Senior Bowl Star Destroys Expectations in Packers-Led Workout

Senior Bowl Star Destroys Expectations in Packers-Led Workout


Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers talks with quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 on the sidelines during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Arlington, Texas.

Even with a broken hand, Quinn Meinerz did not disappoint in his pre-draft workout with the Green Bay Packers.

Meinerz, a small-school NFL prospect out of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, added to his growing prestige on Thursday when he pumped out 33 reps of 225 pounds on bench press in a Packers-run scouting workout.

What’s more impressive is the former Division III interior offensive lineman was only just recently cleared for the exercise again after he fractured his right hand during practice for the Senior Bowl back in January. Meinerz ended up playing through the injury with a glove on his hand and still gave scouts a memorable performance at center, but his strong bench-press numbers are a good sign for him rehabbing his grip.

Only four offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL draft class recorded 33 or more reps on bench press, two of which went on to become Packers — fifth-round picks Simon Stepaniak (37 reps) and Jake Hanson (33 reps). Green Bay may have to aim higher if they want to secure Meinerz in 2021, though.

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Will Meinerz Rise to Day 2 Pick?

Meinerz was a virtually unknown player at the start of 2021, coming into the Senior Bowl as one of the few small-school guys on the invite list. The Associated Press and American Football Coaches Association had both dubbed him a first-team All-American in 2019, but he was forced to sit out in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down Wisconsin-Whitewater’s season.

Turns out, a chance to show he hadn’t lost his step was all Meinerz needed to wow the NFL scouts in the practices leading up to the Senior Bowl.

After seeing Meinerz in action in the showcase, all 32 NFL teams sent at least one representative to Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Pro Day on March 9 with 37 scouts in total attending the Combine-substituting workout. There, he consistently clocked under 5.00 seconds in the 40-yard dash with an official time of 4.86 seconds and a 10-yard split of 1.73 seconds. He also impressed with a 32-inch vertical jump.

Now, the question about Meinerz has shifted from “Will he be drafted?” to “When will he be drafted?” It would be surprising at this point to see him selected any later than the fifth round, but injuries to two of the top centers in the 2021 draft class — Alabama’s Landon Dickerson (torn ACL) and Ohio State’s Josh Myers (broken foot bones) — could see him come off the board much earlier.

Could Meinerz Help Packers Replace Corey Linsley?

The Packers are looking for a new starting center after allowing former starter Corey Linsley to walk in free agency and not signing any new free agents to help them address his absence. They could decide to go with an option already on their roster — maybe 2020 sixth-round pick Jake Hanson? — but their best bet might still be landing a new, starter-quality center in next week’s draft.

Meinerz certainly checks some of the boxes for the Packers. He is an aggressive bull in the run game who operates with a ton of raw power and often bodies defenders to the turf. He also displays excellent awareness in pass protection with the athleticism and mobility to quickly adjust to a persistent pass rusher. According to Pro Football Focus, Meinerz did not allow a sack, hit or pressure during his 2019 All-American season.

The bigger question about the NFL hopeful is how he will adjust to playing against the big boys. He did well against Division III competition playing at left guard and turned heads at center in the Senior Bowl, but he was never consistently tested against some of college football’s best pass rushers. There is a reason why NFL teams are hesitant to spend draft picks on D-III prospects.

The Packers are more likely to trust their own scouting in a case-by-case manner than simply rule out a small-school prospect, though. They clearly liked him enough after the Senior Bowl and his Pro Day to run a workout for him at Whitewater, and they have the draft capital to move around to get him if they really want him with 10 total picks.

The first round of the 2021 NFL draft will begin on April 29.

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