2022 Senior Bowl preview | NFL Draft Superlatives

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One of the most important weeks in the NFL Draft scouting process has arrived: Reese’s Senior Bowl 2022 combines top senior talent (and some eligible juniors) into a “Dream Team” roster. Top school prospects can further cement their resumes and show their willingness to compete at every available opportunity. Small school prospects can clear competition questions and increase their stock.

There’s no better combination of drills, training, and playing experience to showcase some of the most notable prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. If you need a quick rundown of each group of positions and a few names to watch, this is the place to be.

Strategist

Most Pro-Ready: Kenny Pickett

Highest Potential: Malik Willis

Biggest sleeper: Bailey Zappe

Most to prove: Malik Willis

Willis has jaw-dropping athletic traits and has made some of the best plays of any QB in this class. He also doubled his total interceptions from six in 2020 to 12 in 2021 but struggled when given the chance to perform against better competition, including against Ole Miss. What better stage to show his improvement than against the best senior defenders in the country. . Willis’ first-round stock is dwindling, but a stellar performance can jump him back into the top 20.

For teams that have a development plan in place and a coaching staff they trust to maximize Willis’ talents, he remains the best bet to bet on for success. The athletic traits are a la Cam Newton, and hopefully the mechanics and decision-making improve over time.

Best Mental Game: Kenny Pickett

Best arm talent: Malik Willis

To recover

Most pro-ready: Brian Robinson Jr.

Highest Potential: James Cook

Biggest sleeper: Jeremiah Room and Connor Heyward

Full-backs also deserve respect. Especially with the way Hall and Heyward exude athleticism, versatility and power. Hall shows the speed, body control and hands to make an impact as a receiver with shades of Kyle Juszczyk. Heyward was a former running back turned tight end/back who led Michigan State in rushing yards in 2018 and was second in 2020. He has vision and is tough to play against.

It’s not the sexiest position, but it’s vital for teams looking to pull off a power-running game. With defenses playing with more lightboxes and two-tier safeties than ever before, look for the run-pass pendulum to get back to ground play. Full-backs, your time is coming back.

Most to prove: the D’Vonte award

Best Vision: Brian Robinson Jr.

Best Cuts: Zaquandre White

wide receiver

Most ready for the pros: Jahan Dotson

Highest Potential: Jahan Dotson

Biggest Sleeper: Tre Turner

Most to prove: Velus Jones Jr.

After spending four years (2016-2019) at USC mostly as a backup and talented kickoff/punter returner, Jones transferred to Tennessee and has just one year of impressive production. In 2021, he posted career highs in catches with 62, receiving yards with 802 and touchdowns with seven.

An unrefined road runner, Jones can exponentially increase his stock by showcasing better road selling sense; he has the athletic ability to pull apart easily. Even if this improvement hasn’t progressed quickly, Jones might have another path to prove himself.

Many NFL teams will be looking for the next Deebo Samuel and while there’s no one who can mirror him this year, Jones might be the closest. With a compact, rock-up build, its run-after-catch ability is fueled by competitive tenacity and agility. Offenses looking for a gimmick role to add a dynamic offense to their scheme should keep an eye on Jones.

Best slot machine: Khalil Shakir

Best Speed: Calvin Austin III

tight end

Most Pro-Ready: Trey McBride

Highest potential: Isaiah probably

Biggest sleeper: Greg Dulcich

One of the few fourth-year juniors to graduate, making him eligible for the Senior Bowl, beware Dulcich. His production speaks for itself; over the past two seasons, he’s had 68 receptions, 1,296 receiving yards at an average of 18.6 per reception, and added 10 touchdowns.

Dulcich is a shrewd road runner in the short and middle areas of the court, a fluid athlete to attack the seam, and a reliable run blocker to top it all off.

Most to prove: Jeremy Ruckert

Best blocker: Charlie Kolar

Best Receiver: Trey McBride

Offensive tackle

Most Pro-Ready: Darian Kinnard

Highest Potential: Trevor Penning

Biggest Sleeper: Max Mitchell

Most to prove: Trevor Penning

While there are plenty of “small school” tackles who have a lot to gain from their experience in Mobile, Penning has the most to gain as he holds potential first-round stock. Trying to follow in Spencer Brown’s footsteps, Penning is a massive prospect who exudes power hands and violent hip torque for pancake defenders.

However, he struggles with the finer aspects of his game, like refitting hands and not compromising his base to ground himself properly. One-on-one pass-rush drills are tough for offensive linemen, but it will be a necessary measuring stick for Penning who has all the tools but just needs to prove he can hang on with the big boys.

