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Joseph's Gems: The Jewels of the Senior Bowl

A look at some special players from the premier College All-Star Game.

 

We are less than 60 days away from the opening bell of the 2023 NFL Draft and the blitz to scout the next crop of NFL superstars is at full speed. Just this past week we had the culminating event that lets you know the Draft is around the corner, the Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl presented by Reese's is catered to the top college prospects who have exhausted their college eligibility. So what you get to observe is the fruits of 4+ years of blood, sweat, and tears, at some of the premier college football programs across the country. These Seniors and Graduates are among the best at their respective positions and will be facing off against opposition that will be of equal prestige. NFL scouting departments scrutinize nearly every rep these players get as they are all considered NFL-ready.

 

From a scouting standpoint, this was the most fun to watch by far, as plays were made left and right without any real dull moments during the game. Every athlete looked primed to make a play when the ball was snapped. As enjoyable as this game was, it was also the most difficult to separate the best from everyone else; I had to do my fair share of doubling back to do some additional evaluation. But as not just a Packers' fan but a football fan, this list holds its own quite well. Gems gives you "The Jewels of the Senior Bowl".

 

 

 

Jake Haener, QB - Fresno State

While most are pouring over the QBs that may get their name called in the Top-10, the Bulldogs Haener may not come with the same fanfare but man is he good. He's probably put together one of the more complete games this all-star cycle. Haener may not come off as elite, but he does a lot of the little things very well. In 2022 Haener posted a whopping 158.6 passer rating while at Fresno State and broke both David and Derek Carr's school passing records, earning First Team All-Mountain West. Down in Mobile, he showed off great accuracy on an overwhelming majority of his passes and I have no doubts he can make any NFL throw. Haener doesn't have the monster arm that scouts drool over but he is more than sufficient to lead an NFL offense. He's got a little bit of athleticism to his game too. He made a couple of excellent decisions to scramble outside of the pocket and moved the chains to keep the offense on the field. Haener finished 12/19 for 139 yards and a touchdown, being named MVP of the Senior Bowl. Haener may not be elite at anything, he's a little undersized, and he doesn't possess athleticism that will wow you, but Haener looks the part of a starting NFL Quarterback.

Will Haener be a fit for the Packers?

Haener is another Jeff Tedford disciple, who famously coached Aaron Rodgers back in his days at Cal. I'm not saying Haener is the next Rodgers, but Tedford is known for producing NFL-caliber QBs. Haener has the ability to thrive in any system and be successful. He can make all the throws and has great instincts. From a personal perspective, I've never thought of Matt LaFleur's offense as overly complicated so it shouldn't take too long for Haener to pick it up, especially given the fact that the offense he ran at Fresno State had some pro-game concepts.

Value?

Haener really opened some eyes in Mobile, and it wouldn't strike me that some people will fall in love with the tape and I'm predicting his Combine to be better than most would guess. If there was a QB that would be called on Day 2 after the more high-profile ones in the 1st Round it'd be Haener. I'm placing a solid 3rd Round Grade on him.

 

 

Evan Hull, RB - Northwestern

There's nothing like going off for 20+ yards on the first play of the game to catch a scout's attention, and Northwestern's Hull made sure he had all eyes on him the rest of the game with that run. Evan Hull pretty much stole the show at the RB position down in Mobile, rushing 10 times for 74 yards, and making 2 catches for 11. While not a spectacular athlete, the 5'11, 210lbs Hull has great vision combined with patience, showcases the ability to get small between the tackles, and slash his way up the field. He's not a bruiser, but he'll use his pads to try and move the pile as best he can. Hull has natural hands and is a dangerous weapon on screens. 

Will Hull be a fit for the Packers?

Hull doesn't have blazing speed, and his running style makes him better suited to an inside-zone scheme versus the Packers' outside-zone. He isn't a bad fit, he just isn't a great fit. He possesses all the things you look for in a good RB, he just doesn't have the home run speed you'd like in an outside-zone offense. I project Hull as a change-of-pace back that can be effective in a variety of situations and because of his skillset defenses shouldn't be able to key in what the offenses are doing.

Value?

If Hull runs better than expected at the Combine he could raise his stock into Day 2; it's still not out of the realm of possibility to see him around the comp pick time either. If he performs as expected I could still see him as a priority in the 4th on Day 3.

