Now that I’m back home after what was an amazing week down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, which many people I talked to called it the “start of the offseason”, I’ve had time to go back and review the practice tape and match it up to the live notes I took each day. Obviously, I cannot possibly see everything during each practice session, so I tried my best to be as efficient as I could be. Here was my basic process for each day:
- Tuesday: General roster overview noting body types/builds. It’s one thing to see a player on TV and say “Player X looks ___”, but it’s another to stand 50 feet away from them while they are going through their workout. This was my chance to confirm, or deny, what I originally noted about a player’s size.
- Wednesday: National Team WR/TE vs DBs, American Team OL vs DL
- Thursday: National Team OL vs DL
In total, I attended 5 of the six practices and came away impressed with a new group of players each day. Some players were stellar all week long, while others got progressively better each day. There were players who didn’t quite deliver the results based on the expectations set for them, and even some who continued to struggle in the same areas that they did on tape. For this article in particular, I will only focus on offensive players that caught my eye in a positive way. With all that being said, here are my Senior Bowl standouts, chronologically:
WR Jayden Reed, Michigan State
It’s no surprise to me that Reed had the week in Mobile that he did. While watching him at Michigan State, he showed the ability to beat press coverage, displayed good hands and had the versatility any team looking to run a modern offense would wish to possess. Weighing in at 5’10 ¾” and 191 lbs, Reed was the best receiver from the National Team, hands down. He also brings value as a returner, working with the special teams unit on both kick and punt returns. As voted on by the players after the week of practice, Reed was the National Team winner from the receiver group. If he lasts until the 3rd round, he would be the perfect Braxton Berrios replacement for the Jets, should they move on from him.
Here is every one-on-one rep for #MichiganState WR Jayden Reed at the Senior Bowl: pic.twitter.com/yfqubHfZDx
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 3, 2023
OT Dawand Jones, Ohio State
As soon as the National Team took the field for the opening practice, it was easy to spot Ohio State’s Dawand Jones. Measuring in at a robust 89 ½” wingspan – two inches longer than Milwaukee Bucks’ superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo – and towering over his teammates at 6’ 8 ⅛”, Jones only took part in one practice session. That practice session, however, happened to be a dominant one for the former Buckeye, who was throwing defenders around all afternoon. He returned for Day 2 and reported a headache/concussion symptoms, so he was held out for the remainder of the week. Based on the limited exposure to Jones that I had, I came away impressed. With a ton of question marks surrounding New York’s offensive tackle position, Jones could slide up into the first round category. He could be a sleeper name to watch should the team trade out of the 13th overall selection in April. Hopefully, the Jets will add more talent to the offensive line to give Keith Carter more to work with.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 31, 2023
WR Michael Wilson, Stanford
One of two Stanford receivers at the Senior Bowl, Wilson is a player that I had no familiarity with prior to my week in Mobile. He had two or 3 notable wins in the 1-on-1 period on Wednesday, including a 35-yard over the top touchdown against Iowa’s Riley Moss that had the audience buzzing. He also had another deep ball catch over Moss, but was only able to get one foot down in the endzone. Wilson showed a polished route running ability, coupled with a complete release package. His size of 6’ 1 ⅝” and 216 allows him to play both on the outside, as well as inside as a “big slot” type. I can see many teams vying for his services come the draft. He is also one of the easiest players to root for.
Stanford WR Michael Wilson is making a name for himself at the Senior Bowl, and he is not messing around.
Watch this, and try not to run through a wall. pic.twitter.com/ceDH80ITs4
— Faraz Siddiqi (@farazsiddiqi) February 3, 2023
OG Steve Avila, TCU
Coming off of an unfortunate National Championship loss to Georgia, TCU’s Steve Avila came into Mobile and solidified himself as one of the best interior offensive lineman of the week. Another player that I didn’t watch in depth, he showed a good anchor in pass protection, as well as the ability to stay balanced while latched on to defenders. He had two impressive reps against South Carolina’s Zacch Pickens, who was voted practice player of the week on the defensive line, and another against LSU’s Ali Gaye. Avila was the “starter” at left guard during the team competition period, and he did well in both the run and pass game. While projected into a power/gap blocking scheme, he could be a mid-round option for the Jets who want to be more complementary under Nathaniel Hackett.
Perfect rep from @TCUFootball OL Steve Avila
💪 rep on Day 2 of the Senior Bowl pic.twitter.com/AgAi1b6D4Y
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) February 1, 2023
C John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
There was no way I could keep John Michael Schmitz off this list, especially given how much buzz he has generated amongst Jets fans. After not just a stellar practice, but an all-around superb week, Schmitz was far and away the best center at the Senior Bowl, and quite frankly, the entire draft class. It’s hard to imagine a world where he isn’t a top-40 pick, but if he somehow slips to New York’s second-round pick, the Jets should do everything they can to bring him in. With veteran Connor McGovern’s contract expiring, and carrying a projected market value of $12.5M via Spotrac, the Minnesota product would be a no-brainer, cap-friendlier option to anchor your “revamped offensive line” of the future.
Minnesota C John Michael Schmitz with the pancake block on the screen. #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/8tdmRcXNQd
— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) February 1, 2023
Since the Joe Douglas-Robert Saleh era began in 2021, the Jets have put an emphasis on getting younger on offense, primarily via the draft. Premium picks such as Zach Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall are evidence of this. Even before Saleh’s arrival, Douglas spent two top-60 selections on Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims. If they look to continue this trend, all of these players could fit the bill for what they are looking for. These players can all be contributors for the Jets in some capacity in 2023 and beyond.
Stay tuned for my defensive standout article coming soon!
Tune in to watch the Senior Bowl on Saturday at 2:30pm EST on NFL Network.