NFL Draft Countdown
2023 NFL Draft Senior Bowl

2023 Senior Bowl: Offense & Special Teams Preview

Senior Bowl

We are only a few days away from the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl. Every season, this All-Star game brings a ton of NFL talent to Mobile, Alabama so NFL teams can get a sense of who player’s practice and operate against the best of the best. With the coaching staffs split up amongst coordinators and position coaches from around the league, it will be a learning experience from all involved. 

Every NFL team will be attendance with most NFL head coaches, GMs, and scouts also in Mobile to watch and talk to these players. Each player participating gets to interview with every team and represent themselves off the field as well as on the field. 

Here is a break down of each offensive positions and what I am excited about to watch for each player this week. Feel free to tweet me @ShanePHallam who you are looking forward to seeing! 

 

Quarterback

 

Tyson Bagent, Shepherd

The small schooler of the group will have a chance to prove himself this week. Bagent had a top notch career in Division 2, but his final game against Colorado School Of Mines left a bad taste in my mouth with a poor performance. He is athletic with great ball placement and accuracy, but can he hold up against high end athletes? 

Bagent could end the week as a big riser into early Day 3 or he may show he isn’t an NFL QB with a tough climb to make the league. 

 

Malik Cunningham, Louisville

A late addition, Cunningham is known for his athleticism more than his passing. A four year starter at Louisville, the experience factor is there, but he may not have the NFL arm and decision making to make it. I’m not expecting much, but Cunningham’s experience might have him start off better than much of the group.

 

Max Duggan, TCU

Duggan is an intriguing prospect with great toughness and movement skills with the ability to hit short passes quickly. His decision making has had its issues (see the National Championship game) but the building blocks for an NFL QB are there. The Senior Bowl should be a big opportunity to prove he can get the ball downfield and work in an offense tailored to NFL personnel.

 

Jake Haener, Fresno State

Haener may be my favorite of the QBs actually practicing at the Senior Bowl. His ball placement skills are superb and as an accurate West Coast QB, there is a lot to like. Though Haener has performed against P5 schools, watching the zip and downfield accuracy will be key to take not of. Can he place the ball when his receivers don’t get separation? If so, Haener could come out of the week buzzing into early Day 2.

 

Jaren Hall, BYU

Hall is a bit of Zach Wilson-lite with some dazzling down field passes in his career at BYU. With good size and arm strength, the Senior Bowl could be an ideal spot for him to shine. Consistency will be the biggest question mark for Hall during the week. If he can show some of the skillset consistently, he could be on the move up in QB rankings.

 

Hendon Hooker, Tennessee

Hooker won’t be practicing due to his ACL tear earlier in the season, but going to Mobile to interview with teams and cheer on his Volunteer teammates is key. NFL teams will get a sense of Hooker’s leadership and personality, so it may help his stock even though he can’t work out.

 

Clayton Tune, Houston

An extremely productive passer, Tune has plenty of NFL upside. He worked within the Cougar offense for multiple years to put up big numbers and even flashed some NFL throws now an again. He does trust his arm a bit too much, but NFL coaching may help him correct some of the decision issues and blossom as a prospect. I expect Tune to turn some heads and move into Round 3-4 by the end of the week.

 

Running Back

 

Chase Brown, Illinois

Brown’s production for the Illini, carrying the offense, was outstanding this season. He is extremely agile and runs like a bull not afraid of contact. He had a massive amount of carries and should carry that aggression to the Senior Bowl. His quickness will be on display, but can he stand out amongst a strong group? Opinions vary wildly, and Brown could either emerge as a clear Day 2 pick or fall back if he doesn’t flash. 

 

Eric Gray, Oklahoma

Gray was talked about as a top RB prospect back when he played with Tennessee, but a transfer and down year in 2021 made his NFL stock tenuous. Thankfully, a new coaching staff and system at Oklahoma led to a boom year for the tough, athletic runner. Gray has good vision and is a sound blocker, which may help him in early practices. His lateral agility through the line should be tested, and it may be a good evaluation of him in the game itself.  

