2023 NFL Draft: Top 25 Senior Bowl prospects entering Week 7 of college football season

senior bowl tn
Tennessee's Hendon Hooker has a 10:0 TD-to-INT ratio this season and leads the FBS' top-ranked offense (547.8 yards per game) heading into Saturday's game vs. Alabama. (Wade Payne/AP)

Back in August, 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 six months away (April 27-29 in Kansas City, Mo.), 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.

NOTES:

  • Heights and weights are via school measurements.
  • Texas A&M WR Ainias Smith is not listed here because he is expected to miss the rest of the season due to an injury suffered against Arkansas on Sept. 24.
  • Alabama WR Tyler Harrell is out of the rankings because he has yet to play this season due to a foot injury.

25) Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee (6-foot-4, 218 pounds)

Previous rank: Not ranked

What I saw: Hooker has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 41:3 in 18 games for Tennessee since transferring from Virginia Tech prior to last season. After a bye in Week 5, Hooker led the Vols to a 40-13 win over LSU last Saturday, throwing a beautiful 45-yard touchdown bomb and making plays with his feet. He could climb up this list if he's more effective in working off his primary target, identifying blitzes (he fumbled twice against the Tigers) and consistently hitting receivers when on the run.

What's next: Alabama comes to town on Saturday, giving Hooker a huge stage to impress the scouts in attendance against a Nick Saban defense featuring some of the top talents in college football.

24) Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa (6-5, 246)

Previous rank: No. 23

What I saw: Campbell took on Michigan linemen between the tackles to rack up 11 stops in the Oct. 1 home loss, getting outside quickly for a third-down tackle for loss in the first quarter and to bring down receiver Ronnie Bell on an option throw in the third quarter. Star back Blake Corum froze Campbell with a stop-start move, however, on a 20-yard, game-clinching score. The Hawkeyes' defensive leader posted a team-high 13 tackles in the loss to Illinois last week, going sideline to sideline, but missed on two second-half attempts as the Illini eked out just enough offense to kick a game-winning field goal.

What's next: The Hawkeyes get a bye week to study up on Ohio State's stellar offense before taking on the Buckeyes. Campbell will have his work cut out for him in attempting to avoid the Buckeyes' strong linemen and stop talented backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams (if Williams is able to play after missing the Michigan State game with a knee injury).

23) JL Skinner, S, Boise State (6-4, 220)

Previous rank: No. 24

What I saw: Skinner posted four tackles in Boise State's Sept. 30 win over San Diego State, filling the hole against the run. He also made plays that didn't show up in the box score, such as funneling a ball-carrier inside toward his teammates on a third-down play in the red zone, forcing the Aztecs to settle for a first-quarter field goal. Skinner helped the Broncos beat Fresno State last week, posting a team-high seven tackles. He securely wrapped up stud Bulldogs back Jordan Mims as a runner and receiver, including on a key third-down play in the second half.

What's next: After a week off, Boise State travels to the Air Force Academy for an Oct. 22 matchup against a good Falcons offense that includes tight end Kyle Patterson and wide receiver David Cormier.

22) Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina (6-4, 305)

Previous rank: No. 21

What I saw: Pickens' presence was felt throughout South Carolina's Sept. 29 victory over South Carolina State, shedding his blocker to shut down inside runs and moving outside to stop a third-down screen in the first half. Pickens had four stops in last week's win over Kentucky, plugging the A-gaps with leverage and swim moves, though he missed two other chances at power back Chris Rodriguez Jr. He pressured Kentucky's backup quarterback a few times in the fourth quarter, getting a sack by splitting a double team. Pickens also knocked down a pass after dropping into coverage on a third-down zone blitz in the first half.

What's next: Pickens must prepare well during the bye week before challenging Texas A&M right guard Layden Robinson and the rest of the Aggies' offensive line in Columbia on Oct. 22.

21) Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (6-4, 240)

Previous rank: Not ranked

What I saw: Scouts had to be impressed with Kincaid's effort in Utah's loss at UCLA last week. The transfer from the University of San Diego -- who only played one year of high school football (focusing on basketball in his youth) -- was smooth off the line and made great adjustments on two passes over the middle for first downs, one thrown low and well behind him and the other a high toss nabbed while fighting through contact. Kincaid was more than a "get in the way" guy as an H-back trapping inside, acting as an extra pass protector and attacking targets downfield.

What's next: Salt Lake City has to be hyped for a visit from USC on Saturday night. Utah must find Kincaid downfield on a regular basis to keep up with the points likely to be scored by the Trojans' prolific offense.

20) Sidy Sow, OL, Eastern Michigan (6-5, 326)

Previous rank: Not ranked

What I saw: I considered Sow the MAC's top senior prospect coming into the year and his performance against Pac-12 foe Arizona State in mid-September sealed that rating. More recently, he drove defenders off the line in the Eagles' wins over UMass and Western Michigan. He was able to turn a defensive lineman's shoulders out of the hole on a first-half score against the Broncos. Sow is also mobile for his size, putting linebackers on their back in the open field and blocking a safety 10 yards downfield on a second-half run against UMass. His footwork and upper-body flexibility for adjusting to oncoming blitzers are impressive.

What's next: Sow faces All-MAC defensive tackle James Ester and the rest of the Northern Illinois defensive line Saturday before heading to Ball State the following weekend.

19) Jordan Battle, S, Alabama (6-1, 206)

Previous rank: No. 18

What I saw: The three-year starter played center field against Arkansas on Oct. 1, but also stepped into the box, making seven of his eight tackles against the run. He took away a delayed running back route in the fourth quarter, forcing a field goal attempt. Battle missed an open-field tackle on third-and-long in the third quarter, however, trying to knock the pass away rather than securing the ball-carrier. He also missed a tackle in a tight win over Texas A&M last week, but recorded three stops and forced plays to other defenders, stunting the Aggies' tight offense. Battle thought he had a game-clinching interception on the game's penultimate play until it was negated by a penalty.

What's next: Battle's coverage skills will be tested in Knoxville on Saturday by Hendon Hooker, who operates the top-rated offense in college football (547.8 yards per game), and then Mississippi State's top-five passing offense (354.7 yards per game) at home the following week.

18) Tayvion Robinson, WR, Kentucky (5-11, 187)

Previous rank: No. 17

What I saw: Robinson only made four catches for 16 yards in the Wildcats' Oct. 1 loss to Ole Miss, but he used his quickness on a jet sweep to score from 5 yards out. He showed strong hands catching a Will Levis heater late in the third quarter, though a defender forced a fumble on the play (it was recovered by UK). Levis missed last week's game against South Carolina. Robinson only saw two quick screens (one thrown into the turf and the other turned into a 27-yard gain) against the Gamecocks, as the passing game struggled and he appeared to suffer an undisclosed injury in the second half.

What's next: Robinson was included as a starter on Kentucky's publicly released depth chart this week, so it appears he'll be in the lineup on Saturday. NFL scouts would love to see Robinson and Mississippi State junior corner Emmanuel Forbes matched up regularly, especially if Levis returns to action. Kentucky receives a bye the following weekend.

17) Derick Hall, Edge, Auburn (6-3, 256)

Previous rank: No. 16

What I saw: Hall was disciplined in his pass rush against LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels in Auburn's Oct. 1 loss, chasing the passer to the sideline in the second quarter for a sack. Unfortunately, his facemask penalty kept an LSU touchdown drive alive late in the first half. The senior posted six tackles last week against Georgia, including a third-down stop in space to force a punt in the second quarter. He rarely beat the Bulldogs' talented tackles and tight ends as a pass rusher, though, and was lost in the fourth quarter due to an undisclosed injury.

What's next: The Tigers take on Ole Miss in Oxford on Saturday, with Hall expected to be in the lineup, before a bye in Week 8.

16) Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford (6-1, 188)

Previous rank: No. 12

What I saw: Kelly and the rest of the Stanford defense had a rough night against Oregon two weeks ago. In the first half, the senior cornerback missed a running back in the backfield (though he got up to chase him down). He dove for an interception but couldn't bring in the pass, saw his man stretch well into the boundary to score on a red zone scramble drill and fell for a pump fake that allowed quarterback Bo Nix to run for a touchdown. Kelly left the game with an injury just before halftime and did not return. He missed last week's Oregon State contest, as well.

What's next: Stanford head coach David Shaw expressed optimism that Kelly will return to play Notre Dame on Saturday, when the corner would match up downfield against speedy receiver Braden Lenzy. The Cardinal then host Arizona State on Oct. 22.

15) Rashee Rice, WR, SMU (6-2, 203)

Previous rank: No. 13

What I saw: SMU involved Rice in the offense early and often against UCF last week, with eight of his 12 receptions (for 122 yards) coming in the first quarter of the defeat. UCF limited his yards after the catch, even though Rice turned quickly after securing passes with his hands extended outside his frame. He also nearly made a one-handed touchdown catch in the first half and drew a pass interference flag downfield in the second half (with another potential PI call not being flagged).

What's next: Rice should have a big game against Navy in Dallas on Friday. Cincinnati's stingy defense presents a bigger challenge the following weekend, with senior cornerback Arquon Bush looking to impress scouts by negating SMU's top target.

14) Jammie Robinson, S, Florida State (5-11, 203)

Previous rank: No. 15

What I saw: Robinson led Florida State with 13 tackles against Wake Forest on Oct. 1 and made nine stops against North Carolina State last week, securely tackling in space and inserting himself into team tackles in both losses. He prevented two Wake Forest sideline plays from turning into scores when playing deep and pressured quarterback Sam Hartman on a second-quarter blitz (though the Deacons benefitted from a pass interference call). He played more coverage in the slot against the Wolfpack, often taking away Devin Leary's primary target, and picked off a Leary overthrow on fourth down in the second quarter.

What's next: The Florida State faithful will see Clemson in Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday. Robinson will have his hands full with junior quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and his group of talented receivers.

13) Tyler Davis, DL, Clemson (6-2, 300)

Previous rank: No. 20

What I saw: Early against N.C. State on Oct. 1, he swallowed up a screen for a tackle for loss, then sniffed out another one in the third quarter. Davis shared a fourth-quarter sack with Myles Murphy against the Wolfpack by swimming after the center. Last week, the Boston College offensive line had no answer for the agile defender as Davis pressured quarterback Phil Jurkovec and made plays behind the line by pushing his man upfield, avoiding cut blocks and hustling to the ball whether at the 3-technique, nose or outside.

What's next: Clemson plays at Florida State on Saturday, when the Tigers will be chasing ascending quarterback Jordan Travis. Syracuse comes to Clemson the following weekend with mobile quarterback Garrett Shrader and prolific running back Sean Tucker posing challenges.

12) Mekhi Garner, CB, LSU (6-2, 217)

Previous rank: No. 19

What I saw: Auburn did not test Garner often on Oct. 1, as he smothered receivers off the line and stayed on their hips downfield. He blew up two plays in the second quarter, defeating a receiver block to stop a quick throw outside and then pounding a pass-catching running back to the ground. Garner did give up a third-and-long conversion, though, attacking a scrambling quarterback instead of playing the sticks. He made five stops and matched up well against receiver Bru McCoy in the Tigers' loss to Tennessee last week, with the Volunteers using rubs by other receivers to free up their pass-catcher.

What's next: Garner will face talented quarterback Anthony Richardson and receiver Justin Shorter when LSU visits Florida on Saturday. The Tigers will host Ole Miss on Oct. 22, when the big cornerback will be challenged by 6-2, 225-pound receiver Jonathan Mingo.

