Training Camp

Senior Bowl Preview: The Top Players At Each Position

Senior Bowl Preview: The Top Players At Each Position

Quarterback

Kenny Pickett – Pittsburgh

Redshirt senior who has started 49 of 52 career games, including all 13 in 2021 for an 11-2 record that year and a 32-20 career record. Three-star HS recruit from an athletic family – father was a DII All-American LB, mother and sister played collegiate soccer. He became the first true freshman QB to start for Pitt since 2007 during a win over #2 Miami where he was named ACC Rookie of the Week. Started every healthy game for the next four years. Broke out in 2021, named the 2021 ACC POY and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Under HC Pat Narduzzi (seventh season) and OC/QBs Coach Mark Whipple (third season), Pickett led pro-style tempo offense (27% under center) that started the Biletnikoff-winning WR and finished 4th for scoring, 11th for completion %, 7th for pass offense, 5th for pass TDs, and 8th for total offense.  Starting QB who flashes potential to win because of a timing-based scheme pending development of pass progression. Precise QB with incredible anticipation and clean mechanics. Highly competitive and at his best through the air in scramble. Doesn’t consistently work through progression and lacks top-end arm strength.

Best Trait: Anticipation

Malik Willis – Liberty

RS Senior who has started 23 of 35 career games, including all 13 in 2021 for a 17-4 career record as a starter and 27-6 total career record. Three-star athlete in HS who signed with Auburn and played sparingly behind Jarrett Stidham for two seasons before transferring to Liberty and sitting out the 2019 season due to transfer rules. Opened the 2020 season as the starter and led the program to their first AP ranking as he was awarded the Dudley Award in both 2020 and 2021. Uncle, James Anderson, was an 11-year NFL vet as a LB. Under HC Hugh Freeze (third season), co-OC Maurice Harris (third season), and co-OC/QBs coach Kent Austin (third season), Willis led the country’s 25th scoring offense that sported the 27th-most yards per play. Has high-potential as a starting QB but needs development in a misdirection-based offense that emphasizes YAC. Highly-mobile passer who is accurate underneath to intermediate throws, even on the run or off-platform. Needs significant mechanical refinement to increase consistency. Will miss reads, especially over the middle, and plays hero ball in clutch situations.

Best Trait: Mobility/COD

Sam Howell – North Carolina

Junior who has started all of his 37 career games, including 12 of 12 in 2021 with a 5-7 record that year and 20-17 career record. Four-star HS recruit and 2018 NC Gatorade POY who started all of his seven years in HS and college. The first true freshman to start a season-opening game for North Carolina. Named Freshman All-American, All-ACC Third Team, and ACC Rookie of the Year in 2019, All-ACC Second Team in 2020, and All-ACC Honorable Mention in 2021. Graduated in 2.5 years. Under HC Mack Brown (third year) and OC/QBs Coach Phil Longo (third year), Howell led an RPO-heavy Air Raid offense that was 2021’s 19th-best scoring offense and 10th-total offense (including the 7th-most yards per play) despite losing most of prior season’s offensive talent in the draft. Low-end starting QB you can win with after some mechanical development and the transition to a pro-style system. Highly-competitive, thick QB who has plus scrambling ability and has superb underneath accuracy and velocity. Height is an issue as is repeated contact as a runner. Needs to show the ability to be accurate deep. 

Best Trait: Toughness/Quick Feet

Desmond Ridder – Cincinnati

RS Senior who has started 48 of 49 career games, including 14 of 14 in 2021 and a career record of 44-5. Three-star HS recruit who redshirted his freshman year before taking over the starting job on the third series of the 2018 opener. Named 2018 AAC Rookie of the Year before later earning the 2020 and 2021 AAC OPOY and First-Team All-AAC. In 2021, led the first Group of 5 team in the CFP. Graduated in 2020 (3.5 years). Only the 3rd NCAA QB to win 44 games. In 2021, led NCAA’s 11th-ranked scoring offense sporting the 11th-most yards per play. Among FBS teams, ranked 44th for EPA/passing play. Under HC Luke Fickell (fifth year), OC Mike Denbrock (fifth year), and QBs Coach Gino Guidugli (fifth year), Ridder operated in a motion-heavy offense predicated on spacing the field horizontally and getting the ball out quickly, but also incorporated RPO, designed QB run, and shot play action concepts. Ridder makes half-field reads and sets the protection pre-snap. Backup QB you can win with if given half-field reads, adequate pass protection, and WRs who can adjust well to make difficult catches. Tall QB who plays winning football and avoids mistakes with outstanding decision making and above the line arm strength when mechanically sound. Plus-athlete on the ground. Inaccurate passer who is susceptible to consistent pressure and doesn’t frequently engage full body in motion.

