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Senior Bowl risers: Ten players who helped themselves in Mobile

Which players generated momentum at the Senior Bowl?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 31 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The practices preceding the Reese’s Senior Bowl are always one of the highlights of the Draft process.

They’re a fantastic opportunity to see some of the top prospects from around the country on the field together, while getting actual NFL coaching. Every year there are players who take advantage of the opportunity and start their climb of draft boards. The New York Giants have always scouted the Senior Bowl heavily, and it’s likely that someone (or several someones) on the field caught their eye this week.

Let’s take a look at some of the players who stood out the most.

Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina

Rattler was one of the players with the most to gain from his opportunity this week, and he seemingly made a good impression. Each of the quarterbacks had their share of good plays, and Rattler certainly showed off the physical traits that once made him considered a Heisman Trophy frontrunner. But nobody has ever really doubted Spencer Rattler’s mobility or arm talent. What Rattler really needed to show was consistency and he did that.

Rattler delivered a number of impressive throws (with few of the lapses that plagued him at Oklahoma or in 2022 at South Carolina) in team periods. His performance left scouts saying that he was the most impressive passer of the weekend.

Christian Haynes (G, UConn)

Giants fans might roll their eyes at a relatively unheralded offensive line prospect from a bad UConn offense, but Haynes had himself a week. He showed off all the mobility and play strength we saw on tape at UConn, and held up against whoever went against him.

Haynes not only held his own against the SEC tackles, but finished those reps with authority and the kind of nastiness you love to see from a guard. He seemed to live under the skin of the defenders who went against him.

Jackson Powers-Johnson (iOL, Oregon)

Even big-name players can be risers this week, and JPJ is proof of that.

Powers-Johnson came into the week as one of the top two or three centers in the draft, and will exit with that status intact. But what impressed about him was that he was not only dominant at center, but as a guard as well.

It’s also notable that new Giants’ offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo was spotted talking to Powers-Johnson. Scouts and coaches will talk to everyone, but it’s still worth taking note of.

Ladd McConkey (WR, Georgia)

McConkey was one of the least impressive players during weigh-ins. At 5-foot-11, 187 pounds and with just 8⅝-inch hands, he was seemingly a “loser” at the start of Senior Bowl week. However, as I’ll keep saying, “Size is not a skill set”, and McConkey might have been the most impressive pass catcher on the property this week.

Not only did he catch everything even remotely near him, his quickness, agility, and route running prowess made him nigh-uncoverable in practices.

Receivers like McConkey — physically unimpressive, quicker-than-fast technicians — have been torturing NFL defenses for years now. McConkey really does have a chance to follow in the footsteps of Hunter Renfrow, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Cooper Kupp, and Puka Nacua if he lands in the right situation.

Ricky Pearsall (WR, Florida)

Pearsall is another receiver in the same mold as McConkey with fantastic quickness, great route running, and ball skills. Pearsall has gotten next to no buzz coming from a disappointing Florida team in a year that is absolutely stacked with wide receiver talent, but he’s generating some for himself in Mobile.

Pearsall has been as exciting in National Team practices as McConkey was in American Team practices.

Legette might have measured in a bit shorter than expected at 6-foot-1, but he boasts a very dense frame at 225 pounds. Despite that, he impressed with his route running and quickness in and out of breaks. Importantly, he also showed off solid hands at all areas of the field.

It might have helped that Legette had Rattler (who was a teammate for the last two years) with him, but drops and catch consistency plagued Legette up until this year at South Carolina. I still would have liked to see him show a bit more confidence in his hands and extend more to pluck the ball out of the air, but he was impressive this week.

Roman Wilson (WR, Michigan)

Speaking of “impressive”, Michigan’s Roman Wilson make one of the most impressive catches of the week. We all knew that he has electrifying speed down the field, but this week he showed off his short area quickness, route running, and ball skills.

Expect to hear Wilson’s name called sooner rather than later if he runs as well as expected at the Combine.

(Note: He had a documented 4.37s 40-yard dash and 37-inch vertical as a high school recruit before entering Michigan’s strength and conditioning program.)

Quinyon Mitchell (CB, Toledo)

Using that clip of Wilson’s catch is doing Mitchell a bit dirty. The small-school corner got posterized on that rep, but he was remarkably impressive this week. Mitchell had already been rising up draft boards and was widely considered a fringe first-round prospect. He did absolutely nothing to slow the momentum this week, and if anything stepped on the accelerator.

Mitchell has great length, impressive quickness and agility, and might have the best ball skills of any defensive back in this draft. Not only did he have an absurd 37 passes defensed in the last two years, but he had 5 interceptions (2 touchdowns) in 2022.

Darius Robinson (DL, Missouri)

Sitting here, the Giants have yet to hire a defensive coordinator. So we don’t know precisely what kind of scheme they might run or what kind of defenders they might want to rebuild their front.

Any which way they go, the’ll want to take a long look at Darius Robinson out of Missouri.

He was lined up all over the defensive front at the Senior Bowl and had an impact just about every rep. It didn’t matter if he was lined up as a true EDGE or a 3-technique, Robinson flashed. He has the size to play inside in a 1-gap defense at 6-foot-5, 286 pounds (with 34 ¾-inch arms), as well as the burst to play off the edge.

T’Vondre Sweat (DT, Texas)

Last, but by no means least, is the massive tackle from Texas.

Sweat raised some eyebrows when he didn’t weigh in, and its commonly believed that he’s over 360 pounds at 6-foot-4. However, his mammoth frame does nothing to slow him down, at least not in the short area. Sweat was arguably the best defensive lineman in the country this year and was an absolute headache in practices this week.

He’s obviously able to be an immoveable object in the run game, but his ability to beat blockers one on one was impressive on the second day of practices:

Oops, sorry. Wrong GIF, but you can understand my mistake.