The 2022 event consists of more than 100 players who will be coached by members of the New York Jets and Detroit Lions’ coaching staffs. The week will culminate in a game between the American and National squads on Saturday, February 5th at 2:30p.m. EST on NFL Network.
Day three produced the last two open practice period before Saturday’s game and with it have come a few notable takeaways from a Patriots perspective:
1. How would the Patriots coaching staff attack the Senior Bowl?
I found it interesting how both the Detroit Lions and New York Jets’ coaching staffs stressed the importance of competition throughout the week. Both the American and National teams had competition periods before going to team period, and each practice produced some scrappiness from the players.
Seeing how a pair of teams who are perennially in the basement of the NFL standings structured their practices in similar ways made me wonder if we’d see more successful teams introduce something different? Of course, Senior Bowl practices look different than NFL teams in-season practices, but the thought came up anyways.
One thing I know for sure wouldn’t carry over if the Patriots were involved, the absence of some sort of special teams period.
2. Trevor Penning is a coaches dream
Every year there is a “MVP” of Senior Bowl week. Before we see the game played on Saturday, the entire football world knows that Trevor Penning has already claimed that title.
The nastiest player eligible for April’s draft, Penning has made a lot of fans over the past three days, having played at an elite level. During both of the televised broadcasts on the National team’s side, ESPN’s analysts talked about Penning more than anyone else. Rightfully so:
Trevor Penning looked solid on this rep. Fiesty at the end between him and the EDGE pic.twitter.com/hpIKfXEJlC— Billy M (@BillyM_91) February 3, 2022
Trevor Penning is just straight-up vicious. pic.twitter.com/uXkqDU6qVJ— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) February 3, 2022
There is certainly a number of things Penning still needs to work on. He’s not a perfect prospect, but his ability to stay stable despite a big jump in competition showed that he’s ready for the next level. He showed up and played nasty and physically in what is essentially an all star game mixed with a job interview. He left one hell of an impression on scouts and coaches.
3. College Football Playoff fatigue is real
The gap in time between each players last game and the beginning of Senior Bowl week can be a long one. Some players coming from schools who weren't bowl eligible haven't played in over two months, Georgia and Alabama alumni played in the National Championship game less than a month ago, and it shows.
Alabama alumni include running back Brian Robinson Jr. and defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis. Georgia alumni include cornerback Derion Kendrick, defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt, linebacker Channing Tindall, and offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer and Justin Schaffer. Each of those players had moments where they looked fatigued and a step behind.
This of course isn’t their fault. It is however, a good reminder that the playing field isn’t exactly even. There is a reason why Georgia had a pair of players opt-out in running back James Cook, and linebacker Quay Walker.
4. Mac Jones has become the bar in Mobile
Another player who received a lot of publicity in Mobile this year was Mac Jones.
A popular tagline used throughout coverage of the event was, “From the Senior Bowl to the Pro Bowl.” Of course they were referring to Jones, who improved his draft stock tremendously with a fantastic week of practice last season. The 2022 crop of quarterbacks is a tier or two below their 2021 counterparts, so there have been a ton of comparisons with this crop to the lower tiered prospects from last season.
Every team looking at quarterbacks in Mobile is hoping to get their hands on their very own Mac Jones.