Best Trait: Decision Making

Carson Strong – Nevada

Redshirt junior who has started 31 of 32 career games, including 12 of 12 in 2021 and a 21-11 career record. Missed senior year of HS due to injury but was still a three-star recruit. Redshirted his freshman season and took over as starter to start the 2019 season. Earned 2020 and 2021 MWC OPOY. Under HC Ken Wilson (fifth year) and OC/QBs Coach Matt Mumme (fifth year), Strong led nation’s 17th-ranked scoring offense and 6th-best pass offense (with 8th-highest completion percentage, sixth-most pass TDs per game, and 37th-highest EPA/pass play). The offense uses a pass- and shotgun-heavy West Coast scheme that spreads the field and primarily attacks outside the numbers with Outs, Gos, and WR Screens. He’s a starter you can win with regardless of scheme if given pass-protecting IOL and WRs that can threaten deep. Tall, thick boom-or-bust QB with phenomenal arm strength to create windows on the outside or thread the needle up the seam. Team leader with the feel to move in the pocket. Significantly hindered by knee injury and needs medical eval, with little mobility and no run threat regardless. Struggles when pressured and needs a lot of work on keeping consistent mechanics and speeding up motion.

Best Trait: Arm Strength

Running Back

Brian Robinson Jr. – Alabama

RS Senior who played sparingly as a backup before getting the starting role in 2021, in which he more than tripled his previous years workload. He finished with 271 rushes for 1,343 yards and 21 TDs. His pass game usage increased drastically this season, finishing with 36 receptions. Robinson is an effortlessly physical and natural power back with underrated AA. Shows strong burst and uncharacteristically light feet in between the tackles and in open space. If he can remain consistent with sinking in and out of his cuts, the yardage displacement on jump cuts is top tier. Impressive ability to maintain speed when going up field, and is an underrated option in the passing game. Robinson needs to work on consistency in his bend into contact as he is naturally high with his height and leggy build. In pass pro, he does not lack effort, but can have lapses in processing. He is a player you want out on the field in all situations, but can spell with other backs to a slighter, shiftier, more elusive back on 3rd down early. Despite a lack of long speed, his burst, power and skill moves can cut off pursuit angles. A top back in the class.

Best Trait: Contact Balance and Power

Jerome Ford – Cincinnati

RS Junior who has started 15 of 31 career games, including all 13 in 2021. Four-star HS recruit for Alabama who was a backup for two years with only 31 total carries before transferring. Was the top backup to Gerrid Doaks in 2020 and broke out in 2021 after Doaks graduated, named to All-AAC First Team while leading AAC in rushing yards, TDs, and YPA. Under HC Luke Fickell (fifth season) and RBs Coach Darren Paige (first season), Ford was the lead RB in an shotgun-based RPO offense that preferred Gap and finished #55 for rush offense and #18 for rushing average with a dual-threat QB. Secondary RB you can win with on inside runs. Well-built runner with quick reactions and homerun speed, staying low through the LOS with above the line vision and initiating contact. Two-cut runner who will be better with a higher dose of under center. Takes time to get up to speed and lacks COD to cut upfield quickly in Outside Zone. Has fumble issues.

Best Trait: Backfield Evasiveness

Rachaad White – Arizona State

RS Senior came into the season with less than 50 total carries in his career, despite rushing at a 10.0 ypr clip. He took over the starting role as the season progressed, averaging 24 rushes per game in the last 4 games. He finished with 182 rushes for 1,000 yards and 15 TDs. White is well built head to toe and has good size for the position but is an adequate athlete due to his COD and lack of explosiveness. Lacks the explosion and long speed to outrun pursuit angles. Behind the LOS, he shows patience and good vision but struggles to create plays outside of structure and at the second level. Surprising light feet but needs to improve flexibility to improve shift. Quick to find holes and shows good quickness getting to the second level. Good balance through the LOS. Struggles to create plays outside of what is given to him due to lack of power and MYM ability. In the passing game he shows soft hands and fluid movement

Best Trait – Size

Hassan Haskins – Michigan

True Senior came into Michigan as a LB and saw the majority of his time on special teams up until midway through the 2019 season. In 2021, he was the featured back with over 270 touches for about 1,500 yards and 20 rushing TDs. Haskins is a big, physical back that uses his power, and toughness to create yards after contact. He lacks the long speed to be able to cut off pursuit angles. He is able to use good footwork, contact balance and vision to create space in short yardage and sneak into the second level. He is limited in open space, due to his lack of explosiveness and lack of a ‘make you miss’ ability. This causes him to be taken off the field on 3rd downs for quicker, more athletic, shiftier backs

Best Trait: Physicality

Dameon Pierce – Florida

Despite getting snaps since he was a freshman, the now Senior RB did not see a full workload ever in his college career. He split time with Lamical Perine, Malik Davis and Nay’Quan Wright most recently. He saw his usage increase the last two games of his college career finishing with 100 rushes for 574 yards and 13 rushing TDs, adding 3 TDs as a pass catcher as well. Pierce is a solid back without a dominant trait. He is a compact, physical runner with great contact balance and agility. He is an underrated athlete with strong COD. His limitations can be adequate to serviceable but limited speed and burst. Vision can be solid if approach isn’t sped up. He is a back who will see the field on 3rd down due to pass protection and receiving skills and can contribute early on ST on kick coverage. Solid 4th round RB who can contribute early without an extremely high ceiling

Best Trait: Contact Balance

Wide Receiver

Romeo Doubs – Nevada

Stats Doubs has been one of the most productive players in all of college football over the past two seasons and has been Nevada’s best weapon since he arrived as a freshman. He is an explosive athlete with deep speed and a sudden burst out of his cuts. He is able to create separation due to his ability to stretch the defense but should continue to develop his route tree. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands and can be used in a number of different alignments. He has room to grow in his game but projects best as an outside receiver with slot versatility at the next level. He will contribute immediately on special teams and has the upside to quickly be a high-level complementary option as a WR2 or 3.

Best Trait – Release and explosiveness

Alec Pierce – Cincinnati

Stats Pierce was a special teams contributor before earning a starting receiver spot as a sophomore. He operates primarily as an outside receiver and fits well in that spot at the next level. He became an impact contributor this past season as he was the go-to big-play threat for the Bearcats offense. He puts together a combination of above the line size, speed, and ball skills that help make him an outstanding threat over the top. He lacks the short area agility to be a dynamic route runner and will probably be a limited route tree guy at the next level. That said, he is very effective at what he does best, stretching the defense and rising up to make catches, as a deep and intermediate threat. He projects best as a complementary starting outside receiver, who can contribute on special teams if he does not see offensive field time right away.

Best Trait – Catch radius, acceleration

Jalen Tolbert – South Alabama

True Senior who started all 35 games of his final 3 seasons with South Alabama. Tolbert received a 34.5% target share for his team and finished the season with 82 receptions for 1,474 yards (18.0 yard avg) and 8 touchdowns. Jalen Tolbert is an X Receiver who is comfortable lining up anywhere and excelled at using short crossing routes mixed with vertical routes. He was named the Sunbelt Offensive Player of the Year in 2021. He has the prototypical mix of strength, speed, and size for the NFL and is competitive against physical DBs. Catching ability is his biggest red flag as he has the second most drops of any receiver in Mobile this week. 

Best Trait: Run after catch

Christian Watson – North Dakota State

RS Senior who has started 33 of 52 career games, including all 12 in 2021. Two-star HS prospect at 6’2, 175 as a two-year letterman with NFL father and brother in FBS. Redshirted as a freshman. Immediately became a rotational receiver and worked into frequent starts as a RS sophomore and was named All-MVC second team for the championship-winning team. First-team All-American KR in 2020 and First-Team All-MVC WR, followed by 2021 second-team All-American WR and KR, reportedly reaching 23 mph in-game. Watson is a chess piece in a run-first traditional offense, primarily as the outside WR but also taking snaps (and carries) as a RB, a slot WR, and at multiple spots in Bunch. Lacks standout statistics due to scheme & decision-making of QB. Elite size/speed receiver who separates with IQ and speed, flashing high-level ball skills to reel in and motor to do the dirty work. Shows traits and experience to be above-average KR. Slow to get to top speed and lacks COD to separate at break. Inconsistent ball skills and has some injury history.

Best Trait – Size/Foot Speed

Calvin Austin III – Memphis

RS Senior who has started 23 of 47 career games, all in his final two seasons, including 11 of 11 in 2021. Three-star HS recruit who walked on to Memphis team without any scholarship offers after storied HS career and nine state championships in sprints/relays, including 2x Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Ran on the track team for three years in college, being named to two All-American track teams. Sparsely used as a redshirt freshman, working up to starting every game as a RS junior & senior and ranking among the most productive receivers in the AAC. Named 2021 First-Team All-ACC. Austin was the top WR and matchup threat in a spread scheme that ranked #16 for pass offense. Only given 8 rush attempts in his career. Matchup WR you can win with as a versatility piece. Tiny track star who can absolutely fly, separating with speed/acceleration and able to adjust body to make catches. Durability/strength is the obvious concern, will also struggle against Zone and doesn’t break any tackles. Needs to perfect his ability to avoid Jam in order to stick in the NFL.

