The Senior Bowl helps many many more players than it hurts. The chance to showcase skills with NFL coaching allows some players to work outside their comfort zone, learn new positions, and try new things that can showcase what they do well. This year was no different with many Senior Bowl participants helping themselves and just a few doing poorly. Here is a non-exhaustive list of Stock Up and Stock Down from the week.
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Watson was the biggest riser in terms of pure draft slots in the draft. A likely Day 3 pick before the Senior Bowl, Watson’s domination led to him rising into the Top 50.
First, the weigh-in was fantastic for Watson coming in at 6’4 and 211 pounds. There also was not a 1-on-1 match-up where Watson was beat all week. He used his size, speed, and agility to win on 9-routes, out routes, and more. His hands were great too catching passes in the rain when many receivers couldn’t hang on. Coming from a major FCS program, there were questions on if he could beat the big time CBs, but he showcased it throughout the week.
In the game, Watson had one big catch adjusting to a poorly thrown Kenny Pickett pass then getting up and taking it 38 yards. Though he didn’t have much work, he showed some blocking ability and he got open. Overall, a top notch Senior Bowl week.
Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma
Winfrey was absolutely dominant all week, as was many of the defensive linemen. His electric first step was difficult for the interior OL to stop in pass rush drills and he got good penetration in run drills. During the 11-on-11s, Winfrey also was in position to get sacks and big stops starting on Day 1.
Winning MVP for the game, Winfrey had 2 sacks and 3 TFL with consistent pressure. His hand usage and power were on display in the game too showing he is n fluke. Winfrey has put himself in the first round conversation for sure.
Travis Jones, DL, UConn
Jones was one of the surprises of the week for those who hadn’t watched UConn too closely. The Huskies were an awful football team losing all but one game (and that was against Ivy League’s Yale). Jones was consistently double teamed since he was the best player on the team so he finally got a chance to show how he can perform 1-on-1.
In those Senior Bowl 1-on-1s, Jones excellent leverage led to easily driving back linemen against the run while stacking and shedding in pass rush. He was rarely stonewalled in “The Pit” with a good spin move and rip move that allowed penetration.
It is rare to have the size and athletic ability of Jones, so he will be in demand. The Senior Bowl game also showcased how he can get penetration in game situations. Jones racked up a sack and numerous pressures as one of the studs in the game. Look for him to be a Top 50 pick with tremendous upside.
Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
The Georgia transfer had an excellent season for the Seminoles with numerous sacks as a stand-up LB off the edge. The Senior Bowl helped establish that with dominant pass rush drills from Johnson who consistently whipped around the edge. His explosiveness was often on display and the OTs just didn’t have the kick slide to keep up with Johnson.
In 11-on-11s he also flashed those pass rush skills while still having the bulk to take on outside runners. Johnson was often in position to get sacks and likely pushed himself into the top half of the first round.
Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
You may be noticing a theme in the stock up list so far (and the opposite will carry over to the stock down list). The pass rushers are incredible in this draft and have 4 of the top 5 spots on my list. Mafe was a very under the radar player coming into the week who had good size and athletic ability, but his role in the Gophers defense never led to splash plays. At the Senior Bow, Mafe was able to pin his ears back and let loose a bit.
Mafe’s long arms ensure he rarely gets engagement from the offensive line. When he is able to do a pure pass rush, it is phenomenal. This was showcased in the game itself. Mafe won the Player of the Game for his team with 2 sacks and an additional TFL. Mafe has likely played himself into the Top 50 conversation and should have a great Combine.
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The QB talk of the Senior Bowl, Willis showcased his strong arm and development throughout the week. As a big time running QB, the Senior Bowl practices did not showcase that pure rushing ability. Instead, Willis had to rely on his arm strength and work through anticipation and timing. After an up and down first day, Willis seemed to take to the coaching and improve throughout the week.
At the Senior Bowl, each team gets to talk to each player and get a feel for who they are as a person. By all accounts, Willis was also excellent in these interviews with the teams. Then, on gameday, he got to show off that athletic ability as he ran from pressure and took off on some big runs. The upside is strong, and Willis may have played his way into QB1 for the draft.
Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College
Johnson came in as one of the top Guards in the draft and he was asked to play a position he never played, Center. After a rough first day snapping, Johnson stayed after practice and worked in that skill. He stayed after Day 2 in the rain and Day 3 as well. That was noticed by NFL teams.
From a blocking perspective, Johnson was excellent through the week. While others struggled with the interior linemen, Johnson got leverage and was able to drive back on many drills. He flashed his athletic footwork as well. Johnson may have played himself into becoming the top Guard and a potential Top 50 selection.
Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Penning came into the week with a lot of hype. Can he establish himself as one of the top OTs in the draft? He answered many of those questions and cemented himself in the first round.
The first practice was rough as Penning had to get up to speed quickly. His passion and tenacity was apparent though as he didn’t let up on the defenders (often leading to some words being exchanged). On Day 2 and 3, Penning shined with his drive ability in the run game and athleticism in pass protection. Though he wasn’t perfect against some good pass rushers, the upside of a franchise LT is apparent.
Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
Andersen has been known for his versatility playing QB, RB, FB, and LB throughout his college career. A grizzled veteran, Andersen plays with great tenacity and intelligence. He showcased this during Senior Bowl week always being in position in 11-on-11s and making a few big plays. Add in some surprisingly pass rushing in Back on Backer drills, Andersen is moving his way up the board. He could be a solid special teams leader and rotational 2-down LB in the NFL.
Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State
Another small school prospect shined throughout the week in Williams. Fayetteville State is nowhere near a football powerhouse, but Williams has a good build and showed great speed and physicality throughout practices. He was almost always in good positions in 1-on-1s to deflect a pass or ensure a catch would be difficult. His size and length are a plus as well. If Williams was off the radar, the Senior Bowl put him right on there.
Andrew Stueber, OL, Michigan
Stueber may have had the worst Senior Bowl week getting consistently beat in “The Pit”. Very few offensive linemen had outstanding weeks and many struggled, but Stueber was very noticeable. With poor leverage and functional strength, he was driven back often and had no chance against pass rushing.
The game was not kind to him either as he allowed a sack and looked a bit lost. Stueber is a Day 3 selection at best and is one of the few stock downs of the Senior Bowl.
Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
There were high hopes for Strong coming into the week. He has a good arm and wouldn’t be asked to move around the pocket much. He did flash that arm strength at times on Day 1, but it also included a few deep duck passes that were not NFL caliber. Things actually seemed to worsen throughout the week with some poor ball placement short unless they were to his Nevada teammates Cole Turner and Romeo Doubs.
Strong never quite looked comfortable through the week struggling with the fundamental footwork and accuracy. His arm wasn’t quite as dynamic as it should have been, and he definitely didn’t have the pocket navigation when going against actual pressure. It is concerning, along with the injury piece, that he may fall to Day 3.
Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Raimann was a highly hyped lineman who could enter the 1st round with a great Senior Bowl week. The converted TE to OT has the raw ability, but he struggled through the year with his hand placement and leverage. These problems came back to bite him during Senior Bowl week.
Raimann had a rough Day 1 where he wasn’t able to get his hands in position to drive the great pass rushing group backwards. Seeming a little sluggish off the snap, Raimann did adjust as the week went on and improved some, but there continued to be problems with his fundamentals. His personality did shine through, and Day 2 still seems likely, so it shouldn’t hurt Raimann too much.
Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
Kendrick hasn’t been talked about much as a Stock Down, but many have him pretty high in mock drafts and he simply did not meet expectations. Consistently getting beat deep in 1-on-1s, Kendrick just didn’t have the physicality to stick with the wideouts throughout. He did a bit better on 11-on-11s, but may need some work to be a starting NFL CB.
Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Another offensive lineman, Lucas was well liked by many after a good career. His quick feet gave him the label of a great pass blocker, but he struggled against the mighty EDGE class in Senior Bowl practices. Lucas handwork and functional strength weren’t up to snuff and his athleticism wasn’t able to do enough for him. He may fall to Day 3 and be a fit in a pure zone scheme only.
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