It’s almost that time again! Draft Season is rapidly approaching and nothing quite signals the beginning of #Draftszn like the Reese’s Senior Bowl hosted annually in Mobile, Alabama. The highly anticipated showcase for senior/graduate NFL hopefuls has accounted for 181 first round picks since 2000 and a whopping 40% of all draft picks in the 2022 NFL Draft Class. Players, scouts, and media alike will descend upon Mobile for a week of practices, interviews, extra curriculars and the game. A great opportunity for each draft prospect to improve their respective draft stock. There will undoubtedly be a relative unknown that turns heads; but there are a number of prospects I am particularly excited about watching during Senior Bowl Week.
Siaki Ika – Baylor – Nose Tackle – Senior Bowl
The twitched up big man should be a sight to behold during the 2023 Senior Bowl OL/DL 1-on-1s. At, 350 plus Siaki Ika is not only the linchpin to an NFL run defense coming to a city near you, but flashes enough quickness, quality hand usage, and secondary pass rush moves to affect the passer (relatively) consistently.
Conventional wisdom suggests Siaki Ika will be a two-down player at the next level, which could depress his draft value. However, a recent trend of NFL teams re-discovering downhill, gap and power running schemes suggests that Ika’s draft floor is considerably higher than your typical two-gapping run stopper, even in this pass-happy, contemporary era. Especially considering his pass rush grade has been good enough to medal among interior defensive lineman over the past two seasons. Ika has been a mainstay in the first round of Couch Potato General Manager mock drafts to this point.
Rashee Rice – SMU – Wide Receiver
There are four aspects of the Rashee Rice’s game that standout to me on film: (1) Physicality in everything he does, (2) tracking the ball downfield, (3) Flypaper hands and (4) excellent body control. All of which rolled up into a competitive streak that NFL scouts and coaching staffs will love.
The nation’s leader in receiving yards has put it all together in his senior year. Before, during and after the catch few receiver’s in the 2023 NFL Draft Class boast his level of ability. It’ll be interesting to see Rice matched up against the defensive back invitees in Mobile as he should face stiffer competition than that of the American Conference. The 2023 Senior Bowl figures to be the perfect opportunity for Rice to demonstrate his palpable intensity as he aims to solidify his first round draft stock.
Find out where Rashee Rice ranks among wide receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft Class according to Couch Potato General Manager.
Tyree Wilson – Texas Tech – EDGE – Senior Bowl
Few prospects have seen their draft stock rise as much as Tyree Wilson’s throughout the 2022 NCAAF season. Yet, Wilson still remains relatively unknown by the masses. I expect this to change rapidly once #Draftszn is underway. And by the time we get to Mobile he’ll no longer be a poorly kept secret. NFL organizations will play coy regarding their feelings on Wilson but make no mistake, Wilson possesses the physical traits NFL personnel salivate over.
Given his unique blend of size and length I anticipate NFL coaching will put Tyree Wilson through the paces during Senior Bowl Week. Expect him to line up in a Wide-9, as a standup outside linebacker in an odd man front, and get some run as a 5-tech. Assuming Wilson acquits himself well during Senior Bowl week, he has a distinct chance to be the first 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl participant off the board during next year’s NFL Draft. The requisite coaching and dedication to his craft notwithstanding, sky is the limit for the Red Raider defender.
We discussed Tyree Wilson’s draft prospects earlier this season on our YouTube Channel.
Dalton Kincaid – Utah – Tight End
The active career leader among tight ends in Division I Football with nearly 2500 receiving yards and 35 TDs (https://utahutes.com/sports/football) Dalton Kincaid is a nightmare of a matchup for 2nd and 3rd level defenders. In what some may think is a blasphemous statement, his movement ability within his route invokes thoughts of Travis Kelce. I’m not suggesting that he is as savvy as the current version of Kelce nor do I think he’s as physically imposing a player Kelce was during the earlier parts of his career. But I can’t help but see flashes of the future Hall of Fame tight end in Kincaid’s game within his routes and after the catch.
Year after year I’ve witnessed I slew of tight end prospects that attend the Senior Bowl snatched up during the NFL Draft and I expect Dalton Kincaid to lead the charge in 2023. The utility the position offers is indispensable, even if it isn’t directly reflected in a box score. Kincaid who is no stranger to lighting up the box score made his transition from the FCS to the Pac-12 look effortless. It will be a taller order making the leap to the NFL. This transition is notoriously difficult for young tight ends as they are effectively learning two positions (extension of the offensive line). However, I believe the standout tight end is up to the challenge. With a good showing as an in-line blocker during the 2023 Senior Bowl we could hear his name called early on Day 2 of the draft.
Devon Witherspoon – Illinois – Cornerback – Senior Bowl
Scheme and alignment versatile with physicality to spare. The Thorpe Award Finalist (Top Defensive Back in the nation) has had a remarkable 2022 campaign and will look to punctuate his stellar play down in Mobile during the 2023 Senior Bowl.
Despite excelling in man coverage, only allowing 22 receptions for 206 yards, and allowing less than a 34% completion percentage when targeted (per PFF) Devon Witherspoon may not check all of the coveted “traits’ boxes. However, I’m certain he’ll convince non-believers with a strong showing in Mobile during WR/DB 1-on-1s, showcasing his ball-skills and highly competitive nature.
Every one of the 2023 Senior Bowl invitees (accepted) are must see but here are a few more players I’ll be watching closely: OT Blake Freeland BYU, OT Jaelyn Duncan Maryland, OL Alex Forsyth Oregon, DB Kyu Blu Kelly Stanford, DB Kaevon Merriweather Iowa, WR Puka Nacua BYU, RB Chase Brown Illinois, RB Chris Rodriguez Kentucky, LB Aubrey Miller Jr. Jackson State.