The first practice of the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl is three days from today. Over the course of this week, Shane P Hallam and I will be breaking down each position group for this year’s game.
Today, we look at the cornerbacks. As of today, 16 prospects are scheduled to take the field in Mobile in this group. Some of these corners will likely cross-train at safety as well.
Let’s break them down.
SENIOR BOWL AMERICAN TEAM
Roger McCreary, Auburn
Akayleb Evans, Missouri
Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska
Alontae Taylor, Tennessee
Josh Thompson, Texas
Tariq Woolen, UTSA
Mario Goodrich, Clemson
Derion Kendrick, Georgia
Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State
Roger McCreary enters the week as my highest graded cornerback. McCreary is a pressman specialist who isn’t deterred by his smaller frame. He has six career interceptions and 30 passes defended (including 14 this season). McCreary is a borderline first-round pick.
Akayleb Evans, like many corners at the Senior Bowl, is blessed with great length. The Tulsa transfer entered the year with a good reputation and didn’t do much to alter that. Evans is on the cusp of being a Top-100 player on my board.
Cam Taylor-Britt showed tremendous ball skills in 2021 with 11 PBUs. He has logged a ton of special teams’ snaps, including a few as a punt returner. That is probably where his biggest value will be in the NFL.
Alontae Taylor was impressive during my viewings of him this season. Taylor had two interceptions in 2021 including a TD return. He will show off his versatility during Senior Bowl practices as he will play some safety as well.
Josh Thompson has had an up and down career at Texas. He isn’t as big and physical as some of the others here. Of all of the corners on this roster, Thompson is the one I feel the least about.
Tariq Woolen has tremendous size (6’4” 205). He flips his hips smoothly for a man of his size. Woolen gives up the occasional play but nothing to be concerned about. He could be one of the biggest risers after the week.
Mario Goodrich doesn’t get the press that his teammate Andrew Booth gets but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to be a solid contributor. Goodrich is a good run defender with solid ball skills.
Derion Kendrick transferred to Georgia from Clemson and his stock didn’t really miss a beat. He was tested often this year and responded with four interceptions. Kendrick currently grades as an early-to-mid second rounder for me.
Zyon McCollum is one of three lower-division corners in the Senior Bowl. Like Woolen, McCollum is also 6’4” tall. He isn’t as fluid as Woolen but he plays more physically. It will be fun to watch what he does in the 1-on-1s against some of the receivers he will face.
SENIOR BOWL NATIONAL TEAM
Joshua Williams, Fayetteville State
Tariq Castro-Fields, Penn State
Damarri Mathis, Pittsburgh
Jaylen Watson, Washington State
Coby Bryant, Cincinnati
Gregory Junior, Ouchita Baptist
J.T. Woods, Baylor
Tariq Castro-Fields actually accepted an invite to play in last year’s Senior Bowl. The Penn State product has a chance to be a solid NFL starter. He wasn’t tested often this year but he responded with six PBUs.
Damarri Mathis looked like a world-beater in 2019 when he notched 11 passes defended and two picks. He opted out of the 2020 season. Mathis somewhat returned to form this year on a Pitt defense that won the ACC championship. He currently sits as a middle-of-the-pack corner for me in this deep class.
Washington State corner Jaylen Watson was essentially a one-and-done for the Cougars. After a COVID shortened 2020 season, the JUCO transfer showed off great recovery speed and ball skills this year. Watson is listed at 6’3” 205-pounds. He uses that length well. Watson intercepted two passes this year, had three PBUs, and recovered four fumbles. He can springboard himself into the day two conversation with a good week of Senior Bowl practices.
Ahmad Gardner is going to be a top-20 pick but people shouldn’t sleep on Coby Bryant. Bryant was also a Thorpe Award finalist this year. With most teams throwing away from Sauce, Bryant has responded in earnest. He has nine career interceptions and 35 career PBUs. His impeccable ball skills will get him paid. Bryant is currently my CB8 but that could easily rise after this week.
Baylor CB J.T. Woods is listed at safety on the Senior Bowl roster. He was called in last week from the NFLPA roster. He is versatile enough to play both inside and out. Woods picked off five balls this year and had a defensive TD.
The other two lower-level corners are Gregory Junior and Joshua Williams. Both have a buzz in scouting circles with Williams being the more highly thought of player. Their first Senior Bowl practice will be my first exposure to either of them.