Tight End

Trey McBride – Colorado State

Senior who started 33 games over four years. Former three-star recruit. Two-time All-MWC First Team and one-time All MWC Second-Team. 2021 Mackey Award Winner and Unanimous All-American. Extremely capable and physical blocker, probably the best in this TE class. Not overly athletic, but has sufficient athleticism and shows outstanding hands and above the line ability after the catch. Day one starter who can be relied upon as both a blocker and receiver. Should and likely will be the first Tight End off the board.

Best Trait: Physicality and Strength

Isaiah Likely – Coastal Carolina

True senior with 42 starts. 2019 All-Sun Belt third team and 2020 and 2021 All-Sun Belt first team. 2021 John Mackey Award semifinalist. Named honorable mention or second team for multiple All-American teams. Versatile player who mostly lines up inline, but is also capable from the slot or wide. Good receiver and capable blocker who can be a three down starting TE. Scheme adjustment will have an effect coming from a triple option system, but receiving skills will certainly translate.

Best Trait – Ball Skills

Jake Ferguson – Wisconsin

Redshirt Senior who started 36 of 47 career games and each one from his sophomore year on. Father played football at Nebraska and brother played for Wisconsin from 2013-2017. 2020 John Mackey Award Semifinalist. Valuable and consistent in all four of his years at Wisconsin. Still needs further development but can contribute immediately on all three downs. Traditional inline TE, rarely plays in the slot. Should have a floor as a reliable pass catcher and capable blocker. Extremely comfortable in motion and in different alignments. Day one contributor as TE2 at minimum with starter ceiling.

Best Trait: Size and Explosiveness

Jeremy Ruckert – Ohio State

True Senior who has played in 45 games over 4 seasons at Ohio State. Former top-50 recruit and #2 TE in his class. Played only a minor receiving role in the Ohio State offense that doesn’t have big usage of TE’s. More developed blocker than receiver at this point in time. Comfortable in his impressive frame and knows how to use it. Athleticism is sufficient but not a strength. Technical skills need refinement but have a starting point. Not ready to start but could contribute as depth right away as he improves.

Best Trait: Effort

Charlie Kolar – Iowa State

Redshirt senior who started 29 out of 49 games over 4 years. 2021 William V Campbell Trophy Winner and CoSIDA Academic Football Player of the Year. 2019 and 2020 AP All-American 3rd Team. 2020 and 2021 Mackey Award Finalist. Former 3-star prospect and top-50 TE prospect in recruiting. Compiled a 3.99 GPA as a mechanical engineering major. Brother played QB at Oklahoma State. True F TE with versatility. Much better receiver than blocker. Not athletic, but large and can use his size to his advantage. Contested catch guy and red zone weapon. Immediate contributor as a receiving TE but not ready to be in a heavy blocking scheme at this point. Potential TE2 and future starter but needs the right scheme fit.

Best Trait: Size and Frame

Offensive Line

Daniel Faalele – Minnesota

Daniel Faalele started in 31 of the 34 games played at University of Minnesota, including the final 8 games of his freshman year. 2020 covid opt-out. He is a raw prospect, he only started playing competitive football in 2017. Has only missed two and a half games due to injury in his career. Projects at RT and is immediately going to be one of the biggest players in the league on day one. Does not need to develop much physically due to his rare size. Due to his average disposition and his need for technique development, he will be a low end starter on day one. He has huge upside due to his rare size, adequate AA, and outstanding play strength. He fits best in a gap scheme and can also play in a zone scheme. He would benefit from a scheme that uses a lot of play action that will allow him to jump set.

Best Trait: Size

Zion Johnson – Boston College

Graduate student who started in 19 of 22 games at FCS Davidson College, and started 30 of 36 games at Boston College primarily at LG, spent Senior year playing LT. Returned to Boston College utilizing 5th year of eligibility that was granted due to COVID-19. Johnson had a highly decorated collegiate career earning 2x All-ACC Academic honors, All-American Second team honors (2021), First team All-ACC (2021), Third team All-ACC (2020), Second team All-ACC (2019), First team All-PFL (2018). A day one starter at OG that you can win with via his pro-ready body, technical fundamentals and tenacity to stick with plays through the whistle. Has the tools to develop into an interior anchor on OL for years to come, with some versatility to fill in as needed to play OT. Will likely struggle with top end dynamic pass rushers that win with speed.

