
Once again vs. Fuaga— this time in one-on-one drills— Kneeland is able to navigate an initial win by Fuaga and get around him with some finesse on a spin move and ultimately win the rep.
Nice late spin move back inside from Marshawn Kneeland vs Taliese Fuaga. pic.twitter.com/LrdvzoYqXZ— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) January 31, 2024
His efforts have been noticed by attending media, with Dallas Cowboys embedded reporter Nick Harris saying on Twitter Kneeland is “[a]thletic, handsy and instinctual in the run game” and a likely Day 2 projection in April’s draft.
Dane Brugler of The Athletic is similarly high on Kneeland, giving the WMU product a second-round grade based on his film and noting he should be a player to watch throughout practices.
John Vogel of NFL Draft Lodge was impressed with Kneeland’s energy and technique, noting on Twitter Kneeland “[shows] hands when he wants to be a technical, and power when he wants to be a bully.” Vogel also suggested Kneeland would be a pro fit at both the three-tech and five-tech spots on the defensive line.
Already considered a Day 2 prospect by most mock drafts, Kneeland has likely played himself into Round 2-3 range after an impressive week. It’s to be determined if he receives an NFL Combine invitation.