10 players who raised their stock during Senior Bowl week

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Reese’s Senior Bowl is the unofficial beginning of draft season. We know which underclassmen have declared, and with only one NFL game left, 30 other NFL teams have their eyes on the draft.

Last week, some of the 2023 NFL draft’s top prospects converged in Mobile, Alabama, with all 32 NFL teams present.

While this wasn’t a standout quarterback class on the field in Mobile, other positions did stand out. Most specifically, it was a good week for teams that needed offensive line help.

The Washington Commanders need offensive line help as much as anyone in the NFL. The Commanders could upgrade up to four positions in 2023. That doesn’t mean Washington is looking for four new starters, but the Commanders will be active in upgrading their offensive line this offseason.

Other positions of interest for Washington include cornerback and linebacker.

We name 10 players who saw their stock rise after their week at the Senior Bowl. For the most part, we’ll focus on positions of interest to the Commanders.

C John Micheal Schmitz [Minnesota]

Minnesota Golden Gophers center John Michael Schmitz (60) against the West Virginia Mountaineers. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Washington needs at least one guard, one tackle and a center. Chase Roullier will be expensive in 2023, so it’s no guarantee he returns after missing most of the last two seasons. John Michael Schmitz was already the draft’s top center entering the Senior Bowl, and he increased his profile after a standout week.

Schmitz had a dominant week, and there’s some talk he could land in the first round. He still appears slated to go in round two, but he’d be a terrific option for the Commanders.

OT Darnell Wright [Tennessee]

Tennessee Volunteers offensive lineman Darnell Wright (58) blocks at the line of scrimmage against Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Calijah Kancey. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Darnell Wright entered Senior Bowl week as a solid second-rounder and perhaps a fringe first-rounder. Wright dominated his week. At 6-foot-5, 345 pounds, Wright is an instant NFL starter at right tackle. He also played left tackle in college but projects as a right tackle at the next level. Some even believe he could play guard. Wright is definitely in the first-round mix now.

OT/G Cody Mauch [North Dakota State]

National offensive lineman Cody Mauch of North Dakota State (70) practices during the third day of Senior Bowl week. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Mauch will be the latest standout from North Dakota State to be drafted in one of the first two days. The former college offensive tackle projects as a guard at the next level. Mauch would be another day-one starter for the Commanders.

OT Dawand Jones [Ohio State]

Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Dawand Jones (79)

Dawand Jones [6-foot-8, 375] is massive and recorded the largest wingspan in Senior Bowl history. Jones impressed NFL coaches with his length and raw power last week, including Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Jones was considered a lock sometime in the second or third round, but could find himself in the first round. Jones could be an option if the Commanders move down, and he’d start day one at right tackle.

RB Tyjae Spears {Tulane]

American running back Tyjae Spears of Tulane (22) practices during the third day of Senior Bowl week. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Tyjae Spears had a terrific 2022 season. His work against USC in the Cotton Bowl, where he led Tulane to an upset win by rushing for 205 yards and four touchdowns. Spears is a dynamic player who fits the modern NFL. His week in the Senior Bowl will move him up draft boards.

No, Washington doesn’t need a running back, but Spears would be an ideal complement to Brian Robinson Jr. He offers a different style and is a home-run hitter. With J.D. McKissic’s future in question and Antonio Gibson entering a contract year, don’t rule out a running back at some point for the Commanders. Spears will likely go too high for Washington.

QB Hendon Hooker [Tennessee]

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5)

No, Hooker didn’t play in the game or practice as he is recovering from knee surgery. However, he is getting close to being able to run and said he’d be ready for training camp. With no standout quarterbacks in Mobile, Hooker impressed NFL teams by showing up and speaking to them, in addition to supporting his teammates.

In a draft looking for the fifth quarterback, it’s hard to argue against Hooker, whose talent should place him higher on that list. His injury and age [25] will concern some teams. However, he’s a perfect candidate on day two to stash, especially if you have a starting quarterback for 2023. Hooker can play.

The Commanders would be smart to select Hooker and have him and Sam Howell compete in the future. When you don’t have a quarterback, you need to keep taking chances. Both have talent and would have little investment in them, with a potentially big payoff.

LB Daiyan Henley [Washington State]

Washington State Cougars linebacker Daiyan Henley (1) forces an incomplete pass by USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13). Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

We talked about Daiyan Henley last week. His work in coverage put him squarely on the NFL radar.

Here’s what NFL draft expert Daniel Jeremiah said about Henley:

The big test for Henley was how he would hold up in coverage against all-star competition. Well, he passed that test with flying colors. He’s instinctive and he can run. Henley has a chance to be a Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) pick.

LB Ivan Pace [Cincinnati]

Cincinnati Bearcats linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (0). Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati linebacker had a terrific week in Mobile. After spending three seasons at Miami [Oh.], Pace spent his final season with the Bearcats, putting him on the NFL radar. Pace was lauded all week for his practice habits and won hardware as the National team’s MVP and top linebacker of the week. Pace isn’t the biggest player, but he’s physical, and his instincts are off the charts. He can also rush the passer. He is a day-one starter for the right NFL team.


CB Darius Rush [South Carolina]

American defensive back Darius Rush of South Carolina (28) breaks up a pass to American wide receiver Derius Davis of TCU (12) during Senior Bowl week: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Smith is the South Carolina cornerback receiving the first-round buzz. Darius Rush is also going to be a starting NFL cornerback. Measuring in at 6-foot-2, Rush has terrific ball skills and will be a day-two pick. Rush and Julius Brents are players to watch for Washington if it opts for an offensive line in the first round.

CB Julius Brents [Kansas State]

Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Julius Brents (23) celebrates the tackle of West Virginia Mountaineers running back Leddie Brown (4). Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Does anyone remember a little-known cornerback named Tariq Woolen from UTSA during last year’s Senior Bowl? Woolen’s combination of size, length and athleticism tantalized NFL teams, yet, somehow, he fell to the fifth round in the 2022 NFL draft, where the Seattle Seahawks drafted him. Woolen is already one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks.

Julius Brents isn’t necessarily Woolen, but measuring in at 6-foot-3, he has the length, athleticism and ball skills to excite NFL teams. Teams will not overthink Brents in the same way they did Woolen one year ago. Brents is also a press-man corner.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire