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Senior Bowl 2022: Biggest winners from Mobile

The 2022 Senior Bowl is officially in the rear view mirror. Here are our biggest winners and risers from the week of practices in Mobile, headlined by FSU’s Jermaine Johnson and Liberty’s Malik Willis.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2022 Senior Bowl is officially over and done with. What a whirlwind week it was. Before I get to the article, let me just say that it was a privilege to get to cover the event and thanks to everyone who helped make it happen.

After going over all my notes from the three days of practices, which you can find recapped here (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3), I’ve finalized my biggest winners from Mobile. Some positions were a lot tougher than others, and there were many standout players that I’m sure I missed. Without further adieu, here are my biggest winners and risers from last week’s Senior Bowl practices. Enjoy!

Quarterback

Biggest winner: Malik Willis, Liberty

The winner at the quarterback position and arguably the biggest riser overall, Liberty’s Malik Willis may have lifted himself into the QB1 debate with a very good week in Mobile. Willis didn’t have the 2021 season many had hoped for, but he impressed every day at the Senior Bowl and reportedly interviewed very well with NFL teams. The prospect with the highest ceiling in terms of athleticism and arm talent, Willis also excelled in a challenging new environment against a high level of competition. He has checked a big box and could go in the top 10 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Honorable mentions

Kenny Pickett, Pitt

Pickett didn’t have a standout week in Mobile, but he did what he needed to do and reportedly interviewed very well. He remains the most NFL-ready prospect and could still be the QB1 when the draft rolls around.

Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Ridder struggled early in the week, but I was impressed with his ability to bounce back and improve every day. By Day 3, Ridder was arguably the second best quarterback behind Willis. Ridder’s accuracy concerns are legitimate and he needs to continue to improve, but his athletic ability was on full display and his arm is very good. If he lasts until the second round, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

Bailey Zappe, WKU

While Bailey Zappe didn’t challenge any of the top guys and isn’t likely to be in the first or second round conversation, he did prove that he belonged with this group. Zappe didn’t look out of place at all and kept pace with the group as a whole. He looks like a high-end NFL backup with spot-starter potential and could be a late-Day 2, early-Day 3 pick.

Offensive line

Biggest winner: Zion Johnson, Boston College

I didn’t touch on Zion Johnson much in my earlier practice recaps, but after going through all the practice clips I was blown away by his consistency and dominance at every position on the offensive line. Johnson proved that he could play center and snapped the ball well. That makes him a 5-position offensive lineman, which is truly rare. Johnson is a potentially-elite guard who can pitch in at center or tackle if needed, and he cemented himself as a first-rounder in Mobile.

Honorable mentions

OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

During a week in which the edge rushers dominated, Trevor Penning continued to fight for the offensive line’s honor. His nastiness and size were on display, and he really started to get under the skin of his opponents as the week went on. He was the best OT in Mobile and probably worked his way into the first round.

OL Darian Kinnard, Kentucky

Kinnard got work at both guard and tackle and looked good, and was definitely one of the most physically imposing offensive linemen.

OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota

Faalele did not have the dominant week I thought he would in my bold predictions tweet, but he did have a good week. As expected, Faalele was an unstoppable run blocker and he moved very well for his size. He’s also raw as a pass blocker and needs work before he’s truly reliable there. I’m still in on him as a late-1st, early-2nd round player.

Wide receiver

Biggest winner: Christian Watson, North Dakota State

Watson was turning heads before practice even started after measuring in at 6’4, 210. He was by far the most physically impressive receiver in Mobile. Then he put on a show over the next three days of practices, dominating with long speed and showing off excellent hands. Watson is probably a deep-ball specialist early in his career, but he has the frame and athletic ability to develop into a high-end WR2 who can help the offense in a multitude of ways.

Honorable mentions

Calvin Austin III, Memphis

One of my favorite tape watches this year, Calvin Austin III was also one of the most fun receivers to watch in Mobile. He measured in better than expected at above 5’7, 172 and showed off his versatile skillset. Austin won with his athleticism as a run-after-catch threat, created separation with advanced route running, and proved he could operate as a deep threat. He’s a great complementary piece and lifted himself into the Day 2 conversation.

Khalil Shakir, Boise State

Shakir had a slow start, but was by far the most dominant receiver on Day 3. He showed off impressive hands, won with some good routes in the red zone, and flashed some impressive athletic ability.

Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama

Tolbert had an up-and-down Senior Bowl and measured in below expectations at just 6’1, 195, but also had some very good flashes. He’s a developmental prospect right now, but has high-end WR2 upside.

Running back

Biggest winner: Dameon Pierce, Florida

This one came completely out of nowhere. With Georgia’s James Cook pulling out, there was a void at running back—and Florida’s Dameon Pierce filled it magnificently. Whether it was as a runner—where he was violent, elusive, and decisive—or as a pass-catcher, Pierce did it all at a high level. He was also very underutilized in college, meaning he doesn’t have the wear-and-tear of some of the higher profile backs. I think Pierce worked his way into the late-Day 2 conversation.

Honorable mentions

Rachaad White, Arizona State

Just behind Pierce is Arizona State’s Rachaad White, who measured in well (6’0, 210) and showed off a well-balanced skillset punctuated by his explosiveness. White caught the ball effectively, had several big runs, and also showed off his patience on Day 3 of practice by following his blocks for several TDs. White is someone I’ll be circling for Atlanta early on Day 3.

Jerome Ford, Cincinnati

One of the most consistent runners in Mobile, Cincinnati’s Jerome Ford had a strong week of practice. He didn’t have the flashiest running style, but Ford showed off his physicality and decisiveness.

Tyler Badie, Missouri

Maybe the best pass-catcher of all the RBs, Missouri’s Tyler Badie also looked good as a runner and got more and more opportunities as the week went on.

D’Vonte Price, FIU

FIU’s D’Vonte Price impressed me with his speed and explosiveness early in the week. Unfortunately, he pulled out due to injury after the second day of practice. Price could be a worthy Day 3 addition, and he measured in with good size at 6’1, 198.

Tight end

Biggest winner: Greg Dulcich, UCLA

I hadn’t watched any of Greg Dulcich’s tape prior to the Senior Bowl, so I was really surprised when he turned in the most consistent week of any tight end. Dulcich looked like the best deep threat of any of the options, was solid as a blocker, and showed off soft hands as a receiver. He’s the biggest riser from this group, which was very talented overall.

Honorable mentions

Trey McBride, Colorado State

I could easily have put McBride as my biggest winner due to his exceptional week in Mobile. However, I gave the honor to Dulcich, simply because McBride’s standout performance was so predictable. McBride is my current TE1 and remains in that spot due to his contested-catch ability, athleticism, and upside as a blocker.

Daniel Bellinger, SDSU

Another tight end prospect I’d never heard of, Daniel Bellinger came on strong in Mobile and ended the week as one of the most-targeted tight ends at practice. He was already known as a good blocker, but his skillset as a receiver gives him legit TE2 upside.

Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina

Isaiah Likely was thought to be the most dominant receiving tight end at the Senior Bowl, and he didn’t quite live up to those expectations. Despite a slow start, Likely finished strong with several impressive catches on Day 2 and a very good Day 3.

Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State

Despite having to drop out after just two days of practice, Ruckert put on a show with his athleticism and receiving ability. He didn’t get a lot of opportunities to display his skills at Ohio State, but he’s in the conversation for TE1 based on his upside and performance in Mobile.

Edge rusher

Biggest winner: Jermaine Johnson, FSU

The best player at the Senior Bowl from any position, Jermaine Johnson’s play was so good that he dropped out of the third day and the game. There was nothing left for him to prove, and I don’t blame him one bit. Johnson was dominant as a pass rusher and run defender, blowing up plays with his explosiveness, agility, and physicality at the point of attack. He looked faster and more confident than ever in Mobile, and he’s almost certainly worked himself into early-1st round consideration.

Honorable mentions

Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina

While Enagbare didn’t stand out quite as much as Johnson, he did look like the second-best edge rusher on the American team. Enagbare’s nearly 84 inch wingspan was on full display, which when combined with his explosiveness was often too much for opponents to handle.

Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

A player I was down on heading into the Senior Bowl, Sanders had a good weigh-in at 6’4, 242 and had a very impressive week. He was the best and most consistent edge rusher on the National team, and answered a lot of questions about his ability to hold up as a run defender.

Sam Williams, Ole Miss

The clear beneficiary of Johnson pulling out of the final day of practice, Ole Miss’ Sam Williams put on a show over the final two days. Williams was explosive and showed off his ability to bend and get to the QB. He’s a big riser from the week and cemented himself as a Day 2 pick.

Deangelo Malone, WKU

A player I was skeptical of due to his lack of ideal size (6’3, 234), WKU’s Deangelo Malone acquitted himself very well in Mobile. He’s a 3-4 OLB only, but showed off exceptional speed and bend. He also held up against the bigger offensive linemen, using technique and leverage to get away from their hands. I like him as an early-Day 3 prospect.

Boye Mafe, Minnesota

An absolute athletic monster, Minnesota’s Boye Mafe had a slow start but came on very strong as the week went on. Mafe has good size at 6’3, 255 and over 33 inch arms, and combines that with some of the best explosiveness in the class. He’s still raw, but he’ll test out as an elite athlete and could hear his name called early on Day 2.

Defensive tackle

Biggest winner: Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

This was a tough choice, as the next name of this list was arguably just as deserving. I’ll give the slight nod to Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey, who was an absolute beast as both a pass rusher and run defender. After being forced to play nose tackle for much of his college career, Winfrey was given a chance to play 3T and create disruption—and he excelled. Winfrey has tremendous size (6’3, 326, nearly 86!! inch arms) and is a great athlete, and he’s just scratching the surface of his potential. I think Winfrey could sneak into the late 1st, but he’ll be a second-round pick at worst.

Honorable mentions

Travis Jones, UConn

Right behind Winfrey is UConn’s Travis Jones, who was absolutely unblockable one-on-one. A true nose tackle at over 6’4, 326, Jones overwhelmed opponents with power and showed off impressive athletic traits at his size. If you love what Jordan Davis offers but don’t want to have to spend a first round pick, circle Travis Jones in the second round.

Logan Hall, Houston

Houston’s Logan Hall wasn’t quite as dominant as some expected, but he had some of the most impressive flashes of any interior player. Questions still remain about where you play him and how well he’ll hold up as a run defender on the inside, but the talent is undeniable.

Devonte Wyatt, Georgia

Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt was quietly one of the most consistent defensive tackles at the Senior Bowl. He didn’t have the crazy flashes of the players above him on this list, but I’d still say he was one of the best players overall.

John Ridgeway, Arkansas

A player I hadn’t watched at all prior to the Senior Bowl, Arkansas’ John Ridgeway impressed me with his physicality and size (6’4, 327). He was an early standout and looked very tough to block one-on-one. Ridgeway likely worked himself into the late-Day 2, early-Day 3 conversation.

Linebacker

Biggest winner: Sterling Weatherford, Miami (OH)

I had never heard of Sterling Weatherford out of Miami (OH), but everyone was talking about him by the time the week ended. Showcasing great size (nearly 6’4, 230) and quality athleticism, Weatherford was good in coverage, plugged holes in the run game, and rushed the passer well when given a chance. I’m not sure if he was the best overall linebacker in Mobile, but he definitely raised his stock more than any other player.

Honorable mentions

Damone Clark, LSU

One of the most productive linebackers in college football, LSU’s Damone Clark was once again constantly around the football in Mobile. He had TFLs, good plays in coverage, and even had a sack on a blitz.

JoJo Domann, Nebraska

While several linebackers had good days in coverage, Nebraska’s JoJo Domann stole the show. He looked like a safety at times, playing the ball well and matching up with everyone the offense could throw at him. Domann is a smaller linebacker at 6’0, 226, but he’s got tremendous range and upside in the passing game.

Channing Tindall, Georgia

With Quay Walker pulling out of the Senior Bowl due to injury, it was up to Channing Tindall to carry the torch for Georgia. He did a good job, with some impressive reps in coverage and as a pass rusher. Tindall wasn’t among the flashiest players in Mobile, but he was one of the most consistent and well-rounded. He’d be a great Day 3 pick as a solid, do-it-all starter.

Cornerback

Biggest winner: Roger McCreary, Auburn

While it was an up-and-down week for most of the defensive backs, one player was consistently dominant: Auburn’s Roger McCreary. McCreary had to answer some questions about his lack of size after measuring in at just 5’11, 189—which was way overblown. He did it emphatically, matching up well with every opponent and generally shutting down the opposition. He’s still got a great chance of going in the first round.

Honorable mentions

Tariq Woolen, UTSA

One of the best athletes at the Senior Bowl—and possibly in the entire draft—UTSA’s Tariq Woolen was a total wild card coming in. His athleticism was obvious, but he also performed well in one-on-ones and in team drills. Woolen is a likely Day 2 pick based on his traits and upside.

Derion Kendrick, Georgia

Kendrick had a relatively quiet week—but that can be a good thing for a corner. He did have a few impact plays and several nice PBUs as the week went on.

Coby Bryant, Cincinnati

Cincinnati’s Coby Bryant was definitely the most consistent corner on the National team, holding his own against a very tough group of receivers. He helped cement himself as a Day 2 pick.

Mario Goodrich, Clemson

Similarly to Kendrick, Clemson’s Mario Goodrich had a quiet week. But that’s because his coverage was generally very good, and I liked how consistent he was matching up with the competition. He’s another possible Day 2 pick for the Falcons.

Safety

Biggest winner: Jalen Pitre, Baylor

The safety class in Mobile suffered a big blow when Jaquan Brisker pulled out, but the clear beneficiary was Baylor’s Jalen Pitre. He was in a class all his own as by far the best and most consistent deep safety. Pitre also matched up very well against the talented tight end and running back class. He may have worked his way into the late-Day 2 conversation based on his play this week.

Honorable mentions

Kerby Joseph, Illinois

A player I had never heard of before the Senior Bowl, Illinois’ Kerby Joseph came out of nowhere to put together one of the best weeks of any secondary player. Joseph got reps at both cornerback and safety, showing off his ballhawking skills and athleticism. For someone who may have been a late-Day 3 pick, I think he acquitted himself very well.

Leon O’Neal, Texas A&M

Texas A&M’s Leon O’Neal was maybe the most fun DB to watch at the Senior Bowl. He was constantly chirping with opponents and would get in their face after he made a play. O’Neal also played well in coverage and as a run defender.

Tycen Anderson, Toledo

Toledo’s Tycen Anderson always looked like a good run defender on tape, but he showed off impressive man coverage ability in one-on-ones and proved he can be more than just a box safety.

That’s all for our final Senior Bowl recap! I hope you enjoyed all of our coverage from Mobile. Look forward to more draft content—including a fresh mock draft—later this week!