February marks the end of the NFL season and the start of the draft season. NFL prospects — including three former Panthers — have been in practices and last week’s Senior Bowl game, hoping to boost their stocks in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The Senior Bowl, held in Mobile, Alabama, is an annual event where senior college football players come to show off their skills in front of NFL scouts. There are three days of training followed by a match. Three Panthers attended the 2022 Senior Bowl – quarterback Kenny Pickett, defensive back Damarri Mathis and long snapper Cal Adomitis.
Pickett was making headlines before practice even started. During weigh-ins and measures, Pickett refused to have his hands measured due to his double-jointed thumbs. He is rumored that Pickett has hands measuring less than eight and a half inches. The smaller hand size is awkward for Pickett because regulation footballs are bigger in the NFL than in college. There is no official measurement on the size of his hand, but it has nevertheless raised questions about his ability. His game in training didn’t help either.
Pickett got off to a promising start on the first day of practice. The lack of chemistry with the new receivers showed, but Pickett showed some of the precision that did 2021 Heisman Trophy finalist. Day two of practice went terribly for Pickett, along with all the other Senior Bowl quarterbacks, as the rain poured down in Mobile. Pickett struggled with safety and ball placement.
A dry third day of practice turned the week upside down for Pickett. Although it wasn’t a perfect outing, Pickett bound with tight end Trey McBride and wide receiver Khalil Shakir for the big plays. Pickett continued his momentum in Saturday’s game, where he showed exactly why he’s thrown in the first round. Pickett, despite limited action, had a perfect six-on-six for 89 yards and a touchdown. While not the perfect quarterback, his performances to end the week were promising.
Mathis was productive to start the week. The honorable mention All-ACC displayed strong man-to-man defensive abilities on the outside and performed well in one-on-one drills against opposing receivers. Mathis is an undersized defensive back, standing just 5-foot-10.5 and 197 pounds, but he makes up for that with his strength and ability to stick to receivers in men’s coverage.
Mathis’ height and athleticism will hamper his chances of being a top draft pick. But with his play in the Senior Bowl, Mathis increased his chances of being selected. Time will tell, but Mathis is a rising prospect at this point.
Long snapper Cal Adomitis has had an outstanding career at Pitt. He started five straight seasons as the Panthers long snapper and is the most accomplished long snapper in Pitt history. Some of his accolades include All-ACC First Team, All-ACC Honorable Mention, and starting 64 straight games as Pitt’s long snapper.
Adomitis showed his longevity in the Senior Bowl. During the game, Adomitis connected on all of his snaps and recorded a tackle on punt coverage. The long snapper isn’t highly coveted or popular, especially in the NFL Draft, but Adomitis’ efforts could land him on an NFL roster.
The Panthers still have the NFL and Pitt’s Pro Day combination to show off more in front of NFL scouts.