It’s a beautiful 42 degrees here in Mobile, Alabama, I’ve got a tall coffee from Serda’s Coffee Company, and I’m just itching to get to the first Senior Bowl practice of the week. Before I got this coffee, I walked around the convention center with a handful of scouts from around the NFL and picked their brains on some defensive players they’re excited to watch while here at the Senior Bowl.
While I’m sure I had a certain glow just talking football with these scouts, I know the feeling was mutual between the scouts and myself. So let’s start with the player that these scouts all seemed to have a strong sense of who could have a big week here at the Senior Bowl.
Cam Taylor-Britt was the consensus liked defensive player between the scouts.
To get the conversation started between myself and the scouts, I asked which defensive player they were most eager to see play here at the Senior Bowl? The simple response with a nod in agreement was Cam Taylor-Britt of Nebraska.
While I’m excited to see just about every player at the Senior Bowl, I’ll certainly agree that Cam Taylor-Britt has plenty to gain with an intense week of practice.
Finally have a chance to post a few clips from Cam Taylor-Britt (Nebraska DB 5) film study. Patient and reads what develops in front of him. Despite knowing the single-high safety, he trusts his AA and makes a great play on the ball. Big, big fan of him. pic.twitter.com/rKMhrglBkA
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 16, 2022
The talented defensive back from Nebraska has shown that he’s capable of playing in various spots defensively. There are times that you’ll see him as a single high safety, covering the slot or on matched up on the outside with an ‘X’ receiver. His length, patience, and athletic ability are perfect and it helps put him in a position to consistently make plays on the football.
This week, he’ll be matched up with talented receivers such as Jalen Tolbert, Calvin Austin, and others, so it’ll be essential for him to put that talent on display to lock those receivers up in the 1-on-1 portions of practice. With other scouts nodding in agreement, it is quite clear that there’s a consensus liking to Cam Taylor-Britt here at the Senior Bowl.
Arnold Ebiketie from Penn State also gained plenty of praise
To follow up on Cam Taylor-Britt, there was also some praise on Arnold Ebiketie from Penn State. Another scout told me that he could see Ebiketie have a big week with the New York Jets during practice. This would make sense with how much defensive experience the Jets head coach, Robert Saleh has as a coach.
Arnold Ebiketie (Penn State EDGE 17) does a great job dropping his pad level and gets underneath the pads of the TE. Drives the TE to the RB and somehow gets in on this tackle. Just love the way he plays. pic.twitter.com/FnEx8iyGzq
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 22, 2022
I’ve got it written down in my notes that he’s an effective pass-rusher with a wide variety of pass-rush moves. He gets the edge with his speed and lower-body flexibility. He’ll have to time snaps faster so he can get a genuine advantage against offensive lineman. With time, that’ll come, but there’s a consensus feeling between myself and the scouts that Ebiketie has a great motor. We all agree that it’ll be on display, and it could help separate himself from the second tier of pass-rushers to potentially land with a team in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Who could be the biggest riser from the Senior Bowl?
While we were walking and talking, I knew my time with these scouts would get cut short as they had to get back to work, but this was my last question of the morning. For one scout, there was no hesitation with his answer. It’s pretty clear that he thinks Phidarian Mathis from Alabama could be a big riser this week from the Senior Bowl.
While there seems to be a consensus on DeMarvin Leal from Texas A&M and Jordan Davis from Georgia as the top interior defensive lineman in the 2022 NFL Draft, there appears to be a huge question mark with the second-tier group. Potentially filling that void could be Phidarian Mathis from Alabama. He does a good job working his hands and can become disruptive while pushing laterally at the line of scrimmage.
This particular scout told me that Mathis has already gotten some praise for being a good interview, so don’t be surprised if teams don’t gush about his character. Keep tabs on him this week during the Senior Bowl practices.