Senior Bowl practices are officially in the books and several prospects improved their draft stock throughout various competitive settings. All 32 NFL franchises now have a better feel for each player's skill set and personality via on-field practices and off-field prospect interviews. The star-studded annual all-star event presents draft hopefuls with an excellent and rare opportunity for college football's brightest and most talented playmakers to get themselves up close and personal with NFL decision-makers ahead of April's life-changing event. With practices now an event of the past, attention turns to Saturday's game between the National Team (coached by the New York Jets) and the American Team (coached by the Detroit Lions). It represents the final opportunity for this year's participants to impress NFL onlookers. The magnitude of the opportunity that competing in Mobile represents will culminate with Saturday's competitive contest that promises to deliver entertainment in abundance. We've identified three player-vs-player matchups we’re particularly excited to monitor.
QUARTERBACKS VS… THEMSELVES.Mobile, Alabama welcomed one of its most intriguing crops of quarterbacks in recent years by securing the participation of Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett, Liberty's Malik Willis, North Carolina's Sam Howell, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder, and Nevada's Carson Strong at this year's iteration. All five quarterbacks have legitimate chances to hear their names called in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, as the class lacks a consensus QB1. It's extremely difficult to predict how NFL teams will view these quarterbacks. The fifth quarterback on one team's big board may rank first for another. The quintet of Pickett, Strong, Ridder, Howell, and Willis arrived in Mobile with hopes of separating themselves from the pack. Varying reports indicate that all five signal-callers experienced up-and-down performances throughout tough-natured practices, and ranking these signal-callers remains a difficult exercise to partake in. Justin Herbert and Dak Prescott captured recent MVP honors at The Senior Bowl game, and the event has served as a great indicator of future success. Saturday's game represents a final opportunity for these quarterbacks to prove why they should be the first QB selected in April.
NATIONAL TEAM WRS VS AMERICAN TEAM DBSSeveral of the National Team's receivers have experienced a stock-boosting week in Mobile. Boise State's Khalil Shakir has electrified on-lookers with his extremely rare stop-and-start, quick-twitch route-running ability. Shakir caught the eye of our Bryan Perez with his short-area speed which allowed him to gain separation rather quickly despite his lack of desired size and length. Cincinnati's Alec Pierce arrived in Mobile as one of the better-known receivers after experiencing a dream-like campaign with the playoff-bound Bearcats in 2021. Pierce entered the week with a known reputation to excel in contested-catch situations but also showcased better quickness than initially indicated. North Dakota State's Christian Watson may have strung together the most consistent week of any receiver in attendance. The 6-foot-4 Watson possesses ideal size and proved he belonged among playmakers that played their college football in bigger conferences. The group lining up across from these receivers in Saturday's game includes Auburn's Roger McCreary, who possesses first-round potential. Clemson's Mario Goodrich is an incredibly smart defensive back with the physicality, length, and athletic movements to lockdown his receiver in coverage. Nebraska's Cam Taylor-Britt and Tennessee's Alontae Taylor exhibited toughness in abundance throughout the week of practice. These receiver-vs-cornerback matchups are of the must-watch variety.
AMERICAN TEAM DL VS NATIONAL TEAM OLFor as exciting as it will be to keep a watchful eye on the quarterbacks and the receiver-cornerback showdowns, the fiercest of battles throughout the week of practice occurred in the trenches. The American Team roster is booming with defensive line talent that possesses the traits necessary to make quarterbacks extremely uncomfortable at the next level. Florida State's Jermaine Johnson was pegged as a major winner by our Joe Marino, as Johnson was quite possibly the most talented player in Mobile. Johnson's dynamic blend of speed, power, and length made him a near-impossible assignment for opposing offensive linemen all week long. South Carolina's Kingsley Enagbare has an intriguing amount of pass-rushing upside. Enagbare consistently defeated offensive linemen in one-on-one opportunities. Alabama's Phidarian Mathis is extremely stout at the point of attack and plays with outstanding leverage. Georgia's Devonte Wyatt will unfortunately miss the game with an ankle injury and would have made this list had he remained healthy. The National Team's offensive linemen will provide these players with healthy competition on Saturday. Boston College's Zion Johnson was arguably the best offensive lineman in attendance with his impressive ability to play multiple positions across the interior. Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning was the toughest player throughout practice, with a mean streak that nearly started several on-field skirmishes. Central Michigan's Bernhard Raimann and Minnesota's Daniel Faalele are mammoth blindside protectors with the size and movement skills to match up with any and all EDGE rushers. The intensity will be at an all-time high.
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