 

Evan Hull, Northwestern

Hull was a battering ram for Northwestern this year as the primary focus of the offense. His main test in Mobile will be to show if he has NFL athleticism and explosion. The Senior Bowl is a good place to see practices and watch that explosive element at the line. Can Hull hit holes before the defense does? Will he break tackles during the game? A late round pick, Hull can certainly help himself.

 

Roschon Johnson, Texas

Backing up Bijan Robinson did not get Johnson much press, but the former QB turned RB has a ton to like. He has great size and is rarely brought down at first contact. A solid pass catcher and leader, his intangibles have been huge. Hip flexibility and his movement skills at his size will be tested in the practice drills along with his footwork. Johnson could emerge as the best RB at the Senior Bowl by the end of the week and become a Round 2 pick. 

 

Kenny McIntosh, Georgia

Taking over the James Cook role, McIntosh finally got his chance to shine. A good receiver who showed good cutting ability, McIntosh is made to impress at the Senior Bowl. His shiftiness should be reflected in drills. Look for McIntosh to impress early and show why he was a Georgia Bulldog.

 

Camerun Peoples, Appalachian State

A big bruising RB like Peoples doesn’t always have the best Senior Bowl until the game itself. Without tackling at practice, it can be tough to assess while seeing some of the athletic limitations. We may not hear much about Peoples throughout the week, but he is a good blocker and can shine in those drills. When the game comes, Peoples could have a solid performance.

 

Chris Rodriguez, Kentucky

Similar to Peoples, Rodriguez may struggle to gain early traction in practice, but more eyes will be on him after a great SEC career. With good vision and feet for his size, there could be some good practice reps in 11-on-11s for Rodriguez when he bursts through the line at his size. 

 

Tyjae Spears, Tulane

Spears is high on my list of players to watch. His top notch game against USC in the Cotton Bowl helped solidify his stock as a fast, elusive runner in open field. Add in pass catching chops, and Spears could be a huge riser throughout the process. If he continues to show he can play against athletic LBs, I’m in.

 

Wide Receivers

Ronnie Bell, Michigan

Michigan never seems to develop skill positions much, but Bell has stuck around for awhile and improved his craft. A good route runner who knows how to use his body to fake out corners, Bell could excel at the Senior Bowl. I’m interested to see if he can show separation and good hands through the week.

 

Derius Davis, TCU

Perhaps the best returner in the draft, Davis has lightning speed and wins with it. We have him at 5’9 and 162 pounds, so the weigh in will be key to truly see where he is at weight wise and if he can hold up to NFL physicality. Davis had some good games, but he wasn’t super consistent, so this will be an opportunity.

 

Nathaniel Dell, Houston

Dell is another very small WR where weigh-in numbers will be key. At 5’10 and 155 pounds, it is the major question mark. On the field, Dell plays bigger than he is and is extremely fast and agile. He should be able to get some separation in 1-on-1s and could come away with some buzz to help push him into Day 2. 

 

Grant DuBose, Charlotte

A late add due to being a late declare for the draft, DuBose is a big bodied productive WR. He is a contested catcher through and through which may not show well at the Senior Bowl with a good CB group. If he can flash good routes and separation, DuBose can get into the draftable range.

 

Elijah Higgins, Stanford

Higgins is a physical WR/TE hybrid receiver who is pretty athletic for his 235 pound frame. Will he get slimmer? That is a weigh-in question to be answered. Higgins could look good at his size as a physical WR who may even get some TE reps. He could end up an early Day 3 pick with a good week.  

 

Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State

With an amazing season that left him as a Biletnikoff Finalist, Hutchinson is coming into Mobile with momentum. He is a good athlete at 6’3 and 210 pounds with excellent hands and ball tracking skills. His footwork and routes might make him a star at the Senior Bowl practices and emerge as a legit Day 2 pick.        

 

Andrei Iosivas, Princeton

The only small school WR of the group, Iosivas may have shades of Christian Watson last year at the Senior Bowl. Iosivas is a track athlete who absolutely burned corners in the Ivy League, he has a big jump in competition for the week. His athleticism could win the day and make him a riser into Day 2.  

