The excitement that the Senior Bowl brings is unparalleled. This week has been filled with amazing stories and has given us plenty of narratives to talk about until the NFL Combine kicks off at the beginning of March. As for the game itself, the National team, which was coached by the New York Jets staff, won 20-10 over the American team coached by the Detroit Lions staff. Between the game and practice this week, we saw prospects boost their draft stock while others took a slight hit. Let’s dive into those players and look at the winners and losers this week.
Malik Willis (QB – Liberty): 6’0¨, 220lbs
Malik Willis has been talked about all week, and for a good reason. There were many question marks about him as a prospect heading into the Senior Bowl, but it looks like he’s answered enough questions to be a first-round selection. His dual-threat ability was on full display in the first quarter as he rushed for 54 yards on just four carries. We all know that Konami code quarterbacks are cheat codes in fantasy, and if Willis can earn first-round draft capital, he will shoot up draft boards this off-season.
Desmond Ridder (QB – Cincinnati): 6’3¨, 207lbs
While Malik showed off his dual-threat ability, Desmond Ridder had the best day of all the quarterbacks. Ridder threw for 68 yards and two touchdowns, leading his team to victory. Ridder fit well in the National Team’s offense and proved that he excels while throwing outside the pocket. Ridder had an up and down week at practice but was praised by coaches for his competitiveness and willingness to learn. Ridder certainly has that “it” factor when it comes to quarterback play, and if the right team drafts him, he could be an intriguing pick in rookie drafts this May.
Rachaad White (RB – Arizona State): 6’0¨, 210lbs
No other running back increased their draft stock quite like Rachaad White. White ran for 52 on just 11 and added one reception for seven yards. He is one of the best pass-catching backs in the draft, and he proved that this week in Mobile. White is also a physical bruising runner with exceptional lateral agility and showed his quick burst on multiple runs on Saturday. Undoubtedly, a team will fall in love with White’s skillset.
Christian Watson (WR – NDSU): 6’4¨, 211lbs
The most talked about player at the Senior Bowl this week that wasn’t a quarterback has to be Christian Watson. Watson had only one reception for 38 yards in the game Saturday, but he broke out during practices. Watson was open multiple times in the game, but he didn’t see the targets needed to put up a big statistical game. However, he showed that he could create separation when needed and play against better competition than the FCS. Watson has the prototypical size of a WR1 in the NFL. Watson also already has an official 40 time of 4.44, so that size is accompanied by speed. If he can match that time at the NFL Combine, he will generate more draft buzz.
Jake Ferguson (TE – Wisconsin): 6’4¨, 244lbs
The tight end class at the Senior Bowl was one of the strongest in recent memories, and the top performer on Saturday was Wisconsin tight end Jake Ferguson. Ferguson would finish the day with three receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown. Ferguson was primarily used as an inline blocker in Wisconsin’s scheme, but he still had 46 receptions for 450 yards and three touchdowns as a senior in 2021. He’s one of the best blocking tight ends in the class. However, he showcased his hands well in practice, and he showed scouts he could be a receiving threat.
Carson Strong (QB – Nevada): 6’3¨, 226lbs
As big of a believer I am in Carson Strong, he did not have a great week. He threw for only 67 yards on Saturday, including a poorly thrown interception. Strong also fumbled a snap that he received from under center. Besides his play, the reports out of the Senior Bowl are not looking promising. Strong reportedly argued with coaches about the offense and showed a lot of immaturity throughout the week. While the play-calling was vanilla and didn’t fit Strong’s abilities, you would have liked to see him challenge himself with the system that he was placed in. He still has abilities I believe in, but he did himself no favors this week.
Jerome Ford (RB – Cincinnati): 5’10¨, 209lbs
Jerome Ford came to the Senior Bowl with high expectations, but his trip started badly, and he didn’t recover. Most had hoped Ford would weigh in close to his listed weight of 220, but he came in at 209 pounds. That is not ideal for a running back with his running style. Ford will need to run in the low 4.4s in the forty-yard-dash if he wants to keep his draft stock holding with that weight. If he runs slower, we could see him plummet further than any other running back in this class. Ford also didn’t play in the game after suffering a minor injury in practice.
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