The second practice of the 2023 Senior Bowl is officially in the books. Wednesday’s practice was significantly cloudier and cooler, which was appreciated after the media baked in the sun on Tuesday. As expected, the quarterback play for both teams improved thanks to some better rapport between the passers and their receivers. That gave us a better look at the receivers, but also at the defensive backs—who had ample opportunities to play the ball.
Read on for my biggest takeaways from the second day of practices in Mobile. You can also check my Twitter timeline for the rest of my recorded practice clips.
After spending much of Tuesday focused on the offensive and defensive lines for the National team, I transitioned to watching more of the skill position prospects on Wednesday. This group was less heralded than the American team’s, as it lacks the “star power” at receiver. However, these receivers—led by Michigan State’s Jayden Reed—really fought back against the defensive backs today.
- This group stole the show, in large part thanks to the performance of Stanford CB Kyu Blu Kelly. Kelly was making plays everywhere, dominating most of his 1-on-1s, and helping create turnovers in team sessions. He’s my biggest overall winner from Day 2 and really helped his stock.
- Another standout at corner, Iowa’s Riley Moss made some noise after clocking the fastest speed of all the DBs on Tuesday. He tracked down Wednesday addition Malik Cunningham on a designed run and generally played consistently tight coverage.
- The safety group on the National team has been relatively quiet, with the exception of Cal’s Daniel Scott. Scott had a pick on Day 1 and followed that up with another good one on Day 2, along with some impressive reps in man coverage.
- The biggest winner today was clearly Michigan State’s Jayden Reed, who had a number of impressive plays. He’s got a very versatile skillset and showed off his deep ball ability with this TD catch.
- After a slow start, Michigan WR Ronnie Bell put together a much better Day 2. He had one of the only successful reps against CB Kyu Blu Kelly of the day.
- The biggest star from Day 1, BYU WR Puca Nacua, was on the sideline in casual clothing. There’s been no official announcement on his status for the rest of the week, but that was a bummer.
- Most notably, Ohio State OT Dawand Jones—who dominated Tuesday’s practice—was not present on Wednesday. It’s being reported that Jones was held out of practice due to potential concussion-like symptoms.
- In his place, BYU OT Blake Freeland had to take a lot more reps. After really struggling on Tuesday, Freeland bounced back today. He looked much more in-control and was timing his punches better.
- North Carolina OL Asim Richards was another standout today. I haven’t watched much of him, but he played quite a bit on the inside during Wednesday’s practice. He’s definitely a name to watch, as he performed well against a talented DL group.
- Another plus player on the interior was UT-Chattanooga’s McClendon Curtis. Curtis was difficult to move off the line and had a very good day overall.
- Clemson EDGE KJ Henry was impressive once again, using his power and explosiveness to wreak havoc. He notched a “sack” in practice and was consistently disruptive.
- Northwestern DL Adetomiwa Adebawore is a very unique prospect and had a good day playing primarily on the interior. He’s sort of a tweener in terms of size at 6’1.5, 284, and played a lot on the outside in college.
- Georgia Tech DL Keion White had another good day, showing off his power and looking very difficult to handle in 1-on-1s. White got work on both the interior and outside.
- Coastal Carolina DT Jerrod Clark had another batted pass in the team session today and has generally been a handful to block.
Other notable players
- I really liked what I saw from Washington State LB Daiyan Henley. He was a clear leader on the field, controlling the huddle and taking responsibility for getting everyone lined up. Henley also made his share of impact plays and looked good as a coverage player.
- Illinois RB Chase Brown continued to impress me as both as runner and receiver. With Roschon Johnson pulling out due to an injury during Tuesday’s practice, Brown took advantage of more opportunities to stand out.
It really seems like the American team is just more talented from top-to-bottom, and that’s helped make their practices more evenly-matched as well. Just like with the National team, I switched my priorities for this unit on Wednesday: I spent much of practice focusing on the trench players instead of the skill position guys.
- Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz continued his dominance on Day 2, with a strong overall performance in 1-on-1s and this hilarious pancake block on a screen late in practice.
- Speaking of centers, I was impressed by TCU’s Steve Avila as well. He’s a bigger center but did appear to move pretty well. He also handled his 1-on-1s better than most of the interior guys.
- Alabama’s Emil Ekiyor Jr. had a good day of practice, but what’s even more notable is that he’s being cross-trained at center. I like his potential there a lot, and he appeared to take to the new position—and the snapping—fairly quickly.
- Florida guard O’Cyrus Torrence is one big and nasty dude. That’s really all I have to say.
- This tackle group hasn’t been as flashy as the National team’s, but the guys who appeared to be consistently winning their 1-on-1s on Wednesday were Syracuse’s Matthew Bergeron, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, and Georgia’s Warren McClendon Jr.
- Iowa State EDGE Will McDonald IV continued his dominant week with another great day on Wednesday. He gave opponents fits with his speed and violent hands, and has been pretty good when dropping into zone coverage in team drills. I think he’s improved his stock the most of any edge rusher thus far.
- Auburn EDGE Derick Hall has continued to stand out and look like the projected first-rounder that he is. He’s just too powerful and explosive for most of these offensive linemen to handle, particularly in 1-on-1s.
- I was impressed by TCU DL Dylan Horton once again, as he’s continued to look very effective from both an outside and inside alignment.
- On the interior, I thought South Carolina DT Zacch Pickens had a much more active day on Wednesday. He was causing trouble in 1-on-1s and was finding himself in the backfield frequently during team sessions.
- After a relatively quiet first day, FSU safety Jammie Robinson was the star of the show for the American secondary on Wednesday. Robinson was tested all over the field and didn’t blink, including some terrific man coverage reps against a talented WR group.
- I also liked what I saw from LSU safety Jay Ward. The converted cornerback showed off his coverage skills in the 1-on-1 drills and moved really well.
- Miami CB Tyrique Stevenson got beat a handful on times on Wednesday, but also played sticky coverage and generally made life difficult for opposing receivers. He’s a winner so far this week.
- Kansas State CB Julius Brents continued to impress, showing off his unique blend of length and athleticism. His measurables were probably going to get him drafted late on Day 2, but his performance in Mobile could push him firmly in Round 2 territory.
- Georgia safety Christopher Smith II didn’t have a flashy day, but he was consistently in the right place in coverage and was always around the ball.
Running backs and wide receivers
- Tulane RB Tyjae Spears has been the most impressive runner at the Senior Bowl. He took two carries for long TDs during today’s practice and showed off his skills as a receiver as well. Spears helped himself with a weigh-in over 200, and clearly hasn’t lost any juice as a result. I’d be shocked if he makes it out of Day 2 at this point.
- Even in a stacked wide receiver group, Houston’s Tank Dell has continued to stand out. He’s extremely difficult to cover and has a knack for finding the open spot in the zone. Outside of his size limitations, there haven’t been many knocks on Dell’s game in Mobile.
- Princeton WR Andrei Iosivas had a better overall day on Wednesday, and was helped by the better play of the quarterbacks. This catch against Tyrique Stevenson was a thing of beauty.
- SMU’s Rashee Rice, Iowa State’s Xavier Hutchinson, Virginia’s Don’tayvion Wicks, and TCU’s Derius Davis all had their fair share of impressive reps. Have I mentioned that this American wide receiver group is stacked?
Other notable players
- TCU LB Dee Winters stood out in coverage once again with an impressive interception during the team session. On the very next play, Winters forced a fumble that was returned by the defense for a TD. He was a big winner.
That’s all for today’s recap! On Thursday, I’ll do my best to go where the most action is—whether that’s trenches or skill positions. Stay tuned for another practice recap tomorrow and be sure to check my Twitter for the latest practice clips @FalcoholicKevin.