With the Senior Bowl kicking off this week, NFL scouting departments will get a first-hand view of some of the top prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Since the official list of underclassmen declaring
has been revealed, I’ve updated my Top 100 Big Board that will be revealed soon.
There are 42 players in my top 100 that will be competing in Mobile this week, making this a talented crop brought in by Jim Nagy and his staff. For three full days of practice, and a Saturday-afternoon game, more than 130 prospects will get a chance to increase their stock, regardless of where it lies on one of the 32 draft boards across the league.
The Jets and Lions’ coaching staffs will be coaching them this week. Let’s take a look at my 10 top-ranked NFL Draft prospects competing in the 2022 Senior Bowl, as well as how they can improve their stock this week.
Top 10 NFL Draft Prospects at the 2022 Senior Bowl
Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah | National Team (13 on my updated Big Board)
Lloyd had an exceptional senior year after choosing to return to school a year ago. After having back-to-back stand-out seasons in 2019 and 2020, Lloyd passed on the 2021 NFL Draft, and that decision has paid off.
He’s always had a nose for the ball, but Lloyd took his game to another level last fall. He dedicated himself to becoming a three-down linebacker, and the final result was impressive.
In 2021, Lloyd collected 111 tackles, including 22 behind the line of scrimmage. He also had seven sacks and record career-highs in interceptions (4) and passes defensed (6).
His eyes have always been good in the run, and we started to see him react quicker to his keys in the passing game as well. In coverage, he was breaking on passes, allowing his pure athleticism to shine.
Lloyd also proved to be disruptive on the blitz, where his explosion and length gave blockers issues. What I want to see in Mobile, is him continue to prove his capability on third down. He’ll get the chance to cover tight ends and running backs in practice.
There will also be pass-rush and blitz drills where Lloyd can shine. Additionally, I want to see his leadership show up. Barring an injury, Lloyd will get plenty of snaps playing in the middle of that defense.
He will relay the calls and get players lined up. I want to see him be the alpha of that bunch that sets the tone in practice and the game. The expectations are high, and Lloyd should deliver.
Arnold Ebiketie, OLB/DE, Penn State | National Team (16)
Ebiketie is another player that saw his draft stock soar in 2021. After starting his career at Temple, Ebiketie transferred to Happy Valley for his final season and played outstanding.
While he has always had a knack for making plays in the backfield against the run, he turned it up a notch with 18 tackles for loss in 12 games. Ebiketie also recorded a career-high 9.5 sacks, while also 52 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.
He was one of the most disruptive players on a Penn State defense with a ton of talent of future NFL players. The scary thing is he still has quite a bit of room to develop as a pass rusher.
Ebiketie has outstanding length and a combination of strength and athleticism to grow into a dominant edge rusher. In Mobile, Robert Saleh and his defensive coaches will surely throw a lot of techniques at him, and I want to see how he progresses through the week.
I’m a bit higher on Ebiketie than some, but I expect him to shoot up boards through the pre-draft process. He’s got special athletic traits, and when matching that with how he’s progressed through his career, it makes for a highly-coveted prospect.
His best fit is standing up on the edge as a linebacker in 3-4. While his skill set looks ideal for the weak side in that scheme, he proved capable of holding his own at the point of attack last fall.
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn | American Team (18)
McCreary is my top-ranked defensive back at the Senior Bowl, and we rarely see corners with first-round grades compete in Mobile. That’s a testament to his desire to compete, as well as his willingness to be coachable.
As a twitchy athlete who mirrors well, we should see plenty of reps in practice where he shines. Still, he’s going to be put in a variety of situations in coverage, with some not suiting his skill set.
Whether it’s taking on bigger receivers or playing in off coverage, there will be scenarios where he’s at a disadvantage. That will lead to lost reps. Not every prospect chooses to put themselves in that spot, but he did.
However, with those lost reps will come teaching points. McCreary will learn from a former corner who had a similar skill set in Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. Glenn was a tremendous athlete with less than desirable size.
Seeing McCreary succeed thanks to his outstanding feet and loose hips will be a big deal. Still, seeing him learn from Glenn and progress through the week will be just as crucial.
