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Senior Bowl 2022: Day 2 practice recap

The second day of Senior Bowl practices continued to feature dominance by the defensive lines. After struggling the first day, the QBs had a stronger outing, with Malik Willis in particular standing out. Read on for our observations from Day 2!

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The second practice of the 2022 Senior Bowl is officially in the books. The rain was coming down hard and heavy at times, with a blustery wind making things thoroughly uncomfortable for the unprepared. I was not unprepared, and was able to enjoy practice in it’s entirety while only getting partially soaked. Both teams devoted more practice time to team drills on Wednesday, which is great.

After focusing on the OL/DL on Day 1, I spent most of Wednesday’s practice watching the skill position guys: QB, WR, TE, and DB. Read on for my biggest takeaways from the second day of practices in Mobile, and check out The Falcoholic Live for my instant reactions—which ended up being an impromptu Twitter Spaces due to bad internet. You can also check my Twitter timeline for the rest of my recorded practice clips.

Defensive lines dominate again

This is going to sound familiar, but the defensive lines on both teams once again stole the show. In team periods, the National offense consistently struggled to even get plays off because of the pressure. Things were a little more back-and-forth on the American side, but the DL had the clear advantage.

  • WKU EDGE Deangelo Malone once again showed off impressive ability as a speed rusher. He had several impact plays including a sack on Malik Willis.
  • The standout player from the National practice was Oklahoma DT Perrion Winfrey. Winfrey was dominant on the interior and was nearly unblockable, blowing up play after play in the team sessions.
  • Other interior players who continued to impress me: Houston DL Logan Hall, UConn NT Travis Jones, LSU DT Neil Farrell Jr., Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt, and Arkansas DT John Ridgeway III

QBs improve on Day 2

After a lackluster showing on the first day—particularly from the National group—the quarterback play was actually better despite the pouring rain and wind. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett didn’t seem to have any issues gripping the ball in the adverse conditions. Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder (who has already met with the Falcons) was still up-and-down, but hit some impressive throws and looked more comfortable under center. Nevada QB Carson Strong connected on perhaps the best offensive play of the National practice, hitting NDSU WR Christian Watson (who I’ll get to later) on a nice but slightly underthrown deep ball.

On the American side, the QB play in general continued to be more consistent. However, Liberty QB Malik Willis stole the show with a very good day as a passer and a scrambler. He seems very comfortable in Mobile and I think his stock will be firmly back in the first round after this week.

UNC QB Sam Howell and WKU QB Bailey Zappe both had solid outings, with Howell perhaps the second most impressive QB on Wednesday.

WRs and TEs impress

The clear standout from the National practice, as I mentioned above, was North Dakota State WR Christian Watson. Watson has tremendous size and long speed and was dusting every DB he faced in one-on-ones and in team situations. Every single QB underthrew him, every time. He’s definitely raised his stock this week.

On the American side, the most dynamic player continues to be Memphis WR Calvin Austin III. He was beating guys at all levels of the field, including as a dump-off option and a deep threat.

In terms of the tight end group, a few players were sharp today. Pretty much every TE in the National group made plays. Trey McBride continued his solid week, making a ton of contested catches. Charlie Kolar was open on a deep pass in the endzone, but was just overthrown. Jake Ferguson and Cole Turner both had a few nice catches. The big standout was Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert. Ruckert looked dynamic and showed off his size, athleticism, and route running.

On the American side, UCLA TE Greg Dulcich was responsible for a ton of big plays and seemed to always be open. He’s definitely someone who has improved his stock this week.

Florida’s Dameon Pierce is the best RB in Mobile

While there were a number of impressive reps from the running backs on Wednesday, the clear winner has been Florida’s Dameon Pierce. Pierce has looked decisive, athletic, and physical as a ballcarrier. He’s also shown off soft hands as a receiver and has hit a few key pass blocks. In a muddied group of Day 3 RBs, Pierce may have lifted himself above the rest.

On the American side, I’ve also continued to be impressed with FIU’s D’Vonte Price. He’s quick with his cuts and has good long speed.

Things are a little more competitive in the National group. Michigan’s Hassan Haskins had to pull out due to injury. In his place, Missouri’s Tyler Badie and Cincinnati’s Jerome Ford traded impressive reps as receivers and runners. The biggest standout on that squad continues to be Arizona State’s Rachaad White, who is simply on a different level in terms of explosiveness.

DBs stand out in inclement weather

With the wind blowing and the rain coming down, I was hoping to see the defensive backs make some plays—and they didn’t disappoint.

On the National team, Baylor safety Jalen Pitre continues to be the best of the deep guys. He has good range and instincts and nearly created several turnovers. Cincinnati CB Coby Bryant has consistently looked like one of the better corners in Mobile.

On the American side, several corners had standout days. Auburn’s Roger McCreary, Clemson’s Mario Goodrich, and Georgia’s Derion Kendrick all had their share of nice plays. Missouri’s Akayleb Evans was sticky in coverage and played the ball well. Tennessee’s Alontae Taylor had a good day in coverage and showed off his skills as a blitzer with a sack on Malik Wills.

At safety, Toledo’s Tycen Anderson was very effective as a run stuffer and showed off good range as a tackler. Texas A&M’s Leon O’Neal has been one of the most animated players at practice and always seems to be around the ball.

Offensive line struggles, but a few players had good days

The offensive lines as a whole struggled in both one-on-ones and team drills. Since I was focused mostly on the skill position players on Wednesday, I didn’t watch the one-on-ones as closely. However, in team drills, a few guys continued to stand out.

From the National team, UNI OT Trevor Penning continues to look like the best offensive lineman on that squad. OT Daniel Faalele—who already met with the Falcons—has continued his dominance as a run blocker, but struggled against some of the elite pass rushers. He clearly needs the growth, but the tools are there. On the interior, Boston College’s Zion Johnson continues to look great and Michigan’s Andrew Steuber has been solid.

On the American side, the star of the show has continued to be Kentucky’s Darian Kinnard. The two Georgia guards, Jamaree Salyer and Justin Shaffer have also held up well. In general, the interior players have played better. Virginia Tech’s Lecitus Smith and Tennessee’s Cade Mays both had solid days.

That’s all for today’s recap! Thursday’s practice has been moved indoors due to inclement weather, which means media isn’t allowed to attend in person. I’ll still be reporting on the live-streamed video of practice, but I won’t have clips on my own to share. Stay tuned for another practice recap tomorrow, along with a live recap of today’s practice on Falcoholic Live!