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10 Biggest Risers from the 2023 Senior Bowl

Looking at the NFL Draft prospects who boosted their stock the most during Senior Bowl Week.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 04 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Reese’s Senior Bowl is now in the rearview mirror, and NFL teams are in the midst of making their draft evaluations. With this in mind, it is time to take a closer look at who improved their stock the most in Mobile.

This year’s class of quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl were not incredibly appealing, but overall, there was still a strong pool of talent at every position. This is not a deep draft class at all, but Jim Nagy found a way to form outstanding rosters nonetheless.

I am not going to waste time with a lengthy intro, as the majority of you typically skip this part of the article anyway (wink, wink...). Let’s dive head first into the best performances from last week’s Senior Bowl!

Tyjae Spears | RB | Tulane

The Steelers are unlikely to look at running back early, but nobody can ignore the phenomenal week Spears had in Mobile. Not every rep in pass protection was perfect, but every time he made a mistake on a play, he came back the next play with something positive. He silenced those who doubted his ability as a receiver out of the backfield.

Cody Mauch | OL | North Dakota State

From the long, red hair, to the big belly, to the unique personality, Cody Mauch is quite the draft prospect. The player whom I mocked to the Steelers in my mock draft 1.0, Mauch displayed his outstanding versatility at the Senior Bowl, playing anywhere and everywhere along the offensive line. Many are projecting him to guard, but he held up well at every position down in Mobile. He may have vaulted himself into the first round with the Senior Bowl alone.

John Michael Schmitz | C | Minnesota

Schmitz is not the flashiest prospect in this class, but he simply moves people. His ability to win with leverage, technique, and power is why he enjoyed such a successful week. With Sedrick Van Pran returning to school, Schmitz is now my highest-rated center in this class.

Sydney Brown S Illinois

I am careful to not compare prospects to an all-time great, such as Troy Polamalu. However, putting all hair aside, I do see some similarities in play style. I am in no way predicting Brown to have the career Troy had, but he is insanely athletic, and that athleticism was on display this week. Nobody was flying around the field more and making more plays in Mobile than Sydney Brown. If he can clean up the occasional missed tackles, he has a chance to be great. I have a second-round grade on him currently.

Darius Rush | CB | South Carolina

A long, lanky corner prospect, Rush displayed great awareness, instincts and ball-tracking ability throughout the week. Do not let Cam Smith overshadow the great work Rush did on the opposite side of the field. He suffers the occasional mental lapse from time to time, but he has the talent to become an NFL starter. His 33” arms will infatuate NFL scouts.

Zacch Pickens | DL | South Carolina

The Steelers seemed to do well with the Pickens they drafted in 2022. Would they take one two years in a row? Pickens did not put up eye-popping numbers at South Carolina, but he is grossly talented. He possesses heavy hands along with a quick first step, and he was an absolute menace in Mobile.

Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State

Musgrave pretty much had his way against opposing defenders during scrimmages, as his combination of size and speed was too much to handle. After seeing very little of him during the season, it was encouraging to see his fitness, determination, and athleticism on display.

Jake Haener | QB | Fresno State

As stated previously, the quarterback play at the Senior Bowl was awful. However, one quarterback who was not awful was Jake Haener, who displayed great accuracy to all parts of the field. His poise within the pocket and mental wherewithal gave scouts a reason to take a closer look at the film.

Marte Mapu | LB | Sacramento State

Mapu’s physique is not likely to wow anyone, and, being from Sacramento State, his opportunities to impress NFL scouts will be limited. However, he took advantage of his invitation to the Senior Bowl, flying to the football and making plays all over the field. Teams who use “hybrid” defenders will have a use for him.

Payne Durham | TE | Purdue

If you want a guy to watch at the combine, look no further than this guy. Durham displayed soft hands and an ability to high-point the ball, specifically in the red zone. The tape shows us his blocking prowess, but athleticism is a question. What he runs in the 40 could either make or break his draft stock.

Which draft prospects caught your eye at the Senior Bowl? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!