Last week, Reese's Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy and his experienced scouting staff released their watch list for next year's game, which included 485 prospects from more than 100 college football programs.
Below, I rank my top 25 players from that list and provide the names of 25 others who could crack the rankings as I update this list on a biweekly basis during the season.
The 2023 NFL Draft is still about eight months away (April 27-29 in Kansas City, Mo.) so my evaluation of these players will change based on their play this fall, their results in athletic testing and, if they are fortunate enough to receive an invite, their performance at Senior Bowl week practices and the game itself. The 2023 Senior Bowl will be held at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, on Feb. 4, 2023 and broadcast on NFL Network.
NOTE: Heights and weights are via school measurements.
25) Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (6-foot-4, 240 pounds)
Kincaid played one year of high school football but was an All-American at the University of San Diego before coming to Utah. The former AAU hoops player's quick footwork and large catch radius make him a downfield and red-zone threat. Kincaid gives good effort on the edge as a run blocker, as well.
24) Kei'Trel Clark, CB, Louisville (5-10, 177)
Clark started at Liberty as a true freshman and has been a factor with the Cardinals since his arrival as a transfer in 2020. He locates the ball well and is a strong tackler despite his slight build. Like former Louisville star and first-round pick Jaire Alexander, Clark is not afraid to mix it up in man coverage.
23) JL Skinner, S, Boise State (6-4, 220)
A 6-4 game-wrecker, Skinner is coming downhill to separate the football from his opponent. He fits at the hybrid linebacker/safety spot and is a force in the box. But he can also cover enough ground in either single- or two-deep coverage to be an effective center fielder.
22) Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn (6-1, 225)
Pappoe has proven himself an instinctive, hard-nosed leader for the Tigers. His speed and athleticism are on display whether he's attacking the backfield or dropping into coverage, but he also stands up to linemen in the box. Pappoe missed a large share of 2021 due to an ankle injury but I'm expecting a strong senior season from him.
21) Arquon Bush, CB, Cincinnati (6-0, 198)
Overshadowed last year by Sauce Gardner (fourth overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft) and Jim Thorpe Award winner Coby Bryant (a fourth-round pick), Bush now steps into the spotlight. He was a strong tackler and smooth mover in the slot but will use his good ball skills and tenacious attitude outside this year.
20) Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State (6-6, 303)
Mauch grew from a walk-on tight end to an athletic yet sturdy left tackle. He has a fiery on-field demeanor and active feet in the run game, reaching targets and escorting them across the field. Mauch presents starter-quality traits in pass pro, playing with a wide base and resetting his hands when needed.
19) Henry To'oTo'o, LB, Alabama (6-2, 228)
To'oTo'o quickly became a leader on the Tide in 2021 after transferring from Tennessee. He is a physical tackler, showing a nose for the ball whether dipping under linemen inside or angling to corral outside runs. To'oTo'o regularly sniffs out screens and misdirection, showing the instincts and film-study habits to start in the NFL.
18) Ainias Smith, WR, Texas A&M (5-10, 190)
Smith played running back earlier in his career with the Aggies, but his NFL future is at receiver. He can play the slot, where he displays his short-area quickness and awareness to find holes in zone coverage. Smith's after-the-catch elusiveness makes it seem like he can simultaneously secure a pass and make the first man miss.
17) Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State (5-11, 203)
Robinson shows how forcing a turnover is often the result of hard work and instincts. The former South Carolina starter is always around the ball when in coverage and is a ferocious, secure tackler who rips at the pigskin whenever possible. He posted four tackles and two pass breakups in FSU's 47-7 win over Duquesne last week.
16) Dawand Jones, OL, Ohio State (6-8, 359)
Jones is a massive offensive tackle who plays on the right side for the Buckeyes. Elite rushers will take advantage of his stilted lateral movement and upright playing stance, but most defenders are engulfed by his wide frame and ridiculous length. Jones is a strong drive-blocker who can easily take out second-level targets.
15) Zach Harrison, Edge, Ohio State (6-6, 272)
Harrison is a powerful, long-limbed pass rusher who reminds me of Bills 2021 second-round pick Boogie Basham. Despite his size, he flashes bend around the tackle when in pass-rush mode. Harrison's strength at the point of attack is noteworthy, and consistent production in 2022 will push him up draft boards.
14) Elijah Higgins, WR, Stanford (6-3, 234)
Higgins presents a build that belies his good straight-line speed and foot quickness off the line. His strong hands and ability to adjust to off-target throws allow him to play inside and outside for the Cardinal. I expect Higgins and quarterback Tanner McKee to have a big 2022 season.
13) Robert Beal Jr., Edge, Georgia (6-4, 250)
Beal was rewarded for sticking around Georgia after considering a transfer earlier in his career, winning a national title last season while seeing more playing time. The powerful edge defender rips away from blockers, using violent hands when rushing the passer or playing the run. He also has speed to chase in the open field.
12) Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State (6-3, 236)
McDonald has a lean frame, but his length and toughness allow Iowa State coaches to play him in multiple spots on the line of scrimmage -- similar to how Cincinnati used 2022 third-round pick Myjai Sanders last season. He shows excellent quickness and bend off the snap when outside the tackle, showing the skills he'll need at the next level.
