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2023 NFL Draft Senior Bowl

Senior Bowl Game Recap (2023)

Senior Bowl

Another year is in the books and the 2023 Senior Bowl has come to a close. With some athletic defensive backs and a deep RB group, the Senior Bowl had some intriguing prospects playing. Though the Senior Bowl practice week is more important than the game, seeing players come up big on game day does make an impact. Here are my breakdowns of how each position went and who stood out at the Senior Bowl game:

 

Quarterback

It was a lackluster game for the QBs. Fresno State’s Jake Haener and Houston’s Clayton Tune opted for more checkdowns than trying to showcase mid to deep level passing (and neither were particularly sharp hitting them). Haener did have some nice passes early, but it devolved into some pretty bad passes too. He did have a late game TD pass throwing short to Michael Wilson that was placed well so no defender could get it. He won the game MVP.

Louisville’s Malik Cunningham looked like Malik Willis last year, just running around. We know he can run, so it would have been better to see some more passing from him. The one nice pass he hit was a near TD to Purdue TE Payne Durham who adjusted to the ball for a big pluck. Perhaps Cunningham can find his way onto a team that has an offense around his skillset. He also threw a BAD pick six in the 4th quarter.

TCU’s Max Duggan showed his athleticism, but the decision making was rough. He held the ball way too long looking for a big 2nd down play and was sacked. Indecisiveness seems to plague him stemming from the National Championship. He overthrew Princeton WR Andrei Iosivas on a TD as well.

Shepherd’s Tyson Bagent showed his strong arm, but also where the D2 player fell short, throwing the ball too late to Andrei Iosivas resulting in an interception to Daniel Scott, and another late to Jakorian Bennett. The ball placement was very iffy for Bagent who has a lot of growing to do.

 

Running Back

Northwestern’s Evan Hull started off the game with a bang and a long run. He showed some power early, even playing a little upright in the red zone.

Oklahoma’s Eric Gray showed his hands as Clayton Tune checked down to him often. A beautiful wheel route with a catch and a juke move to pick up more yards was NFL ready (Despite being called back for an OL penalty).

Appalachian State’s Camerun Peoples dropped a screen pass followed up by another big drop on a short route. Maybe it was nerves or that the balls were slightly tipped, but with a reputation as a between the tackles runner only, Peoples didn’t help get rid of that narrative. He did flash as a power runner though, as expected. 

Texas Tech’s SaRoderick Thompson was a late add but had a nice 18 yard run showing some burst throughout the second quarter.

Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez fumbled after a messed up snap and handoff from Max Duggan. 

 

Wide Receiver

Stanford’s Michael Wilson showed off some nice hands early in the game. He had to adjust to some poor passes in the game, but showcased his good hands ability. He made a heads up catch down the field for a TD coming back to an underthrown pass while getting separation. An intriguing option early in Day 3.

Michigan State’s Jayden Reed was getting open with ease! He had a TD called back and was sharp on routes and receptions. After an excellent week of practice, Reed showed up big in the game as well. 

Michigan’s Ronnie Bell has good ball tracking skills. He caught a Malik Cunningham pass with good timing, turning back and using his hands. 

Princeton’s Andrei Iosivas was in on a trick play to throw the ball, but he opted not too. He also was wide open for a TD due to his speed, but was overthrown by Max Duggan.

Cincinnati’s Tre Tucker had a few nice routes, but did leave some yards on the field.

 

Tight End

Purdue’s Payne Durham got a run when the National team was deep in their own territory. He also had a great catch on a wobbly Malik Cunningham pass for a near TD. Despite his production at Purdue, many wrote him off (me included) but Durham is showing he can have an NFL role.

Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave is athletic, but he showed a more important skill of finding holes in zone coverage and settling. He had an impressive catch and flashed power after the catch as well.

 

Offensive Line

There was some dominant interior line play from players like Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz, Florida’s O’Cyrus Torrence, North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch, Michigan’s Olusegun Oluwatimi, Chattanooga’s McClendon Curtis, Mississippi’s Nick Broeker and others flashed top tier run blocking ability in the game, but also held up in pass protection. It was the rare great OL game for the Senior Bowl.

