It is true what they say about the Reeses Senior Bowl being the precursor to success in the NFL, as it has proven over the years as the event where future stars are born, such as Aaron Donald (class of 2014) or Justin Herbert (class of 2020).
This year's version was no exception, as the game that took place on Saturday afternoon at Hancock Whitney Stadium displayed impressive individual performances.
As is generally the case each year, there are certain players who seem to rise above the reset. In this game, four players stood above the rest, with the potential to make an impact in the NFL someday.
1. Quarterback Malik Willis - American Team
Of all the players at this year's Senior Bowl event, no one garnered more attention than
Willis. For much of this game, Willis was being pressured by the National Team defensive front. Somehow, he found ways to escape and make highlight-worthy plays with his legs. On the occasion, he displayed his incredible arm strength, which wowed the crowd. Willis's soft-spoken nature and impressive skillset made him easily the most likeable player at this year's event. Not only did he catapult himself as the top quarterback in this year's draft class, everything about him suggests star potential at the next level if all goes as planned.
2. Defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey - National Team
At this point, Winfrey could make a case for the top defensive lineman in this year's draft class, alongside Georgia's Jordan Davis. To say the least, he wreaked havoc on the American Team's offense, registering two sacks with three tackles for loss and earning game MVP honors. His near 86-inch wingspan was put to good use in this game, as opposing linemen failed to contain him in this game and throughout the week during their practice sessions. Winfrey is the type of player who could become an instant impact player at the next level. Whichever NFL team takes him should reap the benefits quickly.
3. Quarterback Kenny Pickett - National Team
Nothing fancy or dynamic, but Pickett was quietly the most efficient quarterback in the game, finishing with six completions, 89 passing yards, and a perfect completion percentage. His mobility was on full display during playaction sequences, and he was proficient in reading the American Team's coverage. Willis may have received all the attention, but one can make the argument for Pickett as being the most NFL-ready quarterback of this year's draft class.
4. Edge Rusher Boye Mafe - National Team
Prior to this game, Mafe received minimal attention, despite putting together strong performances during their practice week. On Saturday afternoon, Mafe was a one-man wrecking crew. His speed and explosiveness off the edge gave the American Team's left tackles problems all game long. One can only imagine what numbers he will register at this year's NFL Combine or on his Pro Day. This much is certain: he is a name whose stock should skyrocket this offseason.