 

Jonathan Mingo, Mississippi

Mingo has had an inconsistent career at Mississippi, but the big WR knows how to beat a jam and fits the NFL profile. With long arms and good elusiveness in the open space, Mingo is a sleeper who could be a Top 100 pick. A good Senior Bowl week will solidify that.  

 

Puke Nacua, BYU

Nacua is a good deep threat with size that should have a few connections with his QB during Senior Bowl week. The practices should go well for Nacua to show off his ball tracking and speed, so I predict some slight buzz for an early Day 3 selection.

 

Trey Palmer, Nebraska

Palmer’s weigh in will be interesting to see if he bulks up to around 200 pounds or sticks at 190. His game is built on speed, but having good physical bulk helped him win in college this season. With a huge year at Nebraska, he carried the offense often and made big plays. If this continues, expect Palmer to be a riser.

 

Jayden Reed, Michigan State

Reed was underutilized in the run first offense for the Spartans, but he is a smooth route runner who gets separation. That should be to his benefit in 1-on-1s at the Senior Bowl. Not overly big or athletic, Reed does the little things well. Will it be enough to have some buzz? I’m not sure.

 

Rashee Rice, SMU

Rice might be the headliner for the Senior Bowl WRs. He struggles with drops and doesn’t always get wide open, but great size and quickness led to great contested catchers in numerous productive seasons for SMU. His leaping ability profiles great for the NFL. Expect Rice to make some highlight receptions in practice and be one of the hype WRs out of the week.

 

Tre Tucker, Cincinnati

Tucker is another small, speed wideout which often look better in Senior Bowl practices than they are. It is easier without safety help to do damage being faster than the corner, but Tucker struggled against the jam. Watching him in 11-on-11s may be the key.

 

Jalen Wayne, South Alabama

Wayne gets the nod playing college ball in Mobile, but he will need to show quickness off the line and good footwork to be in the draftable range. I’ll be seeing if he holds up comparable to others or if he shows he doesn’t belong.  

 

Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia

Wicks is the type that does everything well, but nothing great. He has NFL quickness and explosion, but it isn’t overwhelming, and he can get lazy in rounding off routes, etc. This will be a great evaluation as an improvement in these areas could lead to Day 2 draft capital. 

 

Michael Wilson, Stanford

Wilson didn’t have super production, but he is a good hands catcher with size. He may not have the athleticism to shine or make highlight catches for social media, but his toughness may shine through.

 

Tight End

Davis Allen, Clemson

A solid blocker who could prove himself in those drills, Allen has some soft hands. His athleticism may not be up to snuff to really showing up in pass catching drills, but it is an opportunity for him to prove he belongs.

 

Payne Durham, Purdue

Durham had a productive career as an exceptional pass catcher who can find holes in zone coverage. He is pretty rocked up and could turn some heads at the Senior Bowl who don’t have him highly rated. A big question of overall athleticism in man coverage needs to be answered (and how effective his blocking will be). This will be a great venue for it.

 

Cameron Latu, Alabama

Latu is underrated as injuries hurt his season this past year, but he has great footwork and can get open easily. Underutilized at Alabama, Latu might shine in pass catching drills as an easy go to option for the QBs and come away helping himself into early Day 3.

 

Will Mallory, Miami (FL)

Mallory has also had an injury riddled career, but an incredible athlete, Mallory is built to shine during Senior Bowl week. He is a practice superstar with his routes and breaks, plus decent blocking leverage. The upside is there for Mallory to show out.

 

Luke Musgrave, Oregon State

Musgrave will be the highlight of the TE group after he was injured this past season. With massive size and obscene athletic talents, Musgrave will be difficult to cover in 1-on-1s. He was a focal point at Oregon State and a great Combine could vault him into the Top 50 picks. If he dominates during Senior Bowl week, it could lump Musgrave in with the top tier of TEs in this class.

 

Josh Whyle, Cincinnati

An H-Back type, Whyle can play FB or TE in the NFL. He is a natural hands catcher and may showcase that during the week. If he shows he can lead block well in space, Whyle could see his name called during the draft.

 

Brayden Willis, Oklahoma

Willis is a bit more of a traditional FB, though he lined up near the LOS often. A good lead blocker with great toughness, Willis should do well in the backs on backers blocking drills. More teams are using FBs now, so Willis will be of interest.

