MOBILE, Ala. -- With Reese's Senior Bowl practices in full swing on Wednesday, 100-plus prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft are in the midst of a crucial job interview. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein and Chase Goodbread provide a look at standouts from Day 2, as well as news and notes from the day's events.
Tune in for one-hour Senior Bowl practice recap shows Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET and Thursday at 11 p.m. ET on NFL Network, and don't miss exclusive coverage of the Senior Bowl game at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Five stars from Day 2 of Senior Bowl practice
Tyler Badie, RB, Missouri
Despite checking in at just 5-foot-7, 199 pounds, Badie continues to show that his competitiveness and heart can make up for any size limitations. He had some nifty runs during the National team scrimmage on Wednesday, displaying vision and quick-cut ability to knife through the interior holes. He stepped up and squared opponents, battling to anchor and protect the pocket in pass protection drills against linebackers. He reminds me of Michael Carter, who used last year's Senior Bowl as a springboard and ended up leading the Jets in rushing as a rookie. Badie could be on a similar path.
Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida
Pierce was one of the Senior Bowl backs I was most excited to watch heading into the week, as his tape was substantially better than his 2021 usage rate at Florida (119 total touches) would indicate. Running backs often have a hard time finding holes during practices, but Pierce's bend and twitch allowed him to stack jump-cuts and slalom his way to the open field. He was explosive out of his breaks during pass-catching drills and made a couple of nice grabs despite the consistent rainfall on Wednesday.
Cole Strange, C, UT-Chattanooga
Scouts are giving Strange consistently positive reviews for his performance over the first two days of practice. He lined up at guard in college but moved to center this week. He's played substantially stronger at the point of attack than his leaner frame might indicate and has held up reasonably well against bull rushers when tested. After getting beat by power on one rep, he came back with a quick set, which allowed him to halt the bull rush before it could even get started. He's a rising, zone-scheme center with the talent to start in the NFL.
Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
I'm simply too low on Wyatt in my initial grade and will have to make an adjustment after what I've seen in practices. He has been a tough out for every lineman he's faced this week. He's shown excellent snap quickness and coordinated hands/feet to work into gaps and create disruptions. He's not unusually big or long, but he's really helping his cause as a potential one-gapping three-technique with adequate power at the point of attack.
Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
Pierce possesses a good blend of size, speed and ball skills. He did a really nice job of tying those elements together during Wednesday's practice. He has the juice to win a footrace down the field if corners squat too heavily on him underneath, but he showed off an ability to fight through handsy coverage and carve out catch space for himself. The ability to create late separation and finish with strong hands are major elements of success for receivers at the next level. Pierce's focus to secure a slippery football added to a strong day for the former Bearcat.
Five Senior Bowl takeaways from Wednesday
1) QB prospect keeping sense of humor about knee concerns. Nevada quarterback Carson Strong insists his right knee feels fine, but he knows questions about it will persist as the draft process continues. After having cartilage repaired in a 2017 procedure that cost him his senior season at the high school level, Strong underwent another surgery last year to replace his own cartilage with that of a cadaver. One of the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, Strong is refreshingly honest and even humorous about a procedure that will certainly draw high scrutiny from 32 medical teams during pre-draft evaluations.
"A joke I've been telling teams is, 'I've never jammed a finger, I've never rolled an ankle, but I've had two knee surgeries,' " Strong said. "Long story short, I got a tire change on cartilage."
Strong said the February 2021 surgery was supposed to have required a 12-month recovery, but six months later, he started the Wolf Pack's season opener against Cal and threw for 312 yards in a 22-17 win. His body has accepted the bone graft, he said, and he's fearless about whatever medical exams await him as NFL teams do their due diligence.
Strong's throwing arm stacks up well with the 2022 draft's top passers. His mobility was limited early in the season last year due to his recovery, but he still managed to average 348 yards and three TD passes per game, throwing just eight interceptions in 12 contests.
2) Draft's biggest prospect willing to make position change. Daniel Faalele won't be offended if NFL scouts view him as a guard at the pro level, and he's not necessarily looking to prove that the right tackle position he manned at Minnesota -- which would likely command more money over the course of his NFL career -- is where his future lies. At 6-foot-8 1/4, 387 pounds, Faalele just wants to prove he's a starter-caliber offensive lineman.
"I'll be glad to play whatever position. I just want to be on the field. That's been my goal," Faalele said. "I would've liked to have been developed more at other positions, but if I just get the right coaching and development, I can play at any (spot)."
Faalele arrival in the NFL will be the culmination of a unique journey in the sport. The Australia native only began playing football in 2016, and he used the Madden video game to help learn the game and its rules. At one point, he weighed more than 400 pounds, and he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. The inexperience is a concern for scouts, to be sure, but it also foretells a higher ceiling as he develops. Faalele was coached to use a 45 set, which refers to a 45-degree angle to the line of scrimmage, at Minnesota. It helped him stay with speed rushers around the edge, but according to scouts, he was vulnerable to inside moves. He's new to the vertical set, a different pass blocking technique that would help him deal with inside and counter moves.
"I'm still trying to get the hang of it, working with (three-time Pro Bowler) Donald Penn in my pre-draft training," Faalele said. "Against live reps, it's hard. But I'm getting there."
3) Quick turnaround for Lions? Nobody can accuse Lions coach Dan Campbell of trying to buy extra time to turn his team around. It doesn't always take long to flip an NFL club's fortunes, and to Campbell, the Lions are no different.
"When I got to New Orleans in '16, they'd been 7-9 for a few years in a row," Campbell said. "Then they hit on some draft picks, man. Mike Thomas, and (Alvin Kamara), and (Erik) McCoy and (Marcus) Davenport and (Marshon) Lattimore, and (others). All the sudden, man, you draft well for a couple years, and you can totally flip the script. With what's already there, you add a couple free agents, and if you do it right in the draft, you can catch lightning in a bottle."
The Lions were 3-13-1 last season -- a far cry from the Saints' 7-9 starting point Campbell referred to -- but do have plenty of draft capital to get their rebuild started. Detroit holds the No. 2 overall pick of the draft, plus another first-rounder acquired from the Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade.
4) All the measurables. The Lions coaching staff is getting a close look at one of the draft's more intriguing prospects in UTSA cornerback Tariq Woolen, who is the tallest corner at the Senior Bowl, measuring 6-3 3/8 on Monday. He has just two years of experience playing cornerback after a conversion from wide receiver, so there is still much for him to learn at a technique-heavy position. But his height and length (his arms measured the longest (33 1/2 inches) of any corner as well), are very rare for a corner. And his speed is blazing -- he was recorded an at an American squad-high 22.45 mph at Tuesday's practice. For a team that employs a lot of bump-and-run style coverage -- that's all he's known since his position switch -- he's a highly promising developmental option.
"Press coverage is my strength. At UTSA, we just played press and press-bail, we never played off-man," Woolen said. "... This is the best of the best here, and I want to prove I can play with them."
5) Family ties. Liberty QB Malik Willis can call on an uncle -- his mother's brother, former Carolina Panthers LB James Anderson -- for advice on life in the NFL any time he needs it. Willis said Anderson loves to play golf with him whenever possible, but generally doesn't offer advice unless asked. One area that he has counseled Willis on, however, is finances.
"Save your money, invest it wisely and don't be handing money out -- that's been his main advice," Willis said. "Some people might think they have a meal ticket when you make it, but you've got to be careful what you're spending."