Every year at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama becomes a little bit more special to me. Meeting a bunch of colleagues to talking with scouts in the stands about players that have caught their eye.
It’s always a fun and humbling experience.
Now that the game is in the books with the National team defeating the American team by a final score of 20-10, I can go over who some of the best players of the week were for both teams. Here are my notes from all three of my days at the Senior Bowl.
Perrion Winfrey from Oklahoma put himself atop the second tier of defensive tackles
Starting with the MVP for the Senior Bowl game, Perrion Winfrey made himself some money this week. With Jordan Davis and DeMarvin Leal as the top tier interior defensive lineman for the 2022 NFL Draft, Winfrey put himself atop the second tier of defensive tackles. By far he was the most consistent defensive tackle all week and he capped it out by winning the MVP of the Senior Bowl.
Ed Ingram lost a rep this week in practice. He lost to Perrion Winfrey. That’s 2 sacks for Winfrey today and just a hell of a week for him at the Senior Bowl. pic.twitter.com/JYEvQ6RqaT— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 5, 2022
He checked into the event at 6-3 and 303 pounds with 35 1/2 inch arms. His long arms allow him to immediately create separation from offensive lineman but his motor ran hot all week and it was really impressive. In the Senior Bowl game, he finished with two sacks but all week, he was a menace in the 1-on-1 drills against the multiple offensive lineman he faced.
The JUCO transfer had stretches of inconsistent play this past season but he still finished with 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. That type of productiveness is something to get excited about and when I watch him play, I get flashes of Nick Fairley. He’s versatile, can two-gap and with his sack production, he’s shown that he can play all three downs. Continue to keep tabs on Winfrey as he was certainly a winner at the Senior Bowl and is destined to shoot up draft boards for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Three wide receivers that really stood out all week long
By far, the best wide receiver at the Senior Bowl was Christian Watson from North Dakota State. The senior wideout checked in at 6-4 and 211 pounds and surprised plenty of people with a fluid and flexible lower body. This allowed him to win with clean releases off the line-of-scrimmage and his length allowed him to win consistently at the catch point. Meanwhile, his tape is littered with him playing in a variety of spots in the Bison offense as an ‘X’ receiver, slot receiver or even in the backfield. Watson solidified himself as a top-50 pick after this week and could be an option for the New York Jets with either the 35th pick or 38th pick.
Christian Watson of NDSU keeps his balance with his left arm but look at that lower body and pad level at 6-4 🔥 pic.twitter.com/pd7M1mC0LU— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 4, 2022
There will be concerns surrounding the age of Velus Jones during this draft cycle. While he’ll turn 25-years-old in May, he was consistently winning against defensive backs all week long. At 5-11 and 203 pounds, he moved really well for that size. Shifty as a route runner, he understood how to use head fakes to freeze defenders on the possibility of him breaking inside or outside. While he was catching passes from Sam Darnold at USC in 2016 and 2017, Jones has tons of versatility and will enter the NFL with over 2900 yards as a kick returner. Age might not matter for him if he can play for a team that has an established offense and quarterback (Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills).
This pass wasn’t catchable but Velus Jones from Tennessee caught my eye with a bunch of reps this week. Looks pretty smooth at 5-11 203 pic.twitter.com/BbgtHSLgxL— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 5, 2022
Lastly, we can talk about Calvin Austin from Memphis and how he’ll probably end up a Detroit Lion by the 2022 NFL Draft. He had a great week of practice and the Lions coaching staff really enjoyed what they saw from him. Even their wide receiver coach, Antwaan Randle El, stated that he’d love to grab one or two of these players from the Senior Bowl. Having worked with Austin all week, they could find the benefits of having the former track star on their roster. The start and stop ability from the 5-7 and 173 pound receiver is impressive. He punished defenders all week during the 1-on-1 portions of practice and the hope would be for him to land somewhere in the middle of day two.
Zion Johnson was the most consistent player all week
While he didn’t win the MVP award at the Senior Bowl, Zion Johnson seemed to be the most consistent player day in and day out. Johnson checked into the event at 6-2 and 314 pounds but what was more astonishing was his 33 7/8 inch arms.
That arm length is rare for interior offensive lineman but it helped Johnson create immediate separation after the snap. He’s stout against powerful defenders and displayed good strength to anchor or steer defenders away from the backfield. Most importantly is that his work ethic went unmatched all week and he’s one of the few offensive lineman that can play all five spots across the offensive line.
After every single practice, Johnson stayed to work with the coaching staff on his snaps. Never having played center, he took pride in trying to improve his snaps as much as possible. After one of the practices, he worked closely with Kenny Pickett from under center. With this week of practice in the rearview and some of the most consistent tape of any interior player, it seems likely that we could see Johnson somewhere in the first round. Teams such as Philadelphia or Arizona makes the most sense.
Trevor Penning will fight everyone
Put Trevor Penning up against a bear and I think he would still win. While some might say he was overly aggressive, Penning was just playing his game. He said it after the third day of practice that he “sees red when a defender lines across from him” and it was quite evident that he really does.
All week long, Penning was getting chippy with multiple players but his battles with Tyreke Smith were like the school bully demanding lunch money.
He checked into the Senior Bowl at 6-6 and 330 pounds and displayed good movement skills for a player of his size. Sure, he got beat at random times but with how well he was able to utilize his power and length was impressive. His hands are strong and violent but there are times that his hand placement can get wild. Penalties were a concern in college with 34 of them and he’ll have go get a tad faster in his kick-slide but there’s plenty to work with him. The Northern Iowa product reminds me a lot of Garrett Bolles and we could very well see his named called on the opening night of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Plenty of talented edge rushers to choose from
Starting at the top of the group we have Jermaine Johnson from Florida State. He’s jacked at 6-5 and 259 pounds with a good blend of speed and power behind him. During the week of practice, Johnson put together a handful of reps where he would use a wide range of pass rush moves or would showcase his ability to translate speed-to-power. He’ll need to become more consistent against the run but he had a massive week in Mobile and should hear his name in the first round come April.
Kingsley Enagbare from South Carolina had some really impressive reps during the week. For example, watch him on this chop-snatch. Chop w/inside hand is great. Slows his feet down on the back shoulder snatch. Assuming he slowed down to get hips & feet in line w/QB. Good rep! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/weNYMhnHfM— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 5, 2022
Moving onto one of the defenders that might be a tad bit underrated right now is Kingsley Enagbare from South Carolina. He carries himself really well at 6-3 and 261 pounds but is also one of those players that showcased a blend of power and speed to his game. Having that combination is important as he was able to showcase speed off the edge or use a bullrush move to bully the offensive tackle into the quarterback. Most importantly, Enagbare had a nice chop-snatch move that put him in position to sack the quarterback. If his tape matches with what we saw in Mobile, he could be a big riser for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Lastly, I’ll talk briefly about the Penn State edge rushers in Arnold Ebiketie and Jesse Luketa. Starting with Ebiketie, he’s such a natural pass rusher off the edge with great length and flexibility. He put that ability on display and showed off the high-motor that I’ve praised him having. He’ll need to get faster off the ball and once he does, he could become a terror off the edge. As for his teammate, Luketa also had an impressive week. He moves really well for a 6-2 and 261 pound player. He showed a good blend of power and speed but also has the versatility desired to play anywhere on the field. His ability to counter back inside with an arm-over move was also put on display during the OL/DL portions of practice. Keep tabs on both of these Penn State players as they could be beneficial to strengthen your teams pass rush.