The winner at the Senior Bowl on day two was clearly Mother Freakin' Nature. Again. For the fourth time in four months, I was doused with rain at a football event. Frozen? Yep. Teeth chattering? Oh yeah. Wet for HOURS? Drenched. Complaints? None! I will preface all my Harris Hits from day two from Mobile with two things.
- My notepad took on water badly and I already can't read my fast writing. So, there's one complicated hurdle.
- I thought I crossed that hurdle by just recording action with my phone to watch back later that night. But, my phone took on too much water and just quit halfway through the American team afternoon practice.
So, I'm spitting tonight based on a nearly 50-year old's memory, a wet notebook and a rain soaked phone. Yeah, boy! Get on MY level. In all seriousness, though, it was another solid day outside on Wednesday, so here are my Harris Hits. (If you missed my Day One Harris Hits - well, here you go - 2022 Senior Bowl Notes: Day 1 | Harris' Hits.
Day two…let's GO!!
The clear QB winner through two days is Liberty star Malik Willis. Clear. Winner. It's not even close. Even Pitt's Kenny Pickett, who I have as QB1, has not been at Willis's level this week. Willis has flashed his big arm. He's shown his pocket evasion skills. He has led the offense. It's clear the American offense is looking to him as THE alpha in the huddle. He's making throws that NFL QBs won't even try to make. It's not that he's been perfect, either. But, he's just been that much better than all other QBs in Mobile. Will it result in movement in the Harris 100? Sure, but I still think he'll fall behind Pickett and Matt Corral (Ole Miss), but the gap has shrunk. Am I putting too much emphasis on his performance this week? Not at all because I'm taking his entire resume into account, which certainly includes this week in Mobile. At the media breakfast on Wednesday morning, he was cocksure and confident with all of his answers and has carried himself as the top QB in the draft. Would it surprise me if he goes QB1 in this draft? In THIS Draft? Nothing will surprise me, but he's moving closer and closer on every single rep.
There have been a few different winners over the first two days so let me introduce you to Florida State superstar edge Jermaine Johnson II. Absolute dude. Over the summer, I was itching to put him in my initial Harris 100, v 1.0, but he had been a rotational player at Georgia and then transferred to FSU. I knew he could play, but I let it ride as a "let's let him prove it to me…and everyone else too." Well, it didn't take long for Johnson II to force jaws to drop on night one against Notre Dame on national television and it didn't stop in 2021.
Just prior to leaving for Mobile, I wrote about five different players to watch. Johnson was one of them. Here's what I said.
Edge Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State - How good was Georgia's defense in 2021? Johnson II is a bona fide top 40 candidate in this draft class and he had to transfer to Florida State to get on the field regularly. Florida State seemed to take that LITERALLY as he was on the field ALL THE TIME. But, in so doing, he showed how much promise he has to be a strong edge player in the league. The Senior Bowl will be the final stamp on a much traveled college career.
Oh, that stamp is being applied with authority as we speak. He's won off the edge in a multitude of ways. Facing Tulsa OT Chris Paul (not that one) in one-on-ones, he showed the entire package. He took three steps as he was going to rush Paul's outside and then, explosively, darted back inside with a wicked double swipe move, knocking Paul's long arms out of the way as he flew to the QB. I mean, damn. He's physical at the point. Case in point, his first rep to start one-on-ones was against Max Mitchell from Louisiana. Johnson II flew off the ball and appeared as if he might try to ghost/rip off Mitchell's high edge. Then, all of the sudden, he hit Mitchell with a longarm and put the Ragin Cajun tackle on his wallet. I was videoing the action and said some bad words after that one. The quickness with which he throws his moves? My gosh. Heading into Harris 100, v 3.0, I had mentally placed him in my top 25, but he's climbing…consistently.