He’s going to face a lot of different receivers and will do so lined up on the perimeter and in the slot. It’s going to be fun watching him compete this week.
Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa | National Team (20)
The first offensive player on this list, Penning had an outstanding career for a Northern Iowa program that is suddenly churning out offensive linemen. Penning played opposite Spencer Brown, who Buffalo drafted with the 93rd pick in 2021.
I remember watching Brown and quickly realizing why he was stuck on the right side, despite being such a gifted player. Penning immediately stood out from his size and arm length, to his mobility and nasty temperament.
Brown held his own in Mobile a year ago, and Penning should do the same. There is no doubt in my mind that the Walter Payton Award finalist will have success at the Senior Bowl, despite matching up against some very talented edge rushers.
While the speed of the game at Northern Iowa may not be up to par with the Big Ten or other Power Five Conferences from which his practice opponents once played, Penning has always played at a higher speed than his opposition. He routinely gets into the defender’s chest quickly on run downs while mirroring with ease in pass protection.
It may take him a few reps to get acclimated to the speed of Ebiketie or the power of Houston’s Logan Hall, but I bet he catches up quickly. The guy is an outstanding competitor and more technically sound than we traditionally see from small-school prospects.
He will receive plenty of coaching during the week and will likely get reps at both tackle spots. I want to see him improve each day and prove that he can handle the blindside against top competition.
If so, his stock could rise even higher. I’ve currently got four offensive linemen in my top ten prospects, and if all four go in that range, Penning could be considered as high as 11.
Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan | National Team (29)
Bernhard is another non-Power Five offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl that is high on my list. However, unlike Penning, Raimann is still a work in progress. A former tight end who only started playing football after moving to the United States in high school, Raimann has a lot of raw potential.
However, the strides he took in 2021 were impressive enough for him to jump up to 29 on my board. Still, there is a lot of work to be done, and some may want to see him at guard because of his less-than-ideal arm length for a tackle.
There are bound to be ups and downs, and he takes on some of the top pass rushers in this class. However, as I continue to state, it’s not about just winning and losing through the week; it’s about showing progress.
From what we’ve heard, Bernhard is a dedicated worker and should benefit from the teaching of an 18-year vet in John Benton, the offensive line coach of the New York Jets. How he implements the different techniques he’s taught will be one of the week’s biggest storylines.
Can he be patient in his pass sets? Can he be precise with his hands? Will he consistently play with a lower center of gravity, bending at the knees and not the waste? Will the competitive streak show up to finish reps?
No player’s performance will be more highly-monitored than that of Bernhard, given his physical skill set. Not only could a strong week solidify him as a day-one prospect, but if we see a run on linemen, he may hear his name called as high as the top 20.
Cameron Thomas, DE, San Diego State | American Team (32)
Thomas is the type of player who dominates at events like these because he is already very technically sound, putting him a step ahead of the competition. I love how deliberate Thomas’ hands are, whether taking on blocks or attacking his opponent in pass protection.
He plays with terrific balance and power, and when he faces off against guys that are learning new techniques and offensive systems, Thomas is bound to make some “wow” plays. At San Diego State, he rushed the passer from various alignments, and I’d like to see him do that in Mobile as well.
Most importantly, I want to see him stand out. A few years back, Bradlee Anae routinely caused problems at the Senior Bowl because of his technical savvy, and Anae was not nearly as physically blessed as Thomas.
Whether it’s one-on-one drills or team, I want to see his abilities consistently stand out, resulting in negative plays for the offense. A strong week could boost his stock into the late first-round conversation, despite being my eighth-ranked edge player.
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh | National Team (35)
Pickett is the top-ranked quarterback competing in Mobile and just four spots behind Ole Miss’s Matt Corral. I was thrilled to see him agree to compete at the Senior Bowl, considering this year’s class lacks a sure-fire QB1.
While many may have been shocked to see Pickett excel in his final year at Pittsburgh, those who have scouted him closely knew he was capable of putting up this kind of efficiency. While his completion percentage over his sophomore and junior season stayed around 61 percent, the Panthers also led the nation in drops during those two years.
He’s always displayed consistency with his mechanics, and it makes him the most accurate passer being considered in the top two rounds. The physical traits may not be as impressive as most quarterbacks competing this week, but his accuracy should stand out.
The best thing he can do in Mobile is be himself because a lot of things he excels in are areas every other quarterback is hoping to improve on at the Senior Bowl. He may not be the fiery leader that some are, but his cool, calm presence is a strength, in my opinion.
In a week where everyone is pressing to shine, his quiet confidence and consistent approach could be the x-factor that rubs off on those around him and gets the best out of them. Don’t be shocked if some teams leave Mobile with Pickett as their top-overall passer.
Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College | National Team (36)
Johnson is another technically sound player that should have a leg up on the competition. He is a three-year starter, having served two at left guard and one at left tackle.
I’m sure he will get opportunities at both during the practice sessions, and while I think his natural fit is on the interior, proving capable on the blindside can only help his draft stock. The National Team got the lion’s share of the talent when it came to offensive linemen, and if Johnson is leading the way for that bunch, it could secure a first-round grade for him.
I want to see him neutralize some of the defensive linemen with exceptional gifts in Mobile. Travis Jones is massive at 326 pounds, and when he gets his long arms extended, he’s a handful.
Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey is another explosive, long-armed player that flashes some exceptional reps when his motor is running hot. On the other hand, he will likely see more explosive guys like Ebiketie to deal with when lined up on the edge.
Johnson’s tape is consistently good but not always specular. The job always seems to get done, but will that be enough against some of these exceptionally gifted defenders? We are going to find out this week.
Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina | American Team (37)
My third-ranked quarterback in this class, Howell has exceptional physical gifts that flashed throughout his three years at North Carolina. However, his biggest issue has always been consistency, whether with his throwing mechanics or decision-making.
It’s been maddening to evaluate, but the evaluation isn’t over yet. Howell will get three days in Mobile to continue to add to his narrative and possibly even convince one team that he can be a franchise player.
However, to do that, we will have to see him display some form of consistency. For me, it starts and ends with his mechanics. His feet need to stay active and properly spaced to give him an ideal platform, and his weight transfer needs to be on point.
Too many times, he’s throwing flat-footed or drifting back when there is no pressure forcing him into it. His base can get too wide or narrow, and that’s why we see throws sail on him or skip short of the target.
His arm is special, without a doubt. However, being an accurate passer involves more than just the throwing arm. If he can stay consistent with his mechanics, we will get to see some of the exceptional plays he’s capable of making.
Howell has the weapons around him. The time is now if he wants to set himself apart. A lot of this applies to Liberty’s Malik Willis as well, as he too is supremely gifted. Willis just missed this list by one spot and is the fourth quarterback I have ranked from 31-40 on my board.
Logan Hall, DE, Houston | National Team (38)
Hall is another talented defensive lineman on the National Team at the 2022 Senior Bowl. That should make for an exciting week of one-on-one sessions considering all three offensive linemen on this list are on the National Team as well.
A year ago, Hall’s teammate, Peyton Turner, had a strong week in Mobile to help spark his rise into the end of the first round, and Hall has similar size and versatility. Like Turner, Hall’s strengths revolve around his length and power, making him tough to handle when he gets his hands on his opponent.
We are sure to see him get plenty of reps on the edge and inside, as we saw during his collegiate career. I want to see how he various his techniques to deal with the different skill sets.
Obviously, competing against the mammoth tackles like Raimann and Daniel Faalele will differ from taking on the more athletic Penning and Abe Lucas. Then, of course, kicking inside against Johnson will be a separate challenge.
However, because of his versatility, a lot of techniques will be thrown at him too. Will he latch on to some and not others, or get overwhelmed by them all? Will he shine in one specific area or possibly even across the board?
I think his best fit is as a five-tech in an odd-man front, but if he proves he can shine on the edge or as an under tackle, his stock will only grow stronger. Still, no one in Mobile is more qualified to handle that combination of tasks than Hall.