2023 Senior Bowl: Practice Report

2023 Senior Bowl: Thursday’s American Team Practice Report

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

  • The American team held their third practice of the week on Thursday, and the star of the practice was South Carolina cornerback Darius Rush. In the early going, Rush got his session started with a superb interception in the one-on-ones, displaying blanket coverage on a back-shoulder route. The pass was not placed well, but Rush made a nice adjustment to control the ball for his first interception. In the seven-on-seven red-zone scrimmage, Rush picked up another interception after he undercut a receiver to catch the ball in front of the end zone. Shortly later, Rush forced an incompletion in the back of the end zone, although he got away with a little bit of a hold.

    In the team scrimmage, Rush came close to a third interception while playing tight coverage, but he still ended up knocking the ball down for an incompletion. Rush (6-1, 196) has quality size and showed an ability to stay tight to receivers on Thursday. This practice will definitely help him with team evaluators.

  • Some team sources said they liked what they saw from Virginia wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks, and he finished his Senior Bowl week practices with a strong session. In the red-zone scrimmage, Wicks showed a good burst out of his break to create some separation in the short area. Wicks later got open on an out route for a touchdown and then also broke away from coverage to get open running to the back of the end zone for a score.

    Wicks was a consistent source of chunk gains in 2021 before seeing a drop in production in 2022. It wasn’t all the fault of Wicks, as the circumstances around him played a part, but if he runs well at the combine and in pre-draft workouts, he could be a riser that contends for the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • Alabama left tackle Tyler Steen had an interesting session on Thursday. Steen got off to a rough start in the one-on-ones, losing a rep on a bull rush, but on the next play, he locked up TCU edge rusher Dylan Horton for a clear win. Horton was unable to shed the Steen’s block, being tied up by Steen’s strength and length. Later in the one-on-ones, Steen notcheds two clear wins over Ole Miss defensive end Tavius Robinson. The first rep saw Steen ride Robinson around the pocket, and in the rematch, Steend stonewalled Robinson’s bull rush.

    Steen is an interesting product after being a 4-year starter in the SEC. Based on his play, team sources say he might be more of a second-round talent, but given the weakness of the 2023 NFL Draft at his premium position, Steen could go in the back half of the first round. Steen also is smart, polished, and experienced, so he could compete for playing time quickly. Hence, he might rise leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • Tennessee defensive end Byron Young did a nice job of getting after the quarterback last fall for the Volunteers. The 6-foot-2, 248-pounder is an undersized edge rusher, but he flashed some tough run defense on Thursday. In the run scrimmage, Young got off a block to stuff a back at the line, and in the team scrimmage, Young shed a tackle before flying into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss. Young might be a mid-rounder in the 2023 NFL Drafts who ends up being an overachiever in the the pros as a rotational edge defender.

  • Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh finished his week with some good runs on Thursday. He used his power frame to push a pile and get into the end zone in the goal-line scrimmage. McIntosh also ripped off a touchdown run from about 20 yards out, starting to slash to the left before cutting to the right and exploding down the field. McIntosh also functioned well as a receiver over the practices this week, which he did well at Georgia last fall as well. McIntosh has not gotten a lot of attention, but he could be a nice second-day value who ends up becoming a three-down starter.

  • Two receivers going in opposite directions are Ole Miss’ Jonathan Mingo and Iowa State’s Xavier Hutchinson. Both of them are receivers with good size who turned in strong 2022 seasons, but teams have concerns about both of them with speed and separating from NFL defensive backs. After a quality week in Mobile, Mingo has helped himself in this regard given that teams liked what they saw from him. Mingo could be a second- or third-round pick during the 2023 NFL Draft.

    While scouts like Hutchinson as a gritty competitor, his lack of speed and inability to separate has them projecting him lower to deep into the third day of the 2023 NFL Draft. They worry Hutchinson also does not have enough speed to contribute on special teams as well.

  • LSU defensive end Ali Gaye never played up his potential for the Tigers, and that continued at the Senior Bowl. Gaye struggled with Tyler Steen in the one-on-ones, and even when playing games on stunts, Gaye failed to achieve wins. Gaye looks the part with size, quickness, and athleticism, but something seems to be missing where he catches a lot of blocks and is unable to shed them. Gaye has upside, but looks like a third-day project for the next level.

  • Follow @walterfootball for updates.

    2023 Senior Bowl Home
    2023 Senior Bowl Game Recap
    2023 Senior Bowl Quarterback Analysis
    2023 Senior Bowl NFL Mock Draft
    2023 Senior Bowl Rumors: Friday
    2023 Senior Bowl: Thursday's American Team Practice Report
    2023 Senior Bowl: Thursday's National Team Practice Report
    2023 Senior Bowl Rumors: Thursday
    2023 Senior Bowl: Wednesday's American Team Practice Report
    2023 Senior Bowl: Wednesday's National Team Practice Report
    2023 Senior Bowl Rumors: Wednesday
    2023 Senior Bowl: Tuesday's American Team Practice Report
    2023 Senior Bowl: Tuesday's National Team Practice Report
    2023 Senior Bowl Rumors: Tuesday
    2023 Senior Bowl Rumors: Monday

    2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 23

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12