 

 

Chase Brown, RB - Illinois

The rushing prowess of the BigTen was on full display in Mobile, as Chase Brown was the 2nd part of the National Team's 1-2 punch that carved up the American Team. The 5'11, 200lbs First-Team All-BigTen selection showcased good instincts to find the hole and exploit it for all the yards it's worth. Brown doesn't have a punishing running style but he has shown the ability to bounce off of tackles in the open field and keep churning for yards. During the Senior Bowl Brown ran for 40 yards on 9 carries and caught an additional pass for 4 yards. For his Senior season at Illinois, Brown ran for 1,643 yards and 10 touchdowns while catching 27 passes for 240 yards and 3 scores. Chase has a twin brother Sydney, who is also a Senior at Illinois and played in the Senior Bowl.

Will Brown be a fit for the Packers?

Brown has a knock on him for not being able to move the pile or make plays between the tackles and pretty much makes his living on the outside. He's going to have to either break that status quo or find himself limited to the teams that will be lining up to draft him. Regardless, Brown would be an excellent 3rd Down back and would be a great addition in packages where the box is a little on the lighter side. In goal-to-go situations, I'd probably look elsewhere. Brown is a decent fit in the Packers' offense.

Value?

Despite his shortcomings, Brown is still in the 2nd Tier of RBs in this year's Draft Class that will be in demand on Day 2. His home run speed and ability to catch out of the backfield will keep his value solidly around the middle of the 3rd Round.

 

 

Michael Wilson, WR - Stanford

I know there were some of you who were probably wondering....is he ever going to name a Wide Receiver? Wilson was on fire all week in Mobile, and he showed he was the top wideout in the game, posting a 4-76-1 statline including a beautiful 44-yard touchdown strike from Jake Haener. Wilson showed the ability to stack defenders while stretching the field vertically. Wilson has ideal speed and quickness to go with his 6'2, 210lb frame. He ran great routes all week in Mobile and has shown to be an excellent blocker on screens and outside runs. Wilson has been hampered by injuries at Stanford his entire career, but when healthy he has shown he can be the top target in an offense. If he can put his injury woes behind him, Wilson has a bright future in the NFL.

Will Wilson be a fit for the Packers?

Wilson projects on the perimeter for the NFL but I wouldn't forgo him being able to perform in the slot. His excellent blocking would be a delight to the Packers and injury history notwithstanding, he could get drafted surely off that alone. Regardless, the Packers need an additional WR in the position group who will demand targets and keep the defense honest. Wilson would handsomely fit a glaring need for the Packers in 2023.

Value?

The Combine should put Wilson in the conversation of WRs who must get selected Day 2. If someone falls in love with his potential and Senior Bowl tape, he could see him in the bottom of the 2nd Round, especially if the Top 3 WRs are already off the board at the end of Round 1. If not, he projects to be a mid 3rd Round Pick.

 

 

Jalen Wayne, WR - South Alabama

In a losing effort that saw the National Team pull away from the American Team, Jalen Wayne was one of the lone bright spots for the offense. Jalen, nephew of Colts great Reggie Wayne, caught 8 passes for 50 yards and kept the offense from stalling several times during the game. I saw Wayne lineup out wide and in the slot, which showcased his versatility. I'm not sure if he's a burner but he showed fluid hips and the ability to turn defenders and get himself open to catch the ball. Wayne was used in multiple alignments for the Jaguars in 2022, but was still able to pull off 817 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. I'm not sure if Wayne has the chops of his uncle to be a #1 WR, but he certainly could be a role player in an NFL offense.

Will Wayne be a fit for the Packers?

If I had to pin Wayne to a specific position, I would say he belongs in the slot. The Packers are needing a slot WR who can make plays in the open field and also can make plays out of motion, jet sweep, reverse, etc. With Wayne's versatility at a variety of positions, he could be that guy the Packers were hoping they'd find in Amari Rodgers. He's probably going to have a slight adjustment to the pro game, but I'm confident he can pan out in the Packers' offense.

Value?

Wayne's Combine is going to really decide where he falls on Day 3, whether it's late or early. I believe he has 5th Round appeal and given his potential he could be a steal if he projects to have the high ceiling/stable floor that I believe he showed in Mobile.

