2023 Senior Bowl preview: Top prospects, biggest sleepers at every position
One of the biggest stops on the all-star circuit for top NFL draft hopefuls, the Senior Bowl officially gets underway this week in Mobile, Alabama.
A week of practice with NFL coaching staffs will give some of this year’s top talent a chance to prove themselves against one another, culminating in Saturday’s all-star game.
As we get ready for another week of Senior Bowl action, here’s a look at the top prospects to watch at each position, as well as the sleepers who are still flying under the radar:
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Top Prospect: Jaren Hall, BYU
Hendon Hooker would be under this category, but he will only interview with teams as he is recovering from an ACL injury. Following Zach Wilson’s departure to the NFL, Hall took the reigns and made the most of his time as the Cougar’s starter for two seasons. Hall completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 6,174 yards with 52 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions while adding six rushing touchdowns. While the 24-year-old will have to answer some questions regarding his age and the developmental timeline, Hall’s arm talent, size, athleticism, and playmaking skills are intriguing traits that will be on display.
Biggest Sleeper: Tyson Bagent, Shepherd
Bagent, a former Harlon Hill winner as the best FBS Division II player in the nation, threw an NCAA-record 159 touchdowns during his collegiate career. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Bagent has the NFL body and traits with a live arm and accuracy to make eye-popping throws at all levels of the field and above-average athleticism to make things happen with his legs. Bagent did light it up against inferior competition, which is why it’s crucial to show that he can dominate against some of the nation’s best. If he does, he should rise up team’s draft boards.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Top Prospect: Kenny McIntosh, Georgia
McIntosh was among the most important players to guide the Bulldogs to their second consecutive national title. The do-it-all back was one of only three SEC players since 2000 to have more than 500 yards rushing and receiving and score ten touchdowns, joining the company of Dexter McCluster and Percy Harvin. While he will make his money catching the ball out of the backfield, McIntosh’s vision and ability to make defenders miss on the ground should not be overlooked.
Biggest Sleeper: Roschon Johnson, Texas
Bijan Robinson gets most of the publicity and attention, deservingly so. He took home the Doak Walker Award as the best running back in the nation and is pegged as a first-rounder. However, with Johnson as Robinson’s sidekick, they formed one of the best backfield tandems in the country. Johnson totaled 2,610 yards from scrimmage and 26 touchdowns in his four seasons at Texas after he switched from quarterback to running back before his freshman year. Johnson is a good-sized back with the power, contact balance, vision, instincts and passing game upside.
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Top Prospect: Rashee Rice, SMU
Rice had an incredibly productive final season for the Mustangs, catching 96 passes for 1,355 yards and ten touchdowns. He led all FBS schools with an average of 112.9 receiving yards per game. At 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds, Rice has impressive size and physicality with speed, attention to detail as a route runner, and hands, tracking, leaping ability and concentration to make highlight-reel-type catches. With a strong showing in Mobile, Rice should cement himself as an early Day 2 pick.
Biggest Sleeper: Andrei Iosivas, Princeton
Iosivas, the 6-foot-3 and 205-pound wideout, is a track star from Hawaii. He timed 6.71 seconds in the 60-meter at the 2022 NCAA Indoor Championships. So how does that translate to the football field? A 4.22 40-yard dash time. That speed shows on the field, as Iosivas immediately gets to top speed vertically and can outpace defenders in the open. He is a solid route runner, quickly getting in and out of breaks. Iosivas does a great job tracking deep passes and is elite above the rim in contested situations. He ended his Princeton career ranked sixth all-time in receiving yards (1,909), 12th in receptions (125), and third in touchdown catches (16).
AP Photo/Amanda Loman
Top Prospect: Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
Musgrave played only two games this season, with a knee injury costing him the rest of his senior year. But he was targeted 15 times and had 11 receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown during that span. For his career, Musgrave caught 44 of his 76 targets at 13.4 yards per catch with two touchdowns. Musgrave is a prolific pass catcher with long strides down the field, showing the ability to separate deep, displays soft hands, and has a massive catch radius to work with. Additionally, Musgrave is a physical in-line blocker. The biggest thing is showing he can stay healthy. With a strong week, Musgrave could shoot up boards and stamp himself as one of the top tight ends taken.
Biggest Sleeper: Payne Durham, Purdue
This past season, Durham finished second on the Boilermakers with 56 catches for 560 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers were all career-high marks for Durham. In addition, he posted at least three touchdowns in all four seasons played. Arguably the best blocking tight end in Mobile, Durham is a force that consistently kicks out defenders in the running game. In the passing game, he is a solid hands catcher with a significant radius and has a knack for finding soft spots in coverage.
Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports
Top Prospect: Darnell Wright, Tennessee
At 6-foot-6 and 335 pounds, Wright flashed in his matchup against Alabama’s Will Anderson. Wright has the size, athleticism, pedigree, and leadership qualities necessary to become a solid tackle in the NFL. Wright will probably be a top-50 pick, but with a big week, it’s not out of the question that he could sneak into Round 1.
Biggest Sleeper: Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
Duncan might not be a first-rounder, but there is plenty to like about him to suggest he could be a viable player at the next level. At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, Duncan is an athletic specimen with fast and fluid feet and the power to impose his will on blockers, especially out in space.
Interior Defensive Line
Top Prospect: Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
At 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, Benton is the run defender that every NFL team would benefit from having on the field. He is a great anchor in the middle of the defensive line with great size and strength to stack and shed blockers and absorb double teams to keep his linebackers clean. One-on-ones will be a crucial part of his evaluation process, but if he uses his violent hands and burst consistently, Benton’s stock should rise.
Biggest Sleeper: Keion White, Georgia Tech
White finished the 2022 season with 7.5 sacks and 54 tackles and was one of the most impactful players on the Georgia Tech defense. At 6-foot-4 and 286 pounds, White possesses the explosiveness, power, lateral agility and position versatility to play inside or outside. White should raise eyebrows in one-on-ones, but look for him to flash in team drills when playing the run, as he finished two seasons with at least 14 tackles for loss.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Top Prospect: Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
Foskey was getting top-10 buzz entering this season, but he regressed a little bit. His traits are off the charts, as Foskey has the explosiveness and power to bully blockers to the backfield. But his handwork can be inconsistent at times. When he has that going, Foskey can win against anyone he goes up against. That is why he must be at his best in one-on-ones. If he is, Foskey could make his case as a top-20 selection.
Biggest Sleeper: Nick Hampton, Appalachian State
Hampton oozes elite athleticism. He’s a speed rusher with a quick first step who also boasts power at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds with 34-inch arms. Further, Hampton has a nice pass-rush toolbox, with active hands and the bend to get past blockers, and the burst to close on players. Over 46 career games, Hampton racked up 175 tackles, 40 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks, 11 passes defended, seven forced fumbles, 134 quarterback pressures, and 101 run stops.
Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK
Top Prospect: Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati
Henry To’oTo’o would have been under this category but opted out of the all-star game due to an injury. Tabbed as ACC Defensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-American status, Pace finished the season with a conference-high 137 tackles and posted ten sacks. He also racked up 21.5 tackles for loss and 53 quarterback pressures. While undersized at 6 feet, Pace’s play overshadows his measurements, as he is a mainstay in the backfield with a high energy level, crazy closing speed and physicality.
Biggest Sleeper: Daiyan Henley, Washington State
Henley finished his first and only season at Washington State with 106 tackles – second in the Pac-12 – adding 12 tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception. The Nevada transfer was the only Cougar named to the All-Pac-12 first team. With experience at quarterback, wide receiver, edge defender, safety and kick returner, Henley’s athleticism is polarizing. He has the speed and range to make plays sideline-to-sideline and downhill. As a former defensive back, Henley also has coverage skills under his belt.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Top Prospect: Tyrique Stevenson, Miami (FL)
Stevenson committed to Georgia but transferred back home to Miami in 2021. He recorded 11 passes defended and three interceptions during his two years in Coral Gables. Stevenson also was named a 2021 All-ACC Honorable Mention. Arguably one of the most explosive athletes in this cornerback class, Stevenson has the athleticism and speed to play man or zone coverage, and he’s very physical at the catch point.
Biggest Sleeper: Julius Brents, Kansas State
Brents, an Iowa transfer, finished his career with 94 tackles, five interceptions and 11 passes defended. He boasts an imposing frame at 6-foot-4 and 202 pounds with a long wingspan. Brents possesses rare physical tools and high-end movement skills for his size. An early Day 3 projected player, Brents could increase his draft stock with a strong showing against some of the nation’s top receivers.
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images
Top Prospect: Jammie Robinson, Florida State
With position versatility on defense at a premium, Robinson lined up in the box and the slot, where he was tasked to man up tight ends and receivers in the slot, showing the movement skills to lock down his matchup and the aggression and tackling ability to make an impact against the run and blitzer off the edge. Robinson had 86 tackles, and five quarterback hurries, adding 4.0 tackles for loss, four pass breakups and an interception. Robinson was the first defensive back to win back-to-back first-team All-ACC honors since Jalen Ramsey.
Biggest Sleeper: Jay Ward, LSU
Ward, a former cornerback, was the leader of an LSU defense over the last three years. Ward has the fluidity and speed to stick with speedy receivers and the length to completely blanket bigger receivers. He is a physical player to close in on the run and disrupt screens. Further, he has the range to man the deep parts of the field. finished his career with the Tigers with 164 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and six interceptions.