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Derek Brown’s 2023 Senior Bowl Risers, Fallers & Crushes

by Derek Brown | @dbro_ffb | Featured Writer
Feb 6, 2023

The competitive fires were on display at Senior Bowl all week. Players are giving it their all with dreams of the NFL Draft swirling in their heads. In the end, some players stepped up their games as their skill sets nestled deep in my heart, while others left me praying for practice to end as their draft stock continued to tumble. Let’s run through my Senior Bowl crushes and fallers.

Check out all of our 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports & Prospect Profiles >>

Senior Bowl Risers & Crushes

Evan Hull (RB – Northwestern)

Hull flashed a three-down skillset this week in Mobile. Hull had his issues at times with pass protection, but for the most part, he was solid in this area. He flashed the tenacity and play strength to believe that he could be above average here. Hull also looked fluid as a receiver which shouldn’t shock people, considering what he accomplished at Northwestern. Hull led all FBS running backs in receiving yards last year while also running seventh in yards per route run (minimum 20 targets per PFF). Hull looked quick in the Senior Bowl game squirting through creases as he quickly accessed the second level and made the defense pay with his vision and physicality. 

Player Comp: Mark Ingram with better lateral agility/Rhamondre Stevenson

Tyjae Spears (RB – Tulane)

Spears answered the call at every turn. He weighed in at 204 lbs. while looking every bit as fast as during his final collegiate season, where he stated that he played at 197 lbs. Spears was electric with the ball in his hands with jump-cut witchcraft on inside runs. He also managed to send a linebacker to the shadow realm this week with what can only be described as a wicked piece of athleticism in his route running. Spears has the talent, size, and all-purpose tool belt that could have teams envisioning a workhorse role at the next level. Spears should be drafted in the third or fourth round of the NFL Draft. 

Player Comp: Michael Carter with a jetpack

Micheal Wilson (WR – Stanford)

Wilson came on strong as the week moved along. Injuries stifled Wilson’s collegiate career, but he put all of those lost seasons in the rearview at the Senior Bowl. Wilson looked closer to the player that has managed 2.20 or higher yards per route run in four of his last 11 collegiate games (per PFF). He could separate on short area routes while also displaying plus footwork and nuance to his routes. Wilson was especially impressive on deep posts and slants, where he utilized his size to his advantage, gaining breathing room and defeating inside leverage. 

Player Comp: Gabe Davis

Roschon Johnson (RB – Texas)

Johnson’s time at Senior Bowl was cut short by a broken bone in one of his hands, but during his limited stay, he made an impression. Johnson looked explosive running the ball as a downhill battering ram. He was surprisingly fluid for his size and held up well in pass protection. He punished a few oncoming rushers on Day 1 as he stood them up with little issue. 

Player Comp: Matt Jones with better burst

Nathaniel Dell (WR – Houston)

For most of the week, corners pitifully tried to stay with Dell. His size concerns can only crop up if you can get your hands on Dell and get physical with him, which is easier said than done. Dell’s lightning-fast feet make it difficult to square him up in the open field or impose your will with press coverage. Houston utilized him in motion and stacked formations to get free releases at the line. NFL teams could easily toss him into the slot full-time and see immediate returns on their investment. 

Player Comp: Marquise Brown

Xavier Hutchinson (WR – Iowa State)

Hutchinson’s play strength rose to the surface toward the end of the week. He fought through tight coverage earning late separation with his upper body strength on intermediate and red zone routes. Hutchinson has a strong set of hands that he used to secure multiple contested targets. While I think he can win from the perimeter with enough regularity to play there on 40-50% of his snaps in the NFL, I’m still enamored with a team moving him inside to the slot. If a team is sharp enough to commit to him as their starting slot receiver, he could become a high-volume target earner in the NFL. 

Player Comp: discount Amon-Ra St. Brown

Jayden Reed (WR – Michigan State)

Reed surpassed my expectations heading into the week. He was a consistent target for his quarterbacks, displaying more route-running nuance than I gave him credit for. It was good to see him cooking corners with his footwork, pacing his routes, and other route intricacies instead of relying only on his speed. 

Player Comp: Markus Wheaton

2023 NFL Draft Guide

Senior Bowl Fallers

Jaren Hall (QB – BYU)

Hall crushed his draft stock this week. He was erratic and unsettled in the pocket. When he did reach back for some extra zip on throws, he sailed them. He then followed those reps up with short arming passes and playing hesitant. Hall has an interesting skill set, but this week’s rollercoaster play possibly dropped him to UDFA status. 

Player Comp: Shea Patterson

Chase Brown (RB – Illinois)

I was lower than consensus on Brown entering the Senior Bowl, and he did nothing to change my perception. Brown looked average in terms of burst and elusivity with his carries. This week, he put the ball on the turf, which won’t help his draft stock. He also looks like a zero in the passing game as a matador in pass protection and below average route runner. 

Player Comp: Myles Gaskin

Rashee Rice (WR – SMU)

Rice didn’t have a bad week by any stretch, but he does find his name under fallers because he failed to deliver on the hype. Rice was touted as possibly the best wide receiver prospect at Senior Bowl with first-round NFL Draft buzz. Rice was able to get open, but he did little to show out as a head and shoulders superior talent to the rest of the Senior Bowl field. Rice still looks like an average separator that lets corners into his body too often and has issues with gearing down on curls and comebacks. 

Player Comp: Brandon LaFell

Elijah Higgins (WR/TE – Stanford)

Higgins is a tweener type without a positional home. Higgins cannot get open on the boundary with stiff hips and below-average releases. Higgins worked in with tight ends on the final day as the NFL sees the same thing I do. That’s a player that needs to convert to move tight end to have a shot at a productive NFL career. Higgins does have a well-rounded understanding of playing inside, utilizing his size and physicality against nickel corners and smaller opposition. 

Player Comp: Juwan Johnson

2023 Senior Bowl Practice Recaps


Check out all of our 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports & Prospect Profiles >>

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