Every single time that I sit down with my notebook to write Harris Hits - training camp, postgame or Senior Bowl - I hit send and instantly regret that I forgot to mention a player or a play or a moment. Every. Single. Time. Well, Memphis IOL Dylan Parham was my "oh, dadgum, I forgot" player after day one. Thankfully, he was even better today so I HAD to feature him. He did a lot of work at center on Wednesday and I've got to say, I didn't hate it at all. He held up extremely well against a few different bull rushes. He re-directed LSU DT Neil Farrell on one of his rushes after it looked like Farrell was going to beat Parham up the field. He's maybe the only interior player who has gone physically mano a mano against Georgia's Devonte Wyatt and lived to tell about it. In an inside run drill, Wyatt was in an outside shade on Parham at center. Parham occupied Wyatt and latched on the block such that Wyatt got a bit frustrated following the play. I think it might've been the only time Wyatt was effectively neutralized all week long. The Memphis product does need to continue to work on shooting that playside hip through the outside hip of the defender, but he's thriving as he's learning to play center, in particular, so I'll give him a bit of a break. Parham was one of my final viewings before coming down to Mobile and watching him against Houston and UCF got me pumped, then sad, because I missed mentioning him as a player to watch. He's more than made up for it with his strong play at guard and center.
The name Kingsley Enagbare flows right off the tongue and we all better get used to saying that name…KINGS-lee en-NAG-bu-ree. Long arm. Powerful. Those are the South Carolina's star's hallmarks. I wrote a scouting report on him during the fall and I kept coming back to those two things. He has the length and he knows how to use it powerfully. The word violence is such a taboo term and for good reason, but ON A FOOTBALL FIELD, give it to me all day long. That's what Enagbare provides. Before practice, Lions acting head coach (for the Senior Bowl) Duce Staley called out a few pairs of players to go one-on-one before the practice began. He called up Enagbare and San Diego State TE Daniel Bellinger. Poor Daniel. On two consecutive plays, Enagbare just lifted him in the air and drove him into the throng of players standing behind the play. On the second rep, after he had dominated the Aztec TE on rep one, he looked back and swept his arms like a butterfly swimmer, signifying "MOVE BACK, OUT OF THE WAY." He then put Bellinger back amongst them on rep number two. As such, there has been just one guy that I've seen effectively handle Enagbare.
That was UTSA OT Spencer Burford. During one-on-ones, Enagbare was at RDE with Burford at LT. The South Carolina star started up the field, seemingly trying to chop Burford hands off of him so he could go high side and bend to the QB. Burford, the San Antonio native, was having NONE of it. Enagbare's timing was off a bit and when he threw his outside hand, Burford snatched him up and locked him up. It was the best rep of pass protection I can remember seeing on Wednesday. Burford is such an interesting guy and I had a chance to catch up with him at the media breakfast on Wednesday. He was a four star recruit coming out of high school with options to go anywhere he really wanted. But, then-UTSA head coach Frank Wilson convinced him to start something from the ground up in the young man's hometown. Burford was a mainstay for four years at UTSA and the 2021 season ended with the Roadrunners winning Conference USA and finishing with a 12-2 mark, best in school history. Burford helped do exactly what Wilson had suggested and now he'll move on from San Antonio as one of the more intriguing prospects in this draft class. He had a solid couple of days in Mobile for certain, highlighted by that rep against Enagbare.
I mentioned Georgia's Devonte Wyatt earlier and he would be another winner for the first two days in Mobile. Overshadowed by hulking teammate Jordan Davis at Georgia, it wasn't always evident to the naked eye how much Wyatt meant to that defense. But, watching much closer, it was crystal clear that Wyatt was as much of a problem for opposing defenses as Davis was. That's been even more evidence of that fact here in Mobile. He's so twitchy for a guy his size, so explosively violent at the contact point, and even if an offensive lineman does, somehow, get hands on him, he immediately shocks those hands and gets separation. That's why it was shocking, in some sense, that Parham had success as noted above. That hasn't happened much, if at all, for the remaining two days.
Boston College C/G Zion Johnson was the best OL on the National squad throughout the first days and it hasn't even been close. I was really excited for that offensive line but it's really struggled with some adept edge pass rushers. Ohio State's Tyreke Smith has really flashed on the edge. Penn State's Jesse Luketa isn't a polished rusher but the potential is certainly there. His teammate Arnold Ebiketie didn't have his best day but he's had some impressive wins on inside counter moves over the past two days. That said, Johnson has been consistently strong against the interior pass rushers.
