2022 Senior Bowl: Practice Report

2022 Senior Bowl: Tuesday’s National Team Practice Report

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

The first practice of the National team in the Senior Bowl was held in Mobile, Ala. in South Alabama’s football stadium. The players practicing in shells: helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts. The National team is being coached by the New York Jets coaching staff.

  • The first day of practice at Senior Bowl is typically a little sloppy as the players shake off the rust of a layoff while adjusting to playing with new teammates. This practice was no different, and the Jets staff, led by head coach Robert Saleh, ran a very slow-paced session that included a lot of play install. As a result, it was not as noteworthy of a practice but laid a foundation for more action on the days to come and put a building block in place for the Senior Bowl game on Saturday.

  • Eyes throughout out the league were on Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, and he had a decent first day. Pickett was not on fire or overly impressive physically, but he did not look poor either. Pickett was by far the most accurate quarterback over Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder and Nevada’s Carson Strong. Pickett had consistently good ball placement and did a nice job of throwing a very catchable ball. He did not put on display any big-time vertical throws in the team scrimmage, as he seemed more cognizant to work the short part of the field. Overall, this was not a first day that will kick start a climb to the top of the first round, but Pickett did not hurt himself either.

  • Strong did not have a good practice, as he had some accuracy issues overthrowing some checkdowns in the flat and throwing too high on many occasions. While Strong has an arm that can loft the ball down the field, his passes lack zip, and he is not one to drive the ball into tight windows. In this practice, Strong did not have the look of a first-round quarterback.

  • Ridder was unimpressive as well. He showed some athletic ability to move around, but also had some hesitation in the pocket in the team scrimmage. That led to him taking a bad sack when he had time to get the ball out. While Ridder has a quality skill set, he could be a developmental project and is not a quarterback that is ready to compete quickly.

  • Northern Iowa left tackle Trevor Penning had an eventful first day of practice. Penning has first-round potential for the 2022 NFL Draft and this is an important week for him after taking on lower caliber of competition during his final collegiate season. Penning started out well by getting some wins in the pass rushing one-on-ones. He stood up a bull rush and rode defenders around the pocket showing agility with length that made it tough for them to shed him. In other one-on-ones, Penning did well to hold his ground against bull rushes, but Jets coaches were working with him on his hand placement and not exposing his chest to defenders.

    In the team scrimmage, Penning was beaten for a sack by Oklahoma defensive end Isaiah Thomas. Penning was on his heels and threw Thomas into the turf but took the legs out from under Ridder. There is no doubt that Penning has a good skill set with size, length, quickness and athleticism. He could use some coaching up for the NFL, but the potential to be a good starter is there and this week in Mobile could solidify Penning as a mid-to-late first-rounder.

  • Entering the 2021 season, there were scouts who were really excited to see Penn State cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields and thought he could have first-round potential for the 2022 draft. His tape from his underclass time was impressive to go along with a combination of big size, speed and athleticism. However the 2021 season was very disappointing, as Castro-Fields had issues with biting hard on play fakes and showing a lack of discipline that led to some bad tape. Thus, rebounding at Senior Bowl is critical for Castro-Fields, and he got his week off to a good start.

    In the one-on-ones, Castro-Fields did nice job of smothering routes including a few wins versus Cincinnati wideout Alec Pierce. Castro-Fields drove hard on slants to cover up and force incompletions. On a deep route in the end zone, Castro-Fields ran with Pierce and was able to intercept a batted pass as the two fought for the 50-50 ball. If Castro-Fields plays well on Wednesday and Thursday, he could be a riser who makes himself some money in Alabama.

    WalterFootball.com will have more recaps from the Senior Bowl practices later in the week along with a run-down of the post-practice team interviews. Follow @walterfootball for updates.

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