2022 Senior Bowl: Instant reactions and observations

SideLion Report

The 2022 Senior Bowl is in the books, and here are some immediate reactions from the game.

The Detroit Lions were at the Senior Bowl, the first tentpole of the pre-draft process each year, for the second time in three years this week. In a change from previous years at the event, the head coaches took a step back while assistant coaches were bumped up to head coach and coordinator roles.

From the week of practices to the game on Saturday, many prospects raised their draft stock in Mobile. Let’s get into some observations and instant reactions from the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

2022 Senior Bowl: Instant reactions and observations

Malik Willis has elite running ability

Arguably the most intriguing quarterback prospect of this draft cycle, a lot of eyes were on Willis this week. And for the most part, he elevated his play in the spotlight.

During the game itself, Willis wasn’t given much opportunity to showcase his arm. But he had a few instances where he showed what he can do on the ground.

On one of the first plays of the game, Willis rolled out left on a play-action bootleg. After surveying the field he didn’t like what he saw, so he planted his left leg and darted forward to gain a first down.

Later in the game, he had his most highlight-worthy moment.

The upside with Willis is very evident, with mobility and arm strength in spades. But he is raw, with accuracy issues and inconsistent footwork. In particular, Willis needs to better utilize his lower body when he throws.

The comparison to Jalen Hurts is an easy one to make with Willis. Hurts has struggled with his accuracy in the NFL, but his rushing ability provides a ton of value. Willis will likely be a similar player for his first few seasons.

Whichever team drafts Willis will have to draft him with the expectation that he needs some time to develop before being given the starting job. Think of him like Trey Lance last year–all the tools to be great, but he needs time to adjust to the NFL game.

Chad Muma has the tools to be a quality starter in the NFL

Going back to the Willis run, Muma also made an incredible play to save a touchdown.

To be able to change directions then get back up to speed and chase Willis across the field like that, that’s a special play. It highlights what Muma brings from an athletic standpoint, owing to his past as a high school defensive back.

On top of his speed and athleticism, Muma also brings intelligence to the table. He can pick up concepts quickly, and diiagnose plays in an instant. His instincts are part of what helps him be such a productive player in coverage.

Muma has drawn comparisons to Logan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch, and it’s easy to see in both cases. The Lions will be in the mix for linebackers in the draft, and the Wyoming product is surely on the radar.

The defensive lines were dominant

This year’s draft class is deep with edge rushers, and some interior defensive linemanl looked good over the course of the week. During the game Saturday, the offensive lines were simply overmatched in pass protection on a regular basis.

The offensive lines on each Senior Bowl squad were not a group of stiffs. They were simply outgunned by a pair of defensive lines that will yield multiple top-50 picks in April’s draft.

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