Jalen Tolbert impresses in 2022 Senior Bowl; raises 2022 NFL Draft stock

The South Alabama Jaguars have quickly become a highly established group of five football program. The Jaguars have seen several of their former players develop into contributors in the NFL. Last year, South Alabama had their second player ever drafted in wide receiver Kawaan Baker. Wide receiver Jalen Tolbert is on a great track to hear his name called early in the 2022 NFL Draft after an excellent 2022 Senior Bowl.

Tolbert had a lot of pressure on him being a star player from a non-Power Five program. There were also a lot of eyes on him, considering that he practiced and played in the same collegiate environment for his four years at South Alabama as he did during Senior Bowl week. Not only did he impress the NFL scouts, coaches, and executives there, he blew them away with his physical abilities and work ethic.

From Day One of the 2022 Senior Bowl practices, Tolbert was one of the best playmakers at the wide receivers position. Scouts were impressed with his incredible ability to create separation from his defenders, reliability to make contested catches, and his speed. His speed at the snap of the football, his elusive running after catching the ball, and his ability to break tackles for extra yardage were also the topics of huge praise throughout the Senior Bowl experience.

In the first practice, Tolbert quickly beat Georgia Bulldogs cornerback Derion Kendrick at the line with his feet, which caused him to instantly separate himself for an easy vertical route touchdown thrown by North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell. This rep earned the attention and praise from the Athletic’s Dane Brugler.

Pro Football Focus highlighted his shiftiness and impressive ability to separate himself from the defenders and make the contested catches. His ability to make those sorts of catches has been one of his best traits, shown many times over as the number one option for the Jaguars’ passing game for two seasons.

Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network said he had positive results throughout all three practice days of the Senior Bowl. Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports said he was certainly a player whose draft stock rose due to a great Senior Bowl performance.

Throughout the years, the Senior Bowl has consistently been where some of the most underrated draft prospects have raised their draft stock. Former South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, and Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott showed their talents successfully in front of NFL scouts, coaches, and executives and now enjoy successful NFL careers. Even more recently, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, Florida wide receiver Kadarious Toney, and Louisiana running back Elijah Mitchell all had a great Senior Bowl week and their draft stocks rose as a result.

Tolbert has seen his potential draft position rise significantly as other media outlets have given him first-round grades or have him going in the first round of NFL draft. Before the 2022 Senior Bowl, Sports Illustrated’s Zack Patrar had Tolbert being selected with the 28th overall pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On February 12th, Pro Football Network’s Cam Mellor had Tolbert selected 30th overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. Finally, CBS Sports’ Kyle Stackpole has him selected 32nd overall to the Detroit Lions, originally traded by the Los Angeles Rams.

After the Senior Bowl, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has Tolbert rated as the 43rd best prospect of the 2022 NFL Draft. Jeremiah had Tolbert as one of the biggest winners of this year’s Senior Bowl. Several other media outlets project Tolbert to be selected in the third round. These are the lower projections for Tolbert as the less recognized school that South Alabama is compared to Power Five schools come into effect.

The University of South Alabama has been home to Tolbert for four seasons, but now he looks to the future and an NFL career. He has already started the 2022 NFL draft process with a strong Senior Bowl. Tolbert’s next opportunity to raise his stock is set for March 1st through 7th, when the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine starts. Once again all Jaguar eyes will be upon him as he shows his skills at annual event in Indianapolis.  

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