2022 Senior Bowl mid-season All Riser Team

The Senior Bowl just released it’s 2022 mid-season all riser team. Hussam Patel takes a look at the defensive side of the ball.

The Senior Bowl just released its 2022 mid-season All Riser team. It consists of offensive and defensive players that have risen two rounds or more on the Senior Bowl board from their junior year tape grades.

Let’s take a look at the defensive prospects.

All-riser Defensive Lineman

EDGE Keion White

Keion White joined Old Dominion as a freshman and transferred to Georgia Tech as a junior. Before making the transition to an EDGE rusher, White was a Tight end. He made Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks list”.

“White was a devastating player for Old Dominion in 2019, making 19 TFLs. He was 265 then. He transferred to Tech, but then suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him. He’s now 6-4, 290, and primed to be a problem for ACC teams. White has hit 21 mph despite being almost 300 pounds. He also has vertical-jumped 32 inches and done 38 reps of 225 on the bench press.”

Bruce Feldman

White is a well-built and dense-framed defensive end. He plays with good power on initial contact that can help soften edges and rush angles. His power in short spaces is effective. He’s a high-motor player, and he shows good enough hand use, as well as a tight spin move, to win as an edge rusher.

EDGE Mike Morris

Michigan EDGE rusher Mike Morris leads the Wolverines with five sacks on the season and is third-best in the Big Ten conference overall. As a junior, behind David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson, Morris played in four games and contributed on 107 snaps. He recorded just five tackles, no assists while making seven stops.

Morris explodes off the line with a quick first step, with agile feet to counter inside and closing burst to finish plays. His hand use is excellent; he’s strong in the upper body and consistently swats away blockers. As a pass rusher his junior year, he produced 14 total pressures, which included 10 QB hurries, one QB hit, and three sacks on the year.

“He’s one of those types of guys that he’s good at so many things. I think at some times, it’s like, ‘Oh, we can do this with him, we can do that with him.’ But he’s also a really good one-on-one rusher. And I think that’s what he’s proven to me. I think the most (he’s improved) is he has a great ability to win one on ones using his tools and what he’s good at a really consistent level.”

Michigan Defensive Coordinator Jesse Minter

DT Tyler Davis

Clemson defensive tackle Tyler Davis has made an immediate impact at Clemson, earning the starting role in his first career game as a true freshman in 2019, and becoming a key interior piece for Clemson’s defense ever since. Davis looks like a potential pro starter and top 100 pick, ideally suited for a team that utilizes a rotation-heavy defensive line.

Hearing from his head coach, Dabo Swinney, Davis is “Fundamentally sound. Technically sound. Relentless with his effort.” A compactly-built, high-motor lineman, he brings a nice blend of power and quickness. Davis shows impressive get-off, often exploding off the line and getting into gaps before blockers can react.

All-riser Linebackers

LB Owen Pappoe

The senior linebacker has more than lived up to his nickname, the Freak. He’s been compared to former Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses. He’s made 165 tackles and six sacks in his career for the Tigers. Equally good in the run game and pass game, Pappoe reads the offensive line well and attacks blocking schemes – has a natural feel for the game. Can attack the edge with speed and has the flexibility to dip low and under the tackle’s reach.

Pappoe gets the shout out in the 2022 Senior Bowl mid-season all riser team as he arrives at the receiver at the same time as the ball, giving up few yards after the catch.

EDGE/OLB D.J. Johnson

Oregon Duck D.J. Johnson made the 2022 Senior Bowl mid-season all riser team due to his pass rush and cover skills. He has established himself as one of the most versatile players in the country in his senior season at Oregon. He previously played tight end for the Ducks.

Johnson has a good bull rush, but his best attribute is probably his speed off the edge. He has a lot of athleticism for a guy his size, which is probably why he’s in the defensive line position most likely to drop back into coverage. Fluid and quick drop into zone, covers enough ground to be Tampa-2 “MIKE” and knows where the markers are.

