The annual Senior Bowl kicked off in Mobile, Alabama, on Tuesday— a showcase for graduated college football players to put their talents on display for NFL scouts, coaches and boost their stock ahead of the NFL Draft in April. The American and National teams both feature big-name players from Power Five conferences, while also showcasing stars from lesser known college teams around the country.
Tuesday’s practices paraded a loaded edge group, headlined by star Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II. Johnson II gave tackles, tight ends and quarterbacks alike trouble consistently, turning in a day to remember.
In my three years covering the @seniorbowl I’m not sure I’ve seen a player have a day like @ii_jermaine had today!— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) February 2, 2022
Won inside, through and around blockers with explosion, powerful hands, refined hand placement, spins, push/pulls and bend.
Made plays against the run.
The former Georgia Bulldog turned Florida State Seminole proved himself to be a truly well-rounded edge rushing threat. With ample size, length and athleticism, Johnson has cemented himself as a first-round prospect.
The former four-star recruit will be an early three-down contributor whose game film is littered with strong play against the run. He can stack and shed as a stand up outside linebacker, or shoot gaps with his hand in the dirt to blow up plays in the backfield. Johnson II has strong I.Q. against jet sweeps and other plays that attack the perimeter and the athleticism to track them down in space.
If Johnson II were to end his week after his performance today, I would fully understand. In just one day, he’s shown everything one would need to see in order to be confident in making him a first-round selection.
Other edge defenders like Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie and South Carolina’s Kingsley Enagbare both flashed at times and will look to continue displaying their length, twitchiness and pass rushing polish.
One thing that stood out to me about @GamecockFB EDGE Kingsley Enagbare is his ability to string together multiple rush moves. Has answers at the top of the rush when first move is stopped. Converts from Hand Swipe to Bull here and the power is evident #SpursUp pic.twitter.com/ZavUlVWkI7— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) February 2, 2022
One of the questions I had surrounding Penn State EDGE Arnold Ebiketie (#17) was his ability to set a physical edge consistently.— Nick Price (@PriceCheck3) February 2, 2022
Here he works against one of the best TE's in the country and drives him into the backfield with ease. #WeAre pic.twitter.com/JSSaRwsBML
Two reps for Kingsley Enagbare, two times he's into the OT's pads. Good longarm here. pic.twitter.com/KvzRxbtJLe— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) February 2, 2022
Other defensive standouts included Connecticut nose-tackle Travis Jones, Baylor nickel Jalen Pitre as well as cornerbacks Mario Goodrich and Roger McCreary. Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall processed well and played with consistently controlled aggression against the run.
Flipping over to the other side of the ball, Boston College guard Zion Johnson consistently controlled his blocks with ease. Johnson is a smooth operator who has easy athleticism in his pass sets, accurate hand placement and vice grip hand strength to sustain blocks. He also showed the ability to re-fit his hands when needed to finish reps. Johnson took snaps at center, which he never played in college, and was understandably raw there, but otherwise turned in a great day of practice.
Another standout was Memphis iOL Dylan Parham. Parham took snaps at center and sealed blocks inside during tram drills, while also displaying aggressive yet refined quick sets in 1-on-1’s.
This reach from Parham to spring the big run in team pic.twitter.com/xVzIEHodOB— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) February 2, 2022
Other interior lineman like Michigan’s Andrew Stueber and Georgia’s Jamaree Salyer turned in impressive performances while also possessing inside/outside versatility.
The tackle group struggled as a whole in 1-on-1’s against the explosive edge rushers. Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning and Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele both lost reps early on, but turned things around in the team phase. There seemed to be some struggle with the cadences which resulted in disjointed reps, which should become less of a problem throughout the week as they grow more familiar with one another.
The receiving group saw Nevada’s Romeo Doubs, North Dakota State’s Christian and South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert put on a show, winning with explosiveness, suddenness as speed.
The break by Christian Watson is soooooooo smooth here. Puts the DB on the ground and creates nice separation. pic.twitter.com/8yMHQchVxI— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) February 2, 2022
Romeo Doubs beats the press and then comes down with it pic.twitter.com/DO7ogH6ZzA— Billy M (@BillyM_91) February 2, 2022
The three don’t hail from Power Five schools, but are certainly thrusting themselves into the conversation for day two selections come April.
The tight-end group in Mobile is probably the best in recent history, headlined by Colorado State’s Trey McBride and Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert.
Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert is a favorite of scouts who say his college production isn’t a reflection of his NFL ceiling. Also a Long Island product (Lindenhurst). @seniorbowl #nfl #ohiostate pic.twitter.com/cgzuA7A4Ur— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) February 1, 2022
Nice tough rep between Trey McBride and Jalen Pitre pic.twitter.com/cWCcZfe6dS— Billy M (@BillyM_91) February 2, 2022
The running back group showed different flavors that can provide value to teams. Florida’s Dameon Pierce who is a bowling ball at 5-8 220 showed burst, vision and agile footwork throughout the day, and may be the top back in Mobile.
Dameon Pierce with a big run. pic.twitter.com/pWp5R9yRaY— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) February 2, 2022
With day one under wraps, there are plenty of intriguing prospects who established themselves early. With two more days to prove themselves, the offensive tackle group needs to get their feet under them and stand up to a dominant edge group. If Jermaine Johnson continues to dominate, it will be hard for teams picking in the top-15 to pass on him in April. Let’s see who steals the show Tuesday!