Senior Bowl practice was moved inside on Thursday and thus became more exclusive to some media. The movement inside was due to a tornado warning in the greater Mobile area.
It’s no secret that the New York Giants need offensive line help. Andrew Thomas is their only sure-fire starter in the entire position group - that’s not setting Bobby Johnson up for success. New Giants general manager Joe Schoen is aware of this problem (how could he not be?) and his boots were on the deck in Mobile for the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
One of the bigger storylines of the National Team’s practice - other than Kenny Pickett’s presumed small hands - was Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning and how he has a defined MEAN streak.
The offensive line
Penning acquainted himself quite directly with many National Team defenders throughout practice all week. He had several words with Kansas EDGE Kyron Johnson and Ohio State’s Garrett Haskell - chippy conversations. Penning continued his pugnacious play style on Day 3 of practice.
Lineman like Zion Johnson & Darian Kinnard have impressed scouts so far..— Taste Of Sport Media (@TasteOfSport) February 3, 2022
But Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning is taking these reps personal #TrevoPenning #SeniorBowl #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/wfgy2h8bCh
Penning’s toughness is evident. He generates first-round buzz, which is honestly a bit rich for my taste of now. But, if the Giants pass on tackle early, he could be a prime candidate early in the second round.
Another tackle who really struggled in the earlier practices, but had a solid third day was Washington State’s Abraham Lucas.
The bull-rush against Kansas EDGE Kyron Johnson was all over the internet after practice two, but the bounce back on day three was encouraging. He’s still a later prospect in the draft - could possibly be available early in the fourth round.
Zion Johnson had a bounce-back day after a slightly down second practice. Johnson stayed after practice to work on his snapping; he potentially could move inside, but the extra effort and work ethic will be loved by the NFL. Johnson could realistically be selected in the top 25.
Cole Strange, another guard who took significant snaps at center, had a good overall week and that carried into practice three. Strange hasn’t won every rep - some reps didn’t look great, but he has a ton of grit, great lateral movement skills, and his ability to re-sink his hips and re-anchor after being hit with a power move was good to see.
Minnesota OT Daniel Faalele had his best day of practice on Day 3, but I am still not certain if his foot speed will be adequate enough to consistently play tackle. However, his size and raw power are just exceptional.
North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson continued his impressive performance at the Senior Bowl by showing great change of direction ability in the red zone period of plays.
.@NDSUfootball WR Christian Watson has been the best WR at @seniorbowl practices all week, and today is no different. Pretty sure I didn’t see him lose a single rep in 1-on-1s pic.twitter.com/FZPNszHkZp— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) February 3, 2022
Watson played in a more run-oriented offense that uses the rushing attack to set up play-action shots. He averaged more than 20 yards per catch in college and had three consecutive practices of consistent traits. Watson showed vertical ability to stretch the field, had a great comeback route on the second day of practice, made a difficult contested catch on a nine route (showing good physicality,) and he showed the short route-running ability in tight quarters on the third day of practice. Watson made himself some money.
Another receiver who has displayed excellent hands throughout the event is Boise State’s Khalil Shakir. He’s not the flashiest, but he had success in the red zone on a few different plays throughout the period
.@BroncoSportsFB WR Khalil Shakir has been incredible in the red zone portion of @seniorbowl practice.— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) February 3, 2022
This diving touchdown from Kenny Pickett is one of three touchdowns during this period for Shakir pic.twitter.com/z3Ca4xrqe3
Here’s a look at just how good @BroncoSportsFB WR Khalil Shakir has been off the line at @seniorbowl. He is consistently winning with that short area speed to gain separation quickly pic.twitter.com/zoe03hJq1F— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) February 3, 2022
The National Team’s defensive line had quite the week. UCONN’s Travis Jones, Houston’s Logan Hall, and Minnesota EDGE Boye Mafe have all done well for themselves. Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey built on his excellent two days of practice in today’s session.
Winfrey has won with quickness, he’s won with power; he’s used his quickness to force OL to guess on their anchor employment. Winfrey is dangerous when he runs into an offensive lineman who is uncertain, and a bit slow to react.
Baylor defensive back Jalen Pitre continued his success at the Senior Bowl event on the third practice. He had several really good run fits from the nickel position, and he showed patience and discipline while in conflict on this rollout.
I also saw both Division-II cornerbacks Gregory Junior (Ouachita Baptist) and Joshua Williams (Fayetteville State) make solid plays. If drafted, they’ll both go on day three. Williams is longer and carries a bit more intrigue, but both are worth mentioning.