2023 NFL Draft: Pass-Catching Prospects at the Senior Bowl
This is Part III of III of our Senior Bowl coverage. On Tuesday, we went through a deep group of talented pass rushers with a ton of upside. On Wednesday, it was onto the glamour position, quarterback, and the not-so-glamourous group in Mobile. We wrap it up today with the pass catchers trying to prove they have what it takes to play at the next level.
My favorite player in Mobile might be Nebraska wideout Trey Palmer who lit up the Big Ten after transferring from LSU. As exciting as any player in the conference, Palmer was at times unguardable, despite extremely inconsistent quarterback play. A legit deep threat, who can make you miss after the catch, an ability that also serves him well as a return specialist.
Michigan State’s Jayden Reed and Michigan’s Ronnie Bell are two other Big Ten products who double as return men. Both are dangerous after the catch with Bell, known as a polished route runner.
Like Division II quarterback Tyson Bagent, who we wrote about yesterday, you can’t help but be intrigued by small school prospects who find their way to Mobile with a chance to prove themselves against the big boys, such as Princeton’s Andrei Iosivas.
Could the NFL Draft’s fastest wideout be an Ivy League product? It’s possible. An All-American in the heptathlon, Iosivas set the record in the 60-yard dash at the NCAA Indoor Championships. But can he play football? Well, he’s considered raw but looks like a natural going after the ball, and he did lead the Ivy in receiving.
I’m not ready to dub him as this year’s Christian Watson, but the kid has some upside for sure.
A big-play threat at Virginia, Dontayvion Wicks saw his stats and stock drop in 2022, but were cracks in his game exposed, or was it due to the overall offensive drop-off after a coaching change at UVA? This week begins his opportunity to rebuild equity with scouts and decision-makers alike.
The opposite is true for SMU receiver Rashee Rice, who improved every year and peaked as a senior with 96 receptions. He has excellent hands and competes for the ball with good size/speed. Rice can stretch the field and is dangerous after the catch.
TCU’s Derius Davis can fly, while Iowa State’s Xavier Hutchinson and Stanford’s Elijah Higgins, a potential WR/TE hybrid, bring elite size.
The best player you’ve never heard of is Oregon State tight end Luke Musgrave, who is getting some first-round love. At 6’5 1/2” and 255 pounds, he brings excellent size with big hands and an elite wingspan. If he can run a sub-4.5 40-yard dash, as some predict, it’s unlikely he will last until Day 2.
He needs to improve his blocking and get stronger, but early in the draft, teams are looking for playmakers in the passing game at tight end, although there is strong competition for first-round status among the junior class at the position.
It’s a solid group of tight ends in Mobile, as Purdue’s Payne Durham, Miami’s Will Mallory, and Oklahoma’s Brayden Willis were all significant parts of the passing offense in college, with over 500 receiving yards each as seniors.
Practices in Mobile conclude today, with the 2023 Senior Bowl kicking off at 2:30 p.m. ET this Saturday.