Tennessee RT Darnell Wright had an up and down game with some great pass protection reps, but also never got his feet set a few times and was taken advantage of. EDGE Lonnie Phelps beat him for a near sack on one play. But, the upside for Wright was apparent.

North Carolina LT Asim Richards also impressed with good plays strength and balance. He is a sleeper name to know that had an underrated week.

Alabama’s Tyler Steen played LG in the game and flashed much more than he had at practice to me. He got some real push and showed strength. Intriguing late round selection.

Troy’s Jake Andrews struggled again with snaps, as he did throughout the week of practice. Though he showed up as a blocker, it is concerning for a player whose best fit is at Center.

Old Dominion’s Nick Saldiveri played extremely well at Center this week, his first time at the position. He followed this up in the game with some great feet

BYU’s Blake Freeland had a rough game including getting pushed back by Tennessee’s Byron Young into Malik Cunningham causing a Pick 6. He didn’t show the play strength for bull rushes in the game. He had a rough week and may have hurt himself.

 

Defensive Line

LSU EDGE Ali Gaye had a great sack with nice bend around the edge. He was smooth flowing just around Chattanooga’s McClendon Curtis for a quick sack.

Wisconsin’s Keeanu Benton was dominant in practices, but he got stonewalled often in the game, unable to keep his balance and get penetration. He did show some form tackling ability in the run game though, and came back in the second half. A roughing the passer penalty was called on Benton, but he got good penetration to make a play which is a plus.

Bowling Green’s Karl Brooks showed a great motor running down Max Duggan for a coverage sack.

Kansas EDGE Lonnie Phelps had a nice game with a near sack in the first half, and a forced fumble in the second half. Likely an NFL special teamer, this may help him make a team.

Tennessee’s Byron Young had a great bull rush on Blake Freeland right into Malik Cunningham’s face. Young showed some great strength throughout the game and is a definite riser.

 

Linebackers

Cincinnati’s Ivan Pace had a solid game. He was flying to the ball carrier and making tackles. At one point, O’Cyrus Torrence was heading to the second level and Pace hip checked him to the ground, going right into the RB.

Washington State’s Daiyan Henley recovered a fumble on a heads up play and had been in good position for most of the game. He is closing in on being a top 50 pick.

Jackson State’s Aubrey Miller was flying around the field, firing up his teammates. He looked like a real leader out there!

Florida A&M’s Isaiah Land pass rushed with nice bend and athleticism off the edge. He got a sack in the fourth quarter with his hand usage and pass rush moves. He has some huge upside in the NFL and should slide into early Day 3.

 

Defensive Backs

Miami’s Tyrique Stevenson missed positioning on one Ronnie Bell reception, ending up behind him then overpursuing. Overall for the game though, he locked on coverage pretty well.

Maryland’s Jakorian Bennett showed good tackling ability after the catch and played downhill. He had a good second half tackle of Tyjae Spears. He also had an incredible interception late in the game when he got behind his WR and closed the space for a fingertip pick.

Cal’s Daniel Scott had a great closing interception in the end zone off Tyson Bagent. He flashed good hands and ball skills getting the pick.

Virginia’s Anthony Johnson had a Pick 6 in the game when Malik Cunningham short armed a pass. Johnson did it in a #15 jersey, honoring Devin Chandler, one of his teammates killed this year. Johnson had good coverage throughout the game and made that memorable play.

Illinois’ Sydney Brown laid some hits, including a big one on Eric Gray (though he stayed on his feet). His athleticism and downhill tackling is intriguing.

LSU’s Jay Ward lost coverage on Michael Wilson resulting in a TD. Ward isn’t the best pure coverage player and it showed up a few times during the game.

 

Specialists

Kicker Chad Ryland booted some perfect field goals in the first half, while Georgia’s Jack Podlesny got one as well.

UCF LS Alex Ward looked SHARP in the game. He has the potential to be drafted.

Rutgers Punter Adam Korsak had a GREAT punt that landed inside the 5. Him and Michigan State Punter Bryce Barringer both have draftable upside.

 

Follow Shane on Twitter: @ShanePHallam and see his other work here. Be sure to check out all the Senior Bowl coverage this year!

 

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