Senior Bowl practice wrap

February 3, 2023

Senior Bowl practice wrap … Its an off day at the Senior Bowl in Mobile as the players get a day to rest up for tomorrow’s game which kicks off at 2:30 PM ET on the NFL Network. In fact, as we have noted in the past, the main work at the Senior Bowl are the practices. Indeed, most NFL personnel people made a bee line out of Mobile yesterday afternoon at the end of the late afternoon session. And again, one doesn’t want to read a whole lot into what happens during all-star game practices. Its only three days and there was no tackling in Mobile this week. Still impressions are formed and after going over what tape we could get our hands and talking to sources its clear that some players did stand out from the crowd in Mobile this week.

And based what we saw and are hearing the three players who may have done the most for the draft status, in no particular order, were Tulane RB Tyjae Spears, Stanford WR Michael Wilson and Iowa State ER Will McDonald. Again, there was no tackling in Mobile this week, but Spears, who had caught people’s attention when he ran for over 200 yards in the Green Wave’s bowl win over USC, was fast and explosive; indeed, the word we kept hearing was sudden! Meanwhile, Wilson, a big-body receiver who maybe got lost a bit this fall playing on a bad Stanford team, was open all week and caught just about everything coming his way. For his part, the Cyclones’ McDonald comes in a little undersized (6-3, 241) but was consistently unblockable coming off the edge as he showed at least a few Micah Parsons’ type explosion and flexibility.

Along with Stanford’s Wilson, the WR crew may have been the most consistently impressive grouping at this week’s Senior Bowl practices. Other receivers who impressed this week included Jayden Reed on Michigan and Nathaniel Dell of Houston, while SMU’s Rashee Rice, Pacu Nacua of BYU, and Trey Palmer of Nebraska all had their moments. At the same time, TEs Luke Musgrave of Oregon State and especially Purdue’s Payne Durham opened some eyes with their all-around skill set.

At the same time, though, several defensive backs had pretty good weeks led by Iowa CB Riley Moss, along with Darius Bush of South Carolina, Julius Brents of Kansas State, Daniel Scott of Cal and Illinois’ Sydney Brown. Meanwhile, along with ISU’s McDonald, other DEs who had good weeks including Keion White of Georgia Tech and Ade Adebawore of Northwestern, while Keeanu Benton of Wisconsin and Alabama’s DJ Dale led the way among the interior defensive lineman. Washington State’s Daiyan Henley stood out at LB, while underrated Aubrey Miller of FCS Jackson State also had a good week of practice.

On the other hand, it wasn’t a great week for the QBs; however, if any of the passers did mange to get a little separation from the pack it appears that it may have been Jake Haener of Fresno State who isn’t all that tall at barely 6-0, but he showed nice touch, a quick release and the ability to move around the pocket.

Last, but not least, a quick note on the offensive line. Ohio State’s Dawand Jones created an early Senior Bowl when he measured in at a massive 6-8, 375 with 36.5 inch arms and a record 89.5-inch wingspan. Jones also had a solid first day of practice, but ended up sitting out the final two days – almost assuredly won’t suit up tomorrow – as a precautionary measure after he exhibited concussion like symptoms. Meanwhile, the top OL in Mobile this week was Florida OG O’Cyrus Torrence, who measured in a full-sized 6-5, 345 and then showed excellent technique including nice footwork and balance, along with good arm extension and hand placement that you really didn’t see from any other OL at the Senior Bowl. Of course, that wasn’t a huge surprise as Torrence came into Mobile as the top-rated OL; what was surprising though was the gap between him and the rest of the big uglies.

And for another perspective from a different vantage point, GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has his own thoughts on what transpired in Mobile this week here.