Best Trait: Anchor in pass pro

Luke Fortner – Kentucky

Sixth-year graduate student who has started 36 of 55 career games. Three-star HS recruit at OT, redshirting in 2016. Managed a backup LG role in 2017 and broke into the starting unit for the final 11 games of 2018. Moved to RG in 2019, and started every game the rest of his career. Repeatedly switched between both guards spots in 2020. Settled on the C spot in 2021, named team captain and Second Team All-SEC. Graduated in 2019 and will finish two master’s degrees. Fortner was Center in a run-based versatile offense that featured both Zone and Gap blocks, typically from shotgun but also occasionally under center, as well as play action and rollouts. A starting OG you can win with in a Zone-based offense. Versatile, tall offensive lineman who quickly gets off the ball, positioning hips and climbing to the second level. Ideally projects to OG to avoid snapping issues and protect against stunts. Has the frame to add weight, but needs to retain agility and burst.

Best Trait: Burst

Braxton Jones – Southern Utah

RS Senior played most of his career at LT position, following a couple of spot opportunities to play RT as underclassman. All-Big Sky First team (2021), Third team (2019). AP FCS First Team All-America selection. Voted team MVP at end of the season (2021). Football and basketball player in high school. Shows flashes that are enticing as an OT prospect at the next level but lacks overall consistency. Will need to dedicate time to improving physique, adding muscle mass and capitalizing upon overall solid pass blocking fundamentals. Will likely have a tough time finding the field early in career, next level of athlete will likely cause problems in both run and pass pro situations.

Best Trait: Pass blocking

Darian Kinnard – Kentucky

Starting in 39 of 46 games at both tackle positions for Kentucky, he came into his element as a true senior allowing his least number of sacks and pressures since his freshman season where he only had 2 starts. He has the measurables and enough fundamentals established to step in as a potential starter in year one and has the potential to be a starting OL for many years in the NFL at OT or OG. Overall concerns about athletic ability and if it will translate against the more physically gifted EDGE players in the league, might be suited to slide inside to OG (has the measurables to do so).

Best Trait: Size

Jamaree Salyer – Georgia

Salyer appeared in 47 of 53 games during his time at Georgia, making 23 starts at various positions across the line (2 RT, 1 LG, 20 LT). He has played at all five spots along the line at some point during his time at Georgia. Named a Second Team All-American and Second Team All-SEC in 2021. One of four permanent team captains for the Bulldogs, as voted by his teammates. Played 79% of total offensive snaps during 2021. Does not have ideal length for a tackle at the next level, but could fill in at such a role if needed. Projects best on the interior where he can take better advantage of his strength and stoutness in the run game. Year one starter at guard who can also serve a backup roll at any position.

Best Trait: Pass Protection

Trevor Penning – Northern Iowa

RS Senior who has started 33 of 37 career games, including all 12 in 2021. Unheralded HS recruit who redshirted in 2017 and played sparingly in 2018 as a RG. In 2019, became the full-time starter at LT next to younger brother. In 2020, named honorable mention All-MVFC and fully broke out in 2021, named finalist for Walter Payton Award as First-Team All-American and OL of the Year. Penning was LT in a heavy-shotgun Gap scheme with short to intermediate pass sets. Developmental OT in a Gap scheme. Enormous tackle who plays like a guard, with the nastiness, length, and power to create holes in  the run. Also has the athleticism of a guard, struggling in space, but is too tall to move inside. Won in the FCS due to size and power, failing to develop technical refinement, processing, or footwork to succeed at the next level.

Best Trait: Size/Length

Defensive Line

Logan Hall – Houston

Logan Hall is a two year starter at the University of Houston, who has seen an increase in production every year.  Hall aligned primarily as a 3T in their 4-3 scheme. Hall has had limited production as a pass rusher, only totaling 1.5 sacks in his first three seasons. In 2021, he set a career high in sacks with 6.5 sacks and had an 11.2 pressure %. At 6051 275, he offers a unique blend of above the line height and limited weight for the position. Hall has a lot of upside due to his above the line AA, heavy hands, and above the line play strength. Hall performs best against the run, and has shown flashes as a pass rusher as well. Hall projects best as a starting 4-3 3T. He can also play as a 3-4 DE. He would benefit from playing with an elite edge player who can occupy the tackle and allow him to get 1 on 1’s vs OGs. Hall is going to need a year or more to develop before he plays significant starter snaps due to his average instincts and his average frame. He can be an adequate rotational DL on day one.

Best Trait: Body Control

Travis Jones – University of Connecticut

Senior who has started 33 of 34 career games, including 11 of 11 in 2021. Three-star HS prospect at 6’4, 356 who started 10 games as a true freshman. Jones is a NT in a multiple defense that plays as a 0/1 tech in 3-4 and 1/3 tech in 4-3.  Rotational DT you can win because of, ideally as a 1/3 tech in a 4-3, but with flexibility on the IDL. Enormous DT with expected strength but also surprising explosiveness, UOH, and instincts. Rock in the middle who dominated top competition. Hit-and-miss effort is the overwhelming concern, potentially requiring a strong team culture.

