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2022 Senior Bowl: Sleepers, Standouts and Practice Week Notes

Taking a look at who stood out, and who made their name known at the 2022 Senior Bowl week of practices.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Going into Senior Bowl week I had a list of players I would have my eye on more so than others, and that list stemmed from the three previous mock drafts that I put together. There were a few other prospects that caught my attention, and I want to share some thoughts on them as well. I questioned how the drills were shown by the ESPN crew, it felt like they showed more interviews than drills at times. In saying that, there was limited coverage for some of the prospects.

My Mock Draft Prospects:

Trevor Penning / OT / Northern Iowa - The guy is strong as anyone in this draft, and it showed by the way he rag dogged defenders. I’m pretty sure the Ohio State Edge Rusher (Tykee Smith) won’t be having dinner or drinks with the massive man. The negative reps also showed he will struggle against speed rushers. If Penning gets his hands on you, you are done, but he won’t be able to just rely on his strength alone at the next level. He will need improvement in technique and foot work. I would still consider making that pick at 20, but he would have to start out as a Right Tackle.

Jalen Pitre Slot / DB / Baylor - What I saw coming into the week was a guy that fit the narrative of a nickel back or slot corner/safety. He triggers hard down hill in run fits making plays in the backfield and also brings the element of the blitz with his play around the line of scrimmage. This week he upped his game by showing the ability to cover Tight Ends down the field. Improving his stock, in my eyes, from being limited to just Nickel duties. Don’t get me wrong, I love him in a Mike Hilton role, but he improved his draft stock in showing the complete package.

Jermaine Johnson / EDGE / Florida State - I caught a lot of flack in the comment section for drafting this talented guy in the second round. The key to that is the second round and I mentioned this in a reply to the board. Everyone fought back against the pick, but I don’t recall anyone mentioning he was a first round talent. Even with missing the final practice Jonson continued to show why his name should get called on the first night. The spin move in one-on-ones will get the highlights, but he improved his arsenal of moves and counters. Don’t forget he is stout against the run and Coach Tomlin did have a meeting with him.

Yusuf Corker / Safety / Kentucky - I had him listed as a late round depth player, and he didn’t do anything that would even suggest that. In fact I could see him as an UDFA at this point. I saw two reps where he was beaten bad in one-on-one coverage.

Derion Kendrick / CB / Georgia - I did not watch a single rep from the young man, but he did have a meeting with Steelers brass.

Velus Jones / WR / Tennessee - I mentioned Jones as a gadget guy that could fit into the Canada System. I also mentioned Jones as a field stretcher from the slot. He has wiggle, vision and contact balance in the mold of a Deebo Samuel. Jones also has return ability and I know there are some that like Ray-Ray McCloud (Flip, you there) but he isn’t signed yet. So I have looked for guys in that mold, but also those that bring something else to the table. Jones has that in spades and even though it was one rep going against a former teammate, Alontae Taylor, Velus showed the ability to get open down field and flashed the ability to track the football while adjusting back to an underthrown ball. I’m not sure how that single play will help his stock because the WR class is relatively deep. All I know is the age doesn’t bother me and if we don’t resign Ray-Ray, this guy should get a look.

Prospects Balling Out During Practice Week

Perrion Winfrey / IDL / Oklahoma - Winfrey was in the backfield seemingly beating every offensive lineman he faced in one-on-ones and team drills. He flashed a great get off, quickness and showed the power to compromise the pocket.

Dameon Pierce / RB / Florida - I know the Steelers have their bell cow, but there has been talk of needing a back up that can give some production while on the field. Pierce displayed the vision and burst through the hole, the ability to pick up the blitz and the hands to make him a viable option as a receiver. He improved his stock, but there has been little mention of the young man until this week. How far did it improve?

Don’t Sleep on these Sleepers

Eric Johnson / IDL / Missouri State - Late arrival at the Senior Bowl, was given the invite after showing out at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Has the length and strength that is preferred and is surprisingly nimble for that size. Displayed an outstanding spin move that was executed so well when I saw it I had to watch it over and over again. It was poetry. You miss evaluations and you even miss prospects like this one. But he made the draft world take notice and for the ones that already knew about him, they will go back to the tape.

Troy Anderson / ILB / Montana State - He was mentioned as one of my sleepers in the draft at his respective position, but being at the Senior Bowl kind of eliminates that sleeper moniker. After all, Jim Nagy has an eye for talent. The intriguing part of the young man was that he has played Quarterback and Running Back in his time with the Bobcats. Having success at those two positions dives into the athleticism, but also makes him somewhat inexperienced at ILB. Two things that Steeler Nation has become familiar with and can seem negative. Look at the position switch and the success as having sound Football IQ.

As always interested in your feedback and your thoughts on what you saw during the practices. Stay safe and go Steelers!