Stock Up/Down: 2022 Senior Bowl QB Evaluation

Stock Up/Down: 2022 Senior Bowl QB Evaluation

by February 6, 2022 0 comments

Some say that the NFL Draft begins in Mobile, AL, the home of the Senior Bowl since 1951. In 2022, a total of 127 players from college football programs around the country were chosen and divided into two teams. The Detroit Lions coaching staff ran the American team, while the staff of the New York Jets led the National team. No less than 71 college football programs were represented in the Senior Bowl, including five programs with at least four players in the game. Cincinnati and Georgia each had six representatives in Mobile, tied for most of any team. They were followed by Oklahoma with five, while Baylor and Penn State each had four.

18-year NFL Scout Jim Nagy is the executive director of the Senior Bowl. Nagy announced the award winners for each position after a week of practice. One player from the National and American teams for each position was selected, via vote, by the opposing players.

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Malik Willis (Stock up)

Willis has been the standout quarterback all week during Senior Bowl practice. The 22-year-old is widely regarded as the most physically gifted quarterback in the draft, a talented passer and runner who has excelled during Senior Bowl practices and tantalized teams that dream of finding a signal-caller who can duel with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Buffalo’s Josh Allen.

The Liberty Flames’ quarterback accounted for 40 touchdowns this past season, with 27 through the air while also rushing for 13. Though he had a great week of practice, his Senior Bowl game performance was below-average. He threw for just 11 passing yards, last among all six quarterbacks. His incredible ground performance made up for this, as he rushed for a game-high 54 yards. Raw talent with significant potential, Willis has positioned himself to be the first quarterback off the board in April. The question is who he falls to. 

Kenny Pickett (Stock up)

The Heisman finalist out of the University of Pittsburgh is positioning himself to be the second quarterback off the board in this year’s NFL draft. Pickett had a solid game this weekend, going 6/6 in his stint under center, tallying 89 yards with a touchdown. Pickett was a fifth-year senior in 2021 with tons of starting experience in the ACC. He played 39 games, notching 12,303 passing yards while throwing for 81 scores.

Pickett has great size to be an NFL quarterback at 6’3″ and 221lbs. He also has a knack for finding open receivers when extending the play. Pickett said his performance from start to finish in the Senior Bowl grew significantly during the game. “I felt pretty good entering the week, but as I became more aware of the offense and the new guys I was playing with, my job got easier,” Pickett said. “Overall, it was an unbelievable experience that I’ll never forget.”

Next up for Pickett is to keep preparing for the draft at the Test Football Academy in New Jersey. “That’s where I’ve been before and am looking forward to getting back to work,” Pickett said. 

Desmond Ridder (Stock Up)

Ridder had a standout season with the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2021. The Louisville, KY native led the Bearcats to an undefeated 13-0 record, including an AAC Championship Game win against the Houston Cougars. Ridder threw for three touchdowns in that game en route to the first-ever playoff berth by a non-Power Five team.

Ridder threw for 3,334 yards on his way to 30 touchdowns in 2021, and NFL scouts have been keeping a close eye on him since Tuesday morning’s start of Senior Bowl practice. After an underwhelming first couple of drives, he finally performed, delivering two passes for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Ridder was very confident on the run, and it’s being noticed. Scouts like the frame and height that he poses. At 6’4″ and 215Ibs, Ridder hits all the body requirements that scouts are after. He is also a very mobile quarterback. While he’s been great in the pocket for the Bearcats, Ridder had 28 career rushing touchdowns in Cincinnati, the highest ever for a Bearcats’ quarterback. Along with his mobility comes the use of the Read Option play calling. It can trip up a defense at any time.

Carson Strong (Stock down)

After starting the Senior Bowl week off to a hot start in practices, Strong cooled down Saturday as the game went on. He had five drives, producing 67 yards on 6-11 passing. His longest pass went for 32 yards and he finished with an interception. By no means was it a bad game, but improvements can be made.

During 2021, the Vacaville, CA native, threw for 4,186 yards on his way to 36 touchdowns. He finished tied for seventh on total touchdowns throughout the season. NFL scouts like Strong’s ability to throw the deep ball accurately. He has proven to have the skill set to be an NFL-caliber quarterback. Strong said he is very confident in his arm following the first practice Tuesday.

“Everyone out here is very talented. What I bring to the table is, I’m a good decision maker with a strong arm. I’m very confident in my arm. You know, I can make all the throws.”

Questions about his mobility and overall readiness as a rookie continue to linger, as this process just begins.

Sam Howell (Stock down)

Howell slated an early first-round draft pick, but exposed some weaknesses during the regular season with the Tar Heels. He ended up with 3,056 passing yards and 24  passing touchdowns to nine interceptions. Howell also added 828 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 183 carries. He is a young but experienced passer that still needs to work on his reads in the backfield. Saturday, Howell finished 6-9 passing, going for 67 yards.

The numbers are not bad, but he ended up taking three sacks, as well. The potential is there for Howell to be great. He needs to learn to get his throws off more quickly. 

Bailey Zappe (Stock up)

Zappe had everything to gain coming into this year’s Senior Bowl. The Victoria, TX native entered the week with 5,967 passing yards to go along with a whopping 62 touchdowns. Both numbers are new records broken this year, previously set by Joe Burrow. The Hilltoppers’ quarterback went 8-13 passing for a game-high 103 yards. Zapper didn’t appear until the fourth quarter, but made the most of his opportunity. Despite throwing for the highest amount of yards in the game, he also took in the most sacks. Despite this, NFL scouts like his precision and his deep ball. He also does a great job staying tight and having consistent footwork in the pocket. 

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