Practices have been attended, media breakfasts eaten, and finally the Senior Bowl has been played. The National team coached by the Las Vegas Raiders’ DC Patrick Graham beat the American team, coached by the Chicago Bears’ OC Luke Getsy 27-10 in Mobile, AL. While the game had some interesting moments, a whopping 33 players didn’t dress out for the game, protecting their bodies for the long road to the NFL Draft.
So, what we’ll be doing is creating an All-Senior Bowl team, consisting of players who impressed throughout the week. While the game was very fun and had some important aspects you can take away, the weeks of Senior Bowl practice will be weighed more in this exercise. So let’s get started!
Quarterback: Jake Haener, Fresno State
The QBs had a rough week this week, which is expected when you’re throwing to guys you don’t really know and given three practices to really nail it down. However, the pride of Fresno State showed a lot of command of the National team offense, and played the most consistently in practice. He was decisive with his reads, was taking the time to go through all of his progressions, and showed nice touch in the red zone in a lot of circumstances. He also created well out of structure this week, something the other QBs struggled to do.
Haener isn’t the biggest QB at all, and he doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he’s a gamer and plays the position well enough to be a long term backup in the NFL. The Haener Hive rolls along.
Other players considered: Clayton Tune, Houston
Running Back: Evan Hull, Northwestern
Hull had a great week of practice that could get him selected in the NFL Draft. Among National team RBs, Hull was the best in pass protection and receiving, and showed a different kind of burst and acceleration within the holes in the offense. That burst was on display Saturday, as he ran for 74 yards on ten carries and caught two passes for 11 yards. That versatility is good to show for scouts, as Hull might not be a lead back, but will be a great RB2-3 for an offense. I worry about his true long speed, but a team can use a player like Hull.
Tyjae Spears, Tulane
Spears was voted Senior Bowl practice player of the week, and for good reason. Spears showed off an explosive second gear, and the ability to be a threat in the run and passing game. Spears looked fast and showed nice vision in inside run practice sessions, while also looking good in pass catching reps all week.
Medicals are going to be a big hurdle for Spears to overcome, because Spears tore his ACL and meniscus in 2020. The NFL Combine will be a big test for him, because he’ll be able to get in front of team doctors and go through their evaluations, while also showing off his speed and natural pass catching ability. He passes those tests, he could fly up draft boards.
Other players considered: Eric Gray, Oklahoma
Wide Receiver: Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford
Stanford’s offense was quite possibly the worst offense in college football last year. Combine that with Wilson’s injury history and you get a guy who comes into Mobile sort of unheralded. However, Wilson passed this test with flying colors, showing off everything he has in his toolbox. Wilson looked fluid, smooth and explosive in and out of breaks, and consistently created separation from National team DBs. The pacing of his routes remained consistent, and he showed the ability to go up and get the ball in the actual game.
Like Spears, Wilson will have to answer many medical questions at the NFL Combine, but he took over this week of practice from Day 1 and never looked back, impressing many in the process.
Tank Dell, Houston
You wanna talk about lightning in a bottle? Tank Dell is the definition of that. Dell wowed scouts on Days 1 and 2 of Senior Bowl practice, then didn’t practice the rest of the week, but that one day was extremely impressive. Dell showed off the burst and explosion he can create in short areas, while also being a more nuanced route runner and true receiver than I previously believed.
Tank Dell creates acres of separation pic.twitter.com/3Izxr2EvGN— Billy M (@BillyM_91) February 1, 2023
Dell is very small at 5’8, 163 pounds, limiting him only to the slot, but that’s a receiver who can come in for a team that needs juice from the slot and create instant offense.
Jayden Reed, Michigan State
Reed is another slot-exclusive guy, but this week he showed nice ball skills and route running, in concert with his speed. Reed is able to create a lot of separation going vertical and across the field, and was also tasked with returning punts as well. Reed is more than likely going to be a Day 3 guy, but he impressed throughout the week, earning National team WR of the week in the process.
Gotta trust Jayden Reed will be there for you -- he finds a way (also works back to the ball here and draws DPI, which is a lot better at this level ... Jayden Reed pic.twitter.com/U77AT01KtU— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) February 4, 2023
Other players considered: Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State, Jonathan Mingo, Ole Miss, Andrei Iosivas, Princeton
Tight End: Payne Durham, Purdue
Durham was the best of the tight ends here in Mobile, and showed that he can be an extremely valuable target in the red zone and in contested catch situations. Durham is a BIG dude, and can adjust well to passes thrown outside of his range with his 80 3⁄4 inch wingspan. Durham routinely made tough catches in Mobile, and put the icing on top with a big catch in the red zone to set up a National team TD.