11) Blake Freeland, OL, BYU (6-8, 305)
Freeland is still growing into his 6-8 frame, but he has the length and bend to be an excellent NFL tackle. The former high school tight end/defensive end flashes a nasty streak and executes his blocks well on zone plays. He keeps pass rushers away with his length, as well.
10) O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida (6-5, 347)
The Pelican State native followed his head coach, Billy Napier, from Louisiana to Florida for 2022. Torrence moves defensive linemen with his strong upper body and swallows linebackers in the run game. He is more nimble than expected for his size.
9) A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest (6-5, 205)
Perry broke out last season (71-1,293-18.2, 15 TDs) and should be equally dangerous is 2022. The tall, slender pass-catcher outmuscles and strides past smaller corners downfield. He can be elusive after the catch, too.
8) Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford (6-1, 188)
Kelly's 6-1 frame, length and physicality remind me of past first-round prospects like Stephon Gilmore and A.J. Terrell. The son of former NFL cornerback Brian Kelly does a nice job of finding the ball and can create turnovers. He's a secure tackler who crashes the run game from the outside.
7) Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (6-3, 235)
I think Smith is a more fluid athlete than former teammate Azeez Ojulari, a second-round pick of the Giants in 2021. Smith's agility and bend to turn the corner is outstanding and he drops quickly into coverage to enter passing lanes. Smith also brings heavy hands against much bigger SEC tackles.
6) Derick Hall, Edge, Auburn (6-3, 256)
Hall is not the biggest edge rusher in the class, but he's not going to be outworked. He packs a powerful punch on initial contact, plays with excellent leverage and eyes the football quickly whether standing up or in a three-point stance. Watch for No. 29 as he brings down quarterbacks and other ball-carriers.
5) Andre Carter II, Edge, Army (6-7, 260)
Carter exploded onto the college football scene in 2021, ranking second in the FBS with 15.5 sacks. The 6-7, 260-pounder has supreme length and strong hands to hold off blockers and create turnovers. He is quite fluid in coverage and possesses nice hand-eye coordination to make plays on the ball. The sky is the limit for Carter as he keeps adding strength and honing his pass-rush talents.
4) Tyler Harrell, WR, Alabama (6-0, 194)
Harrell showed promise -- and his track speed -- last year at Louisville before transferring to Alabama in the offseason. Reigning Heisman winner Bryce Young will look for Harrell deep, obviously, but Harrell's size and speed (reportedly has clocked a sub-4.3 40-yard dash) combination allows him to win contested catches outside and over the middle. A sprained foot sidelined him for part of fall camp, but coach Nick Saban said last week that the talented receiver was working his way back and starting to grow more confident.
3) Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (6-6, 275)
Wilson combines a tall, long frame with a powerful first step off the ball, making life tough for offensive linemen. The former Texas A&M Aggie swims over his foe to attack plays in the backfield if the ball doesn't come out quickly and flashes the flexibility to quickly change directions. I've seen Wilson blanket a running back leaving the backfield for the flat, showing off his supreme athleticism.
2) Jaelyn Duncan, OL, Maryland (6-6, 320)
Duncan is an athletic, long left tackle. The two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten selection has a chance to be a very good NFL starter, as his athleticism translates to a quick pass-pro set and he attacks edge rushers in the run game. Duncan impresses with his movement on pulls and short-area agility to stay with quicker defenders in space.
1) Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (6-3, 232)
Levis is the latest transfer quarterback to earn high marks after a change of scenery, following Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow and Justin Fields. He ran more than he threw as a backup at Penn State but given the chance to lead Kentucky's offense in 2021, Levis showed off a strong arm as well as good downfield touch. When he keeps his eyes downfield and steps up in a crowded pocket to deliver accurate throws, he looks the part of a future NFL starter.
Twenty-five more to watch
Listed in alphabetical order:
- Habakkuk Baldonado, Edge, Pittsburgh (6-foot-5, 260 pounds)
- Jordan Battle, S, Alabama (6-1, 206)
- Jakorian Bennett, CB, Maryland (5-11, 195)
- Keeanu Benton, DL, Wisconsin (6-4, 315)
- Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa (6-5, 246)
- Caleb Chandler, OL, Louisville (6-4, 297)
- Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA (6-1, 220)
- McClendon Curtis, OL, Chattanooga (6-6, 328)
- Tyler Davis, DL, Clemson (6-2, 300)
- Dontay Demus Jr., WR, Maryland (6-4, 215)
- Brandon Dorlus, DL, Oregon (6-3, 290)
- Connor Galvin, OL, Baylor (6-7, 302)
- Ali Gaye, Edge, LSU (6-6, 265)
- Nick Hampton, Edge, Appalachian State (6-3, 235)
- Jaxson Kirkland, OL, Washington (6-7, 340)
- (NOTE: Kirkland will miss the Huskies' season opener, per conditions mandated by the NCAA for his reinstatement.)
- Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion (6-8, 251)
- Isaiah Land, Edge, Florida A&M (6-4, 225)
- Devin Leary, QB, N.C. State (6-1, 215)
- Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia (6-1, 210)
- Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina (6-4, 305)
- Rashee Rice, WR, SMU (6-2, 203)
- John Michael Schmitz, OL, Minnesota (6-4, 320)
- Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami (6-0, 214)
- Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee (6-3, 215)
- Andrew Vorhees, OL, USC (6-6, 325)
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