Best Trait: Play Strength/Instincts

Devonte Wyatt – Georgia

Wyatt is not the strongest or most powerful player on the interior but plays with natural leverage and high IQ. He possesses adequate athleticism, is very quick out of his stance, and plays with a high motor. He contributes in the run and pass game and has only improved in those areas each year he has been in college. He has the ability to play on any down or line up anywhere on the DL but projects best as a rotational 3T in a 4-3 with positional versatility in year one before developing into a full-time starter shortly after.

Best Trait: Leverage and initial quickness

Phidarian Mathis – Alabama

Mathis is a redshirt senior and one of the oldest players in this class. He is an experienced player but did not really come into his own until this season. He was a key cog in the middle of the Alabama defense and was productive in almost every game this season. He lined up at nose and 3T primarily this season. He is a limited athlete but plays with above the line technique and possesses above the line strength and size. Mathis should come in right away and be an early-down run defender with some room to grow into an every down defender. He fits best as a 3T in a 4-3 but brings some versatility to play in multiple spots on the interior.

Best Trait: Size and Power

Perrion Winfrey – Oklahoma

Winfrey is a former JUCO product before arriving at OU. He found immediate success in the past two seasons, as an aggressive and disruptive DL who was used in multiple different alignments. He has above the line height, length, and outstanding initial quickness to generate power and battle on the interior. However, he lacks the bend, flexibility, and body control to be a dynamic playmaker there. He is still very raw in terms of developing his hand strikes and football awareness. More specifically, despite generating consistent knock back, he has a bad habit of running upfield and cannot make up for it with his athleticism. He can align in multiple different places but fits best as a 3T in the 4-3 or a 4iT in a 3-4, where he can attack gaps. He has room to grow as can be in a rotational role to start before developing into a starter shortly after.

Best Trait: Initial quickness

Edge

Arnold Ebiketie – Penn State

Redshirt senior who transferred to Penn State last season from Temple and had a career year, seeing career highs in tackles, TFLs, and sacks. He has the ability to play in both a 2pt and a 3pt stance, but is more comfortable in a 2. His combination of outstanding explosiveness, speed and above the line COD offers a lot of upside as a pass rusher. His above the line pass rush ability will allow him to get on the field early. His above the line play strength and adequate instincts will allow him to see time on early downs early in his career as well. Projects as a starting 3-4 OLB.

Best Trait: Explosiveness

Cameron Thomas – SDSU

Thomas has a frame built for the NFL and the mentality to battle on every snap. He is a tough player that has the strength and athleticism to be productive at the next level. He is not an outstanding athlete but he relies on his power, effort, and heavy hands in both the run and pass games, which should still be effective at the next level. He has the size and versatility to line up anywhere along the DL but fits best as a 4-3 DE, specifically as a 5T, but can play out of a 9, before being moved inside on passing downs, where he can dominate guards with his quickness. He should come in right away and compete for a starting DE spot, where he can develop into a long-term starter in very little time.   

Best Trait: Heavy hands, motor

Boye Mafe – Minnesota

Boye Mafe has adequate size (6036, 265) who projects a standing 5T in a 4-3, who can also play as a 3-4 OLB. Mafe has improved and seen an increase in production each season. Can come in immediately as a backup and will steal reps and give solid production as a pass rusher on obvious passing downs due to his above the line AA. He has the upside to become a starter if his mental processing improves. His get off has potential to go from adequate to outstanding if he can become more instinctive. His outstanding speed and above the line explosiveness, allows him to win by getting off the LOS quickly and closing on the QB quickly. He displayed an average pass rush plan using above the line hand usage as a pass rusher, primarily using swipes/clubs to get the OL hands off him and use his speed to get by them. He does not look to use power moves often. He cannot be trusted to immediately play a ton of snaps due to his limited instincts, play strength and ability vs the run. He should not be used in coverage due to his awkward back pedal and his limited instincts.

Best Trait: Athletic Ability

Kingsley Enagbare – South Carolina

An intriguing prospect who brings a number of tools to the table. But he is very raw and needs to develop his balance, technique, and play recognition. He is not quite there as a run defender and relies on physical traits and effort as a pass rusher for now. At the next level, he projects best as a 4-3 DE with the size to kick inside. Initially, it makes the most sense to rely on him as a subpackage 3rd down rusher, where he fits best as a 9T who can stand up. Down the line, he has the chance to develop into a starter, who can play against the run and pass due to his physical tools.