Linebacker Daiyan Henley

Daiyan Henley is still relatively new to the linebacker position, which bodes well for his continued development as a player and offers perspective on just how enticing his instincts are. According to the Associated Press, Daiyan Henley is one of the nation’s three best linebackers at the midway point of the season.

The most productive defender for the Cougars, Henley enters the bye week leading his team with 68 tackles. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest 2023 NFL draft big board this week, and Henley came in at No. 24 overall. He’s a former wide receiver and defensive back, so his ball skills when playing in coverage are considered a strength as well.

All-riser Defensive Backs

Cornerback Nehemiah Pritchett

Nehemiah Pritchett’s role for Auburn went up every year and was a key starter on cornerback and helped on kick returning on special teams, showing his ability to play multiple positions and help the team out in anywhere he can.

He’s very quick and very confident cover corner who plays bigger than his size when lined up in press coverage, delivering quick, surprisingly powerful punches and using his natural quickness and change-of-direction ability to mirror on underneath routes. Pritchett can get flat-footed but his makeup speed is impressive. He plays the ball as if it was thrown for him.

Cornerback Devon Witherspoon

The fourth-year Illini cornerback sure has come a long way from being an under-recruited, late addition to the Class of 2019. Now he’s one of the nation’s top cornerbacks. Witherspoon was named a Midseason All-American by Pro Football Focus (First Team) and The Athletic (Second Team). Now, he’s part of the 2022 Senior Bowl mid-season all riser team.

The Illini product reads receivers’ routes and anticipates throws at the first down marker. Covers a lot of ground in a hurry when in space. Reads the quarterback’s eyes and sees the routes very quickly, then has straight-line speed to arrive with, or just after, the ball. Witherspoon shows good awareness when dropping into zone coverage, with good route recognition and the ability to break quickly and cover a lot of ground.

Safety Jay Ward

In 2021, as a junior, Ward played in 11 games and contributed on 704 snaps. He chalked up decent 58 tackles, 15 assists, and added 13 stops. In the secondary, Ward forced two pass breakups and notched two interceptions.

Ward flashes good ball skills for a safety. The Tiger product tracks the ball well downfield and has the hands and coordination to come away with interceptions, even while not targeted often. He has the range and cover ability you want out of a post safety.

Safety Daniel Scott

Safety Daniel Scott is the old man of the Cal defense.  The 2022 season will be his sixth year of college football in Berkeley, and he will turn 24 midway through the season.

“He’s a play-maker, makes quick decisions, and I think that’s what he does best. He has good instincts and when he makes a decision, he can go fast.”

Cal Defensive Coordinator Peter Sirmon

Regardless of age, he looks the part with prototypical size and strength for a strong safety — long arms with a filled-out frame. Extremely strong with natural power to make punishing hits. He’s a willing and capable hitter in run support and closes fast to make plays against quick screens.

Safety Chris Smith

The Georgia Bulldogs senior made the midseason all-riser team for the Senior Bowl. Christopher Smith has 21 total tackles, two interceptions, and three pass deflections this season.

Smith’s an instinctive center fielder who flies around the field, has the tools to make up for a relative lack of size. He’s got a great football IQ and is versatile. He handles assignments as a deep safety, robber, and nickel corner. His downhill trigger is impressive showing the propensity to click and close, driving on anything in front of him with burst and intent.

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Week 3 College Football Preview

Week 3 of College Football is finally here! Hussam Patel gives his top three week 3 college football preview and games that you need to watch.

Photo Credit: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week 3 of the 2022 college football season is finally here. Here are the top three college football previews and games from week 3 that you need to watch.

Penn St. vs. Auburn preview

#22 Penn State Nittany Lions v Auburn Tigers. 3:30 P.M. EST, CBS

  • Line: Auburn -3, o/u: 46

Penn State week 3 college football preview

Sean Clifford is the most important player on Penn State’s roster, and the team’s success will heavily rely on what he does leading the offense. Clifford does have some help, though, as last week saw the arrival of one of the top players for the future, freshman running back Nick Singleton.

There were problems against Aidan O’Connell and the Purdue passing game, but the secondary held its own. Between that game and the Ohio win, Penn State has allowed just 48% of all passes to be completed.