One guy, though, that has continued to shine is U Conn's man-mountain DT Travis Jones. I was talking to a buddy of mine and someone had suggested to him to "watch the big guy from U Conn." To which, my pal scoffed and wondered why he would do that. In his words…"he's at U Conn, like what the heck?" Well, heed the advice, bro, and watch him because he's dominating. I saw Jones over on the sideline while a team drill was taking place on the field. He was waiting his turn on the field and I saw him working with a Jets assistant coach on hand placement and usage on a long arm pass rush. So, a few minutes later in one-on-ones, he just destroyed one of the National team centers with that very maneuver. Holy cow. It's easy to overlook teams that didn't/don't have a ton of success, but Jones has made me want to go back and watch even more U Conn football tonight. Just a freaking destroyer.
I went back to watch that rep again and that Jets assistant coach was at the back of the pack when the play started. When Jones hit that long arm as he taught him, that coach sprinted nearly into Jones's arms. That's the joy of coaching right there. Jones's strength and power will bring out that joy for his future NFL defensive line coach.
The OL/DL one-on-ones got feisty today at different points. Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning faced Kansas edge rusher Kyron Johnson. On the first rep, Penning held his own against Johnson's bull rush but Johnson kept pushing a bit after the whistle. That didn't sit well with Penning who gave Johnson a little shove after the play. That put a charge into Johnson on the second rep as he BLASTED into Penning with a bull rush, knocking the hulking UNI OT into the QB in a quick second. That got his D Line teammates charged up too as they flexed and celebrated in the rain as the Jayhawk rusher made sure Penning remembered that rep for sure.
One other instance of chippiness was between UT-Chattanooga C Cole Strange and Houston DL Logan Hall. On the first rep, Hall got on an edge and Strange couldn't get Hall squared up to slow him from getting up the field. So, on the second rep, Hall tried to cross Strange's face and the FCS All-American caught him and stoned him on the spot. After that rep, Strange reacted as if to say "FORGET YOU!!" but, well, you know, other words. I couldn't hear Strange but I saw that he was QUITE fired up, even motioning at Hall to bring it. So, in true "got to settle it all right here" fashion, Hall and Strange lined back up for a third rep to settle the brawl. Hall won, similarly to how he did on the first rep, but Strange has made an impact this week with his no-nonsense approach, physical mindset and temperament.
Oklahoma DT Perrion Winfrey is perplexing as all get out. Honestly, he's one of the best interior players in this draft. He can be even better than that but that level of play isn't always at hand. Today, though, he was wrecking one play after the other and his defensive line mates noticed it clearly. UNI OT Trevor Penning landed on him at one point in team drills and Winfrey was done for the day after that. The play right before that happened, though, Winfrey showed why he's so tantalizing. He was in a three technique and swam back inside on the right guard, knifing into the backfield before the ball was even handed off. I mean, c'mon. The quickness. The twitch. It's there. He had taken over that team drill so here's hoping that he's going to be okay in the near future. But, bottle that up and take it with you, big fella. You're going to need it, but with it, you'll be a stud.
Ole Miss edge rusher Sam Williams arrived for the American team afternoon practice on Wednesday. At first, I couldn't figure out who number seven was on the edge. I racked my brain as I knew the two rosters backwards and forward. Then, I remembered Jim Nagy sent a tweet saying that Williams would be in Mobile for Wednesday's practice. Williams's background is, shall we say, checkered, but he was beloved at Ole Miss after arriving from junior college. He finished the 2021 season with 12.5 sacks. In the SEC. Williams' total was second in the league behind future top two pick Will Anderson Jr. from Alabama. Williams is hard to figure out because he looks a bit stiff and linear but when he hits the gas, he's as explosive as any rusher in this draft. Watching him work the bags with other edge rushers, it's clear they're a bit more fluid and flexible. But, when Williams lines up on the edge with his hand in the dirt, look the heck out. On his first pass rush rep, he went against Kentucky's Darian Kinnard. Williams hit him with a ghost move so sick that Kinnard walked over and patted Wiliams on the head after it was over. A little later, Williams threw a sick inside arm over move on Louisiana's Max Mitchell to get to the QB clean. On both rushes, Williams got to the QB clean and it was easy. Dude can rush the QB and I'm cheering like heck for him to make it big in the league.
Alright, I'm sure there's so much more that I didn't even mention, but there's always a third day in Mobile. Have a great night and see ya tomorrow, everyone.
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