Last month, 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 my rankings as I update this list on a biweekly basis during the season.
The 2023 NFL Draft is still about seven months away (April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri), 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 practices and in 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) Andrew Vorhees, OL, USC (6-foot-6, 325 pounds)
Vorhees excelled at left guard at the start of the 2021 season, but moved to left tackle late in the year because of injuries at the position. He returned to left guard this season, getting his legs back underneath him during USC's season-opening rout of Rice. Against Stanford last week, Vorhees looked like his old self, pushing around linemen and getting downfield to block for the run game. He pulled to create a hole for a big run midway through the first quarter and pancaked his man on the team's fourth (a pass play) and fifth (zone run) touchdowns in the first half. Vorhees handled twists and spin moves adeptly in pass protection, as well. His versatility (he made starts at right guard earlier in his career and played some right tackle as a freshman) gives him an edge over many interior-line prospects in his draft class.
24) JL Skinner, S, Boise State (6-4, 220)
Previous rank: No. 23
The long, tall safety played all over the field for the Broncos in their season-opening loss to Oregon State. He led the team with 12 tackles, most of which were made inside the box against the run, but he also hustled downfield to keep ball-carriers from scoring. Skinner grabbed a tipped pass for an interception, though Beavers tight end Luke Musgrave caught passes in Skinner's area on a couple of instances. He did not play last week against New Mexico. Head coach Andy Avalos said this week that Skinner was not absent for disciplinary reasons.
23) Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa (6-5, 246)
Campbell is the Hawkeyes' leader on defense, aligning them before the snap and making plays all over the field. He paced Iowa with 12 tackles in its 7-3 escape against South Dakota State, swarming to the ball from sideline to sideline. Campbell was credited with the first of the team's two second-half safeties, finding an open lane behind a penetrating lineman (something he does regularly) and stuffing the running back in the end zone. He had nine stops last week in a disappointing 10-7 home loss to Iowa State, taking on blockers in the hole, scraping to get to outside plays and blitzing effectively against the run and pass. In both games, Campbell showed he could drop deep into coverage and attack receivers in the open field.
22) Blake Freeland, OL, BYU (6-8, 305)
Previous rank: No. 11
BYU dominated USF for a 50-21 road win and then squeaked out a 26-20 victory in two overtimes hosting Baylor. Freeland was solid at left tackle in both contests, flashing the foot quickness to stay with his man in pass protection, pushing defenders down the line on zone runs and locating targets in the open field. He reached on some pass blocks to fall off-balance, especially late in the game against Baylor when he failed to recover inside on multiple plays and was beaten outside once. Freeland can be a powerful run blocker, controlling players with strong hands and powerful lower-body movement. His combo block led to the team's game-winning rushing score in the second overtime, with Freeland crashing on the defensive lineman and then using his agility to negate a safety who was attempting to make a stop.
21) Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA (6-1, 220)
Charbonnet started the 2022 season strong, rushing for 111 yards on 21 carries (5-36 receiving) in a 45-17 win over Bowling Green. On a first-quarter reception, he spun off a defender who met him after the catch and then lowered his pads to fight through a second tackler to gain 11 yards. His carries for 14 and 16 yards in the second quarter displayed his ability to sidestep penetrating defenders and burst into the open field. He converted multiple short-yardage runs (including a third-quarter touchdown from 4 yards out), dropping his pads and churning his legs to push forward. Charbonnet did not shy away from contact in pass protection, either. He did not play last week against Alabama State.
20) Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina (6-4, 305)
Pickens did not post any statistics in the Gamecocks' 35-14 season-opening win over Georgia State, but the Panthers certainly felt his presence. He clogged the middle of the defense throughout the contest and even got after the quarterback in the fourth quarter as GSU tried to mount a comeback. Pickens should have earned a half-tackle for loss in the first quarter, as he beat the right tackle while at 5-technique to stop a fourth-and-1 play. He recorded a team-high 12 stops (four solo) in last week's loss to Arkansas. Pickens came off the ball hard when unblocked on an early option play and slanted past a left guard's reach block for a half-tackle for loss late in the first quarter. The big-bodied tackle created piles that stopped the Razorbacks on third-and-1 in the second quarter and fourth-and-1 in the third quarter.
