While the Senior Bowl doesn’t carry as much weight as the scouting combine when evaluating potential prospects, it serves as our first glimpse at collegiate players in an NFL setting. And if we’re being honest, the drills they run during Senior Bowl practices are far more telling than anything run at the combine.
A lot gets put into the metrics and numbers that players post at the combine, but rarely will a combine darling become the next big thing in the NFL. When we see players dominate at the Senior Bowl, it typically means they’re going to be a fine player at the next level.
There were several players who boosted their stock during Senior Bowl week. Here are five prospects that should be on the Eagles draft board following their solid performances in Mobile, Alabama.
QB Malik Willis
Liberty’s Malik Willis received more buzz than any other prospect at the Senior Bowl this year, and it’s not hard to see why. He outperformed every other quarterback on the field, which included Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Nevada’s Carson Strong, and North Carolina’s Sam Howell. All of whom are expected to go in the first or second round.
Willis performed so well that he could end up being the first quarterback taken in this year’s draft. Scouts have been waiting for one of these quarterbacks to stake their claim as the top prospect in the class and it seems Willis may have done that.
The Liberty product posted the fastest throw (74 miles per hour) of any QB during the week and his accuracy was solid. He was the only quarterback who managed to hit the can in this drill, and he pulled it off twice in a row.
I’m sure scouts will point towards Willis’ weak competition at Liberty and why it should be a cause for concern. After the Carson Wentz era, there probably aren’t many Eagles fans who are eager to go that route again, but it’s worth noting that Willis played tougher competition than Wentz did in college. After all, Wentz played in the FCS, Willis faced an SEC defense in his final year with Liberty.
If Willis’ stock continues to rise, which it almost undoubtedly will, the Eagles will need to pull off a trade to move up and snag him. It really just depends on how Howie views Willis and the current state of his team. If he believes Willis is the best gunslinger in the draft and can start from day one, trading up to get him is not off the table.
EDGE Jermaine Johnson
If there was one player who ‘won’ the week in Mobile, it was Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson. He dominated in every one-on-one rep against offensive lineman, utilizing each pass rushing move on his pallet.
Impressive explosiveness off the ball, great bend, high motor, the ability to bull rush as well as spin off blockers. Johnson showcased it all during Senior Bowl week.
Before the week, Johnson was a borderline first-round prospect who was more likely going to end up in the second-round. Now, the overwhelming consensus is that he’s a day one guy. The Eagles are in the perfect position to snag the Florida State prospect as well. With three picks between 15 and 20, that’s a prime location for someone like Johnson to land.
The Eagles’ need for a blue chip pass rusher is evident. If Johnson is on the board between 15 and 20, there’s no doubt Roseman will have his eye on him.
DT Travis Jones
If the Eagles want to incorporate some more hybrid fronts along the defensive line, something they flirted with in 2021, Connecticut’s Travis Jones would make a lot of sense as a day two pick. Standing at 6-foot-5, 333 pounds, Jones is an absolute load and projects as a natural nose tackle at the next level.
His power and pass rushing prowess was on full display during the Senior Bowl practices. Offensive lineman struggled to match his strength all week.
Jones presents enough upside in the pass rushing department to play any alignment along the interior of a defensive line. If there’s one thing we know for certain with Howie’s draft process, it’s that he’ll always look to add depth in the trenches. Jones would be a great depth piece for the interior of the Eagles defensive line, and he could find his way onto the field in certain sub packages during his rookie season.
LB Brian Asamoah
As a former safety, Oklahoma’s Brian Asamoah is very undersized for an NFL linebacker. Standing at 6-foot-1, 228 pounds, it’s hard to project him as an every down backer in the NFL. But, the Eagles have shown a willingness to go after these safety/linebacker hybrids throughout the years. More often than not, it hasn’t worked. Nate Gerry was a disaster and JaCoby Stevens saw the smallest amount of playing time of any Eagles rookie last season.
Still, the undersized safety/linebacker hybrid is a trend across the NFL. The Cowboys were able to use Keanu Neal in that role in 2021 to great success. It really comes down to how these guys are utilized and what they’re asked to do. Asamoah flashed all of the coverage ability that was expected out of him during the Senior Bowl practices, along with doing a nice job at shedding blocks and flowing to the ball carrier. Something most scouts thought he’d struggle with in Mobile.
Asamoah is more than likely going to be a day three selection and I wouldn’t complain if the Eagles took a flier on him in that range. They’ve proven that they’re committed to finding someone who can fill their hybrid role.
RB Jerome Ford
With the potential departure of Jordan Howard, the Eagles will probably look to the draft to try and fill that vacancy. While Cincinnati’s Jerome Ford isn’t exactly a prototypical bruiser out of the backfield, he’s complete back who would fit nicely in the Eagles RB room.
He possesses game breaking speed that’s evident every time you put on the tape. He can change direction without losing any speed and he has the lower body strength required to grind out the tough yards. It’s difficult to get a true read on running backs during Senior Bowl week since there isn’t any tackling during drills, but we did get a glimpse at his receiving skills out of the backfield along with his ability to pick up blitzers in pass protection.
Cincy rarely used Ford as a receiver out of the backfield, so it was nice to see him look so natural in this capacity. Ford has the ability to make an instant impact at the next level and would fill Howard’s role in the Eagles backfield rotation with ease.
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