 

Offensive Line

 

Jake Andrews, Troy

One of my favorite sleepers, Andrews is a hard nosed center who gets physical. A strong lineman who plays low, Andrews helped Troy’s offensive success. He isn’t overly athletic, but he may make some noise in the pit with some nasty blocks. 

 

Steve Avila, TCU

Avila has a great blend of size and athleticism that he should showcase during Senior Bowl week. Being able to play any interior position should help Avila get drafted highly. He is a perfect fit for practices to stand up to the defensive linemen during the week and blow them off the line. Avila should be a buzzy name at the end of the week.   

 

Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse

Bergeron had a solid season at tackle for Syracuse and at one point was being talked about as a potential Top 50 pick. He fell off as the team did, but this will be a good opportunity to rehab his stock. Bergeron’s kick slide needs some work, so NFL coaching may help him improve through the week and make some noise.

 

Nick Broeker, Mississippi

One of the best true freshmen guards, Broeker never seemed to drastically improve. He has held up in the SEC and will get to show if it translates during Senior Bowl week. I love Broeker’s technique and am a bit higher on him than consensus, so this week will be great to either validate my evaluation or show some holes in his game.   

 

McClendon Curtis, Chattanooga

Small school offensive linemen are always a great focus during the week. Usually they struggle a bit on the first day of practice before recognizing they belong and showing up. Curtis’ overall play strength is off the charts and he should establish himself as a name to know by the end of the week.

 

Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland

Duncan was getting some first round buzz with an excellent early season play, but his end to the season was a bit of a disappointment. A raw prospect with great athleticism and size, the sky is the limit for Duncan. He might be one of the best players on the entire roster and if he stonewalls a strong EDGE class in 1-on-1s, his stock will skyrocket. This will be a huge opportunity.

 

Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama

Ekiyor was a rock solid interior lineman for the Crimson Tide throughout his career, but rarely flashed the athleticism or dominance teams want in NFL starters. Perhaps it was scheme or the talent around him, but can Ekiyor pull off some nasty blocks and stick with more athletic defenders? That should be answered this week.

 

Joey Fisher, Shepherd

The D2 Offensive Tackle gets the call to bump up with his QB Bagent. Fisher is tough with a nasty streak, and he has the athletic ability to hold up against the big boys. The jump from D2 to Senior Bowl will be pretty massive, so don’t expect him to do well Day 1. That being said, if Fisher can catch up and do well Day 2 and 3, he could really help his stock.  

 

Blake Freeland, BYU

Freeland has great hands and leverage, utilizing it to his advantage in the run game while having solid footwork in the pass game. He might be more RT than LT, which plenty of teams need, and a potential Top 100 pick. Will he stand out?

 

Richard Gouraige, Florida

Gouraige has played tackle and guard in the past, and this versatility may help him moving forward. He plays high, but has the athleticism to make up for it at times. With plenty of SEC experience, he could start off hot for the week.

 

Ryan Hayes, Michigan

A powerful run blocker, Hayes has been a central cog in Michigan beating Ohio State over the last two seasons. He could play inside or outside and the Senior Bowl is an ideal environment for him to shine. Power gap schemes will love Hayes. Expect a few pancakes this week. 

 

Dawand Jones, Ohio State

The big RT is a high upside player who hs some great film and some poor film. Mental mistakes plagued Jones this season, but NFL coaching may help correct those fairly quickly. If we see him utilize his physical tools, Jones could be the talk of the Senior Bowl by the end.

 

Cody Mauch, North Dakota State

Mauch is a nasty nasty blocker. Super physical and loves to take over his opponents. He can be a bit wild, but the upside as a pass blocker is there too. Mauch might have the most to gain from a big week in Mobile going against Power 5 defenders. If he excels, he might just play himself into the first round.

 

Warren McClendon, Georgia

McClendon was overshadowed by teammate Broderick Jones, but McClendon’s Tackle/Guard versatility will be a selling point. He handled SEC defenders very well and plays with good leverage. A solid week could push him up into Day 3 if he continues his consistency. 

 

Wanya Morris, Oklahoma

On the opposite side from Anton Harrison, Morris often dealt with pass rushers with his length and agility. Despite some problems in balance and hand placement, Morris had tons of success. The coaching at the Senior Bowl could help him hit his potential and find a starting spot in the NFL. 

 

Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan

Oluwatimi drives so well with his legs in the run game, he is a difference maker. It will be interesting to see how he handles more athletic rushers 1-on-1 in the drills, and it could solidify Oluwatimi as one of the top Centers in the class with a good week. 

 

Jarrett Patterson, Notre Dame

Another position flexible interior lineman, Patterson played Guard this year after numerous solid years at Center. A leader who doesn’t have the best feet but understands leverage and how to use his upper and lower body strength, Patterson is a name to watch. If Patterson’s name isn’t mentioned much this week, it likely is a good thing in that he is holding his own in drills.

 

Asim Richards, North Carolina

Richards is not a household NFL Draft name, but he ended the season on a strong note. The OT/G hybrid had an excellent Bowl Game for North Carolina against Oregon and flashed some great hand and foot work. Richards may be a name that works his way up into Day 2 by the end of the week.

 

Nick Saldiveri, Old Dominion

Jim Nagy tweeted that Saldiveri would be a starting NFL Center. The fact that he can play almost any position on the offensive line should be a benefit for NFL teams looking to draft hi. Great balance and lateral agility makes Saldiveri a very intriguing prospect. This could be the break out for him to get on the radar.

 

John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota

Schmitz is generally regarded as the best Center in the draft. He has been the central cog for the successful Minnesota run game for years and has flashed pass blocking upside. Will he be able to come in and dominate in Senior Bowl practices? If so, it could move him into the Top 50.

 

Tyler Steen, Alabama

Steen isn’t my favorite prospect, but the Vanderbilt transfer held his own at LT for the Crimson Tide this past season. He did not allow a sack this season and really flashed in his pass blocking with a smooth kick slide. He is definitely a player I want a closer look at this week.

 

O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida

Torrence was a nasty run blocker at Louisiana and brought that to Florida this past season. He also upped his use of mobility as a pulling lead blocker and had good recovery in pass blocking. A potential first round pick, if he dominates early in the week, it might really push him up draft boards.

 

Andrew Vorhees, Southern Cal

With a ton of experience for a big time program, Vorhees has seen it all. His reaction ability allows him to rarely make mistakes. He won’t overwhelm, but with the freelancing of Caleb Williams this season, Vorhees showed a veteran presence. Can he flash a dominant streak during the week? It may help keep him in Day 2.

 

Darnell Wright, Tennessee

Wright has been gaining some buzz as a versatile OT/G who did not allow a sack this season. It was rare to see a defender get around him cleanly as Wright seemed to understand how to change rush angles and force them away from the QB. His athleticism matched with intelligence will go a long way for the Senior Bowl practices.

 

Special Teams

 

Jack Podlesny, K, Georgia

Podlesny had some clutch kicks at Georgia, but he may not have the big leg consistency needed for the NFL. It will be interesting to see how his kicks boom off the kick in practice and if it will help get him into a camp.

 

Chad Ryland, K, Maryland

Ryland is a big leg kicker who drives the ball with force on field goals and kick offs. Potentially the best kicker in the entire class, Ryland has a shot to get drafted late in Day 3. NFL coaching may help fully unlock his potential. 

 

Bryce Baringer, P, Michigan State

Baringer has a solid leg and punt the ball down the field very well. He can outkick his coverage at times, but NFL coaching during the week could unlock his real potential.

 

Adam Korsak, P, Rutgers

Korsak has flashed great angle punts with good spin to keep the ball out of the end zone. His placement and ability to master where the punt goes (and the distance at times) makes him a potential NFL starter. Comparing him and Baringer during Senior Bowl week will be very helpful.

 

Rob Soderholm, LS, VMI

Soderholm played for VMI, but he has a good, clean snap that usually hits its target. If he shows blocking upside, he could make a camp.

 

Alex Ward, LS, UCF

Ward is a top notch long snapper whose balls zoom to their destination. His placement is extremely consistent, and he gets from snap to blocking quickly. He may be the rare draftable long snapper at the end of the draft.

 

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