Best Trait: Length and raw power

Myjai Sanders – Cincinnati

At 6046, 255, Sanders has ideal height but has the ability to add some more mass to his frame. He does a good job of using his above the line length well, and his refined hand usage as a pass rusher will allow him to get him snaps immediately. He displayed above the line instincts that offers optimism that he won’t need much time to adjust to the speed of the NFL. Sanders projects as a starting weakside 5T-9T in a 4-3 defense that allows him to use his speed and power to win as a pass rusher, and can use his instincts, effort/motor to win on the backside of plays. Sanders will need a year to fill out his frame in order to reach his potential.

Best Trait: Hand usage

Linebacker

Damone Clark – LSU

Senior who has started 20 of 49 career games, including all 12 in 2021 before opting out of the team’s bowl game. Four-star HS recruit who played almost exclusively on special teams as a freshman. Role player in 2019 in base package, slowly increased snaps in 2020 to tie for team lead in tackles with only 5 starts. Awarded #18 jersey in 2020 and 2021, important # to LSU. In 2021, ranked #3 nationally for tackles. Clark was a Mike LB in a base 4-3 and asked to match RB and clean up behind 1.5-gap DL. In occasional 3-4, took some snaps as two-point EMLOS. Rarely in coverage more than hook/curl spot drops for middling overall defense that failed to force many turnovers. Rotational off-ball LB that would do well when protected by strong two-gapping DL and free to flow sideline-to-sideline. Size/speed/length prospect who flashes coverage ability and can cover ground quickly. Is a challenging eval due to inability to shed and extreme stiffness/high pads.

Best Trait: Size/Length

Troy Andersen – Montana

RS Senior who has played 50 career games, including 15 in 2021. HS QB who also played track and basketball with a PR of 10.88 in the 100M. As a true freshman, named Big Sky Freshman of the Year while starting games at RB and LB. Switched to QB as a sophomore, starting every healthy game, and was named Third Team All-American and FCS Sophomore of the Year by throwing for 1195 yards and rushing for 1412 with 24 total TDs. Moved back to preferred position (LB) in 2019, earning First Team All-America. Three-year team captain. FCS National DPOY, First Team All-American, and Big Sky DPOY in 2021 as well as Class Valedictorian and only FCS NFF National Scholar-Athlete. In 2021, Andersen was an ILB in a base 4-2-5 responsible for multiple gaps. Tall, rangy starting 4-3 OLB with superb athleticism and flashes of dominating instincts. Needs to put on muscle in an NFL strength program and learn how to avoid climbing OL.

Best Trait: Closing Speed

Chad Muma – Wyoming

Appeared in 43 career games over 4 years at Wyoming, with 20 starts. Contributed immediately on special teams while working his way into the role of full-time starter. Saw a jump in his level of production in every season, culminating in a 1st Team All-Conference worthy final year that saw him finish as one of the nation’s leaders in total tackles and be named a Butkus Award finalist. He aligned almost exclusively as an in the box, but would occasionally slide out to the slot against TEs or to the edge as an overhang. Projects as a scheme versatile starting inside linebacker at the next level who can play on all three downs. Can also have an immediate special teams impact if he does not win a starting spot right out of the gates.

Best Trait: Physicality at the point of attack

Cornerback

Derion Kendrick – Georgia

Derion Kendrick is a raw athlete with a multitude of above average traits and outstanding COD. He shows quick feet and long speed to stay in lock step with pass catchers down the field and the explosiveness to burst and close on routes. His best reps have come when he is sitting in zone coverage and is asked to react downhill instead of being sticky with a receiver in phase, in and out of his breaks. Often relies too much on pure talent and ditches his technique which has worked against lower competition in college but led to him struggling against top tier CFB WRs.

Best Trait: Athleticism/ COD

Roger McCreary – Auburn

Despite a lack of size for an outside CB, McCreary has fared outstandingly against high levels of competition due to his instincts, patience and hip fluidity. At catch point, due to intelligence and reactionary athleticism, he is able to use physicality to compete with larger receivers. Would be a disservice to not test him on the outside as he has shown he can win despite size traits. As a 4 year player and 2.5 year starter at Auburn, he has refined his technique and has shown the most consistent flexibility and bend of the Senior Bowl prospects. McCreary is an exceptionally pro-ready prospect that will use his instincts, proper technique and outstanding foot speed to compete with the very best.

Best Trait: Instincts and Patience

Marcus Jones – Houston

Jones projects to be an immediate starter at the next level strictly as a slot cornerback. He’s an impact starter at kick or punt returner. He’s a redshirt senior who was a 19 game starter for Houston. Jones possesses multiple technical and athletic traits that will allow him to succeed in the NFL. His one glaring weakness is his size and length. Despite this, he shows above the line twitch/suddenness, hip fluidity, and burst to close with the ability needed to lay in the slot at the next level. He can play both man and zone coverage and shouldn’t see too many physically imposing receivers in the slot. His above the line ball skills and instincts will allow him to make plays on the ball in the slot because of his ability to jump passes and anticipate where the quarterback is throwing. His limited run support ability will make him a liability in the run but his coverage skill makes up for this deficiency.

Best Trait: Ball Skills

Coby Bryant – Cincinnati

Bryant plays with outstanding ball skills at catch point with the ability to close on the pass catcher quickly with long arms to force incompletions and INTs. He struggles in his bend and COD due to his high hips and lack of sink. Down the field, Bryant will create outstanding body placement on intended receivers and force them to make a reception through hand traffic. Has benefitted from seeing the majority of WR2’s in his career with Gardner opposite in press coverage but has excelled in the role given to him. When breaking on the ball, his closing speed with long strides allows him to limit explosive plays. When breaking down to tackle 1 on 1 his poor flexibility in his ankles becomes apparent when he over extends, he takes himself out of the play. Can make up for poor tackle angles with long arms. Could struggle against quick footed and sharp route runners but should be able to man up against bigger bodied, contested catch receivers

Best Trait: Ball Skills / Aggressiveness at Catch Point

Akayleb Evans – Missouri

Tall CB with long arms that is able to make plays off the ball well at the catch point. Lacks explosiveness out of his break which causes him to be caught in a position of trailing. He is exceptionally grabby and has been/will be called for a lot of penalties. Usually plays press man corner on the RCB side of the field with the long speed to match up with deep threat receivers on go balls. With the need to add more strength to his upper half and improve his flexibility as well as eye discipline, he could be beaten early on double moves as seen in the South Carolina game. Has INT upside with ball skills, length, speed and ball tracking ability down the field

Best Trait: Length

Safety

Kerby Joseph – Illinois

Has had limited starting time during his college career, logging just 14 starts in 4 seasons, with no significant time lost due to injury. Track/Volleyball/Football athlete in highschool. Should add weight at the next level to help him avoid injuries with his lanky and slender frame. Has experience on special teams and should find time on the field at the next level. Projects as a starting caliber FS as soon as he enters the NFL. Played a majority of his snaps at Illinois at free safety (400+) and has the range and athleticism to cover the full field. His ball skills will make an immediate impact at the next level because of his above the line instincts, body control, and change of direction abilities. Plays the ball and uses his length well to break up passes before and after a receiver gets his hands on the ball.

Best Trait: Ball Skills

Leon O’Neal Jr – Texas A&M

A true senior and three year starter at Texas A&M, starting 32 games over the last 3 seasons. His athletic profile will make him very intriguing as someone who can develop into a true free safety. Immediately projects as a winning backup NFL FS. Instincts are questionable as he will struggle if he does not have the time to diagnose plays. He can contribute as a coverage defender in both man and zone due to his athleticism but his slow diagnosing ability can and will cause him problems in coverage. He can immediately contribute on all special teams units because of his athleticism and experience while at Texas A&M. 

Best Trait: Twitch/Suddenness

Jalen Pitre – Baylor

Redshirt senior who started 32 games at Baylor. He has a skinny frame and lacks length. Took 611 snaps from the slot this year and projects there at the next level. Has above the line physicality and twitch close to the LOS. Above the line ankle flexion allows him to weave through traffic. Was used to blitz on nearly 10% of his defensive snaps from the slot and his quickness allows him to beat linemen around the edge (5 sacks/19 hurries). He tackles adequately close to the LOS and in between the tackles. He needs to develop his coverage ability to play in the slot and Senior Bowl 1v1s will be crucial for his draft stock as he struggled covering TEs and WRs from the slot during the season. Projects as a low to middle tier backup caliber player who needs to find a spot on special teams to make a roster. 

Best Trait: Twitch/Suddenness

Tycen Anderson – Toledo

Anderson was a 3 year starter with Toledo, starting in 27 games. He’s a fifth year senior and has 5 years of experience playing at the college level and still played special teams snaps in his final season. His frame is intriguing, slender yet possesses good muscle tone but has room for growth if needed. He played a majority of 2021 in the slot (335) and projects to be a slot safety in the NFL. His above the line size and movement ability does open the door for him to be moved to cornerback but he may be more valuable as a nickel safety because of his ability to cover a variety of positions, including slot receivers. Struggles shedding blocks but is an above the line tackler close to the line of scrimmage. He projects as a winning backup and starting caliber nickel safety immediately in the NFL with the athletic upside to become a free safety. 

Best Trait: Coverage Ability