 

 

Jayden Reed, WR - Michigan State

Although he only got 1 reception (he caught a second for a TD that was erroneously called back), Jayden Reed showed the ability to separate from defenders in the secondary. His speed was apparent from the snap and he repeatedly threaten the safety looks the American Team trotted out pre-snap. While only posting a modest Senior season where he had 636 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns, the Spartans Reed was a player who always had to be accounted for during the game, earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention for his exploits. 

Will Reed be a fit for the Packers?

I'm projecting Reed as a slot WR in the NFL. He's got a smaller frame at 6'0, 185lbs and I'm not sure how well he'll do in press man on the perimeter, he's quick but he doesn't have the release package I'd like for the outside yet. Reed should be relied on early as a deep threat who can stretch the field and open up routes underneath or if he gets a step let him run right under the ball. He's not just a deep threat but he could make his money here early on, it has been said he's got a high football IQ so I expect his adjustment to the NFL to be a speedy one as he refines the nuances of his game, but in the meantime, he'd also have some stellar special teams value.

Value?

He's far from a finished product, Reed should still be a guy who sees the field sooner than later. For a person who should demand time somewhere in the WR rotation, I'm expecting him to go roughly around the 4th Round.

 

 

Cody Mauch, G - North Dakota State

Mauch was probably the most hyped lineman going into the Senior Bowl, and he proved he was worth the attention. Mauch played Guard and Center at the Senior Bowl, and excelled at both positions. A former walk-on TE at NDSU, Mauch grew into his body and converted to the offensive line, but the athleticism is definitely still there as he continually finished his blocks and worked to the second level. Cody Mauch was a First Team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference as he helped lead the team to a Division I FCS Championship appearance. Mauch shows great movement skills and the ideal temperament to finish blocks, he can play any position on the line if you need him to in a pinch with few worries. 

Will Mauch be a fit for the Packers?

Mauch would be a perfect fit for an outside-zone scheme that the Packers run. I would love him at Right Guard with the ability to play Right Tackle in a pinch. He's a more than adequate Tackle but Mauch doesn't have ideal arm length to keep edge rushers out of his pads, which is probably the only thing that prevents him from being elite at that position. Otherwise, Mauch should be a "set-it-and-forget-it" interior offensive lineman. The fact that he can play all five positions should be a General Manager's dream as Mauch could possibly free up two roster spots that can address another position elsewhere.

Value?

The only knock for Mauch is his arm length and playing for FCS NDSU, so there's a question if he can handle top-flight competition on the edge and in the interior. This is also a very deep offensive line class that will push him down further. Despite this, Mauch should come off the boards in the 3rd Round and be a hell of a steal for a team looking for a starting Guard and Swing Tackle.

 

 

Will Mallory, TE - Miami

The Hurricanes' Mallory didn't wow me by any means, but what I did enjoy seeing was he was a reliable target for the American Team's QBs. Mallory was second on the team with 5 receptions for 46 yards, and unless I'm mistaken every single pass he caught went for a 1st Down. Mallory isn't one of those freakishly athletic TEs that NFL offenses have come to crave, but he's a traditional "Y" with soft hands that can find the sweet spot and move the chains. Like most TEs coming out of college he's going to have to get stronger for the NFL and learn the nuances of blocking, but he's not a complete novice, from Day 1 I'd describe Mallory as serviceable. During the 2022 season, Mallory had a solid Senior year, catching 42 passes for 538 yards and 3 touchdowns, earning First Team All-ACC in the process.

Will Mallory be a fit for the Packers?

Mallory's role as a traditional Y should be a welcome addition to the Packers when they are in 12 personnel formations, serving as the #2 TE. I was a little disappointed to see he measured in at 6'4, 239lbs, as Miami had him listed bigger than that. However, if he can put on a little bit of muscle he should have no problem acclimating to the pro game. I don't think he'll ever be spectacular, but he can definitely earn a living with the Packers as a reliable check down who can get some yards after the catch.

Value?

I see Mallory as a 5th Round guy unless he does something unexpected at the Combine. As the NFL trends to the space game and gets more athletic TEs with each passing generation, I believe early Day 3 will turn into the standard projection for your traditional Y TEs.

