The first day of 2023 Senior Bowl practices is in the books for the National Team. I spent the two-hour session scouting the offensive and defensive lines, and a few clear winners from each group emerged.
The story of Day 1 was Ohio State offensive tackle Dawand Jones. He won the Senior Bowl weigh-ins when he checked in at 6081 and 375 pounds. He looks the part on the hoof, and his play in one-one-ones and team sessions cemented his standing as one of the top offensive line prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Jones routinely stonewalled whoever lined up against him.
With two practices left to go, Jones has a chance to be this year’s Jermaine Johnson, who worked his way into the first round after establishing himself as the best player on the field at the 2022 Senior Bowl. Jones was that dominant today.
Maryland’s Jaelyn Duncan had a productive day, too. A preseason first-round prospect, Duncan has been steadily sliding down 2023 NFL draft rankings. But at Tuesday’s practice, he displayed his plus athleticism and footwork. While his hand play wasn’t always perfect, he proved he has enough core strength to be a quality player in the NFL. He weighed in at just 298 pounds and looked noticeably smaller than some of his offensive line teammates. Still, Duncan was a Day 1 winner.
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North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch lined up at guard after a successful collegiate career as an offensive tackle. He handled the uptick in competition with relative ease. Mauch proved he’s strong enough to move bigger defensive tackles off their spot, but it was his movement skills and athletic ability really stood out. He had a nice showing, and if he stacks two more practices like this together, he’ll be firmly in the first-round conversation.
Clemson edge rusher K.J. Henry flashed a nice blend of initial quickness and power in his pass rush reps. He was the most active and violent of all the defensive line prospects on the National Team in Tuesday’s practice. He’s been a somewhat overlooked part of Clemson’s defense, but his success rate on his first day of practice has set the table for him to be a 2023 draft riser.
Northwestern’s Adetomiwa Adebawore had a good showing Tuesday as well. He’s on the shorter side for defensive linemen (measured 6015, 284 pounds), but his physical stature helped him win his reps with good pad level and strong pop behind his hands.
Wisconsin’s Keeanu Benton was a handful for offensive linemen in one-on-ones. He flashed an impressive and effective rip move and showcased a good amount of power in his lower half when bull-rushing. He helped his NFL Draft stock on Day 1 and should be a player Bears fans pay attention to over the next few days.
It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies for this year’s National Team offensive and defensive linemen, however. BYU’s Blake Freeland was a turnstile, and Troy center Jake Andrews struggled with the speed and power of the defensive linemen he faced. Both players need to rebound Wednesday, or they’ll leave Mobile trending in the wrong direction.
Army edge rusher Andre Carter II got off to an extremely slow start. He was manhandled by Dawand Jones and didn’t look like he had much of a rush plan in one-on-ones. He had a nice pass-rush rep in team drills, but it was a disappointing day for a prospect who some analysts like as a first-round pick. He was nowhere near that level of player on Tuesday.