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Senior Bowl 2022: Notes and Takeaways from Day 1

Nothing like the Senior Bowl to kick off draft season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 05 Notre Dame at Florida State Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s that time of year again as the majority of the NFL world descends on Mobile, Alabama to take in the country’s premiere all-star showcase starring the country’s top senior talent.

As we’ve come to note over the past decade, the Chargers love them some Senior Bowl players. They’ve drafted roughly three to four players each year since 2015 from the lot and I don’t think that’s changing anytime soon under Tom Telesco. The Chargers’ general manager loves players with notable experience and leadership qualities, both of which are needed in order to land an invite to the Senior Bowl.

So with that in mind, of course we’re going to be keeping a close eye on everything that’s happening down in Mobile this week. Following the event’s first practice on Tuesday, I wrote up blurbs on three players I think the Chargers could be interested in and how their first impressions ultimately went.

Let’s get to it.

1.) Northern Iowa (FCS) OT Trevor Penning, mocked to the Chargers in the first round, struggles early

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler was one of the first draft analysts to pair the Chargers with Penning, a massive and athletic tackle prospect from FCS Northern Iowa. If you watch Penning’s film, you’ll see a man amongst boys. He is smooth in his pass sets while never feeling all that threatened no matter who lined up across from him.

Despite the hype coming into the Senior Bowl, Penning underwhelmed in his first impression for scouts and coaches in attendance. He was consistently beat by smaller speed rushers and even had a rep that would make your mother jump.

In the video below, Penning gets beat outside and then proceeds to throw the pass rusher into the legs of the quarterback standing behind the drill. So he not only got beat on the rep, he could have seriously injured the unaware player he was meant to protect. It was simply not a good first day for a small-school player looking to follow in the footsteps of 2021 second-round offensive tackle Spencer Brown, a former teammate of Penning’s at UNI.

2.) Auburn CB Roger McCreary looks solid despite fears of short arms

McCreary was one of the top cornerbacks in college football this season while playing in the toughest conference in the country. He also managed to play his best game against the best teams, including in-state rival Alabama.

Despite what he put on tape, there were going to be some scouts who take issue with some of his predicted measurements at the Senior Bowl, one of those being the length of his arms. At 29 5/8 inches, he’s on the smaller end for what NFL clubs want in their corners. But again, these numbers don’t mean much of anything if he can still go out there and make plays. Heck, former Patriots corner Asante Samuel (sounds familiar) had even shorter arms than that and it didn’t stop him from being an impact player in this league.

McCreary still went out on the practice field and stuck it to the long list of receivers at the Senior Bowl. Arm length be damned. This guy is a player.

3.) Florida State EDGE Jermaine Johnson earned himself some money

At FSU, Johnson stood out as a pass rusher due to wearing number 11 (incredibly cool number) and making numerous plays on the field at the same time. Things weren’t much different when he took the field in Mobile for the first day of practice at the all-star showcase.

It didn’t matter who Johnson lined up against, he dominated just about everyone with a seamless speed-to-power toolbox that few could handle. In the clips below, Johnson was asked to stay after practice so acting-American team head coach Duce Staley could get a few more looks at him. He went up against Kentucky right tackle Darian Kennard and absolutely demolished him on the first of their three reps.

Johnson totaled seven tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks over his first two seasons at Georgia before transferring to Florida State. In his lone season with the Seminoles, he exploded for 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks to go with 70 total tackles.

I’m not sure if a good week in Mobile will push Johnson into the first round, but he definitely has asserted himself among the players who have earned the most money so far at the Senior Bowl.