 

 

Payne Durham, TE - Purdue

The Boilermakers showed his flexibility in Mobile, lining up at FB, WR, and TE. His 6'5, 258lbs frame is built to move bodies (albeit some technique and finesse is lacking). Durham made two impressive catches during the game, including one that was contested on the sideline that showed excellent body control on the boundary. The second was also on the boundary for a TD but was called back for a penalty. During Senior season in West Lafayette, Payne caught 56 passes for 560 yards and 8 touchdowns which got him First Team All-BigTen. Durham projects as a more than adequate blocker in the run game and a huge red zone target in the passing game but doesn't have the athleticism to threaten defenses for huge gains.

Will Durham be a fit for the Packers?

Payne Durham's large frame would be a welcome addition to any NFL offense with 12 personnel as part of the offensive scheme. Durham definitely has some athletic limitations and he won't necessarily run away from many linebackers but instead uses his frame and quick feet to box out and get open to catch the ball. Payne is another traditional Y Tight End who you'll probably prefer on the side where the ball is going and where he can use his size to an advantage. For an offense like the Packers that do like to have a big blocking TE for certain plays, Durham certainly fits the bill.

Value?

Durham possesses the ideal size that you want in a TE regardless of ability but his athleticism (or lack thereof) may be a turn-off to certain teams. He really needs a strong Combine in my opinion to remain a Day 2 selection but it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for him to slide to early Day 3 if he has an underwhelming Combine or Pro Day.

 

 

Isaiah Land, LB - Florida A&M

Land was a superstar for the FCS Rattlers in 2021, posting 19 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss before coming down to earth in 2022 with only 7. Land played at every LB spot in Mobile in practice and during the game, as there's a question of where he'll line up in the NFL only being 6'3, 225lbs. Land looked the part of an NFL linebacker as he had active hands and feet, and was able to get penetration along the interior of the offensive line as an off-ball LB (which I think will suit him best). Land probably needs a two years to fill out his frame but as long as he can maintain his high-end athleticism he has a future in the NFL somewhere.

Will Land be a fit for the Packers?

As a long-term project I believe Land could be a future reserve ILB/Dime LB for the Packers. His athleticism and ability to sniff out the ball carrier would also make him an excellent value on special teams. Land will probably have the best fit for even front teams but if a staff is willing to stash him so he can work on his pass-rush tools so he doesn't have to depend solely on his speed while getting him stronger to the point of say, 235-240lbs  he has some real appeal in the middle of the box and on 3rd Downs as a designated pass rusher.

Value?

As a long-term project, Land's value is in the 6th Round. He's too athletic to ignore and some teams will snatch him up once their boards have been mostly depleted. 

 

 

Riley Moss, CB/S - Iowa

Riley Moss had an incredible week of practice in Mobile and he seemed to shut down his side of the field during the actual game. I believe the American Team threw his way only three times during the game but only two were catchable balls and yielded nothing. Moss the Super Senior has had excellent ball production, with 11 interceptions over his career at Iowa returning 3 for TDs. Moss has the speed to keep up with just about any WR on the field but has a blue-collar mindset and will make physical tackles in the run game. Moss projects as a zone corner in the NFL but he could really excel if he made the move to FS.

Would Moss be a fit for the Packers?

I don't see Moss as a CB in the NFL and would prefer him at FS where his straight-line speed will serve him well. Moss is tight-hipped and will struggle with twitchier playmakers on the boundary. Moss does have a physical element to his game and has a great football IQ that he could certainly put to use to make plays on the ball and disrupt the opponent's running game. Being that the Packers are pretty set at the top of the depth chart for CB, Moss could serve to fulfill the Dime role but since the Packers are needy at Safety, I expect his best opportunity at FS.

Value?

If we're talking Riley Moss the CB, I'd say 6th Round, but if we're considering Riley Moss as a Safety I can see him going in the 5th. A team who runs plenty of zone concepts may take him earlier on Day 3, but those teams are few. 

