Rainy conditions challenge competing quarterbacks at Senior Bowl practice

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Desmond Ridder
Desmond Ridder jumped up draft boards in leading Cincinnati to the College Football Playoffs this past season.

Spending time at the 2022 Senior Bowl practices has given some insight into the prospects. Of course, everyone wants to know about the quarterbacks.

A rainy Wednesday in Mobile was a real test for the passers. The most talked about quarterback was Malik Willis, an undersized prospect from Liberty. He may have the strongest arm of the bunch. While some scouts think he is very intriguing to develop, others have written him off entirely.

The Auburn transfer can really spin the football but is very inconsistent and holds the ball too long. Willis makes good throws as well as very bad throws. Some like his arm strength, running ability, athletic skills and playmaking skills as a package that’s highly projectable.

I think the most consistent quarterback was Desmond Ridder out of Cincinnati. Ridder and North Carolina’s Sam Howell also have good arm strength. Ridder threw into tight windows in the rain and showed accuracy. Howell did show deep ball accuracy.

Kenny Pickett, the top rated quarterback out of Pittsburgh, made good and bad throws like most of the other quarterbacks prospects including Carson Strong of Nevada and Bailey Zappe out of Western Kentucky. Both Pickett and Ridder had problems taking the snap under center, fumbling the ball too often. This issue is very common because many quarterbacks like them were taking all snaps in the shotgun in college.

I like to watch the one-on-one drills between offensive and defensive lineman. Jermaine Johnson II from Florida State drew praise from scouts with a good spin move to beat blocks. Perrion Winfrey out of Oklahoma had a solid pass rush performance and also caused a fumble in team drills.

The best looking offensive lineman was Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa. He won almost all of the one-on-one drills against defensive linemen. The biggest offensive lineman was Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele, who weighted in at 385 pounds and is 6-foot-8. Luke Fortner, a Kentucky offensive lineman, did well in the one-on-one drills as did Lucas Abraham from Washington State.

The Saints make take a long look at selecting an offensive lineman on day two of the 2022 draft.

The tight end position looked interesting with Greg Dulcich of UCLA, who gave LSU problems in the regular season opener and beat highly touted linebacker Damone Clark a few times. Speaking of Clark, the All-SEC pick was solid against the run but struggled in pass coverage.

Jeremy Ruckert, tight end from Ohio State, also made some plays. He showed he can catch in traffic.

No running back really stood out but fullback Connor Heyward, the son of former Saints and Falcons running back ‘Iron Head’ Heyward, showed he was an effective blocker.

No wide receiver really showed elite ability, but hometown prospect Jalen Tolbert of South Alabama looked consistent as did Tre Turner from Virginia Tech.

Jahan Dotson, the playmaker from Penn State, is probably the highest rated pass catcher here. I have him as my No.5 wide receiver.

Tolbert, Alex Pierce out of Cincinnati and Dontario Drummond out of Ole Miss all looked consistent in practice. I have them as players to watch in the Senior Bowl game Saturday. This position is a must for the Saints to address, likely at the top of the draft.

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