MOBILE, Ala. -- The weather took a turn on Wednesday at the Senior Bowl, and while the conditions were less than ideal for the American and National teams, it was an opportunity for evaluators to get a look at the 100-plus draft hopefuls in something other than clear skies and warm temps. 

And, yes, there are plenty of players at the Senior Bowl who played collegiately in the northeast, or the Big Ten, and yes, the elements in these places can be unpredictable. But the reality is that the college schedule runs from September to November when cold weather or blizzard-like conditions are a rarity. 

So don't consider the constant downpour a bug; it's a feature. It started with the National Team, coached by the Jets, where the quarterbacks looked ... well, average. And that's not an indictment of them but a reflection of playing in a new offense with new teammates, with the added component of everything being completely and utterly wet. 

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett, who could end up as the first passer drafted in April, will -- fair or not -- have to answer questions about small hands. In defense, he could have hands the size catcher mitts and the result may have been the same on his first throw of Wednesday's session:

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Pickett rebounded to make some good throws too, but it was clear the weather was a factor, and it's something NFL teams will have to consider. Carson Strong, meanwhile, bounced back after a tough day, and while he had his miscues, at times, he also showed off his deep-ball abilities, hooking up with Nevada teammate, Romeo Doubs.

Desmond Ridder, the third quarterback on the National squad, showed good accuracy in this throw to tight end Jeremy Ruckert:

And it's more of this that we want to see from the former Cincinnati standout. On Tuesday, and again at times on Wednesday, Ridder's biggest concern is accuracy. He can blow you away one play and leave you scratching your head the next. The talent is undeniable but the consistency will determine how high he's drafted.

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For the American squad, Sam Howell showed off his lively arm:

And he looked a little sharper than what we saw on Tuesday. There were times he missed throws -- again, that's to be expected, especially on deep balls when it's both wet and windy -- but as one NFL executive told us,  what you want is improvement from one day to the next. Howell did that, and he'll have one more opportunity to do it again.

We'll say it again: Bailey Zappe is the prototypical NFL backup, who plays with an edge and reminds us of Taylor Heinicke or Gardner Minshew. He throws with great accuracy and greater confidence, even if he doesn't have the arm strength of a Sam Howell or Malik Willis. He also has an innate sense of where the pass rush is coming from and moves well in the pocket to create space and buy time to make a play.

And this brings us to Malik Willis, who we're slowly coming around on. He was the offense at Liberty in 2021, and the fact that he was tasked with carrying that unit can sometimes get lost in the evaluation, especially if the bad outweighs the good. And don't misunderstand, Willis didn't have a terrible season -- just the opposite -- but his performance was skewed by unrealistic expectations. Here's the deal: Willis stands just six-feet tall, but he weighs 220 and is a dynamic athlete, both as a passer and a runner. He flashed both at Wednesday's practice, outrunning linebackers and safeties deep into the secondary during team drills ...

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... While also showing off his arm talent:

The weather is somehow supposed to worsen for Thursday's practice, the final of Senior Bowl week ahead of Saturday's game, but the session could also be moved up the hill from Hancock Whitney Stadium to the covered practice facility. That could serve as a respite for the six quarterbacks, five of whom are making their case to be legit first-rounders. 

That's OK because we all got to experience the elements together on Wednesday, which was about as far away as you can get from the near-perfect conditions of a pro day or a private workout. And it proved invaluable to evaluators looking to see how these players performed under duress. Because that's life in the NFL – and not just once the weather turns, but the exact moment preparations begin during minicamp. General managers, coaches and scouts know this, NFL veterans know this, but you might understand why wide-eyed 21 and 22-year-olds would need to be educated on what it really takes to be a professional. 

Here's the thing, though: the players were impressive – all of them – going about their business, seemingly unaffected by it all. Yes, some were better than others, but the resiliency – that ability to bounce back – is what gets your attention, even among the quarterbacks where Willis appears to be separating himself from the pack.

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