The first practice of the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl is four 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 defensive line. This will comprise both edge rushers and interior defensive linemen. As of today, 25 prospects are scheduled to take the field in Mobile in this group.
Let’s break them down.
SENIOR BOWL AMERICAN TEAM
John Ridgeway, Arkansas
Zachary Carter, Florida
Micheal Clemons, Texas A&M
Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
Phidarian Mathis, Alabama
Neil Farrell Jr., LSU
Jeremiah Moon, Florida
Joshua Paschal, Kentucky
Amare Barno, Virginia Tech
DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky
Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina
Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
Cameron Thomas, San Diego State
John Ridgeway is a one-year SEC player after transferring to Arkansas from Illinois State. At 6’6” 320, he is a massive man capable of plugging up the interior and pushing his way into the QB. Ridgeway also flashes playmaking skills every once in a while.
Zachary Carter is a player I should probably be a lot higher on than I am. Carter is set up to have a long career as a pass-rushing three-technique in the NFL. He has 17 career sacks, including 7.5 this season.
Micheal Clemons is another versatile inside-out defender. The former Aggie recorded 11 TFLs in 2021 and seven sacks playing on a loaded defensive line.
Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt will be the highest-drafted interior defensive lineman in the Senior Bowl this year. Wyatt is a tremendous athlete for a man of his size (6’3” 315). It is fun watching him chase down ball carriers and quarterbacks.
Following behind Wyatt is Alabama’s, Phil Mathis. The 6’4” 312-pound stud is a pocket collapser. He recorded nine sacks in 2021 and 53 tackles. 1-on-1 drills are going to be fun to watch with him and you could see him rise into the bottom half of round one.
Neil Farrell Jr. was a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster. The 5th-year senior played his high school ball in Mobile before heading west to Baton Rouge. Farrell had statistically one of his better seasons in 2021. However, there have been questions about his work ethic off the field that may affect his final draft position. Those are questions he will get to answer in front of all 32 teams
Jeremiah Moon was a part of Florida’s 2016 recruiting class. I view him as an edge rusher. At the Senior Bowl Moon will be a stand-up linebacker. He has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. When on the field Moon has been a nice chess piece for the Gators’ defense.
Josh Paschal has been a tremendous pass rusher for Kentucky. The 6’3” 278-pound defender is a disruptive force off of the edge. Paschal sets the edge well in the run and can bend and get to the QB. As a junior, he even had a 76-yard INT return.
Amare Barno was much more productive in 2020 than he was this past season. Perhaps he drew more attention this year. Last year, Barno had 16 TFLs and 6.5 sacks. The TFL dropped by 60% in 2021. He will need to show those 2020 skills during Senior Bowl practices.
DeAngelo Malone has been terrorizing QBs in Conference USA for the last three years. Malone has 59 career TFLs and 32.5 career sacks. His ability to get around the corner and flatten to the passer is going to get him paid for a long time. Malone’s lack of bulk may have him relegated to a sub-package role in the NFL. I also expect him to play some linebacker during Senior Bowl practices.
My highest-rated edge rusher in this game is South Carolina’s Kingsley Enagbare. Enagbare is the best pass-rushing prospect from South Carolina since former #1 overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney. Enagbare has nice size and has been one of the most disruptive pass rushers in the SEC the last few seasons. He has a non-stop motor. Enagbare is a borderline first-round talent.
Jermaine Johnson transferred to FSU because he was buried on the Georgia depth chart. It was a tremendous decision on his part. Johnson had 17.5 TFLs and 11.5 sacks during his lone season in Tallahassee. He has a great physique and converts speed to power well. Johnson is very close to Enagbare in my grades and can surpass him with a great week in Mobile.
Most of the draft community is ahead of me on San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas. The former Aztec decimated MWC foes with 20.5 TFLs and 10.5 sacks in 2021. Thomas could rise higher up my board with a good week of Senior Bowl practices.
SENIOR BOWL NATIONAL TEAM
Travis Jones, UConn
Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma
Haskell Garrett, Ohio State
Isaiah Thomas, Oklahoma
Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA
Logan Hall, Houston
Dominique Robinson, Miami (OH)
Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati
Esezi Otomewo, Minnesota
Boye Mafe, Minnesota
Tyreke Smith, Ohio State
Travis Jones of UConn is one of the better nose tackles in this class. But don’t let that terminology fool you. Jones has plenty of pass-rushing upside. His 19 career TFLs and 8.5 sacks are a testament to that.
Perrion Winfrey and Isaiah Thomas are a great pair of interior pass-rushing talents from Oklahoma. Winfrey is more of the standard defensive tackle type with great interior rush moves. Thomas is more of a scheme-diverse player. He can start outside on run downs and then kick inside in passing situations.
Ohio State’s Haskell Garrett flashes brilliance every once in a while and leaves you wanting more. Garrett had 5.5 sacks for the Buckeyes this year.
Otito Ogbonnia is a disruptive presence in the middle. The UCLA product doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet but he is a valuable teammate. Ogbannia should come off of the board in the early part of day three.
Dominique Robinson wasn’t on my radar prior to his Senior Bowl acceptance. The athletic traits are what you would expect from a 6’4” 252-pound converted wide receiver. Robinson is still raw but a team is going to fall in love with his upside.
Arnold Ebiketie was a solid prospect at Temple before taking his game to another level at Penn State this year. Ebiketie recorded 9.5 sacks and 18 TFLs. He has forced five career fumbles, as well.
Myjai Sanders exploded into everyone’s minds after his stellar 2020 season. His production dropped a bit in 2021 but his disruption rate did not. Sanders uses tremendous hand leverage to beat opposing tackles around the bend.
Tyreke Smith missed a lot of time over the years at Ohio State but he still has believers out there. He could use a really good week in Mobile to re-affirm his stock.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are sending a pair of defensive ends to the Senior Bowl. Boye Mafe I was aware of. The 6’4” 265-pound pass rusher has been productive in his time in Minneapolis. His teammate, Esezi Otomewo, I knew nothing about before his invite. Otomewo is going to be a scheme-diverse player. His size and skillset lead me to believe he will be drafted higher than my ranking will probably indicate.