Connect with us

2022 NFL Draft

Day 2 Senior Bowl Takeaways: Malik Willis Takes Over the Buzz, Offensive Line Continues Struggles



MOBILE, Ala. — The Senior Bowl was met with a rainy, ugly day on Wednesday as the teams practiced through ugly rain. That gave unique conditions to evaluate the players through, especially the quarterbacks. So, who stepped up in the dreary conditions and who wilted under the pressure?

Malik Willis Stands Out

If the guy who stood out on Tuesday was Sam Howell, on Wednesday it was no doubt, Malik Willis. Becoming the talk of the town, Willis dazzled watchers with absurd throws on the run and out of structure. On one such fly route, Willis dropped a dime into the corner of the endzone. Even through the gusty winds and the sideways rain, Willis’ arm cut through the weather like a hot knife through butter.

Simply put, his physical tools are on another level from anyone else in Mobile this year. Willis’ command and improvement from the first day to the second day was one of the most delightful developments of the second day. His stock is currently going up, and it is no secret that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has taken a certain liking to the Liberty product.

The rest of the quarterbacks struggled to a degree, and even though most had their moments, it was nothing compared to the day Willis had. He was the buzz, and his stock off the impressive game is currently soaring like a rocket.

Kenny Pickett Struggles to Answer Hand Size Questions

The rain was also an opportunity for Kenny Pickett to shut down all the hand-size minutiae that is flying around in recent weeks. That has become the talk of the town in Mobile around Pickett, and on Tuesday he looked strong, even with the new NFL ball. Pickett was able to throw the ball to all parts of the field with improving accuracy as the game continued to move along. That was a good start to the week.

However, Wednesday in the rain, with one glove, was a step back for Pickett. He fumbled three snaps while being under center. That is absolutely a concern with his slick glove and his hands becoming far slicker than they otherwise would be. His ball appeared to be ugly, and he struggled to hit the throws outside of the numbers with consistency. He started to find his groove towards the end of the practice, but the practice will not put any talk to bed, even if he has games in the rain on tape.

Offensive Line Continues to Struggle

The first two days of the week have been anything but stellar for the offensive line. The top prospects like Trevor Penning and Bernhard Raimann had a bad first day. On the second day, there were some more flashes from both, but they still beat far too often. For hyped-up first-round prospects, they are not helping their stock any bit.

Zion Johnson continues to play well. So does Memphis offensive lineman Dylan Parham. Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange has been the standout of the week that is seriously underrated. Other top prospects like Daniel Faalele and Darian Kinnard continue to take their lumps, however.

The running backs seldom have clear lanes to clear. On all fronts, it has been disappointing to watch this offensive line performance to kick off the week.

Defensive Line Dominates

Coming into the week, the defensive line was thought of as a good unit in this crop of Senior Bowl prospects, but perhaps not this good. It has now been two straight days, and the prospects continue to kick the offensive line’s tails. The interior defensive line, in particular, is making themselves a lot of money.

Oklahoma defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey was the most dominant of the standouts on Wednesday. With lightning-quick hands and a fantastic set of pass rush moves, he was dominant. Connecticut defensive tackle Travis Jones is dominant on both sides. He looks like he is climbing to be a potential Top-50 draft pick. Devonte Wyatt from Georgia continues to play at an extremely high level, as well.

That’s only a taste of it all. Guys like Neil Farrell Jr. from LSU stood out. The defensive line, and edge rushers as well, are making a lot of money this week off the backs of the offensive line’s struggles.

Wide Receivers Stand Out

This group of wide receivers is a fascinating one. It is not a group that has a Deebo Samuel or Terry McLaurin to light up the sheet, but they are a rock-solid group that can be seen as future contributors across the league. If there is one player who has stuck out in a different way, North Dakota State receiver Christian Watson has been dominant. A 6-foot-4 speedster, Watson was Trey Lance’s preferred target with the Bison. He is gaining steam as he stands out.

Tennessee’s Velus Jones Jr had a phenomenal day on Wednesday. He is showcasing an ability to beat press coverage and run some of the crispest routes on the football field. While he will be the rare 25 year old rookie, Jones has plenty of juice to get a look at from teams at this point.

Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce, South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert, Boise State’s Khalil Shakir, and Rutgers’s Bo Melton are other players that stick out in a good way out there. This receiver crop should have some solid prospects come out of it.

Steelers Now in your Inbox

Sign up and get all of our posts sent directly to your inbox!

Thank you!