Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will be the head coach of the American Team in the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
The all-star game, which takes place on Feb. 4 after a full week of practices, features some of the best eligible collegiate talent in the nation and brings them all together to compete and get in front of NFL staff. Getsy was selected as the head coach for one of the rosters, giving him a firsthand look at what the 2023 NFL Draft class has to offer.
As the roster gets divided up into two teams and those teams get released to the public, I wanted to give you all a look at which players Getsy will be coaching this year. Considering the Bears have the No. 1 overall pick and will have the highest selection in 5 of the 7 rounds, it would be smart of them to take advantage of the opportunity they have.
Having already covered the offensive players, I decided to look at the defensive prospects Getsy will be the head coach of, as well. He won’t be working as closely with these players should the Bears draft any of them, but having a firsthand look at them could give him an inclination to prioritize anyone who stands out in his eyes.
Here are the players at each defensive position on Getsy’s American Team, as well as what to expect from each of them.
Defensive line (11)
- DJ Dale, Alabama (DT)
- Ali Gaye, LSU (EDGE)
- Derick Hall, Auburn (EDGE)
- Dylan Horton, TCU (EDGE)
- Isaiah McGuire, Missouri (EDGE)
- Zacch Pickens, South Carolina (DT)
- Jalen Redmond, Oklahoma (DT)
- Tavius Robinson, Ole Miss (EDGE)
- Byron Young, Alabama (DT)
- Byron Young, Tennessee (EDGE)
- Cameron Young II, Mississippi State (DT)
The breakdown of defensive linemen and linebackers for the Senior Bowl is a bit quirky in that some of the “defensive linemen” are edge rushers, while some of the “linebackers” are also edge rushers. Plus, why they thought it would be a good idea to have two guys named Byron Young is beyond me. Nonetheless, the Bears have a solid group of Day 2-3 defensive linemen to look forward to on the American Team.
My top interior defender at the Senior Bowl is Byron Young (the Alabama one), who’s a stout 3-tech who wins with quickness, low pads and heavy hands. His teammate Dale is another portly defender who doesn’t have the same quickness but is more reliable in terms of gap-eating and defending the run. Pickens is the most toolsy of the bunch, as he’s raw from a technical perspective but has great raw power and a quick get-off. Although Cameron Young isn’t as highly-touted of a prospect, he’s an explosive interior defender who could make some noise as a late-round sleeper with a strong week.
I’m a big fan of this group of edge rushers, because there’s truly a little bit of everything in the group. Gaye’s a strong, lengthy and high-motored prospect who feels like he could be a solid starter in the league if he works on his weight distribution a bit. Hall is athletic and slippery with good raw power, and he seems like the best bet to be the highest-drafted EDGE of this bunch. Horton’s a bit raw, but he’s a versatile inside-outside threat with great closing speed and a strong frame. McGuire was quietly one of the best pass-rushers in the SEC over the last few years, winning with a deep arsenal of moves and nice quickness off the snap. The other Byron Young is a twitchy EDGE who’s smaller but has great play speed, while Robinson is raw and a bit stiff but shredded with great length and good first-step acceleration.
- SirVocea Dennis, Pittsburgh (OBLB)
- Isaiah Land, Florida A&M (EDGE)
- Eku Leota, Auburn (EDGE)
- Will McDonald IV, Iowa State (EDGE)
- Aubrey Miller Jr., Jackson State (OBLB)
- Dee Winters, TCU (OBLB)
- Henry To’o To’o, Alabama (OBLB)
- Dorian Williams, Tulane (OBLB)
I’d project the edge rushers in this group to be stand-up, 3-4 edge rushers, and that’s why I’m guessing they’re paired with the linebackers here. That said, the Bears may want to give this group a look regardless of scheme, especially some of the off-ball backers.
Land is one of the top HBCU prospects in the nation, and he led the FCS with 19 sacks in 2021. He’s undersized but explosive and can turn the corner with ease. Leota’s another speed rusher with some finesse rushing the passer who could see time early as a special teamer and a passing-down sub. McDonald has had an impressive collegiate career, finishing as the Big 12’s career leader with 34 sacks. He, too, fits under the “small, but twitchy” mold of the others, but his array of pass-rushing techniques and production makes him my highest-graded EDGE in this group.
My top off-ball linebacker of the bunch is To’o To’o, who’s been tearing it up in the SEC over the years during his time at both Tennessee and Alabama with speed, fluidity and high effort. He’s a bit undersized but is more than worth consideration on Day 2. Williams fits a similar mold and may honestly be better value whenever he gets drafted, either late on Day 2 or early on Day 3. He doesn’t have To’o To’o’s resume, but he’s a bit better at shedding blocks. You’d be surprised to learn that Dennis, too, is a smaller but athletic and high-motored linebacker! Miller doesn’t fit that same prototype, as he’s arguably the worst athlete of this group of off-ball defenders but has the best play strength and still plays like a madman in pursuit.
- Julius Brents, Kansas State
- Chamarri Conner, Virginia Tech
- Anthony Johnson, Virginia
- Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama
- Darius Rush, South Carolina
- Tyrique Stevenson, Miami (FL)
- Rejzohn Wright, Oregon State
I can describe this cornerback group with one word: long.
The tallest of the bunch is likely Brents, who was billed at 6-foot-4 but brings sneaky good fluidity to the table. I have Conner as a safety for his physicality in run support, instincts and subpar sharpness in movement, but it appears he’ll be practicing at corner in Mobile. Johnson also struggles with the same upright movements but has great ball skills and good route-recognition ability. Luter isn’t as tall as many of his American Team peers but is still a respect 6 feet tall and is arguably the best athlete of the bunch.
Cam Smith got most of the attention at South Carolina, but that provided Rush plenty of chances to put his physicality and ball skills along the boundary on display, and the converted wide receiver did exactly that. Stevenson’s another lengthy corner who plays with an edge and can come down in run support, and Wright is a lanky, long-strider with a large catch radius and good ball-tracking ability.
- Demarcco Hellams, Alabama
- Jammie Robinson, Florida State
- Christopher Smith II, Georgia
- Jay Ward, LSU
The Bears seem set in their starting safeties for 2023, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t pay attention to the talented safeties in this unit.
Smith was an unanimous All-American who’s a bit smaller but would otherwise be a top-40 lock: he’s smart, fluid, explosive and attacks the ball very well. Hellams might be the third Alabama safety drafted in this class behind Brian Branch and Jordan Battle, but his IQ on the back end and precision in movement should see him stick around the league as a subpackage defender for some time. Robinson plays his ass off and takes advantage of his natural play strength with an aggressive mentality. Ward has a lanky frame and appears a bit high-hipped, but he’s a reliable run support safety with the body type that NFL teams would enjoy working with.