Senior Bowl Can Make or Break Multiple QBs as First Round Picks

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Senior Bowl Can Make or Break Multiple QBs as First Round Picks


Senior Bowl Can Make or Break Multiple QBs as First Round Picks


With the benefit of hindsight, it’s quite obvious that the 2021 Senior Bowl was a precursor of what was to come for Mac Jones. The steady-handed signal caller was the clear best quarterback at the event, methodically operating his offense, displaying NFL level intelligence and accuracy, and answering any concerns scouts had of him, solidifying himself as a first-round pick the way Baker Mayfield, Daniel Jones, and Justin Herbert had done in previous years. 

The 2022 Senior Bowl has multiple prospects that can be this year’s Mac Jones. In a quarterback class that is perceived to lack a true day-one franchise guy. A group of prospects that lacks a Trevor Lawence or Joe Burrow level prospect, there is a natural angst to see someone compete alongside or elevate himself above Ole Miss’ Matt Corral for the QB1 spot on draft boards. And Mobile, Alabama — the yearly site of the Senior Bowl — should be hosting at least three signal callers that can solidify or make themselves first-round picks in the upcoming draft. 


No. 1 Malik Willis (Liberty)

In a league that increasingly values athleticism from the quarterback spot, Malik Willis’ Michael Vick-esque skillset can easily catch your eyes. Is he fast? Yes, oh my gosh yes. Does he have arm strength? He’s got that too. Is there room for him to grow? To be honest, his ceiling is limitless. But, how raw is Malik Willis? The 6-foot-1 dual-threat is responsible for 35 total touchdowns and has 820 rushing yards in addition to more than 2,600 yards through the air. However, he needs a lot of refinement. The 2021 season was Willis’ second as a starting quarterback at Liberty. Thus far he’s thrown 12 interceptions and shown inconsistencies with his touch and accuracy, in addition to questionable decision making. Willis is a true talent, he’s a made for social media highlight reel on his best day, but how long and how much nurturing will he need to get to that point is a question NFL teams are going to need answers for during the Senior Bowl this year. 

No. 2 Kenny Pickett (Pitt) 

After throwing for 38 touchdowns and 24 interceptions from 2018-2020, Kenny Pickett finally took the next step in 2021, torching ACC defenses en route to a 40 touchdown season —the most in Pitt history, breaking a record previously held by Hall of Famer Dan Marino — and being named a finalist for multiple awards. 

Pickett brings the experience, mentality and pocket presence that NFL teams desire. He’s a more than adequate athlete, an accurate passer, and a known leader. His arm strength won’t wow you, but a lot of other aspects of Pickett’s game just might. His composure and knack for making plays shows in his 2021 film. I’m expecting him to exit the Reese’s Senior Bowl with a lot of hype and an increasingly justified case for being the top quarterback in this year’s draft class. 

Pickett is not officially listed as an attendee on the Senior Bowl website, but it is public knowledge that he received an invite. 


No. 3 Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati)

Desmond Ridder should fit the mold of everything a NFL team wants. 6-feet-4 inches tall, a proven winner with plenty of experience whose highlight reel showcases flashes as both a runner and a passer. Ridder has been the star of the Cincinnati teams that have taken over the college football world over the past two seasons. But his inconsistency as a passer, a lack of truly standout traits, and questions about consistent competition are going to be talked about heavily heading into Mobile. Luckily for Ridder, the Senior Bowl is as close as it gets to living like a NFL quarterback without yet being one. Going up against the best veteran talent in the draft is the perfect way to not only dispel any concerns about competition, but prove he can adeptly run an NFL offense with accuracy and efficiency.  


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