Penn State’s offensive line is still looking to show some solid improvement. Through two games, this group has given up a big play to the opposing defense just when you think things are improving.

The Nittany Lions have an advantage at quarterback and feature multiple wide receivers to spread the ball around against the Auburn Tigers.

Auburn week 3 college football preview

For all of the problems the Tigers had least season, run defense wasn’t one of them. They held Penn State to 90 yards and just 2.7 yards per carry in the 28-20 game last year.

TJ Finley has thrown three more interceptions than touchdowns this season, and he will be going up against a solid defensive secondary led by cornerback Joey Porter Jr.

Running back Tank Bigsby should be a featured player, just as he was last year in this game when he ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns. He should get his work in this week. It’s a small sample size, but Penn State has surrendered 161 total rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground in its first two games.

Clifford and Singleton may have a tough time establishing much rhythm against Derick Hall and the Auburn defense. Can TJ Finley rise up and get the O moving? 

Miami vs. Texas A&M preview

#13 Miami Hurricanes v #24 Texas A&M Aggies. 9 P.M. EST, ESPN

  • Texas A&M -5, o/u: 45

Miami week 3 college football preview

Miami’s defense isn’t quite there yet, but it showed off the offensive talent in layups against Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss, with 100 points and well over 1,000 yards in the two games.

So far, the early returns on Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke are as advertised. Working in new OC Josh Gattis’ system, Van Dyke has hit on 73% of his passes, connected with 12 receivers, and heads an offense that averages 9.0 yards per play, can spread things out, and works well in space.

Miami’s defense struggled last year (28.4 points a game allowed) and had issues with tackling and inconsistent play at linebacker. They still struggled early against Southern Miss and Bethune-Cookman.

The Hurricanes’ back seven is untested so far in two games, and had its weaknesses a year ago. They haven’t faced anything like Ainias Smith or Evan Stewart yet, either.

Texas A&M week 3 college football preview

For all of the team’s problems, the offensive line has been good in pass protection so far, the secondary hasn’t allowed much of anything, and there’s too much talent overall to be this mediocre.

The Aggies need to control the tempo and establish the run behind Devon Achane. Miami is 8th nationally allowing 58.5 yards per game on the ground, but hasn’t faced a back of Achane’s quality yet.

LSU transfer Max Johnson gets the start this game. Playing mistake-free ball and getting the ball in space to receivers Ainias Smith, Evan Stewart, Chris Marshall, and Yulkeith Brown has to be the priority.

The Aggies had aspirations of contending for a playoff spot, but now face major questions before the SEC opener.

BYU vs. Oregon preview

#12 BYU Cougars at #25 Oregon Ducks. 7:30 P.M. EST, ESPN

  • Line: Oregon -3.5, o/u: 58

BYU week 3 college football preview

Jaren Hall finds ways to guide BYU to victories when facing Power 5 opponents. Hall improved to 7-1 all-time as a starter against P5 foes following last week’s win over Baylor.

The Cougars are legitimately punishing on defense and still relatively healthy on that side of the ball. Offensively, BYU doesn’t usually do anything to beat itself. 

BYU will need more production from the backfield this week to have success against Oregon in their week 3 matchup.

Oregon Ducks week 3 college football preview

A matchup with a talented and physical BYU team will be a good indicator of where Dan Lanning can take his team in year one

Containing Jaren Hall and keeping him from escaping the pocket will be a big task for a defensive front that hasn’t consistently collapsed the pocket.

Oregon was unstoppable in the run game last week after struggling to move the chains against Georgia. The Ducks collectively averaged 5.5 yards per carry while totaling 263 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

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Malik Willis 2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report

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Background

Malik Willis (#7, 6’1″, 225) is a quarterback from Liberty University and a prospect in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. Willis is originally from Atlanta, GA, and led his high school to the state title game, earning Offensive Player of the Year and 1st-team all-state as a senior. He earned a three-star distinction as a recruit with offers from mostly Group of Five and FCS programs, and a few ACC programs sprinkled in.