Payne Durham comes down with an impressive catch on the wheel. Snatches the ball and immediately tucks it in to prevent the DB from knocking it away pic.twitter.com/jhjImkmXF9— Billy M (@BillyM_91) February 4, 2023
I worry about how truly athletic Durham is, and he was more consistent blocking in Mobile than he was during most of the season, but he’s a reliable red zone threat who can be a solid TE2.
Other players considered: Brayden Willis, Oklahoma, Cameron Latu, Alabama
Offensive Tackle: Dawand Jones, Ohio State
Let me be clear: Dawand Jones not practicing the rest of the week really sucks. But if you measure in the way he did, and then performed the way that he did, you would understand. Jones measured in at a towering 6’8 and 379 pounds, with an 89 1⁄2 inch wingspan.
That’s longer than a king size bed.
That’s almost as long as a Goliath Heron’s wingspan. Dawand Jones is truly the biggest bird.
Jones then went out on Day 1 and show lighter feet than expected, while dominating in pass protection and inside run.
Dawand Jones is dominating. Snatch and trap on Foskey pic.twitter.com/n2F8LtvQ5D— Billy M (@BillyM_91) January 31, 2023
Jones could possibly play himself into the first round, because you won’t find many guys that size that can use their length the way Jones does.
Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Wright came in with a lot of hype, and he delivered on it for the most part. Wright showed what he does best in Mobile: he’s strong and physically impressive right tackle who has really strong hands. Wright won more than he lost during the week, and had a fine performance on Saturday during the bowl game.
While Wright has a lot to work on (I think he leans a bit too often and that throws off his footwork and wide hands), he could develop into being a very good right tackle, and could potentially start Day 1. It just depends on where he goes.
Other players considered: Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland, Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse
Offensive Guard: Cody Mauch, North Dakota State
To go from playing left tackle to guard is really difficult, especially while you’re making the jump up from North Dakota State to playing against the best of the best from Power Five conferences. However, Mauch not only stood up to competition, he excelled. He showed nice agility and lateral quickness on pulling plays and outside zone runs, and despite being a smaller guard at 305 pounds, he stood up to power rushes very well.
Mauch played all five positions along the offensive line in Mobile, and some believe Mauch’s best days are at that position. Regardless of where he plays in the NFL, Mauch is going to be rock solid for any franchise.
O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
Torrence is STRONG AS HELL. That was evident from Day 1. Torrence came in about 20 pounds lighter than what he played at for Florida, but that didn’t affect Torrence’s play strength at all. Torrence routinely won reps in both the passing game and run game, and showed off the intelligence and quick thinking to pick up stunts and twists at a very high level. He’s definitely a right guard at the NFL level, but for a gap-scheme team who has a hole at that position, Torrence can fill it extremely well.
Other players considered: Steve Avila, TCU, McClendon Curtis, Chattanooga
Center: John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
Schmitz was arguably the best offensive lineman for the American team this week, and the best center in Mobile. He came in at 6’3 and 306 pounds, but Schmitz was extremely powerful and so smart when it came to passing off stunts and twists.
Oh, baby.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) February 4, 2023
O'Cyrus Torrence and John Michael Schmitz. pic.twitter.com/UpzeehkzaZ
Schmitz also showed the ability to play in space and climb to the second level, routinely smashing linebackers at the second level on screen plays. Schmitz made his case to be the best center in this draft class, and might have been the best, most consistent lineman in Mobile.
Defensive Tackle: Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
Benton was physically dominant all week, and excelled against the run.
However, where Benton earned his spot on this list was for his development in the pass rush department. Benton showcased a nice blend of both power and technique, going for a smooth arm-over move multiple times and beating other National team interior linemen.
There goes Keeanu Benton again! pic.twitter.com/Dh4Pq6FbAc— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) February 1, 2023
Benton having that lateral quickness at 312 is absurd, plus the power he can pack in the run game, is a lethal combination. Benton impressed me a lot in Mobile.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
Adebawore (pronounced add-E-TOMMY-wah add-E-BAR-eh) won the measurements despite being 6’1 and 284 pounds. He has a 34 inch arms, and when you watch him play, he uses that arm length and leverage to his advantage. Adebawore is strong as all get out, and is a ready-made run defender. He routinely had opposing DTs on skates in the run game. What impressed the most was his ability to get after the passer. He flashed power and a good set of counter moves off of his bull rush, but the bull rush is what brings people to the party; just ask Jarrett Patterson.
Adetomiwa Adebawore drives back the OL. Damn he's been impressive pic.twitter.com/KdqSFcf4pM— Billy M (@BillyM_91) February 3, 2023
His size is going to make his scheme fit and ceiling a question mark, but best believe that he can bring a lot of power and leverage, and he showed that in Mobile.
Karl Brooks, Bowling Green
Karl Brooks has unbelievable bend for a player who’s on the inside and weighs 303 pounds. The Bowling Green defender spent a lot of time on the edge for the Falcons, but kicked inside in Mobile and had a great week. His quickness and burst off the ball was too much for interior offensive linemen, and he also was very good against the run, using quickness to put linemen off balance.
Brooks will probably go on Day 2, but he can be an instant impact pass rusher for an NFL franchise.
Other players considered: Keion White, Georgia Tech, Jalen Redmond, Oklahoma
EDGE: Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
McDonald was the most impressive pass rusher in Mobile this week, showing off versatility and bend. He’s got a lot of speed and explosiveness, and used that with his long arms (35 inch arms) to keep offensive tackles at bay. He also used a real sweet looking inside spin move that is a great counter to the outside speed he has.
He also didn’t look out of place dropping into coverage, either. McDonald is slim, but he can give a team a lot of pop as a pass rusher, and combining that with his ability in coverage makes him a guy who will be drafted in Day 2.
Derick Hall, Auburn
Hall didn’t have as many flashes as McDonald did, but he still had a very good week of practice in Mobile. He’s a powerful guy with heavy hands, and that was evident from the jump. If he gets his hands on you first, you’re going down. In addition, he also flashed the ability to create counters to his long arm move, which doesn’t make him a one trick pony.
I think Hall is a first round player. He’s a ready made run defender and knows his strengths as a pass rusher, while adding on to his game with counters and inside moves. He’s a little stiff, but in Mobile he showed that he’s got a lot of power to pack in that frame.
Other players considered: KJ Henry, Clemson, Lonnie Phelps Jr., Kansas, Byron Young, Tennessee
Linebacker: Daiyan Henley, Washington State
Henley was the best linebacker for the entire week of Senior Bowl practices. A guy who came in with less hype, but he showed up and was real good in the run and passing game. He routinely shut down RBs in pass coverage 1 on 1’s, and didn’t look as slow moving laterally or dropping in coverage. I don’t think he’s a Day 2 guy, but in a weaker LB class he could be a riser.
Washington State LB Daiyan Henley has looked like the best linebacker in Mobile. Athletic, fluid, instinctive. pic.twitter.com/3A4UaSUafg— Cory (@realcorykinnan) February 3, 2023
Aubrey Miller Jr., Jackson State
Aubrey Miller was the best true linebacker for the American team this week, and he showed a lot of things I didn’t think he was capable of. He’s a menace in the run game, filling holes aggressively downhill. However, Miller also was able to show some chops in the passing game that were surprising. He never gave up on a rep and showed nice lateral quickness as well. He’s an intriguing Day 3 player to me.
Other players considered: Ivan Pace Jr, Cincinnati, Marte Mapu, Sacramento State
Cornerbacks: Julius Brents, Kansas State
Brents was a huge winner in the measurements, coming in at 6’3 and 202 pounds with an 83 inch wingspan. Brents wasn’t extremely grabby at all, however. He was extremely patient and broke up a lot of passes in 1 on 1 and 7 on 7 drills. Brents’ length and athleticism is going to get him in the door for many teams, but the ball production is going to be what people want to see. He had a few interceptions here in Mobile, so if he can answer that question, he could be a steal.
Darius Rush, South Carolina
Rush constantly improved throughout the week, and put together his best days on Days 2 and 3. Rush’s patience showed in all of his reps, never panicking too much or guessing often. Later in the week, he was able to put together full reps, staying in phase and racking up interceptions. Playing alongside first round pick Cam Smith will make you go a little under the radar, but Rush is just as good in his own right.
Other players considered: Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford, Tyrique Stevenson, Miami
Safety: Daniel Scott, Cal
Scott was arguably the most impressive safety in Mobile all week. He matched the ball production with the versatility he showed on tape at Cal, and produced a lot. He has great route recognition and can break on the ball really well. He played nickel in Mobile too, and didn’t look out of place either. I worry about his consistent tackling ability, but he’s a guy who made a lot of money this week.
Cal S Daniel Scott with a brilliant coverage rep here to get the interception pic.twitter.com/tc7dokKjlz— Jack Brentnall (@Jack_Brentnall) February 2, 2023
JL Skinner, Boise State
Skinner is an interesting player, who had a good week in Mobile. He’s a 6’4, 211 pound safety, and where he’s best is as an overhang or near the box where he can show his physicality. He’s a great safety for if you need a guy who can fill a lane in the run game, and embraces contact from anyone, at any time. He’s stiff in coverage, but if your team needs a tone setter on the back end, he’s a great guy to have.
Other players considered: Jammie Robinson, Florida State, Sydney Brown, Illinois
Special Teams: Chad Ryland, K, Maryland
Ryland was the most consistent of all the kickers, showing a lot of accuracy during the week. Ryland’s career long is 55, so there’s a clear limit to his range, but he went 12-16 at Maryland, and could be worth a camp invite.