2022 Senior Bowl Risers | Defense
These defensive players showed who they were and had dominant performances at the same time in Mobile.
Travis Jones, DL, UConn
It was clear when a player from UConn was named to the Senior Bowl roster that Travis Jones had skill. It was even more apparent when he took the field. Jones was terrific all week long during practices. He’s got a stout base and extraordinary strength. Jones keeps his pad level low and explodes through contact with offensive linemen.
With his low pad level and strength, Jones was oftentimes the winner in 1-on-1s. He also showcased an ability to split double teams and cause havoc in the backfield against the run. Jones had work to do in Mobile, and he got after it.
Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma
Dominance and more dominance were the names of the game for Perrion Winfrey. Not only did he showcase an ability to rush the passer, but Winfrey was also terrific against the run. On multiple occasions, he was seen tossing his lineman away during 1-on-1s. And on just as many occasions, Winfrey was stuffing the run by moving up and down the defensive line.
He’s a great athlete, and Winfrey put all his skills on display during the week of practices in Mobile.
Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
It’s hard to take a monumental “rise” when you’re already seen as a first-round pick. Yet, Jermaine Johnson II cemented and even upped his status as a first-round pick to that of a player who may hear his name called in the first half of Round 1. He won with ease when rushing the passer, and his motor was as high as ever.
Don’t take it from just one person — take it from the whole team and coaching staff who voted Johnson to represent them in a push-off challenge to end the first day of practice. It didn’t go his way, as he ultimately got stymied in a practice-ending 1-on-1, but his first win was nothing short of dominant. Johnson is a terrific talent and has started to push the top four edge defenders in this class.
Dominique Robinson, EDGE, Miami (OH)
Coming relatively out of nowhere, Dominique Robinson put on a pass-rushing clinic with an array of moves on Day 1. He didn’t look back from there, but that first day was truly something special for Robinson. A lanky edge rusher with a surprisingly solid frame, it wasn’t just bend that Robinson showcased.
There were back-to-back pass-rush reps where Robinson utilized a bend to get around a tackle before bull-rushing another tackle to sack the quarterback. It was a dominant performance for a player who needed to show out. And show out he did.
Jesse Luketa, LB, Penn State
It takes a mountain of a man to knock over the human mountain himself, Daniel Faalele. At 6’8″, 387 pounds, Faalele was clearly the biggest man on the field. Yet, Jesse Luketa essentially put Faalele on his backside with ease during a now-viral clip from practice. Luketa has surprising strength, but it was his balance and leverage that allowed him to get the better of Faalale in the infamous clip.
Luketa moves well and hits even better. He was terrific off the edge — not just against Faalele, but against everyone he faced.
Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Penn State
The second Penn State defender in as many players to raise their draft stock, Tariq Castro-Fields put on a show during 1-on-1s. He was dominant at the line of scrimmage, routinely jamming his receivers at the snap. Castro-Fields was also great throughout the routes and rarely lost his matchup against receivers.
He has excellent instincts that he put on display during team drills. But his ball skills and ability to keep up with receivers through breaks with his short-area burst were certainly head-turning in Mobile.
Damarri Mathis, CB, Pittsburgh
This was the Damarri Mathis we all grew to know at Pittsburgh. Mathis was solid in coverage throughout the days of practice, dominating in 1-on-1s. He trailed receivers very little, moving incredibly well with them to stay in their hip pocket. His anticipation of route breaks and concepts also stood out.
Mathis had a couple of pass breakups and forced incompletions that show just how well-rounded his game has become.
Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
Though Tariq Woolen didn’t need a big week to put his name on the map, he had a big week. Getting selected to the Senior Bowl was apparently just the beginning for Woolen. There’s room to grow, but the converted wide receiver reached the fastest speeds consistently and made multiple plays on the ball in coverage on Day 3.
Woolen took to the coaching he was receiving and really showcased growth in the three-day practice period. His athleticism is unmatched, as is his size, and Woolen certainly grew on the field at the Senior Bowl.
Tycen Anderson, S, Toledo
Playing a hybrid role that saw him line up all around the field, Tycen Anderson had a great set of practices at both free and strong safety. He even lined up to rush the passer off the edge, doing so with positive results. Anderson played about every position he could, put forth great reps in every facet as a modern-day defensive back, and did so with a smile on his face.
Some general managers are going to fall in love with his attitude on the field. And fortunately for Anderson, he more than backed it up with his play at the Senior Bowl.
Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
Doing it all, quite literally, was the name of the game for Jalen Pitre. Covering tight ends, heads up on the line of scrimmage, or staying deep as a safety, Pitre was arguably the biggest winner in the defensive secondary. He was terrific in coverage, better against the run, and impressed with his ability to be physical with players that are much bigger than he is.
Pitre plays a great game for his size and is the new prototypical NFL “movable chess piece” at safety. His game is reminiscent of many current NFLers, but the one that still jumps out is that of a smaller Derwin James. After his performance at the Senior Bowl, however, we may have to say that James plays like a bigger Jalen Pitre.
2022 Senior Bowl Sliders
It’s hard to say that any single player who was invited to an all-star game was a true slider. There were a few players who had miscues and may have had a few missteps here and there, but no player really had a bad showing across all three days.
It’s important to take the good with the bad, and for the most part, each player that had a few of those miscues got right back on the horse and made amends for their shortcomings.
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