2022 Senior Bowl: Stock Up, Stock Down

Every year, the Senior Bowl is known as the official kickoff to NFL Draft season. It is a big opportunity for draft-eligible seniors to show off their skills to coaches and scouts. This year, there were a handful of prospects that stood out, while others slipped a bit. To put in perspective how vital Senior Bowl week is, 36 players from the 2021 Senior Bowl were drafted in the first three rounds, while 106 players were drafted overall which was a Senior Bowl record. One major takeaway from this week is that the edge rusher class is even more stacked than we originally thought it was. Without further ado, let’s dive into five players (non-QBs) who rose their stock and five who dropped down.

Be sure to check out all of our other NFL Draft content.

Stock Up

1. Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State

As mentioned, this year’s edge rusher class is insanely stacked, led by Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux. One name that was getting a little slept on entering the week was Johnson. After just the first two days of practice, he was already getting raved by scouts as the winner of the week. The former Georgia Bulldog was ultra-impressive in one-on-one drills and videos of his reps were blown up all across social media. Despite not practicing on day three, Johnson still suited up for Saturday’s game but didn’t see action. With his week, he is now all but a lock for a first-round pick and as of now is the fourth-ranked edge rusher on my board behind Hutchinson, Thibodeaux, and George Karlaftis from Purdue.

For more on Johnson, check out our scouting report on him.

2. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State

A small-school prospect or two always seem to stand out at the Senior Bowl. This year’s small-school standout was Watson, who dominated in practice all week and made one of the more impressive catches on Saturday. He showed off his release, run after the catch, route running, and pass-catching abilities all week long. Watson was named the top wide receiver on the National Team in a vote from the cornerback group and was consistently standing out as a top receiver on the field. His one-on-one drills were very solid and he showed the ability to adjust to a ball on his catch in the Senior Bowl. After flying under the radar coming in, Watson is now firmly on everyone’s radar.

3. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota

Mafe had a very solid week of practices and that continued into gameday as he was a problem for American Team quarterbacks and linemen. In the game, the edge rusher recorded two sacks, one forced fumble, and three tackles – all for loss. Named the National Team player of the game, Mafe spoke to the media postgame. “I got to showcase my speed and abilities and felt everyone saw that today,” Mafe said. He showed off tremendous explosiveness, length, and body control during practice reps and in the game. The former Golden Gopher will start to fly up draft boards after his performance.

4. Jesse Luketa, EDGE, Penn State

Another edge rusher that feasted this week, Luketa came flying off the edge. He recorded a strip-sack and another sack on Saturday while showing off an A+ sack dance. During the week, the former starting linebacker was impressive in reps and completely bulldozed Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele, one of the biggest linemen in the country. The hit was so impressive that the video went viral on social media. In the 2021 season, the Erie, Pennsylvania native was versatile in playing both linebacker and defensive end. Luketa really showed a top-notch ability to get after the quarterback this week and is on a lot more teams’ radars now.

5. Abram Smith, RB, Baylor

Smith stood out all week and was named the top running back on the National Team as voted on by the linebackers and defensive backs. In the game, he showed his ability to catch out of the backfield as he caught and ran for two touchdowns – including the game’s first. Smith caught a pass from former Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and ran it in from 20 yards out. The former Baylor Bear also rushed for 48 yards on 11 carries. Despite his smaller hand size, (7 5/8 inches) Smith showed he can secure the ball in traffic and make catches.

Other risers: Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor; Jordan Stout, P, Penn State; Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma (MVP)

Stock Down

1. Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky

Kinnard got bullied all week by defensive linemen and didn’t do any better in the game itself. Luketa got around him with ease on his way to his second sack. While he had some good reps in practice, he looked flatfooted and was bull-rushed by Johnson in one-on-ones. Kinnard goes from being a potential top 50 pick to possibly slipping to day three.

2. Ja’Tyre Carter, OT, Southern University

Carter is a small school product who was looking to make a name for himself in Mobile. He failed to do that, as he looked outmatched by the tough defensive linemen in practice. The combine will be another chance for Carter to improve, but it will be an uphill battle as there is already a handful of top talent in the offensive line class.

3. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota

For as big as he is (6’8″, 380 lbs), Faalele was seen on his butt far too much this week. He was getting no leverage and didn’t do nearly enough to help himself. The Australian born right tackle could have shown to be one of the better linemen in the draft class, but instead likely falls to day three. For what it’s worth, though, fellow Aussie Jordan Mailata was seen as a long shot after the Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Flash forward four years later, and he is a monster at left tackle for the Eagles.

4. Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State

Kolar’s weaknesses were highlighted in a big way throughout the week and on Saturday. He has never been a great route runner and had a big first down drop during the game. Then on the next play, the former Cyclone gave up a sack to Mafe. There are several talented tight ends in this class, including Trey McBride (TE1) who caught a touchdown pass in the game. McBride and a few other of the tight ends performed much better than Kolar.

5. Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati

During practices, Pierce had some drops, which was uncharacteristic, on top of not appearing too quick. The receiver class is already pretty stacked as we have grown accustomed to. Pierce didn’t help himself break into the top 15-20 while other receivers had much better weeks.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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