Senior Bowl 2022: Oklahoma's Perrion Winfrey wins MVP, Malik Willis dazzles with his legs, more key takeaways

MOBILE, Ala. -- The 2022 Reese's Senior Bowl took place Saturday, which ultimately signified the start of draft season. Talent evaluators from all 32 NFL franchises were on hand for the Senior Bowl, and they've been in Mobile, Alabama, for the entire week of practices leading up to this game. For most personnel executives, it's all about the practice week, meeting with the players, and watching how they interact with the rest of their team. However, standing out as a performer in the actual game can carry a lot of weight, too. 

All eyes were on the quarterbacks, and Malik Willis, Sam Howell and Desmond Ridder were among those who showed flashes of first-round potential. But they were hardly the only ones to make an impact during the National Team's 20-10 victory over the American Team. Below, we dive into the MVP, other standout players, and key takeaways.

MVP

Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma

Perrion Winfrey didn't exactly fly under the radar during the week, but he did get lost in the mix at times while names like Travis Jones, Logan Hall, Devonte Wyatt and Jermaine Johnson were well-deserved talking points. But Winfrey did his share of dominating one-on-one drills during practices, and he took that tenacity to the field Saturday at Hancock Whitney Stadium. He finished the day with two sacks and three tackles for loss and was just about unblockable every time he was on the field.

Just ask LSU's Ed Ingram, who was tasked with staying in front of Winfrey on his second sack of the game, the one where you're screaming at quarterback Bailey Zappe, "Please, for the love of all that's holy, get rid of the ball before it's too late."

It was too late for Zappe, but this week will serve as a springboard for Winfrey into the pre-draft conversation, after a career at Oklahoma that showed glimpses of potential.

Gameday Standouts 

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Here's the deal: Willis' week was all about possibilities. He had a solid day in terrible conditions Wednesday, and while he struggled at times during Thursday's workout, on game day he led the both rosters in gasps from both fans and media in attendance at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Willis finished with just 11 passing yards -- which was last among the six quarterbacks -- but he also rushed for 54 yards, a game-high, punctuated by this scramble at the end of the first quarter:

Our stance on Willis remains unchanged: He's incredibly raw, but the upside is through the roof. He'll need to land in the right place to have the best chance to succeed, and he probably won't be ready to play until 2023. There were several instances Saturday where he missed open receivers, or only got through his initial read before taking off. It's fun to watch, for sure, but it's not sustainable in the NFL, and the team that drafts him must have a long-term plan. For today, however, it was a lot of fun.

Sam Howell, QB, UNC

Howell quietly had a solid week, and like Willis, showed that his value lies in his leg and his rocket right arm. He was 6-for-9 for 67 yards through the air, and added 29 more yards on the ground (including a two-yard TD run) on five carries. Throughout his career in Chapel Hill, Howell has drawn comparisons to Baker Mayfield, but the reality is this: Mayfield was a better, more consistent passer coming out of Oklahoma while Howell is the better athlete. And like Willis, there needs to be a plan for Howell, though he did have the benefit of facing tougher competition on a weekly basis at UNC. You could see how a team might like his physical talents after his performance on Saturday.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder arguably had the most to prove this week, and while he held his own during the week, on Saturday he made some of the throws we wanted to see.

Yes, this looks easy, but he hit tight end Trey McBride in stride, allowing him to turn upfield and get into the end zone without having to readjust his body. It's a little thing, but it could also be the difference between a touchdown, a first down or winning and losing. Ridder came back in the second half with a similar throw on a similar play with similar results:

Credit to tight end Jake Ferguson for doing the heavy lifting and getting into the end zone, but he doesn't get that opportunity if the throw is behind him, or low, or causes him to have to contort his body to pull it in. Again, it seems straightforward enough, but Ridder struggled at times with those throws during the season.

Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota

If you told us Boye Mafe was the MVP we wouldn't have questioned you. He showed off that quick first step during the week in one-on-one drills, giving offensive tackles fits. That theme continued Saturday where, like Winfrey, Mafe had two sacks, three tackles for loss while also forcing a fumble.

And this, where it feels like Mafe almost materializes out of nowhere to run through the quarterback:

Mafe is a Day 2 pick all day long, and his effort this week in Mobile only solidifies that.

Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor

There were a lot of good defensive performances throughout the week. The conversation usually started along the defensive line, but the secondary had its share of standouts. Near the top of that list: Jalen Pitre, who measured only 5-foot-10, 196 pounds, but plays like he's 2-3 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. He was all over the field Saturday, blanketing receivers in coverage or coming downhill with a purpose.

Pitre excels in the slot, but he can also patrol deep centerfield or play in the box. Yes, he's undersized but you wouldn't know it to watch him.

For more Senior Bowl coverage, fellow CBS Sports NFL Draft analysts Josh Edwards and Chris Trapasso provided updates throughout the game, which you can see below:

Live updates
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That's what Baby Ironhead can do. 

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Travis Jones. Large human being. Strong human being. 

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Sneaky good day for Jesse Luketa too. Been super disruptive. 

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Sup, Jake Ferguson! Looking spry on that touchdown. 

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Perrion Winfrey. Goodness. 

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Minnesota edge rusher Boye Mafe was a top 100 prospect for me coming into the season and there was little buzz around him. He has forced the narrative to change this week.

February 5, 2022, 9:55 PM
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I *knew* Bailey Zappe would come out firing

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Channing Tindall was a part-time LB at Georgia because of all the talent around him. He feels like a classic "will be better as a pro" type player because of his athleticism. Nice play there. 

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Kenny Pickett is SO DONE with getting questions about his hand size. I don't blame him. 

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Oklahoma DT Perrion Winfrey's film is very up and down. He's had a monster week at the Senior Bowl and has continually disrupted today. Stock up.

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Wyoming LB Chad Muma has been all over the field today too. Film is squeaky clean. 

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Myjai Sanders has had a strong afternoon. He won't be for everybody, but the upside is very high because of his length and explosiveness.

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Taylor got smoked on the out and up but that ball hung forever. Good play on the football. 

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The running backs woke up this morning choosing violence. Abram Smith, Dameon Pierce, Brian Robinson and others choosing to truck stick would-be tacklers.

February 5, 2022, 9:26 PM
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You do not want to see Dameon Pierce in space. Dude is a Mack truck. 

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Kentucky's Luke Fortner played center this season but had previously played guard for the Wildcats.

February 5, 2022, 9:24 PM
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Very few true centers attending the Reese's Senior Bowl this week so there have been a lot of guards taking snaps there. Tennessee-Chattanooga's Cole Strange is one of those converts and that could explain the high snap. Memphis' Dylan Parham and Boston College's Zion Johnson are a few other guards that took snaps at center this week.

February 5, 2022, 9:23 PM
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I wouldn't say he is one of my guys but Waletzko is a good player that was solid against Power 5 competition this week. 

February 5, 2022, 9:21 PM
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Matt Waletzko is a #draftcrush of yours right, Josh?

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Carson Strong coming out with the National Team to start the second half. Big, strong quarterback with no mobility.

February 5, 2022, 9:17 PM
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Nice bend and speed around the corner from Jesse Luketa

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Howell is about the same size as Willis, loves to run, and has a deceptive arm. Can really spin it. 

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That touchdown was par for the course for the offensive performance in this first half

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Baylor RB Abram Smith has been THE GUY so far in this defensive battle. 

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Ridder showing off his athletic traits. He can get out and create with his legs a little. 

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Rutgers WR Bo Melton can move. Shows that speed on film too. Nice return there. 

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Cincinnati represented by six players today: quarterback Desmond Ridder, edge rusher Myjai Sanders, cornerback Coby Bryant, running back Jerome Ford, linebacker Darrian Beavers and wide receiver Alec Pierce.

February 5, 2022, 8:25 PM
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Rachaad White feels like a clone of his former teammate Eno Benjamin. So smooth and plays with natural contact balance.

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All I have seen from Malik Willis thus far is that he can run, but holds onto the ball too long in the pocket, which is consistent with what we had seen from him all season.

February 5, 2022, 8:15 PM
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Tough position for a defensive back when the ball is underthrown. I thought Coby Bryant did a good job getting his head back around but he ran right through Calvin Austin because the ball was short.

February 5, 2022, 8:14 PM
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