19) Christopher Smith, S, Georgia (5-11, 195)
Smith starred for the Bulldogs in their 49-3 romp over Oregon at a virtual home game in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He attacked run plays early on, making a tackle for loss after he recognized the play early and flew to the ball. Smith was called for a horse-collar tackle in the second quarter, but on the next play, he read the Ducks' routes and eyes of quarterback Bo Nix for an interception. Unfortunately, Smith suffered an injury that he later called a stinger in the third quarter and exited the game. He recorded one assisted tackle in the team's 33-0 win over Samford last week, as Georgia was able to give its starters rest due to the lopsided score.
18) Ainias Smith, WR, Texas A&M (5-10, 190)
Previous rank: No. 18
Smith had a day against FCS foe Sam Houston State, leading the Aggies with six catches for 164 yards and two scores. He was wide open on the touchdown grabs due to poor communication in the Bearkats' secondary. He ran straight down the middle of the field for 63 yards on the first score and 43 yards down the sideline after a scissors route combination for the second TD. Smith lined up in the slot, displaying quickness to win on outs (he high-pointed one sideline pass between SHSU defenders) and work the middle. He was not much of a factor in the team's upset loss to Appalachian State last week, catching four passes for just 21 yards. Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King threw behind a wide-open Smith over the middle in the second half for what could have been a game-changing play.
17) Dawand Jones, OL, Ohio State (6-8, 359)
Previous rank: No. 16
Jones had a rough start to the Buckeyes' win over Notre Dame on Sept. 3, falling on the ground twice in pass protection early on. He was also called for three false start penalties during the contest. He was solid for much of the night, however, moving well laterally. He used his length and strong hands to latch onto and engulf Irish edge rusher Isaiah Foskey. Jones also hit linebackers as a run blocker; he made a crucial block pulling to the left side, allowing Miyan Williams to get to the 2-yard line and set up the game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter. Arkansas State edge defenders could not make progress against Jones last week in the Buckeyes' 45-12 win. He often lumbered to the second level, taking out a safety downfield on running back TreVeyon Henderson's 23-yard touchdown score early in the second half.
16) A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest (6-5, 205)
Previous rank: No. 9
In Wake's 44-10 win over VMI on Sept. 1, Perry made a Willie Mays-style catch in the first half for 33 yards and escorted a defensive back inside on the Demon Deacons' second series, allowing his running back to find an open sideline for a score. His ankle got rolled up on while blocking in the second quarter, hampering his play. Perry drew the ire of head coach Dave Clawson after dropping a third-down pass in the third quarter. The return of quarterback Sam Hartman last week in the team's win over Vanderbilt led to big plays for Perry. After missing the wide-open receiver downfield early on, Hartman hit the striding pass-catcher for a 68-yard score late in the first quarter. Perry made a catch against his body early in the second half despite also drawing a pass interference call on the play, resulting in a 49-yard gain. Perry also caught two short outs and a crosser to accumulate 142 receiving yards for the day.
15) Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State (6-3, 236)
Previous rank: No. 12
McDonald did not hit the stat sheet often in Iowa State's wins over Southeast Missouri State and in-state rival Iowa, but he worked hard against the run, playing mostly at the 5-technique spot in the team's three-man front. He stopped a Redhawks running back from hitting paydirt with a tackle in the season opener and had two run stops in the first half versus Iowa last week. When standing up pre-snap against Southeast Missouri State, McDonald flashed the flexibility he'll show turning the corner at the next level, forcing an incomplete pass that led to an unsuccessful field goal attempt. His duties against Iowa did not involve getting after the quarterback, but rather playing the run and dropping into coverage (he broke up one pass). McDonald hustled to recover a fumble late in the first quarter, stopping a Hawkeye drive in Cyclones territory.
14) Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College (5-10, 172)
Flowers scored twice to give his team a 14-6 lead over Rutgers at halftime of the season opener. He adjusted to an underthrown fade from the slot for his first score and caught a deep pass in stride for his second. Flowers is fast off the line, inside and outside. He makes subtle and sharp route movements and accelerates quickly after the catch. Also, he's a better blocker than many receivers with more size than he possesses. Late against Rutgers, however, Flowers lost his footing on a quick hitch, allowing his defender to intercept the pass. BC lost the game, 22-21. Last week against Virginia Tech, Flowers caught four of five targets for 79 yards, including a 49-yard third quarter reception where he again adjusted to an underthrown pass. He also drew a pass interference call and took a handoff 7 yards for a first down versus the Hokies, but it was not enough, as the Eagles lost, 27-10.
13) Zach Harrison, Edge, Ohio State (6-6, 272)
Previous rank: No. 15
Ohio State's defensive line depth was a key to its season-opening win over Notre Dame, though it limited Harrison's snaps. On a first-quarter drive, he kept containment on a bootleg to his side on first down and hustled to tackle star tight end Michael Mayer on the next play. Harrison's only other tackle came early in the third quarter, when he brought down scrambling quarterback Tyler Buchner at the line of scrimmage, beating a cut-block attempt by a running back. Last week against Arkansas State, Harrison regularly pushed blockers into the backfield. He only cleared his man once in a pass-rush situation, however, and was unable to turn the corner against the right tackle to reach former Florida State quarterback James Blackman. Harrison won inside to help stop a run on Arkansas State's first play of the second half but was not credited with an assist on the tackle for loss.
12) Henry To'oTo'o, LB, Alabama (6-2, 228)
Previous rank: No. 19
To'oTo'o was in form early against Utah State in Alabama's 55-0 victory on Sept. 3, attacking gaps in the run game and recognizing routes in coverage to take away short throws. He was physical with would-be blockers, including a play late in the first half where he pushed aside a receiver in order to limit a running back in the flat to a 2-yard gain on third-and-long. To'oTo'o stopped Texas star RB Bijan Robinson multiple times in the second half of Alabama 20-19 win over the Longhorns last week, including a joint effort with defensive tackle DJ Dale in the third quarter that forced UT to settle for a field goal. To'oTo'o came on delayed blitzes when Texas quarterbacks took time in the pocket, getting home at the end of the third quarter to pressure Hudson Card as he threw.
11) Derick Hall, Edge, Auburn (6-3, 256)
Previous rank: No. 6
In the second quarter of Auburn's 42-16 win over Mercer on Sept. 3, Hall looked unblockable off the edge, winning with speed and leverage. He was able to get a sack in the third quarter, but he'll need to get off blocks more consistently and break down more quickly to make plays against better competition. Hall led the Tigers with eight tackles in a 24-16 squeaker over San Jose State last week, making more plays in the open field than in the backfield during the first three quarters. Hall got into the backfield during the fourth quarter, however, rushing from outside and over the guards to consistently pressure Spartans quarterback Chevan Cordeiro.
10) Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State (5-11, 203)
Previous rank: No. 17
Robinson made sure Florida State would not lose to an FCS school to open the 2022 season after its embarrassing home defeat at the hands of Jacksonville State in 2021; he posted four tackles and two pass breakups in the team's 47-7 win over Duquesne on Aug. 27. In FSU's most recent game -- a 24-23 win over LSU on Sept. 4 -- Robinson spent most of the night in coverage, taking away vertical routes or tight ends underneath. He did come off the edge on a third down in the first half, missing the sack on quarterback Jayden Daniels but still disrupting the play to force a punt. Robinson was flagged for pass interference when matched up against star receiver Kayshon Boutte in the third quarter, but his physical play downfield didn't bother me.
9) Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford (6-1, 188)
Previous rank: No. 8
Kelly was not targeted in coverage, but showed his willingness to support the run whether lined up outside or in the box with four tackles against Colgate in the Cardinal's opening 41-10 win. He was a victim of new USC head coach Lincoln Riley's offense the following week. Stanford played Kelly and other defensive backs well off the line of scrimmage to start the game. Kelly could not get off a receiver block on a quick throw, allowing Jordan Addison to score from 22 yards out. Addison scored on a 75-yard pass play on the next series, as Kelly expected inside help from a safety who had drifted away from the center of the field; the receiver spun out of the corner's tackle attempt downfield to finish the play. Once Kelly was allowed to use his physicality off the line of scrimmage, he negated whichever receiver was lined up outside.
8) Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State (6-6, 303)
Previous rank: No. 20
Mauch was flat-out dominant against Drake and North Carolina A&T, looking like the next early-round offensive lineman coming from the FCS. He blocked to the whistle on nearly every play, impressively getting to second-level targets on several run blocks. The left tackle attacked defenders large and small on the team's patented power runs, sustaining his block by using his athleticism, attitude and strong hands. Mauch is fluid in his kick-slide and his anchor was not challenged in pass protection. NDSU coaches even moved him to right tackle on one play against A&T to seal the edge on an off-tackle run. Watch for him to ascend draft boards if he continues this sort of play the rest of the year.
7) O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida (6-5, 347)
Previous rank: No. 10
Torrence's first two games in a Florida uniform (win over Utah in Week 1 and loss to Kentucky in Week 2) were a wild success. He was an immovable object in pass protection, playing with natural bend, widening his base and extending his arms to keep linemen at bay. Torrence's light feet are helpful on zone-run blocks and when protecting quarterback Anthony Richardson. He unleashed his powerful grip on linebackers and safeties throughout both contests, sealing them off on run plays during the team's early fourth quarter touchdown drive against Utah. Torrence was a driving force on a second-quarter touchdown drive against the Wildcats, creating a running lane by moving a defensive tackle out of the hole and then pulling around the left tackle to block a linebacker on Trevor Etienne's scoring run.
6) Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (6-3, 235)
Previous rank: No. 7
Georgia regularly rotated defensive linemen during its defeat of Oregon in the opener, so Smith only posted two tackles in three quarters. He flashed a quick first step off the line when in full pass-rush mode, forcing a throwaway by QB Bo Nix in the third quarter. Smith won inside regularly versus the right tackle in the run game, placing himself in the backfield to stop runners before they got started. He was physical against the Ducks' linemen and tight ends throughout the contest despite his relatively lean build. Smith played limited snaps in the Bulldogs' one-sided affair against Samford last week, earning a tackle for loss by shedding a tight end to stop a quarterback run late in the first half.
5) Andre Carter II, Edge, Army (6-7, 260)
Previous rank: No. 5
Army's two opponents thus far this season -- Coastal Carolina and UTSA -- clearly studied film on Carter. They ran away from the tall edge rusher and got rid of the ball quickly, with Chanticleers quarterback Grayson McCall also reading the edge rusher on option plays. Carter made five tackles against CCU, hustling to bring down backs with his length. He displayed quickness and bend off the edge in both games, winning against two different UTSA right tackles for sacks and even flashing a spin move against Coastal to gain inside position. Carter loses leverage against smaller blockers, though, and needs to consistently use his hands and hustle to make plays on inside runs. He also must get his hands up into passing lanes and make an impact dropping into coverage to counteract the quick passing game.
4) Tyler Harrell, WR, Alabama (6-0, 194)
Previous rank: No. 4
Harrell did not play in the Tide's victories over Utah State or Texas, as he continues to deal with a foot sprain. Alabama's receivers struggled to make plays against the Longhorns last week, making it clear the team needs Harrell's speed on the field for conference play.
3) Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (6-6, 275)
Previous rank: No. 3
Wilson overwhelmed Murray State offensive linemen in the run game with his power and length during the Red Raiders' 63-10 win over Murray State on Sept. 3, collecting six tackles, including two for loss, in about three quarters of work. He had four tackles in the team's double-overtime win over Houston last week, three against the run and one late in the game, stopping a third-down screen pass to force a punt. Wilson impacted the game throughout, however, even though he faced tough competition in Cougars left tackle Patrick Paul. The long edge rusher pressured quarterback Clayton Tune by bull-rushing both tackles but could not get off their blocks to get the sack. He stood up pre-snap for most of the game but displayed his scheme versatility by lining up at the 4i- and 5-technique positions late in the game, drawing a holding penalty on Houston's right guard.
2) Jaelyn Duncan, OL, Maryland (6-6, 320)
Previous rank: No. 2
Maryland's athletic left tackle looked the part against Buffalo and Charlotte in the first two games of the season. He's a smooth mover in pass pro, plays with a wide base and good flexion, and anchors against bull rushes without much of an issue. Despite his large frame, Duncan is effective cutting defenders and blocking on the move. He moved the line of scrimmage in the run game on a couple of occasions against both opponents, though he failed to land hands on a couple of second-level targets. Duncan flashes a nasty streak, finishing multiple blocks to the ground in the second half of the Buffalo game and carrying a linebacker 10 yards downfield early against Charlotte. He must clean up his penalties, though, picking up a holding call and a personal foul penalty (hands to the face) against the Bulls and a false start in the red zone against the 49ers.
1) Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (6-3, 232)
Previous rank: No. 1
Levis showed off his arm talent, quick release and toughness in Kentucky wins over Miami University (Ohio) and Florida. He threw darts in the short and intermediate areas and completed beautiful throws in each game from one hash to the opposite sideline. The high arc and ease of motion on his 55-yard touchdown throw against the Gators was a scout's delight. When Levis misses on a throw, it's usually high; he took some velocity off shorter passes against the Gators after receivers couldn't come up with his high-velocity throws against the RedHawks the week prior. He threw one interception in each game. A defender jumped his touch pass to the end zone in the second quarter of the opener, and his arm was hit on the INT against Florida, as his running back could not cross the pocket quickly enough to pick up an edge rusher (Levis moved him away from that side pre-snap). He is often used on boots and throws a number of quick passes, as Kentucky's offensive line is a work in progress in pass protection, but Levis made a handful of good decisions in each game to throw the ball out of bounds or to the turf instead of forcing the action. Overall, it was a good start to the season for the top senior passer.
Twenty-five more to watch
Listed in alphabetical order:
- Erick All, TE, Michigan (6-foot-5, 255 pounds)
- Jordan Battle, S, Alabama (6-1, 206)
- Robert Beal Jr., Edge, Georgia (6-4, 250)
- Keeanu Benton, DL, Wisconsin (6-4, 315)
- Cameron Brown, CB, Ohio State (6-0, 192)
- Arquon Bush, CB, Cincinnati (6-0, 198)
- Brenton Cox Jr., Edge, Florida (6-3, 252)
- McClendon Curtis, OL, Chattanooga (6-6, 328)
- DJ Dale, DL, Alabama (6-3, 300)
- Tyler Davis, DL, Clemson (6-2, 300)
- Connor Galvin, OL, Baylor (6-7, 302)
- Nick Hampton, Edge, Appalachian State (6-3, 235)
- Mikel Jones, LB, Syracuse (6-1, 224)
- Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (6-4, 240)
- Isaiah Land, Edge, Florida A&M (6-4, 225)
- Devin Leary, QB, N.C. State (6-1, 215)
- Jordan McFadden, OL, Clemson (6-2, 305)
- Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia (6-1, 210)
- Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida (6-0, 221)
- Gervarrius Owens, S, Houston (6-0, 200)
- Rashee Rice, WR, SMU (6-2, 203)
- Tayvion Robinson, WR, Kentucky (5-11, 187)
- John Michael Schmitz, OL, Minnesota (6-4, 320)
- Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami (6-0, 214)
- Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee (6-3, 215)