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With the week of practice and game wrapped up, it’s time to pick out the best players for the Senior Bowl offense. Make sure you go back and check out Around the Block’s winners and losers from Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of practice. Instead of picking out the winners again, this article will select the All-Senior Bowl team.
This article will echo the format of any all-pro or conference where each position will have a few players that performed the best over the course of the week. Additionally, each player will have a more specific positional designation if necessary. For example, the positions will be broken out on the defensive line by technique/alignment (0T, 1T, etc.).
QB: Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis
Frankly, none of the quarterbacks dominated at the Senior Bowl on offense. All of them struggled at various points during the week of practice. Therefore, I’ll pick two quarterbacks representing opposite ends of the spectrum. First, Kenny Pickett was perhaps the most positively steady of the quarterbacks in Mobile. He had some issues with maintaining velocity during the monsoon on Wednesday. However, all the other quarterbacks had issues, too.
Once Pickett developed some chemistry with his receivers and the linemen, he started dealing. During the game, none of his passes hit the ground. Furthermore, Pickett crushed his interviews with NFL teams. Pickett is the starter on this team because he is the safer, game manager-type that can keep the offense on schedule.
On the other side of the coin, Malik Willis put together the most volatile week for the Senior Bowl offense. His issues with mechanics, accuracy, and decision-making were abundant throughout the week. However, he also threw some of the most incredible passes every day. Willis also repeatedly made highlight plays with his feet to buy time and pick up yards if nothing was there.
Additionally, Willis exhibited a unique energetic leadership style that resonated with his teammates. He was continuously dancing and hyping up the other players on the field, somewhat similar to Mac Jones last year. Willis gets the nod for this team because of his potential for incredible plays that no one else in Mobile could make; if the team gets down, Willis’ penchant for highlight-reel plays would be a major asset.
RB: Dameon Pierce, Tyler Badie, Rachaad White
Similar to the quarterbacks, none of the running backs were dominant at the Senior Bowl. None of them excelled in all three phases of the running back position: rushing, receiving, and pass blocking. We’ll lead off with Dameon Pierce from Florida.
Pierce looked fantastic running the ball; he’s a compact back that runs hard behind his pads with great contact balance. He excelled in pass protection as well, winning the one-on-one to end practice on the second day. Pierce wasn’t fantastic catching the ball, but this was mainly because it seemed like he needed to make difficult catches.
Tyler Badie was one of my favorite running backs in the group going into this week. Despite his diminutive stature, Badie shone in practice every day. He’s a highly shifty runner with great vision, which helps him catch the ball out of the backfield. Naturally, as a smaller running back, Badie is not the best pass protector.
Finally, Rachaad White was probably the best pure runner of the three, displaying great burst and long speed on outside zone runs. He made some nice catches out of the backfield and wasn’t terrible in pass protection. He still needs work there, but he’s a pretty raw back with light tread on the tires, so teams will be interested.
FB: Connor Heyward
I expected Jeremiah Hall to be the best fullback in Mobile, but Connor Heyward quickly took that honor. Hall struggled with drops and wasn’t a dominant blocker, whereas Heyward excelled. Hayward is a converted running back/kick returner that moved to fullback/tight end. He’s an impressive athlete with impeccable NFL bloodlines; it would not shock me if he’s the first fullback off the board.
WR: Christian Watson (X), Calvin Austin III (SL), Romeo Doubs (Z/X), Bo Melton (Z/SL), Tre Turner (Z/X)
Christian Watson had the best week of any skill position player at the Senior Bowl on offense. The argument could be made that he was the best offensive player, and he was undoubtedly among the best overall players. He displayed rare athleticism and route running for a receiver of his size. Calvin Austin III negated concerns about his size by showing that he could not be caught or covered by any defensive back there.
Romeo Doubs had a few issues with drops, but his release package and patience with his routes were special. Bo Melton and Tre Turner had quieter weeks, but both displayed good explosiveness; Melton also adds values as a return specialist, while Turner caught nearly everything thrown his way and was one of the more nuanced route runners.
TE: Jeremy Ruckert (Y), Greg Dulcich (H), Isaiah Likely (F)
The tight end group was very impressive across the board. One of the things I greatly appreciated was that both coaching staffs asked the tight ends to fill roles they hadn’t in college. For example, Isaiah Likely from Coastal Carolina took most of his snaps at the Y position, aligning attached to the offensive line and on the line of scrimmage. Even though he was an outstanding blocker at Coastal Carolina, it was good to see him doing it more traditionally.
Jeremy Ruckert reminded many people why he was one of the higher-ranked tight ends in last year’s class before returning to school. Unfortunately, he filled the fourth fiddle role behind three elite wide receivers this year. But Ruckert was very solid in both blocking and receiving before going down with an injury. Finally, Greg Dulcich might have had the best week of any tight end in Mobile; he showed excellent route running to all levels of the field.
OT: Trevor Penning (RT), Max Mitchell (LT), Darian Kinnard (RT), Matt Waletzko (LT)
While the offensive line as a whole looked good in team drills during the week, the tackles were certainly the weaker group. Trevor Penning made multiple “highlight” reps during one-on-one drills, even if he nearly started a fight every day in practice. Max Mitchell lost some reps here and there, but he certainly looked the part of an NFL offensive lineman in terms of his movement skills and strength.
The same goes for Darian Kinnard. He might end up at guard at the next level, but proved he could stick at tackle, if necessary, and be a plus player in a suitable scheme. Finally, Matt Waletzko quietly had one of the best weeks among the smaller school offensive linemen. He still needs some technical work, but has all the physical tools to be a late-round developmental project who could become a starter.
OG: Zion Johnson (LG), Ed Ingram (RG), Chris Paul (RG), Cole Strange (LG)
Despite the excellent performance of the defensive line, the interior offensive line was among the best position groups in Mobile. Despite spending most of the week at center, Zion Johnson solidified himself as a first-round prospect and arguably the best guard in this draft. Ed Ingram had a terrific week as well; granted, it was probably not good enough to overcome concerns about his off-field history.
Chris Paul took most of his reps at tackle, but his future is probably at guard, where he should be a high-quality player. Like Johnson, Cole Strange took most of his reps at center. At the beginning of the week, Strange looked overmatched, especially in one-on-one drills. But as the week went on, he got better and adjusted to the level of competition pretty well. He’s not ready to be an NFL starter now, but he could develop into one with a few years of professional training and development.
C: Dylan Parham, Luke Fortner
There was a lot of shuffling of bodies at the center position on offense for the Senior Bowl. Many guards moved in and out of the middle, so I tried to pick two players that should stay there at the next level. Dylan Parham erased any concerns about his size with the initial weigh-ins, coming in almost 40 pounds over his listed college weight. He didn’t look any slower with the added weight, and performed exceptionally well throughout the week. Luke Fortner also impressed at the pivot position. He’s one of the bigger centers in this draft, but is also an excellent athlete that helped his stock this week.