He initially committed to Virginia Tech, but he flipped to Auburn when they offered him a scholarship. Willis played in 15 games during his first two years with the Tigers in 2017 and 2018. He was primarily used as a gadget player and in mop-up duty. In 2018, he lost the quarterback competition to Bo Nix and transferred after the season. 

After transferring to Liberty, Willis redshirted in 2019 as he sat out due to transfer rules. In 2020, he started all but one game, leading Liberty to a 10-1 record, with their only loss coming on the road at NC State 15-14.

He led all FBS quarterbacks in rushing yards (944) and rushing TDs (14). In 2021, the team regressed and finished 8-5, but they capped off their season with a dominating performance in their bowl game. As a redshirt senior, Willis had the opportunity to play for another season due to the COVID year. Instead, he elected to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft and earned an invite to the Senior Bowl. 

Statistics

Career Stats: 38 GP, 23 GS, 618 attempts, 388 completions (62.8%, 71.7 Adjusted), 5176 passing yards, 48 TDs, 18 INTs, 103.4 NFL passer rating; 366 rushing attempts, 2131 rushing yards (5.8 YPC), 29 rushing TDs, 20 fumbles. 

2021 Stats: 13 GP, 13 GS, 339 attempts, 208 completions (61.4%, 70.1 Adjusted), 2858 yards, 27 TDs, 12 INTs, 100.1 NFL passer rating; 197 rushing attempts, 878 yards (4.5 YPC), 13 TDs, 3 fumbles. 

2021 PFF Grades (20% snap minimum): 91.8 Offense (t-4th), 78.4 Passing (49th), 94.5 Rushing (1st).

Malik Willis Scouting Report

Strengths
  • Compact, thick build with defined muscle on entire body. Can withstand hits in the pocket and when running the ball. 
  • Elite arm strength and talent, both velocity and distance. Can push the ball 50+ yards with ease and fit throws into tight windows. 
  • Solid accuracy, especially when in rhythm with clean pocket and sound mechanics. Arm strength allows him to make special throws that can hit receivers perfectly. 
  • Good pocket awareness and management, using athletic ability to buy time in the pocket and scramble out when necessary. 
  • When he’s hot, has special play-making ability; can make unique, off-platform throws out of structure. 
  • Good athletic ability allows him to be a weapon in the running game. Frequently makes defenders miss in the pocket and in the open field. Has speed and explosiveness to create big gains as a runner. 
  • Good competitive toughness, using physicality and strength to grind out extra yards in the run game; plays through injuries and comes back after tough hits. 
Weaknesses
  • Below average processing/field vision. Frequently waits for targets to come open before throwing the ball, allowing DBs to recover and make plays on the ball. Needs to improve speed progressing through reads and trigger to throw the ball. 
  • Inconsistent decision-making, frequently scrambling backward to buy time and taking big losses on sacks. Ignores check-downs sometimes and tries to fit in risky throws or scramble. Cut down on TWPs in 2021 but still struggles with interceptions. 
  • Accuracy lacks consistency: frequently misses high on quick slants; intermediate throws lack proper timing, limiting YAC and risking receiver’s health. 
  • Subpar level of competition and yet still plays a little slow (mentally); relies on his athleticism too much, which could get him into trouble at next level. Does not have elite athletic/running ability; NFL defenders will not flounder like G5 defenders. 
  • Very inconsistent as a passer: games are extremely feast or famine, turnovers seemingly compounding themselves. 

Summary

Malik Willis possesses remarkable and unique physical talents. He can be a dynamic playmaker, using his elite arm talent and excellent running ability. However, Willis struggles to make accurate throws consistently. He also struggles to read the field, anticipate receivers coming open, and make timely throws.

Furthermore, his play was relatively inconsistent against a lower level of competition; for the most part, when he played superior opponents, he struggled. In short, Willis is not ready to be an NFL starter in his rookie season. But given his physical gifts, in the right situation and with a year of development, he could become a high-level, perennial-Pro Bowl starting quarterback. 

Grade: 7.5 / 10

Comparison: Jalen Hurts (2020 R2 #58, Philadelphia Eagles)