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Malik Willis and 5 different Senior Bowl observations that might change the NFL Draft

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The Senior Bowl is at all times an interesting occasion. Whereas it ranks under the mix within the thoughts of followers, it serves as a uncommon alternative for NFL teaching staffs to get hands-on expertise with gamers they might be choosing in a number of months.

It’s actually an inside observe to study issues that may’t be advised by measurables and interviews. Certain, prospects are inclined to thoughts their P’s and Q’s with next-level coaches round, however they’ll’t conceal their capability to soak up teaching and recommendation, then apply that to their video games. Previously we’ve seen gamers be chosen by their Senior Bowl coaches, so it’s not one thing you’ll be able to merely blow off within the course of.

No. 1: A least one group goes to fall in love with Malik Willis

I used to be given absolute hell (critically, you must have seen my inbox) for mocking Malik Willis within the Prime 10 earlier this 12 months. On the time my reasoning was that one group was going to completely fall in love along with his potential, and now that appears to be rising.

Willis was the speak of the city throughout apply week, with everybody in attendance gushing about his athleticism and willingness to soak up teaching. It’s a uncommon instance of a quarterback garnering great hype with out the school stats, or tape to essentially again it up. This may unquestionably be a leap of religion for whoever pulls the set off on the decide, however his uncommon attributes are pronounced sufficient that I believe quite a few groups are actually going to wish to take a deep dive into evaluating Willis.

Within the passing recreation Willis was very common, simply going 2-for-4 for 11 yards. Nonetheless, as a dual-threat QB he lit the sport up along with his speeding capability. Willis led each groups with 54 yards speeding, together with a deep 27-yard gash that confirmed big-play capability.

Groups will now wish to take a deeper dive and isolate which points he wants corrected on the subsequent stage, and watch all of the tape to see how a lot a few of his lackluster performances could be blamed on poor surrounding expertise at Liberty. In his solely recreation towards a ranked opponent this season (No. 16 Ole Miss), Willis had his worst recreation of the season throwing three interceptions, however he was additionally sacked NINE TIMES with an offensive line that was mainly Swiss cheese.

All it takes is one group, and I believe somebody goes to see Josh Allen potential in Malik Willis.

No. 2: Kenny Pickett goes to be polarizing all through draft season

Pickett was excellent within the Senior Bowl, going 6-for-6 for 89 yards and a landing. Nonetheless, he leaves the sport with out a lot hype. It’s a curious case the place groups appear reticent to get on board, although he’s broadly thought of one of the best quarterback on this class.

All of it comes right down to ceiling, and there’s a really particular concern that Pickett is already pretty much as good as he’s going to get. For what it’s value, I believe this a fairly unfair evaluation, however the NFL Draft is at all times about marrying manufacturing with potential, and that second component is the place issues are inclined to falter. This week was extra about confirming what everybody knew about Pickett, reasonably than him blowing folks away with parts of his recreation they hadn’t seen.

In the end he has an above-average arm, above-average athleticism, however nowhere close to the soccer IQ as somebody like Mac Jones. I point out Jones as a result of he was an analogous QB who folks felt had maxed out his ceiling earlier than coming into the NFL, then went on to have a greater rookie season than anybody else in his highly-vaunted class.

There have been some claims Pickett can come off as conceited, and it will probably give groups pause — particularly contemplating his main areas of enchancment want to return with how he perceives and reacts to strain. There’s little doubt he’ll get loads of deep seems from groups, however he leaves the Senior Bowl kind of the place he started.

No. 3: Boye Mafe shot his draft inventory to the moon

Minnesota defensive finish Boye Mafe was seen as Prime 100 participant with an opportunity to be chosen on Day 2 of the NFL Draft. Not anymore. An absolute freak athlete with approach issues, no one did extra for themselves than Mafe with the Senior Bowl.

The sting rusher was a sponge when being coached, absorbing all the things being given to him and regularly getting higher all through the week. Then when it got here to the sport he went off. Mafe completed with two sacks, a deal with for a loss, and a compelled fumble. All this coming with solely 5 days of practising taking part in along with his hand within the dust. Severely, he’d been a get up move rusher till the Senior Bowl, and instantly grew to become a power.

There’s completely little doubt Mafe turned heads, and the one factor conserving him out of the primary spherical might be simply how ludicrously deep the move speeding class is. Nonetheless, I might see him sneaking into the back-end of the primary and becoming a member of a playoff group the place he is usually a rotational rusher to begin, with the promise of being a distinction maker in 12 months two.

No. 4: Trevor Penning is making a robust push to be a primary spherical decide

There are such a lot of good offensive linemen this 12 months that it grew to become straightforward to miss Trevor Penning out of Northern Iowa. That may’t be the case anymore. Penning took himself from being a doable 2nd or third spherical decide and appears each little bit of a participant who shall be taken by somebody within the first.

At 6’6, 330 kilos his dimension on this class is just rivaled by Alabama’s Evan Neal, who will probably go within the Prime 10. Penning equally is aware of how one can use his dimension to his benefit, and likewise has actually fast ft for a person of his dimension. As well as, he confirmed a imply streak in Senior Bowl practices this week that makes old-school soccer guys salivate.

If Penning doesn’t go within the first spherical I professional he’ll be gone within the prime few picks of the second spherical.

No. 5: Carson Sturdy might want to put in enormous work on the mix

One of many extra fascinating QBs not getting a number of consideration is Carson Sturdy, and there’s no have to sugar coat this one: He was unhealthy. It’s going to take a selected group who values statuesque, pocket QB to pick out him within the first place — however one of many huge promoting factors for Sturdy has been his choice making within the pocket.

Taking restricted snaps within the Senior Bowl, Sturdy was inconsistent in his passing, threw an interception, and fumbled the ball. It was a nightmare outing for a participant that has first spherical potential. That mentioned, saying it’s throughout is dumb. It’s greater than Sturdy goes to wish to place a ton of labor in throughout his Professional Day and on the scouting mix to point out that the Senior Bowl was a blip on the radar, and never an indication of one thing extra damaging.

If he can’t try this, then I believe Sturdy will fall into being a late Day 2, and even early Day 3 decide.

No. 6: The road depth this 12 months is uncontrolled

Whereas QBs understandably garnered all the eye, the Senior Bowl actually served to focus on simply how ridiculous the quantity of expertise on each the offensive and protection strains are this draft. Should you’re a group missing on both aspect, then 2022 goes to be the 12 months to fill up on gamers.

Boston Faculty OG Zion Johnson, UConn DT Travis Jones, the aforementioned Mafe and Penning — from top-to-bottom the very best gamers on the Senior Bowl had been linemen. They’re becoming a member of a category that already boasts a daft quantity of elite move rushers and protectors that might make this a really legendary 12 months for large males.



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