2022 Senior Bowl roster reveal: What you need to know – NFL.com

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Remaining roster spots for the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl are disappearing fast.
The newest addition to the annual college all-star game: North Carolina QB Sam Howell, who was announced as an accepted invitee on Tuesday’s Roster Reveal Special with Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy and NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks, Daniel Jeremiah and Rhett Lewis of the Move the Sticks Podcast.
The game’s two 55-man rosters are built by a team of regional scouts under the direction of Nagy, and provide NFL teams an up-close, week-long opportunity to evaluate many of the draft’s top seniors and early-graduating juniors, like Howell. The game is scheduled for Feb. 5 and will played at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the University of South Alabama campus in Mobile, Ala. It will be televised by NFL Network (2:30 p.m. ET). Here are five things to know, along with the Senior Bowl roster as of Jan. 4 at 3 p.m. ET:
1) The 2022 draft class of quarterbacks is thought to be a thin one in scouting circles, as compared to recent years. Two caveats to that: 1) Underclassman declarations have yet to clarify exactly who will be available, and 2) The recent past has been a tough act to follow — the last four drafts have placed a quarterback as the No. 1 overall pick, and averaged three QBs selected in the top 10. NFL clubs in need of a quarterback will have plenty of talent to scrutinize in Mobile this year, as some of the best have committed to compete. Among them are the aforementioned Howell, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Liberty’s Malik Willis and Nevada’s Carson Strong. Pickett’s profile as a draft prospect exploded during the 2021 season as he led the Panthers to an unexpected ACC title. On the strength of Ridder’s play, along with that of a big cast of five other Senior Bowl-bound Bearcats, Cincinnati became the first Group of Five program to reach the College Football Playoff. Howell was a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, but quickly fell out of the running as the Tar Heels stumbled to a disappointing 6-7 season. Last summer, in scouting Howell’s 2020 campaign, Jeremiah noted some Baker Mayfield-like qualities in the early-graduating junior.
2) Speaking of quarterbacks, another interesting watch for scouts will be Willis, particularly given the level of competition he’ll be facing. He faced two opponents from Power Five conferences this season — Syracuse and Ole Miss — and his pass protection was brutally bad in both games. Syracuse sacked him six times, Ole Miss nine. The Senior Bowl practice week will give him a chance to show his skills against top defenders in drills, and in team periods behind an offensive line that’s commensurate with its competition. Willis is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback; his running style is powerful and often slide-averse — more like Cam Newton than Kyler Murray. Ball-carriers aren’t tackled to the ground during the practice week, however, so Willis won’t have a great chance to show that off until game day.
3) Nagy might have to special order some Senior Bowl gear to fit Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele. If his Minnesota-listed measurements are on target — and the Senior Bowl weigh-in will reveal that — he stands to be the biggest man in the NFL upon being drafted. The massive offensive tackle, who tipped the scales north of 400 pounds earlier in his Golden Gophers career, is listed at 6-foot-9 and 380 pounds. That’s the same weight as Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown, but Faalele would nip Brown by one inch in height. Scouts will be highly intrigued to assess his footwork and quickness, as well as how he fares in one-on-one pass rush drills.
4) The Senior Bowl is known for showcasing versatility by offering prospects a chance to practice at different positions. It results from a confluence of input from the Senior Bowl staff, to NFL scouts who express an interest in exploring a player’s pro potential in a unique way, to the player’s own willingness to do so. One possible example for this year’s game: Georgia RB James Cook. The talented brother of Minnesota Vikings star Dalvin Cook isn’t very big (5-11, 190 pounds, per Georgia measurements), but he combines elusiveness, toughness and receiving skills that make him an intriguing prospect with the potential to contribute in the slot. Nagy has indicated that Cook might get some reps at wide receiver in Mobile.
5) If you’re looking for an exciting sleeper at this year’s Senior Bowl, look no further than Tariq Woolen. The UTSA cornerback is listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds by the school. At the cornerback position, height like that raises scouting eyebrows, and Woolen reportedly combines that frame with sub-4.4 speed and an 11-foot-5-inch broad jump. The drawback: He’s raw and unpolished as a converted wide receiver with just two years of experience at corner. As such, scouts could judge his refinements in technique and skill on a curve against his overall athleticism.
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