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2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl: Players to watch on the American Team

This year’s Senior Bowl roster is absolutely stacked

LendingTree Bowl - Liberty v Eastern Michigan Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl is set to be one of the biggest attractions in this year’s draft process.

The Senior Bowl is always one if the prime attractions in the lead-up to the draft, but this year’s Senior Bowl is set to be absolutely stacked. Not only will we see most of the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, but some of the best players at every position on the field. Just how stacked are these teams? Ordinarily these kinds of pieces have headlines like “5 Players to watch”, but I couldn’t cut this list down to less than 20 players — and this is only half of the total roster.

The American Team, which will be coached by the Detroit Lions, has a great mix of top talents and players who could see their draft stock rocket upward. There will be plenty of players on the field who the New York Giants should be scouting heavily.

Quarterback

  • Malik Willis (Liberty) - Willis might be the most intriguing quarterback prospect in the upcoming draft. He’s a dangerous athlete with the arm strength to threaten the whole field. Willis has drawn comparisons to Lamar Jackson in the past, but he was a definite “risk-reward” player at Liberty. He will likely be a polarizing player, and teams will be eager to see how he performs with some of the best seniors in the country.
  • Sam Howell (North Carolina) - Howell was considered the top quarterback prospect coming into the season, but took a step back withJevonte Williams, Michael Carter, Dyami Brown, and Dazz Newsome all moving to the NFL.
  • Bailey Zappe (Western Kentucky) - Some teams might ding Zappe on his size (listed at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds), but he is a smart quarterback with surprising athleticism and the ability to be accurate to all levels of the field. He could be the sleeper of this class and has a chance to raise his profile if he compares favorably with all the top QBs on the property.

Offensive line

  • Darian Kinnard (G/T, Kentucky) - Kinnard is a big and powerful offensive tackle with the versatility to play both guard and tackle. Considered the leader of Kentucky’s “Blue Wall” offensive line, Kinnard has 39 consecutive starts and was credited with 30 knockdown blocks in 2021. He has a great chance to show teams that he can be a starter at multiple positions this week.
  • Jamaree Salyer (G/T, Georgia) - Salyer saw 11 starts at left tackle this past season for the Bulldogs and allowed just 2 hurries and no sacks all season. He also has extensive experience at guard and some teams might project him inside due to less-than-ideal length for the tackle position. Salyer is a stout, powerful, and dependable blocker who could give teams upside at multiple positions.
  • Ed Ingram (G, LSU) - Ingram’s play on the practice and playing fields will matter. He is a solid and reliable guard on the field and should be good enough to at least challenge for a starting job at the NFL level. More important will be his meetings with teams this week. Ingram was arrested in 2018 for aggravated sexual assault of a minor and suspended indefinitely. Those charges were suddenly dismissed in 2019 and he rejoined the team, and was LSU’s every-game starter in 2020 and 2021. Teams will be doing very thorough checks into Ingram’s background and having very frank conversations with him, both of which could have a much greater impact on his draft stock than his performance between the lines.

Skill positions

  • Jalen Tolbert (WR, South Alabama) - Tolbert has the chance to slap a rocket onto his draft stock this week. He has the potential to be one of the best receivers to come out of this draft class with silky-smooth athleticism, great ball skills, and the ability to create after the catch. He will need to build play strength as a pro, but the rules of the Senior Bowl are almost custom-made to showcase Tolbert’s upside.
  • Tre Turner (WR, Virginia Tech) - Turner is a long and athletic receiving prospect who is surprisingly electric with the ball in his hands. He’s somewhat raw from a technical aspect as a receiver and was something of an afterthought in Virginia Tech’s run-first offense. However, his ability to create yards after the catch is intriguing and he has the potential to be a threat at all areas of the field with some development. He is also already a very good blocker, which should boost his value.
  • Isaiah Likely (TE, Coastal Carolina) - Isaiah Likely is one of the more interesting prospects on a very intriguing Senior Bowl roster. He was Coastal Carolina’s top offensive threat and was responsible for more big plays than any other player on their team. He definitely qualifies as a “hybrid” tight end at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, with receiver-like athleticism and ball skills. He is a capable blocker on the edge, provided teams don’t ask him to block too far outside of his weight class.

Defensive line

  • Phidarian Mathis (Alabama) - Mathis managed to both be the rock in the middle of the Alabama defense and one of its most disruptive players. Mathis is long, athletic, strong, and smart, all of which should be on display this week. This year’s senior bowl boasts a great interior offensive line, and Mathis should have some fantastic battles.
  • Devonte Wyatt (Georgia) - Wyatt is just the kind of player you should expect from a defense as stacked as Georgia’s was in 2021. He’s got good size, great athleticism, and the ability to be a true 3-down defender. Wyatt can be disruptive against the pass and stout against the run, and play out of multiple alignments.

EDGE and Linebacker

  • Jermain Johnson II (EDGE, FSU) - Johnson is one of the best pass rushers in the draft. He is long, athletic, and versatile with the ability to play in a variety of schemes and alignments. Johnson has the ability to rush with power and athleticism, and also has the technique to make use of his athletic skill set.
  • Kinglsey Enagbare (EDGE, South Carolina) - South Carolina has a strong history of putting good players in the NFL, and Enagbare has the upside to be the next in that line. He should be a good “EDGE” at the NFL level with the skills and traits to fit in a variety of schemes. Enagbare has a great chance to raise his draft stock and generate some excitement in a deep EDGE class.
  • Quay Walker (LB, Georgia) - Nkobe Dean steals the spotlight, but Walker is a long, athletic, and incredibly rangy. He has a chance to open some eyes with his ability to play in space and show that there’s a reason why he was on one of the best defenses in the country.

Secondary

  • Roger McCreary (CB, Auburn) - Auburn didn’t have a great season this year, but they fielded a great secondary in 2021. This is a very deep and talented draft when it comes to the defensive secondary, and McCreary has the potential to be as good as anyone in this class. He has good size, great athleticism, and the ability to be a “No. 1” corner in any coverage scheme.
  • Derion Kendrick (CB, Georgia) - Kendrick is raw corner who is likely a developmental prospect, but he has the traits to push for a starter job with some work in a zone scheme. He’s fluid, athletic, and has great ball skills, though he needs to improve in the mental aspect of the position.
  • Mario Goodrich (CB, Clemson) - Goodrich played second fiddle in the Clemson secondary, but he has stand-out traits that should be on display this week. He has good size, is athletic, fluid, and is a good coverage corner. Goodrich also has the ability to play in both man and zone coverages, increasing his appeal for just about any defense.
  • Tariq Woolen (CB, UT-San Antonio) - There are a lot of very intriguing small-school players in this draft, and few are more intriguing that UTSA’s Tariq Woolen. Measuring a reported 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Woolen is a massive defensive back. That is notable in and of itself, but when you combine it with reported 4.34 speed, an 11-foot 5-inch broad jump, you have a player with a rare athletic profile. Teams will have to pay attention to Woolen.
  • Tycen Anderson (S, Toledo) - Anderson is a big safety (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) who has the physicality to be a box defender, but was also used as a slot defender by his defense. That suggest a versatile skill set, and one that’s in high demand in the modern NFL.