Week 12 of the college football season is behind us. Rivalry Week is here as Thanksgiving has come. Still, the 2022 NFL Draft is firmly on the horizon as the regular season is winding down in college. We go back to the mailbag to talk about the latest news and rumors surrounding college football.
2022 NFL Draft Rumors and News: The Tony Pauline Mailbag (11/24/21)
Has Will Levis gathered any buzz? He’s shown flashes this season, but would he be best warranted to stay at Kentucky next year?
Buzz? No. But Will Levis is on the radar. The strength of the Kentucky team is the defense, and all too often, the offense hasn’t held up its end.
What are your thoughts on a couple of WR prospects: Nebraska’s Samori Toure and Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson?
I liked Toure and had him as a prospect going back to his Montana days. I have him graded as a priority free agent, but fast testing times could push him into the late part of the draft.
Robinson is a guy who times well in the 40-yard dash but doesn’t always translate that speed onto the field. He’s been productive, but he has a thin frame. I could see him ending up in the late rounds if he enters the draft.
The Tony Pauline Mailbag (11/24/21): Senior Bowl Insight
In your opinion, which position group is strongest at the Senior Bowl so far?
The tight end class looks like a knockout group. Nearly all the top seniors have accepted invitations. The DB class looks very strong as well. I absolutely love the offensive line group, primarily because all the top small-school linemen will be on hand.
You were high on the tight end class near the start of the season. Has anyone ascended to the top of the class, and is it as strong as we once thought it was?
Jalen Wydermyer was my No. 1 tight end entering the season, and he still resides at that spot. I don’t see any big risers at the position (which is strong), but I do believe people are underrating Cole Turner of Nevada.
Measurements are all the rage during draft season. Are there any impressive arm length measurements that aren’t out in public yet that will make waves in the media?
- Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota: Reportedly has arms that measure more than 36 inches
- Kadeem Telfort, OT, UAB: Has 37-inch arms
- Trae Barry, TE, Boston College: Has arms longer than 35 inches and hands almost 10.5 inches
- Doug Kramer, OL, Illinois: Has arms under 32 inches
But the biggest wait-and-see debate will be the hand size of Kenny Pickett. Most teams downgrade a quarterback who does not have at least nine-inch hands. Pickett’s are reportedly a fraction over eight inches.
What portion of the Senior Bowl is most important for a player trying to rise up draft boards? Are one-on-ones more important than full practices or 7-on-7s?
It depends on the position:
- Everything is important for the QBs
- The one-on-ones are important for the WRs and DBs, especially the safeties
- One-on-ones are also important for the OL and DL
- Full scrimmage is important for the RBs and LBs
Probably the most important factor is the interviews. Teams now conduct combine-style interviews at the Senior Bowl to get that portion of the process out of the way.
It’s also important to see how a player takes to coaching and direction. Is the player able to understand what’s being told to him the first time, then replicate the direction given immediately? Or does he still struggle even if the direction is given time and time again?
The Tony Pauline Mailbag (11/24/21): Will we see Derek Stingley Jr. in college again?
Is there any news on whether or not we’ll see Derek Stingley Jr. play for LSU again? And are there any other LSU prospects to keep in mind for the 2022 NFL Draft?
I have not delved into the situation recently, but everything I was told before the season indicated Derek Stingley Jr. would enter the 2022 NFL Draft. I tend to doubt he returns, especially with a coaching change in the mix.
Clay Helton was fired from USC after Week 2’s loss to Stanford. The Trojans have now lost multiple recruits including a five-star CB who had committed. Are there darker days for USC ahead, or can someone turn around the talent they have on the team?
It depends on who they bring in as a coach. USC is not the prestigious job it once was in days gone by.
When scouting a pass rusher off the edge, what are the main traits you look for?
Quick twitch (I call it explosion), good speed in all directions, quick burst, balance, body control, and the ability to play with leverage and use your hands well.
Memphis WR Calvin Austin III reached 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season. What is his draft ceiling?
Late rounds. He’s fast and productive but short and small (5’9″, under 170 pounds). There’s not a big market for that body type come draft weekend.
Who are some guys you expect to test much better than expected, or at least better than their buzz implies?
- Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
- Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati