2023 Senior Bowl Preview and Players to Watch

Here’s a look at what to expect and who to keep an eye on at the annual pre-NFL draft scouting showcase that will take on Saturday in Mobile, Alabama.

The college football season may be over, but there’s one last chance to see some of the nation’s biggest stars as they face off in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. More importantly, this competition officially kicks NFL draft season into high gear.

Related: 2023 NFL Mock Draft First-Round Predictions (Updated)

While expected top picks like Alabama’s Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr. and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud aren’t eligible, there are quite a few four- and five-year players who are worth keeping an eye on.

In fact, among the 128 players invited, eight grade out by Athlon Sports as potential first-rounders, with another 15 in the second-to-third-round range.

Instead of the traditional setup of having two NFL teams’ coaching staffs lead the teams, the Senior Bowl is using a new format that allows coordinators and assistant coaches to “coach up” in elevated roles. In all, 16 teams will be represented on the coaching staff, and all 32 teams will be sending scouts.

Leading the two squads will be Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy (American Team) and Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham (National Team). (Yes, we realize the confusion with an NFC coordinator leading the American team and an AFC coordinator leading the National Team.)

Several notable seniors will not be participating, including Heisman Trophy finalist Stetson Bennett β€” this was announced before his arrest for public intoxication β€” and Alabama safety Brian Battle, who is recovering from injury.

But among the familiar faces who are competing, expect several to break into the middle rounds of the draft β€” if not higher. Let’s take a look at the top storylines and players to watch in Mobile.

2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl

When: Saturday, Feb. 4 at 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: Hancock Whitney Stadium (Mobile, Ala.)
TV: NFL Network
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Tickets: As low as $46 on*

Things/Players to Watch

Will any quarterbacks emerge as mid-round picks?

Unfortunately, the best quarterback invited to the Senior Bowl won’t be able to play, as Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker is still recovering from a torn ACL. Still, he will have a chance to meet with teams and buoy his stock in interviews.

On the field, the most promising prospect is Houston’s Clayton Tune, who is an efficient pocket passer with a chance to be a low-end starter. Fellow Group of 5 QB Jake Haener is an aggressive decision-maker but lacks elite arm strength. Meanwhile, Division II prospect Tyson Bagent will have a massive stage to display his talent as he matches up with better talent than he faced in his entire college career.

Further down teams’ draft boards are a handful of dual-threat quarterbacks who have a chance to rise. BYU’s Jaren Hall and Louisville’s Malik Cunningham will have to overcome their (relative) advanced age but they have flashed great playmaking potential. And then finally, Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan has been dinged for his height but thrives out of structure and could shine Saturday.

Which other offensive players are worth watching?

The pass catchers and offensive line are expected to shine at the Senior Bowl, not that there aren’t intriguing running back prospects. Texas’ Roschon Johnson, Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh, and Tulane’s Tyjae Spears all project as mid-round picks. Johnson is the most well-rounded, while McIntosh thrives as a pass catcher and Spears is the speediest of the group.

The top three pass catchers all play for the American Team, led by Oregon State tight end Luke Musgrave. Musgrave is questionable to play in the game as he recovers from MCL surgery but plans to “let it rip” during practices. Also keep an eye on wideouts including SMU’s Rashee Rice, who has the best hands in the draft class, and Mississippi’s Jonathan Mingo, who has big-play potential with an impressive size-speed combination.

The offensive line may not be exciting for many to watch, but this group is absolutely loaded. Florida guard O’Cyrus Torrence and Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz are the top prospects at their respective positions, while tackle is deep, led by Ohio State’s Dawand Jones, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch, Syracuse’s Matthew Bergeron, and Maryland’s Jaelyn Duncan.

Will any defensive players stick out?

This defensive group is highlighted by pass rushers and defensive backs, although a handful of players are still worth watching in the middle. Wisconsin’s Keeanu Benton has the makings of a powerful nose tackle, while South Carolina’s Zacch Pickens has plenty of untapped potential as an interior penetrator. Texas’ DeMarvion Overshown is the top name to watch at inside linebacker, though his smaller frame makes him more likely to be a middle-round pick.

Plenty of edge rushers stick out, headlined by Georgia Tech’s Keion White, TCU’s Dylan Horton, and Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV. All three underwent position changes in college football and each has outstanding length and athleticism to thrive in the NFL. Defensive end Isaiah McGuire (Missouri) and outside linebackers Andre Carter II (Army), Derick Hall (Auburn), and Isaiah Foskey (Notre Dame) are each likely Day 2 picks who have the length and speed to move higher on draft boards if they shine Saturday.

In the secondary, Miami’s Tyrique Stevenson and Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly are the top cornerbacks to watch. Tall and speedy, both profile as press corners, where Stevenson gets the slight edge thanks to better physicality. Ohio State’s Ronnie Hickman and Georgia’s Christopher Smith II are versatile safeties likely to thrive deep, with the former better in run support and the latter better in coverage. Boise State’s JL Skinner is the best athlete in the safety group, although his exact role in the pros is to be determined.

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Publish Date:2023-02-03 02:00:00

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