One of the most beneficial events for aspiring draft-eligible prospects is the Reese’s Senior Bowl, which is a showcase for a group of talented seniors in Mobile.
The Falcons selected four participants from last year’s Senior Bowl in Richie Grant, Ta’Quon Graham, Ade Ogundeji, and Frank Darby while also acquiring undrafted free agent Feleipe Franks. It is no coincidence that nearly half of the Falcons’ nine-man 2021 draft class attended the showcase in Alabama.
Since their introductory press conference, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith have been adamant about the kind of players they want inside the building — accountable, intelligent, and tough. The players invited to the Senior Bowl epitomize those characteristics.
This begins a series where Jake and I will break down each position group at the Senior Bowl. As I file through the defenders’ film, I will begin with the EDGE group.
Myjai Sanders — Cincinnati
Sanders will be someone that I imagine gains national notoriety as the Senior Bowl progresses. He’s one of the most under-hyped prospects in this EDGE class and will be a productive pass rusher in this league immediately. Sanders projects as a 5-technique, but his combination of power and quick-twitch makes him position versatile.
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 25, 2022
Logan Hall — Houston
Hall is more versatile than Sanders, given his stature. For the Cougars, Hall pressured opposing quarterbacks from multiple alignments and even resembles former Houston EDGE Payton Turner in some ways. I’d be shocked if he made it out of the top of the second round, and he might even climb into the first round.
Dominique Robinson — Miami (OH)
Robinson is a very raw prospect. Given he only recently switched sides of the ball, a former quarterback turned tight end, Robinson has a long way to go, but he’s certainly worth a flyer on a depth/developmental piece.
Boye Mafe — Minnesota
Mafe’s skillset projects best for odd-fronts, but he consistently improved as a Gopher so that development could open doors his collegiate film didn’t show. His versatility should intrigue Dean Pees.
Just got word that @GopherFootball EDGE Boye Mafe vertical jumped 40 inches at 265 lbs in pre-draft training. High upside rusher still flying under too many radars. One to watch in @seniorbowl OL/DL 1-on-1 pass rush drills.#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE™️#BestoftheBest pic.twitter.com/5Ek2wCEMSh
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) January 15, 2022
Tyreke Smith — Ohio State
Like a few of these EDGE defenders, Smith is a position-versatile prospect that can rush from the inside or outside. However, Smith has shown a slight ability to drop in coverage, which the others aren’t quite touted for. This is something Dean Pees asks of his outside linebackers — dropping into coverage along with rushing the passer and defending the run. He’s a large human being, and it shows when he defends against the run.
Tyreke Smith showing you the textbook definition of a 'knock back'
Stout edge on the front side by Smith… Garrett closing from the backside… Beautiful combo defending the run! pic.twitter.com/1da0mk2Ley
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) June 21, 2021
Jermaine Johnson — Florida State
Johnson is the best prospect of this group. He’s a reliable pass rusher with an explosive first step and the flexibility to bend around the edge. Johnson is also steady in setting the edge when defending the run but possesses the athleticism to chase down ball carriers. He is the best all-around prospect at his position in Mobile.
Film Room Recap: @FSUFootball DE Jermaine Johnson II
Tall, Lean, Explosive
Long Limbs + Quick Hands
Bend/Flexible, Loose Hips
Eats Up Ground/Strides
Heavy Hands (Chops/Stabs)
Physical at POA
🔹Recently debuted #23 on @MelKiperESPN Top 25 Big Board 👀
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 12, 2021
Cameron Thomas — San Diego State
Even though he’s a former defensive tackle, Thomas showcases plenty of athleticism and presents defensive coordinators with the challenge of harnessing his raw talent. He can work inside and out, but his most noticeable attribute is how violent he is at the point of attack.
Deangelo Malone — Western Kentucky
Malone possesses an impressive frame with the ability to convert speed to power when rushing the passer. Given his outstanding production in Conference-USA, the Senior Bowl will be necessary for him to showcase his talents against similarly skilled players.
Kingsley Enagbare — South Carolina
His best football is right in front of him. Enagbare is raw, but he’s incredibly long and powerful, similar to Kwity Paye from the 2021 draft cycle. The canvas is blank with this former Gamecock, but he should be able to carve out a role in his first season.
South Carolina DE Kingsley Enagbare was a 1st Team All-SEC DE in 2020 with 23 QB Pressures & 7.0 Sacks
Long + Strong! Fun player to watch pic.twitter.com/GYqBFv9tBi
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 7, 2021
Amaré Barno — Virginia Tech
Barno’s length is the first thing that popped from his film. If he can utilize that reach regularly, a team should have no problem correcting some of his other flaws — pad level.
Photo: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire