Expert Analysis


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Money-Makers: 2023 Senior Bowl's Biggest Practice Winners

MOBILE, Ala. — The Senior Bowl continues to showcase talent in the NFL, and plenty of it was on display this week. Mike Tannenbaum and Rick Spielman were on hand to see the prospects from the National and American teams during the practice sessions, which concluded Thursday. Here are 10 players who stood out and greatly improved their stock over the three days:

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2023 Senior Bowl Money-Makers

Feb 1, 2023; Mobile, AL, USA; National defensive lineman Keeanu Benton of Wisconsin (95) battles National offensive lineman McClendon Curtis of UT-Chattanooga (52) during the second day of Senior Bowl week at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Keeanu Benton, DL, Wisconsin

Height Weight Hand Arm Wing
6034 312 9 7/8" 33 3/4" 81 3/4"

Everybody knows he is athletic for his size. He can play the run when he gets his pads down. But he knows how to work the edges of blockers, and once he uses his power, he showed some counter moves and ability to work through edge blockers. — RS

Sydney Brown, S, Illinois

Height Weight Hand Arm Wing
5100 213 10 1/4" 31 5/8" 75 1/8"

Everybody wanted to see if he could play in space, and he showed up. He got his hands on a couple of balls during Thursday's practice, and could see the quickness in and out of his transition. He can run better than I thought he would for a small safety. He did a great job in contested situations, getting the balls knocked out. — RS

Payne Durham, TE, Purdue

Height Weight Hand Arm Wing
6050 258 9 1/2" 33 1/4" 80 3/4"

Durham made a couple of plays in the red zone. You can see his length and why he's got an opportunity to be very effective in that area. He still needs to grow as a blocker, but he was a lacrosse player that only played one year of high school football. — RS

Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford

Height Weight Hand Arm Wing
6001 193 9 1/4" 31 3/4" 77 1/8"

I thought he had a good week of practice. You can see his athleticism and his ability to make plays on the balls in the air. He's going to be able to match up against NFL receivers, and that showed up all week, not just in one day. He was one of the most consistent corners in Mobile. — RS

Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina

Height Weight Hand Arm Wing
6015 196 9 1/2" 32 3/4" 79 3/4"

He made plays daily and had his hands on several passes. He's excellent in coverage. The knock on him was his long speed, but he showed he could run. I thought he helped himself all week. — RS

He has long arms, fantastic play speed and made a great play on the ball in the low red zone. Rush has helped himself dramatically this week. — MT

John Michael Schmitz, OL, Minnesota

Height Weight Hand Arm Wing
6033 306 9 5/8" 32 3/4" 78 7/8"

To me, Schmitz is the best center in this year's draft. I think he can fit in multiple schemes, whether a zone or gap scheme. He’s big, physical and can help any offensive line. He was also great in one-on-one drills and dominated throughout the week. He is a really good run blocker for a big guy, athletic when he gets to the second level, and plays on his feet in space. —  RS

Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane

Height Weight Hand Arm Wing
5095 204 10" 30 5/8" 74"

You can see his quickness, ability to put his foot in the ground, excellent in-line vision, and how he caught the ball well out of the backfield. I thought Spears was the best running back here through the week. — RS

Spears is a fast and explosive player who stood out to me. His speed was noticeable, and he had a couple of nice runs. — MT

Tyler Steen, OL, Alabama

Height Weight Hand Arm Wing
6054 325 10 3/4" 33" 80 1/2"

I thought he helped himself, especially on Thursday, showing he can play very effective at multiple positions on the offensive line. He lined up some at guard and it wasn't too big for him, and they played him on the right and the left sides. — RS

O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida

Height Weight Hand Arm Wing
6047 337 11 1/4" 33 7/8" 84"

A very strong, massive man, Torrence is similar to Schmitz, although he's probably more powerful in the run game. He created movement every day this week. It's tough to get around him in pass protection, and he's got good enough feet to mirror pass-rush moves. Once he clamps on, most of the defensive linemen he faced in one-on-ones were done. — RS

Darnell Wright, OL, Tennessee

Height Weight Hand Arm Wing
6051 342 8 1/2" 34 1/8" 82 3/8"

Wright had 42 career starts with the Volunteers at different positions along the line (RT, LT, G). I loved his length and thought he did well in one-on-ones. He looked and played like a first-round tackle. — MT

Other Standout Players

  • WR Nathaniel "Tank" Dell from Houston showed a high-level ability to separate, as well as top-level speed. 
  • WR Dontayvion Wicks from Virginia showed a high understanding of gaining leverage on a corner at the top of his route, and winning off it. 
  • RB Eric Gray from Oklahoma showed off his hands and agility with the ball in space. 

Rick Spielman is a former general manager of the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings, and winner of the NFL Executive of the Year award by Pro Football Weekly in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @spielman_rick.

Mike Tannenbaum is a former front-office executive for the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Follow him on Twitter at @RealTannenbaum.