Much of the Senior Bowl is a chance for players to shine independently of their college teams. Some players were coming from absolutely stacked teams, while other players were coming from small schools didn’t get the national spotlight.
All week long we’ve been spotlighting players who stepped up in practices, so who stepped up in the game itself?
Perrion Winfrey (iDL, Oklahoma)
It’s rare that a defensive tackle wins the Senior Bowl MVP, but that’s what happened today. Winfrey made himself some money this week with a great week of practice and topped it with a great game.
Winfrey finished the game with two sacks and three tackles for a loss, showing off both his explosiveness and his intensity.
The New York Giants drafted the Senior Bowl MVP in three straight years from 2017 to 2019. Could they find themselves drafting the MVP in 2022?
DeAngelo Malone (EDGE, Western Kentucky)
There were a lot of defensive linemen who flashed in the Senior Bowl, but Malone had the distinction of being the first to make a big impact play. Pitt QB Kenny Pickett had the National Team offense moving well, until Malone set them back with a big sack on second-and-6.
DeAngelo Malone sacks Pickett. Runs over the TE pic.twitter.com/DiG3CXx5Mn— Billy M (@BillyM_91) February 5, 2022
Malone is undersized for an NFL EDGE at 6-foot-3, 239 pounds. However, he is explosive and quick, and he was a problem for offensive tackles who are 100 pounds heavier than him.
The success of players like Haason Reddick and Micah Parsons as undersized pass rushers could open teams’ minds to that body type.
Boye Mafe (EDGE, Minnesota)
As I said, there were a bunch of Front 7 players who had great days at the Senior Bowl. Mafe started things off with a strip sack in the second quarter, blowing past the left tackle and separating Sam Howell from the football.
Mafe came back in the third quarter with a sack of Bailey Zappe to end an American Team drive on the doorstep of the end zone. This one very nearly resulted in a fumble as well.
Boye Mafe is just another addition to this absurd EDGE class. pic.twitter.com/oOtiIzZHkm— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) February 5, 2022
Mafe is a dense and explosive EDGE at 6-foot, 3 1⁄2 inches, 255 pounds, and he showed great hand usage finish by chopping at the ball. That move made Osi Umenyiora a very dangerous pass rusher, and Mafe appears to be trying to master it himself.
Rachaad White (RB, Arizona State)
Rachaad White doesn’t look much like a powerful runner at 6-foot, 210 pounds. In fact, he looks more like a thick receiver than a running back. However, he has a powerful lower body, good contact balance, and great decisiveness. He ran hard throughout the game, sprinting through holes as they flashed open and grinding to pick up every inch he could.
His highlight play, however, came on a failed 2-point conversion when Desmond Ridder fumbled the snap. White reacted instantly, picked up the loose ball, and still almost forced his way into the end zone.
That’s the kind of play that gets teams’ attention, and White’s blend of quickness and physicality could draw some comparisons to Antonio Gibson by teams.
Abram Smith (RB, Baylor)
Smith has the distinction of scoring the first points of the game on a 20-yard touchdown catch. He nearly scored a rushing touchdown on the drive that culminated in White’s almost 2-point conversion. Smith is a tough, physical runner as befits a former linebacker, and he is a difficult running back to bring down.
Teams will likely be concerned over Smith’s hand size (7 5/8 inches), but he did a good job of catching the ball on his touchdown and secured the ball well in traffic.
Zion Johnson (iOL, Boston College)
The guard from Boston College has been one of the best performers throughout the week. He surprised by taking reps at center — even staying after a rainy practice to take extra reps to work on his snapping — and played the position in the game.
He had a false start penalty, but he drove defenders off the ball in the running game and showed some great quickness at his new position. Johnson was named the Practice Player of The Week, and that definitely carried over into the game.
Romeo Doubs (WR, Nevada)
Doubs flashed early in the game with a couple great catches. Doubs was a big-play threat for the Wolfpack, with more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in the last two seasons combined. He showed good quickness in his route running and every bit the catch radius his 6-foot-2 frame (10 1/8 inch hands) would suggest.
Doubs had a great catch from Desmond Ridder, the highlight of which was him flashing his hands very late to give DBs no warning that he was the target.
the best throw of the game thus far— The Transfer Portal CFB (@TPortalCFB) February 5, 2022
Desmond Ridder displays nice touch and finds Romeo Doubs for a nice gain despite numerous defenders in the area pic.twitter.com/kZXUaTGPvt
Travis Jones (iDL, UConn)
Yet another Front 7 who had a good day, Jones was stout and disruptive up the middle for the National Team defense. He is a big defensive tackle at 6-foot, 4 3/8 inches, 326 pounds, with 34-inch arms. Jones bullied everyone he went up against during the week of practice, and carried that over to the game itself.
It’s always good when you can sack a quarterback with his own lineman.
Travis Jones is a human bowling ball pic.twitter.com/xqqURpgr8u— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) February 5, 2022
Jordan Stout (P, Penn State)
A punter? A punter!
Stout hit some absolutely booming punts with some solid hang time and directional control to boot. He took advantage of returners wanting to be aggressive and set up the National Team’s coverage units well. The result was his defense getting set up in some good situations. Stout averaged 50 yards per punt in five games this past year and he also has the versatility to be a placekicker if necessary.
The Giants could find themselves in need of a punter in 2022, and Stout could be worthy of a draft pick.