Best Pass Protector: Abraham Lucas

Best Run Blocker: Darian Kinnard

Interior offensive line

Most pro-ready: Zion Johnson

Highest Potential: Zion Johnson

Biggest sleeper: weird cole

Each year, the Senior Bowl helps introduce a “little school” inside offensive lineman that the nation falls in love with. This lineman ends up being drafted much higher than originally planned and he makes his team very happy. Strange can follow the most recent example, Quinn Meinerz, and improve his stock with the national spotlight on him.

With a compact frame, Strange is a fluid athlete who can block in gap/power or zone run patterns and has great grip strength and leg drive to create thrust. Additionally, he shows off aggressive, well-placed hands and a wide base to anchor in pass protection. No longer in Chattanooga, Strange will be up against much better players than he’s seen before, so there might be a period of adjustment, but potentially overcoming that leap in talent will be nothing short of impressive.

Most to prove: Dylan Parham

Best Password Protector: Zion Johnson

Best Run Blocker: Ed Ingram

Edge Precipitator

Most ready for the pros: Arnold Ebiketie

Highest Potential: Myjai Sanders

Biggest Sleeper: Jesse Luketa

Most to prove: Cameron Thomas

Thomas is one of the most productive (20.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in 2021) and decorated (2021 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year) players in the Senior Bowl, so what does he have to prove? While he was filling out the stat sheet against lesser competition, he looked like a shell of himself at the end of the season against the top teams in their respective conferences: Utah State and Texas-San Antonio.

He looked slower, less powerful and less punchy overall, and the competition is only going to get better in the NFL. Proving he can hang with the top seniors in the country will be huge for his stock and could create a buzz in the first round.

Most Versatile: Isaiah Thomas

Best start: Myjai Sanders

Interior defensive line

Most pro-ready: Devonte Wyatt

Highest potential: Logan Room

There aren’t many players who have improved more from 2020 to 2021 than Hall. He plays faster, with more determination and his fundamentals allow him to have an impact on every drive. Listed at an unofficial weight of 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, Hall also boasts pterodactyl-like arms and heavy, active hands.

He combines his athletic gifts with a low level of pad and a stellar peak plan and peak setup to make an impact on all three tries. Hall can bring inside pressure when lined up anywhere from NT nose tackle to 4i and fits naturally as a 3-4 end in a gap control system.

Biggest sleeper: Neil Farrell Jr.

Most to prove: Haskell Garrett

Best against the run: Neil Farrell Jr.

Best against the pass: Devonte Wyatt

Linebackers

Most Pro-Ready: Devin Lloyd

Highest Potential: Quay Walker

Biggest sleeper: Brian Asamoah II

While there are plenty of talented Oklahoma defensemen in this draft, Asamoah II might be the best of the bunch. It combines fast game recognition skills with explosive trigger and safe foot speed to fly around the field like a heat-seeking missile. It’s a run tackling machine that plays MIKE’s position and projects nicely on WILL to the next level.

Additionally, his spatial awareness, recognition of route combinations, and ability to read the quarterback’s eyes make him a reliable asset in zone coverage. Although he is generally considered an early Day 3 prospect, expect him to rise early in Day 2 by the end of the draft process.

Most to prove: Troy Andersen

Best against the run: Quay Walker

Best against the pass: JoJo Domann

Cornerbacks

Most ready for the pros: Roger McCreary

Highest Potential: Derion Kendrick

Biggest Sleeper: Alontae Taylor

Most to prove: Zyon McCollum

Best Nickel: Marcus Jones

Best Ballhawk: Coby Bryant

Bryant could also win the ‘Best Name in the Draft’ award, but his falconing skills translate perfectly on the field. Bryant benefits from eye discipline in zone coverage to diagnose route combinations and consistently be in position to skip a route.

His closing speed, ball tracking and sharp skills have led to nine interceptions and 35 pass breakups during his career. Thanks to his traits, if Bryant is placed in a zone-heavy system, he can translate that college production to the pros.

Securities

Most ready for the pros: Jaquan Brisker

Highest potential: JT Woods

Tell me you’re high on a player without telling me you’re high on a player. The Baylor Woods product wins three of these outstanding awards among safeties and deserves it. At an unofficial 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds, his height and frame are a big factor in being able to chase the football and minimize throwing windows.

His instinct, reach and closing speed have helped him lead Baylor in interceptions over his past two seasons and he finished tied for first in the FBS in 2021 with six. Although he’s listed on most sites as a late Day 3 pick, his ball-peddling, aggressive, sure tackle and star-of-the-track speed present easy Day 2 value.

Biggest Sleeper: JT Woods

Most to prove: Yusuf Corker

Best tackler: Jalen Pitre

Best Ballhawk: JT Woods

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