2023 NFL Draft
Day 3 Senior Bowl Takeaways: Top Linemen Dominate, Steelers Targets Pop (+)
MOBILE, Ala — Not everything in Mobile is easy for college players, but the Senior Bowl provides them a unique opportunity to improve their draft stock prior to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. So, on the third day of practice, who stood out in a big way for coaches?
Top Linemen Take Front and Center
There was no bigger story on the final day of Senior Bowl practices than what the top linemen did here today. It started with O’Cyrus Torrence, who looked like a first-round guard all day long. Rarely was he beaten in pass protection and he proved he is as mean as his billing comes within the run game. His power is impressive and Torrence has put more players into the dirt than I can count throughout the week.
However, Darnell Wright, Matthew Bergeron, and John Michael Schmitz are guys who have played at a high level, too. Really, Schmitz might be the best player here this week in terms of pure performance metrics. Wright and Bergeron have steadily improved throughout the week. These linemen have stood out all week, and it is for good reason that they should be praised for it.
A New Cornerback
I have talked a lot about Kyu Blu Kelly and Julius Brents this week as guys who have lit it up at the Senior Bowl, but count South Carolina’s Derius Rush in as a guy to watch moving forward. Rush snagged two interceptions on Thursday, showcasing his speed and ball-hawking skills in practice.
That seemed to be an occurrence for him, and while his teammate, Cam Smith, will receive more attention throughout the process, Rush is a cornerback with good length and speed as well as the perfect mix of polish on his technique to be a potential early contributor in his NFL career.
Andy Weidl On Deck
Steelers assistant general manager Andy Weidl came down to Mobile on Thursday. Absent were Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin, who had been here the previous two days. Just like the other two days, Weidl stood right in the thick of things by the offensive line virtually all day long. That is not surprising, as the Steelers have honed in on that position as something they want to focus on.
However, this is Weidl’s theoretical first opportunity to take a look at the offensive line in Mobile. It doesn’t mean the Steelers will draft a first-round offensive lineman, but they are certainly paying attention to those players and looking to potentially add one early.
Steelers Targets Impress
There are a few guys that feel like ‘Steelers guys’ here at the Senior Bowl. One of those is the aforementioned Kelly, who was the most consistent defensive back here all week. The connection to Mike Tomlin aside, Kelly’s smooth transition and ball skills flashed well. Then, an intriguing interior option in TCU interior offensive lineman Steve Avila is emerging. Avila has a mean streak, but he is as steady and calm as they come. A soft-spoken individual, Avila is one of the key risers for me this week.
In addition, North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch flashed his versatility all week by playing at guard and center. Cornerback Riley Moss is an aggressive defensive back that loves to get his hand in the pile in the run game. Meanwhile, Tulane’s Dorian Williams is likely to be one of the event’s biggest risers after a great week in coverage.
The MAC has a few guys down here, but I really want to focus in on one of those guys — Bowling Green defensive lineman Karl Brooks. This is a guy who played anywhere from a 1-technique to a 7-technique this week, and he won from all of those various alignments. Brooks wins with power often but has a nasty spin move that he can pull out to make guys silly. What makes Brooks quite special is his bend and lateral agility, which allows him to soften sharp angles at over 300 pounds. I like Brooks a lot, and after this week, I think he’s a Day 2 talent.