Senior Bowl preview

January 29, 2023

While most of the NFL is focused on today’s conference final playoff games, GBN associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette is packing his bags and preparing to head over to Mobile for next week’s Senior Bowl. And Paul, who has become something of a Senior Bowl institution in his own right, will be joined by 130 or so top prospects for the 2023 draft, as well as just about anybody who’s anybody in the NFL scouting and personnel communities. For the record, full practices begin on Tuesday with sessions at 12:30 PM ET and 3 PM ET; there will also be full practices at the same times on Wednesday and Thursday with the actual game scheduled for next Saturday at 2:30 PM ET with coverage on the NFL Network.

The Senior Bowl has lost some of its importance in the pre-draft process because the majority of players selected in the opening round of the draft are now largely underclassmen most of whom are not eligible to play in Mobile. Still, upwards of 90% of the players in Mobile this week are likely to be drafted, compared with around 30% of those at the Shrine game and just 10% of those at yesterday’s NFLPA star game if historical trends are any judge.

There is also a big question each year at the Senior Bowl as to who actually shows as a number of players who have committed to the event always drop out, either because of an injury or on the advice of their agent. Already, for example, it appears that both Texas Tech DE Tyree Wilson, a top 5-10 prospect, and rising Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon, who had been two of the top-rated prospects to originally have accepted invites to the game, are no longer on the Senior Bowl’s rosters.

At the same time, though, there are several legitimate opening round candidates still expected to show including Florida OG O’Cyrus Torrence and DEs Isaiah Foskey of Notre Dame and Andre Carter of Army. And while it is not a perfect guide, at least 10 players currently ranked 30-60 on the GBN Big Board, as well as more than a dozen of the next 30, are still committed to be in Mobile this coming week.

Certainly teams looking to upgrade their offensive lines are looking forward to the Senior Bowl as most of the top second-tier big uglies will be in Mobile including OTs Dawand Jones of Ohio State, Maryland’s Jaelyn Duncan, Matt Bergeron of Syracuse, Michigan’s Ryan Hayes, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright and rangy Blake Freeland of BYU, along with Mississippi OG Nick Broeker and Cs Olu Oluwatimi of Michigan and TCU’s Steve Avila.

Meanwhile, other players that we are intrigued to see how they fare in Mobile include WRs Rashee Rice of SMU, Trey Palmer of Nebraska, and Houston’s Nathaniel Dell, along with LBs Daiyan Henley of Washington State and Tulane’s Dorian Williams, and DEs Dylan Howard of TCU, Derick Hall of Auburn and Isaiah Maguire of Missouri. The Senior Bowl is also a chance for some lesser known prospects like Central Michigan DE Thomas Incoom, Bowling Green DT Karl Brooks, North Dakota State OT Cody Mauch and North Carolina G/T Asim Richards to prove they really belong by competing against quality opponents. Same for the Senior Bowl’s small-school contingent that includes Shepherd QB Tyson Bagent and Florida A&M LB Isaiah Land.

Shepherd’s Bagent is part of a pretty good QB room that also includes Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan of TCU, Jaren Hall of BYU, Fresno State’s Jake Haener, Clayton Tune of Houston, and Louisville’s Malik Cunningham, although none of this group is anywhere near close to a first-round prospect along the lines of Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield, and Kenny Pickett who participated in recent games. For the record, here are the current rosters for the American and National teams at the Senior Bowl.