2022 NFL Draft Stock - Senior Bowl
This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2022 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.
By Charlie Campbell.
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2022 NFL Draft Stock Up
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Willis helped himself at the Senior Bowl with a quality week of practice. He showed his powerful arm, throwing fastballs and rifling the ball with ease. Of all the quarterbacks in Mobile, including the National team's trio of Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder and Nevada's Carson Strong, Willis clearly has the strongest arm. He was s the only quarterback at Senior Bowl who has a legit power arm for the next level. The ball explodes out of Willis' hand, and with a quick flick of the wrist, he can fire a fastball. Willis has easy arm strength to go vertical, and his passes cut through the challenging weather conditions in Mbile without impacting his tight spirals. There is no doubt that Willis has a big-time arm capable of throwing frozen ropes and going downfield.
The Senior Bowl's Wednesday practice for the American squad, and while Willis had a mixed session, his combination of a powerful arm and dangerous running ability translated to some impressive plays. In the actual Senior Bowl game, Willis ripped off a number of nice runs, including a 30-yarder in the second quarter that showed good speed even though Willis was not at a full sprint while weaving through defenders.
Overall, Willis has the skill set to make some game-changing plays given his cannon for an arm and his running ability. On the otherhand, he needs additional work on his mechanics, accuracy, and field vision. Whichever team selects Willis in the 2022 NFL Draft should have a developmental plan and not force him on to the field too soon.
Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida
Team sources were impressed with Florida running back Dameon Pierce all week at the Senior Bowl. In the practices, Pierce ripped off some chunk runs, using his burst to hit the second level and his powerful frame to run through arm tackles. Pierce ripped off multiple nice runs in the 9-on-7 run scrimmages even though the defense knew runs were coming.
In the pass-blocking/receiving one-on-ones with linebackers on Wednesday, Pierce was excellent. He got things started by stonewalling a bull rush and holding his ground to win a blitz protection rep. Then Pierce got open on a few routes, including a wheel route that was overthrown and an out route to the flat that he caught. Pierce did have a drop, but there were lot of dropped passes last Wednesday, which featured downpour weather. To conclude that practice, Pierce won a one-on-one blitz protection block that got his entire offense shouting and celebrating.
Pierce definitely made himself some money in Mobile. He was a tough runner, showing power, quickness and decisiveness. His work on Wednesday suggests Pierce has third-down potential to contribute as a blocker and receiver for the next level. If Pierce runs well at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, he could end up being a valuable second-day pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
WalterFootball.com surveyed some NFL team sources at the Senior Bowl after the practices over which players were earning praise from scouts. Three players were particularly noted. The first was Boston College guard Zion Johnson. While Johnson does not have overwhelming size with height and length, he has excellent technique with developed strength. Johnson consistently puts himself in good position and uses proper hand placement to sustain blocks. Johnson could be a plug-and-play starter who is a nice value after the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Marquis Hayes, G, Oklahoma
The second player who NFL scouts praised to WalterFootball.com was Oklahoma guard Marquis Hayes. Hayes needed a good week at Senior Bowl, and he had a good practice session on Wednesday. Hayes did well in the pass-rushing one-on-ones, showing the quickness and agility to handle speed.
Logan Hall, DE, Houston
Hall was the third player who impressed team sources. He did well in the pass-rushing one-on-ones using speed to bolt past interior blockers with ease. Hall's length, strength and athleticism make him a versatile defensive lineman who shift around from playing base end on run downs, to rushing off the edge, to sliding to the inside in the sub package.
Calvin Austin, WR, Memphis
Team sources said Austin had a good practice on Thursday in their estimation, and he continued his strong play from throughout the week. The speed receiver showed off his suddenness quickness and gave cornerbacks fits with preventing separation. Austin can challenge defenses vertically and get uncover quickly. After his strong Senior Bowl, Austin could be a safe second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA
Dulcich really helped himself in Mobile, showing receiving ability and athleticism. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder ran good routes and displayed agility and quickness to get open. With good hands and leaping ability, Dulcich showed mismatch receiver potential. In 2021, he had 42 receptions for 725 yards and five touchdowns. Dulcich could be a nice mid-round value in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
McCreary has some scouts that love him but others are skeptical. At the Senior Bowl, McCreary had a really nice week, showing his cover skills by running the route and preventing separation. While McCreary is not a big corner, he is tough, physical, and a natural football player. After his strong Senior Bowl, McCreary could be a first- or second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
2022 NFL Draft Stock Down
Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
There have been som mock drafts which have projected Strong as a high first-round pick and the first quarterback drafted. NFL teams, however, had him graded later in the first round at the time, and Strong's performance in Mobile verified the scouts' views of him. He demonstrated some accuracy issues, overthrowing some check downs in the flat and throwing too high on many occasions. While Strong has an arm that can loft the ball deep down the field, his passes lack zip, and he is not one to drive the ball into tight windows. Strong also is not a great athlete who offers running ability. Over the week of Senior Bowl practices, Strong did not look likfe a first-round quarterback.
Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Raimann is a projected first-round pick in some mock drafts, but he struggled at times during the Senior Bowl practices, especially in the pass-blocking one-on-ones. On Wednesday, Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie had his way with Raimann in the pass-rushing one-on-ones. Despite Raimann's massive size advantage, Ebiketie bull rushed through him like he was a wet paper bag, rolling him backward to the quarterback marker in a blur. On the next rep, Ebiketie used his speed to fly around the corner and get the sack while Raimann was stuck trying grab and hold on. Those were ugly plays for Raimann that suggest he would be in trouble against NFL speed rushers.
Raimann's run blocking is far ahead of his pass blocking. Considering he has limited experience and a late start in football, it really isn't a surprise that Raimann needs lots of developmental work. Raimann may need a year or two before he's ready to start.
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