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2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl: Previewing the National Team

Who to watch in the National Team practices

Syndication: The Enquirer Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s Reese’s Senior Bowl week! The event is one of the primary bastions of draft coverage located in downtown Mobile, Alabama. Desired eligible college football seniors assemble for a week of rigorous questioning and practice. It all culminates in a game on Saturday where the Jets and Lions coach two respective squads.

The Senior Bowl sets the framework for the draft season. It’s the primary all-star game, and absolute gems have shined under the watchful eye of the entire NFL world. Coaches, scouts, media, and fans all gather to see who stands out among the rest.

Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers coached the game in 2019 when a WR from South Carolina named Deebo Samuel happened to be on their squad. Shanahan witnessed Samuel’s work habits off the field and how hard he practiced. When it was time to draft, Shanahan selected Samuel at pick 36, and he’s never looked back.

There are countless examples of the coaching staff, scouts, and even general managers (looks over at Dave Gettleman) who fell in love with prospects at the Senior Bowl. Practices start on Tuesday after the early weigh-ins. Here are several names from the National Team (Jets) who should be on your radar.

Offense

The quarterbacks

The National team will have Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder, Pittsburgh signal-caller Kenny Pickett, and Nevada’s Carson Strong. It appears the Giants will allow Daniel Jones to play in 2022. The roster isn’t great, so investing draft capital into the team’s foundation makes sense, but that doesn’t mean the Giant’s won’t be intently observing the quarterbacks in this game.

Ridder’s lackluster game against Alabama doesn’t inspire, but he has plenty of quality college tape to lean on. Pickett’s 2022 put him in the first-round conversation as arguably the best quarterback in the draft. Strong’s stature and arm are something to monitor, but his medical issues are a problem.

The quarterback conversation, in general, is fascinating. There isn’t a true number one quarterback heading into the week, and all but Ole Miss’ Matt Carroll will be in attendance. A great week in Mobile from any quarterback in attendance can really make a huge difference, and the Giants are still a team in the quarterback market, whether they’ll admit it or not.

RB Rachaad White, Arizona State

White isn’t one of the premier running backs in the draft, but I appreciated his film. He possesses excellent size and good athletic ability. I love his vision, patience, and he seems to be a perfect fit into the very prevalent zone-blocking system, albeit he thrived in power/gap as well. White has the upside to be a three-down running back in the NFL.

White started at a Division II school, Nebraska-Kearney. He then transferred to Mt. San Antonio Junior College (JUCO). He finally ended up at Arizona State for two seasons, where he averaged 6.3-yards per carry. White’s second gear and overall burst, combined with his vision/patience, are excellent.

During 2021, he had 182-carries for 1,000-yards and 15 touchdowns in a full-time role. He also added 43 catches for 456-yards after rarely being used in that role during his junior year. He may ultimately go on day three, but he could be an excellent steal, in the right environment, like a Kahlil Herbert or Rhamondre Stevenson - both attended the Senior Bowl last year.

RB Hassan Haskins, Michgian

The star of Jim Harbaugh’s first Ohio State victory will be in attendance. Haskins packs a good punch, has impressive contact balance, and is very smart in blitz pickup situations. The combination of Haskins and White should be fun to watch on game day.

Haskins may not be drafted as a starting running back, but he has the capability to assume a two-down role if the opportunity arises. His ability in pass protection will earn the early trust of the coaching staff that drafts him, but he doesn’t do much as a receiving back. He will more than likely be selected early on day three, with the potential of sliding into the late third round.

WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State

Dotson is quick, an excellent route runner with dynamic ball skills, and YAC ability. Dotson’s ability to separate will be evident in WR vs. CB drills throughout the week. He does a great job releasing against press, is solid in contested catch situations (despite not being too imposing at 5’11, 185lbs), and he has big-play ability.

He saw 138 targets and caught 91 balls for 1,182-yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021. The receiver class is stacked this season, but Dotson could still find himself a the backend of the first round.

TE Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State

I like the idea of Ruckert playing for the New York Giants. He was underused at Ohio State, which is understandable when they have five-star WRs everywhere, and players like Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson running routes. Ruckert has receiving skills, though. Those skills will be noticed in Mobile.

I love Ruckert’s incredible ability to annihilate defenders at the point of attack, especially while pulling. Ruckert’s presence would be an upgrade in the Giants’ depleted TE room, and it would allow New York to run more concepts taking advantage of a moving blocker (split-zone, Y-insert, etc.).

In his career, he caught 54 balls for 615-yards and 12 touchdowns. There’s nuanced route running, soft hands, and an ability to uncover versus zone. I think Ruckert will garner solid interest come draft day, somewhere on day two.

TE Charlie Kolar, Iowa State

Good frame at 6’6, 260-pounds who had solid production in the Big-12. Kolar had 764-yards receiving on 63 catches to go along with six touchdowns in 2021. Kolar ended his college career with 23 touchdowns, 2,189 receiving yards, and 169 receptions.

Kolar isn’t quite the blocker that Ruckert was at Ohio State, but he was much more productive. On day three, Kolar is an option for the Giants if they fail to select any of the other talented tight ends.

OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota

A massive 6’8, 380-pound tackle who has good footwork and can just bury individuals in his path. Players who are this big should NOT be able to move like Faalele can, albeit his movement skills will still be challenged by speed in the NFL, specifically on some vertical set situations. His length and grip strength are excellent too.