 

 

Sydney Brown, S - Illinois

The previously mentioned Chase Brown's twin brother, Syndey is just as accomplished as he was the BigTen Safety of the Year. The 5'10, 213lbs defensive back has found success not just at Strong Safety but also in the slot for the Fighting Illini. Sydney has 10 career interceptions with 6 of them being in his Senior season alone. Brown has blazing track speed and can hang with any person on the field with the ability to crash down into the box and make plays in the backfield. Brown had a couple of nice hits on ball carriers in the backfield and in the open field but he's got to learn to play more fundamental football and wrap up instead of going for the big hit every time. If he can clean it up, Brown projects as an every down Strong Safety in the NFL.

Will Brown be a fit for the Packers?

I don't know if Brian Gutekunst has a mold for the S position, and if so we'll know when and if he selects one in this year's Draft. Darnell Savage checks in at 5'11, so Sydney Brown at 5'10 could certainly be in the realm of possibility. But typically when you talk about Strong Safeties you look for a little more size to match the power they'll see from RBs in the box. That being said, Adrian Amos is only 6'0 but 6'0 could be the threshold for Gutekunst. Personally, I don't think it matters, but what does matter is the ability to diagnose the play, fill the run correctly, and make the play. Sydney does that and he does that pretty well he just needs to decrease his missed tackles. For the Packers, Syndey Brown fits.

Value?

It's pretty unique to have a Safety who can play in the box and play at the slot. In most cases, you have one or the other. Syndey's ability to address both is going to be of immense value to some teams who either need some serious help at the position (like the Packers), or are looking to add another wrinkle to their defense with some sub-packages that take advantage of hybrid players. This S class is fickle if you ask me, and I expect the evaluations to vary on several players. That being said, it would not surprise me to see Sydney Brown go in the back of the 2nd Round, but I definitely don't expect him to escape the 3rd.

 

 

Whew! What a roster! This game was loaded with future difference-makers at the next level. Do I see some future Packers in this bunch? Absolutely. The question is will Green Bay be interested and will they last long enough for them to be snatched up by the Green and Gold? I'm as excited as you are to find out as we continue to march on toward the Draft. But don't get too ahead of yourselves. "Gems" visits the Legacy Bowl next.

 

 

#GPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Joseph has been an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers since 1997, citing an affinity for dairy products during his childhood and his favorite color, green. Born in Jacksonville, FL, Joseph currently is an Active Duty servicemember in the U.S. Armed Forces. Joseph considers himself a lifelong fan of the game of football, competing since his youth well into adulthood. When it comes to the Pack, Joseph is particularly impassioned about the NFL Draft and collegiate scouting process, and will contribute regularly on CHTV.com leading to that year's upcoming Draft. You can follow him on Twitter at @joeyreyallday.

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Comments (9)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
CheesyTex's picture

March 01, 2023 at 09:06 pm

Big time thanks, Joseph.

Looking forward to your Liberty Bowl "Gems"-- oops, "Jewels".

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

March 01, 2023 at 09:48 pm

Thanks again Joseph for all of your time and effort! I love this series!

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Fubared's picture

March 01, 2023 at 10:06 pm

Seems like a lot of medium round guys who can fill holes but the real talent is in the first 15 picks. Slow TE's are mostly in the fold this draft, no game breakers like Kelse thats for sure.

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PackyCheese500's picture

March 01, 2023 at 10:12 pm

Kincaid is the closest to Kelce I have ever seen

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Untylu1968's picture

March 02, 2023 at 07:58 am

You just never know! Kelse was the fifth TE drafted in 2013. What scouting report pushed him behind four other prospects?

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PackerGravy's picture

March 02, 2023 at 06:57 am

Nicely Done Joseph you out in a lot of work on these.

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PackerGravy's picture

March 02, 2023 at 06:58 am

Great work!

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Savage57's picture

March 02, 2023 at 07:09 am

The context these players were presented should become the template at CHTV.

Summary explanation of the player, exploration of the potential fit with the Packers, and an estimation of where they might land on draft day.

Golf clap.

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Vachio's picture

March 02, 2023 at 12:43 pm

Love these articles!

It's interesting that Tedford is considered a bonus now. That was a knock on Aaron Rodgers coming out because prior to him, all the "Tedford" quarterbacks had been less than great in the NFL. Trent Dilfer, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, and Kyle Boller were some of his QBs, so not hard to understand why.

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