After three days of travel hell, I finally made it to the Senior Bowl on Thursday.
Luckily, Robert Schmitz and Quinten Krzysko have been doing a fantastic job holding down the fort in Mobile for the WCG brand over the last few days. I followed their coverage heavily while I was trapped in Dallas, and having followed them and several other analysts’ coverage, I was excited to see for myself what some of the top prospects in this year’s draft.
You know the drill: here are some of my winners and losers from Day 3 of the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford
By all accounts, Wilson was quite productive in his first two days of the Senior Bowl. When I saw him on Thursday, I understood the hype.
For a taller receiver, Wilson showcases very good deep speed on tape, and he did a good job of creating vertical separation at practice. However, I came away impressed with his speed releases and his dynamic footwork off the snap in positional drills. I didn’t see much in the way of diversity as a route runner from him at Stanford, but perhaps he’s capable of taking on more than the route tree he ran in college. If so, he could be a very good value selection this year.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern
Adebawore played as an edge rusher at Northwestern, but he really stood out to me for his work kicking inside.
The Wildcats didn’t use him a ton along the interior, but a player with his power and long arms figures to be a solid projection as a 3-technique defensive tackle. Adebawore certainly looked comfortable there, as he used his edge rusher short-area burst and the raw power in his lower half to push the hypothetical pocket and beat guys one-on-one. This is a perfect setting for a guy like him, as he won’t wow anyone with his long speed or flexibility, but he thrives with pure explosiveness and power in a vacuum.
Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati
From an analytics perspective, Pace was one of the most efficient pass-rushers in all of college football this year, and he looked the part on Thursday.
Even for an off-ball linebacker who’s sub-6 foot with short arms, Pace showcased a diverse arsenal of pass-rushing techniques, especially going up against running back in pass protection drills. His ability to win with several moves — swims, spins, and shucks among them — stood out regardless of who he faced. His measurements disappointed me even considering what I saw from him on tape, but his performance in practice was encouraging.
Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
Simply put, McDonald is TWITCHY.
The flexibility stands out like crazy with McDonald, who had the best bend when turning the corner of any edge rushers in Mobile on Thursday. It’s obvious the value he brings as a pass-rusher just by watching his quickness and loose lower half. If you tried beating him with speed in one-on-ones or in 7-on-7s, you were toast. I have some concerns with his run support on tape, but as an instant upgrade as a pass-rusher McDonald fits the bill.
Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
It’s pretty difficult for defensive backs to thrive in one-on-one drills given the nature of the exercise, but Rush was someone who consistently held his own.
He did a very good job of determining the movements of the opposition and working inside the hip pocket of the receivers in coverage. He was physical through a receiver’s stems, which was a strength of his on tape, but his fluidity looked a lot better than I was expecting out of him heading into Senior Bowl week. A tough cover corner who uses his length well in man, Rush is a guy I could see boosting his stock in the eyes of NFL teams.
Jake Andrews, C, Troy
I’ll be on record as saying I’m a big fan of the 2023 center class. Even with the likes of Sedrick Van Pran and Andrew Raym returning to school, I see as many as 9 centers who could potentially be at least spot starters, if not more.
That meant it was important for Andrews, a guy I had a fringe draftable grade on heading into Thursday, to show out. He didn’t do much to move the needle for me, as he had his fair share of struggles in one-on-ones and didn’t appear to stand out from a physical perspective against the competition. He has versatility as a guard prospect, which should help out his stock a bit, but I wasn’t too impressed with what I saw from him on Day 3.
Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn
Hall wasn’t necessarily bad on Thursday, but he didn’t stand out as much as I had hoped to see from him heading into the day.
Typically projected as an early Day 2 prospect, Hall didn’t necessarily live up to the hype on Day 3 of practices. He had some flashes, but he looked like just another guy in one-on-ones and didn’t display the quickness off the snap and backfield disruption that he showcased on tape. With how deep this year’s edge rusher group is, Hall needed to put together a strong outing at the Senior Bowl. On Thursday, at least, he didn’t really do that.
There has been a first-round quarterback attending the Senior Bowl every year since 2018. That streak will presumably end in 2023.
The general consensus is that this year’s group of quarterbacks consists heavily of mid-to-late-round prospects, and none of them really separated themselves in a big way on Thursday. Tyson Bagent of Shepherd was arguably the most intriguing of the bunch, but there was inconsistency across the board from the group. The likes of Max Duggan, Malik Cunningham, Jaren Hall, Jake Haener and Clayton Tune had their fair share of struggles over the course of the day.
Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
Not only did the concerns I had about Freeland show up at practice on Thursday, but some of his strengths didn’t show up as well as I had been hoping.
Pad level and weight distribution was an issue for Freeland on Day 3, and given his 6-foot-8 frame, it’s naturally tougher for him to generate bend in his lower half. His tape at BYU showcased that flaw. However, I was disappointed with his footwork struggles in drills. He struggled against inside moves in one-on-ones, and his pass sets looked fairly clunky. I was impressed with his raw quickness for a bigger offensive tackle on tape, but I didn’t really see much of that on the field.