Faalele only allowed eight pressures and one sack in 2021, and that was after an excellent 2019 year where he only allowed 13 pressures. Faalele opted out of the 2020 season, due to COVID-19. His college resume is impressive; his size is eye-popping, and he’s sure to provoke gasps from the NFL audience at the weigh-in. Faalele is rightfully very interesting and should be in consideration for the right tackle position of the New York Giants.

IOL Zion Johnson, Boston College

The Giants need a lot of help on the offensive line - an understatement! Zion Johnson could provide that help and could be around when the Giants select early in the second round.

I haven’t extensively evaluated Johnson’s tape yet, but I have heard great things about his overall ability. He improved significantly from 2020 to 2021, and he’s a name that I will certainly be watching all week.

Johnson only allowed six pressures and one sack in 777 pass-blocking reps during the 2021 season. He played left tackle when he had to, but most of his snaps were at left guard.

The Giants could need a left guard...and a right guard...and maybe a center...and a right tackle...but the selection of Johnson would fix at least one of those issues.

Defense

DL/EDGE Logan Hall, Houston

Hall’s already rising up draft boards in the media as more analysts become exposed to his impressive tape. If that is combined with an excellent week in Mobile, then Hall should skyrocket.

A breakout senior year for the 6’6, 275-pound defensive lineman sprung Hall onto everyone’s radar. He had 30 pressures and seven sacks while aligning as a 5-technique, 2i-shade, 3-technique, and occasionally outside the tackle.

He would be a quick DE in a 3-4 system who has the strength to hold the point of attack. He’s long, heavy-handed, and quick off the snap. Hall is going to be fun to watch during 1v1 drills in Mobile.

EDGE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Bearcats had a loaded team. There will be plenty of representatives in Mobile from that squad; five Bearcats will be in attendance, and other than Ridder (quarterbacks!), Sanders is the most interesting.

Sanders combines an explosive first step with good pass-rushing moves up the arc. He had 62 pressures in 2021 and five sacks. He’s a bit wild in terms of tackling, but he plays with his hair on fire and is disruptive off the edge. He has a chance to be a first-round pick, and a great week in Mobile will help his case.

EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State

The Giants focused on the EDGE position last off-season. They drafted Azeez Ojulari and Elerson Smith, with the latter player making a strong impression during the Senior Bowl (and the combine). Ebiketie should be on the Giants’ radar due to his length, quickness, ability to separate in 1v1 situations, and his pass-rushing moves.

Ebiketie transferred to Penn State after 2020 from Temple, where his career never quite took off. In just one season playing in the Big Ten, Ebiketie earned All-Big Ten honors and finished the season with 52 pressures, ranking 16th in the FBS. He had 62 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. A good week in Mobile would do wonders for Ebiketie’s already solid stock.

LB Devin Lloyd, Utah

Lloyd is considered a top linebacker prospect, right next to Georgia’s Nakobe Dean. I prefer Dean to Lloyd, but the latter has exceptional movement skills and plenty of splash plays on tape. Lloyd’s Pac-12 Championship interception for a touchdown against Oregon caught a lot of eyes, as did the interceptions at the line of scrimmage against Washington State and Stanford.

He’s a versatile linebacker who does have upside, and he fits modern NFL play. He has the potential to be a three-down linebacker, although he does need a bit more help with his tackling efficiency, and his ability to stack & shed. All in all, the Giants should be looking at linebacker, and Lloyd will be one of the ones to consider high in the draft.

LB Tony Andersen, Montana State

I haven’t seen Tony Andersen’s tape; Chris Pflum turned me onto the 2021 FCS Player of the Year, and I wanted to put him into the article, seeing that the Giants need a linebacker.

Joe Schoen comes from the Brandon Beane tree, and they haven’t been shy selecting small school prospects. They selected Darryl Johnson out of North Carolina A&T, Taron Johnson from Weber State, and Siran Neal out of Jacksonville State.

He recorded 147 total tackles, two picks, and 14 tackles for a loss in his senior year. Andersen was good enough to earn a trip to Mobile from a small school; let’s see if the 6’4, 235-pound linebacker can impress.

CB Coby Bryant, Cincinnati

Bryant is a sticky cornerback who can play man or zone. He allowed only a 44% catch rate in 2021, with 11 passes defended and three interceptions. He also improved his tackling efficiency in his senior season.

One concern with Bryant is his deep speed; it’s not abysmal or anything, but it’s not an elite trait he possesses. However, his willingness to defend the run, his length, coverage ability, and ball skills are all great. He’s also exceptionally aware of his surroundings. Bryant should hear his name early on day two.

SAF Jaquan Brisker, Penn State

Brisker carries first-round buzz as a safety and is one of the more talented players in Mobile this week. He has solid size, brings physicality in run support, and has the range to handle single-high responsibilities.

According to Pro Football Focus, Brisker was the sixth-highest ranked safety in terms of coverage this season. He played in 13 games with 32 tackles, two interceptions, and three passes defended in his first season with the Nittany Lions. He finished his collegiate career with 11 passes defended and five interceptions, with only one touchdown surrendered. He also had 115 tackles and 49 STOPS through three seasons.

Brisker is attempting to separate himself from Georgia’s Lewis Cine and Michigan’s Daxton Hill - both won’t be in attendance (they’re underclassmen). Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton will be the first safety off the board, but Brisker has a shot at securing himself as the second with a good week in Mobile.