11) Henry To'oTo'o, LB, Alabama (6-2, 228)

Previous rank: No. 11

What I saw: The defensive leader helped Alabama to wins over Arkansas and Texas A&M in the past two weeks, making 16 stops total while finding the ball in traffic between the tackles and attacking receivers in the open field. He made crucial red-zone plays, stopping big Razorbacks quarterback K.J. Jefferson's run and causing a false start by the Aggies when showing yet another blitz -- both times forcing opponents to kick field goals. To'oTo'o drew an uncharacteristic personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter against Arkansas, shoving a Razorback lineman in the back well after a third-down sack.

What's next: To'oTo'o must take on the prolific Tennessee and Mississippi State passing attacks the next two weekends while also watching for any early-down run plays coming his way between the tackles.

10) Andrew Vorhees, OL, USC (6-6, 325)

Previous rank: No. 14

What I saw: Vorhees handled Arizona State's defensive tackles in the Trojans' home victory on Oct. 1, throwing key blocks on three touchdowns. He was flagged for a holding call and missed a couple of second-level targets, but repeatedly reset his hands and anchored in pass protection and cancelled linebackers in space. Vorhees was not beat one-on-one in pass pro in the win last week against Washington State, either, only giving up a pressure due to a miscommunication with the left tackle on a stunt. He pulled effectively on several run plays to help the Trojans cover 181 yards on the ground.

What's next: It's a battle of Pac-12 Championship Game contenders when USC travels to Utah on Saturday. Vorhees will battle an always-tough Utes defensive front seven.

9) Dawand Jones, OL, Ohio State (6-8, 359)

Previous rank: No. 8

What I saw: Rutgers' defensive line did not make headway against Jones on Oct. 1 because of his elite size and length. He did lose to quick hands on a couple of plays, but there were no consequences, as it takes time to get around the massive right tackle. Michigan State also could not beat Jones off the snap during the Buckeyes' blowout win last week -- though he gave up a sack when failing to land his hands and anchor against a tackle-end twist. He took defenders out of run plays on multiple occasions with strong hands and nimble feet, but also slipped off blocks on the move when getting too far over his skis.

What's next: After a bye for Ohio State this weekend, Iowa comes to Columbus with a defense that could test Jones' ability to stick with stronger edge rushers around the corner and adjust to LB Jack Campbell and savvy second-level defenders in space.

8) Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State (6-6, 303)

Previous rank: No. 7

What I saw: The Bison took care of business against Youngstown State and at Indiana State, with Mauch his usual self, stopping rushers cold, moving linemen off the snap and negating linebackers at the second level in the run game. He drew an unfortunate holding call in the YSU matchup, as Mauch's man pulled down the left tackle's jersey, sending the two players to the ground. Against ISU, Mauch ran out in front of multiple off-tackle rushes, hitting targets in space and even planting one into the turf on a third-quarter touchdown. He can be a bit upright in pass pro, giving some ground, but is sturdy overall.

What's next: South Dakota State comes to Fargo on Saturday for a battle between the top two teams in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Mauch and the Bison will truly appreciate their bye week if able to get the win over the Jackrabbits.

7) Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (6-3, 235)

Previous rank: No. 6

What I saw: Smith had four stops in the Bulldogs' narrow win over Missouri on Oct. 1, winning with violent hands to record three stops on run plays within a yard of the line of scrimmage. Missouri quarterback Brady Cook stiff-armed Smith on a bootleg in the first half, but Smith bounced back to corral Cook outside for a third-quarter sack. He regularly out-quicked Auburn's tackles in the home victory last weekend. While Smith was unable to sack athletic Auburn quarterback Robby Ashford, he did stop one second-half run cold in the backfield and also came off a block to stop a fake punt in the first quarter.

What's next: I suspect Vanderbilt will appear outmanned at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, allowing Smith and Co. to enjoy their ensuing Week 8 bye before the stretch run.

6) Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech (6-6, 275)

Previous rank: No. 3

What I saw: Wilson sacked Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez twice in Tech's loss two weeks ago, reaching through the right tackle to force a fumble in the second quarter. His open-field agility took away a red-zone wheel route to back Deuce Vaughn in the first quarter, eventually forcing K-State to kick a field goal. Wilson did not impact the first half of the team's Oct. 8 loss to Oklahoma State until he swiped aside the right tackle for a sack on the last play of the second quarter. He did pressure quarterback Spencer Sanders in the second half, though, while also playing strong against the run from the 5-technique and edge spots.

What's next: Wilson and his teammates have this weekend off before hosting West Virginia -- a team starting two younger offensive tackles -- for Homecoming on Oct. 22.

5) Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College (5-10, 172)

Previous rank: No. 10

What I saw: Two of Flowers' five catches in Boston College's Oct. 1 win over Louisville went for long scores. He reached over the head of a defender for an amazing 57-yard touchdown and then took advantage of a blown coverage for a 69-yard TD. The All-ACC receiver caught eight passes against Clemson last week, but was limited to 75 yards as the Tigers tackled well after the catch. Flowers had two nice plays in the first quarter, though, making himself available on a scramble drill and later adjusting to a ball thrown behind him before running for a 35-yard gain.

What's next: Boston College heads to Wake Forest after a Week 7 bye. Flowers hopes to make some plays against a Demon Deacons defense that has given up 14 passing touchdowns in six games.

4) O'Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida (6-5, 347)

Previous rank: No. 5

What I saw: Torrence only played a couple of series in the Gators' dominating win over Eastern Washington due to the score and unusual schedule, as they played on a Sunday afternoon due to Hurricane Ian. He stood his ground against a strong Missouri defensive line in victory last Saturday, extending his powerful arms upward on run blocks to get movement in the run game. Despite his girth, Torrance has the foot quickness to get inside or outside his target for the correct blocking angle.

What's next: LSU brings young, talented defensive linemen Jaquelin Roy and Mekhi Wingo, among others, to battle with Torrence in the Swamp trenches on Saturday.

3) Jaelyn Duncan, OL, Maryland (6-6, 320)

Previous rank: No. 2

What I saw: Duncan met the challenge presented by Michigan State edge rusher Jacoby Windmon in the Terps' win two weeks ago. The transfer from UNLV could not beat the athletic big man outside, but tested him with a couple of spin moves that Duncan managed to stave off. The left tackle was strong in the run game, as well, crashing the edge to help clear space for a big run in the early fourth quarter. He was solid in pass protection in Maryland's loss to Purdue last week, but overset a few times, giving up the inside lane. He allowed a quarterback pressure late in the game.

What's next: Maryland goes to Indiana on Saturday and then hosts Northwestern for Homecoming on Oct. 22, when Duncan will face the Wildcats' stocky edge rusher, Adetomiwa Adebawore.

2) Andre Carter II, Edge, Army (6-7, 260)

Previous rank: No. 9

What I saw: Carter had just two tackles in Army's Oct. 1 loss to Georgia State, as the Panthers ran between the tackles and quickly got rid of the ball. He stepped inside to play the run on a third-and-short in the first half, but the quarterback ran to the side he vacated for a score. Carter did not sack Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman in the Black Knights' defeat last week, though he posted six tackles, looked smooth in coverage and hit Hartman's arm to disrupt a fourth-down throw in the second quarter. Twice Carter beat Wake tackles so fast he enveloped the Deacs' patented "slow mesh" run play before it got started.

What's next: Army hopes to get back on track hosting FCS opponent Colgate on Saturday and Louisiana-Monroe next week.

1) Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (6-3, 232)

Previous rank: No. 1

What I saw: Levis delivered some beautiful deep sideline and fade throws against Ole Miss on Oct. 1, but three miscues cost his team a chance to win. He took a safety in the first half trying to escape the pocket instead of sailing the pass over a receiver's head out of bounds. Levis also lost two fumbles in the fourth quarter, with the first coming when he tried to run for a first down and the second coming when he was hit while starting his motion. The middle finger on his left (non-throwing) hand was dislocated in the first half and Levis also suffered a foot injury, which kept him from playing against South Carolina last week.

What's next: Mississippi State's deep and talented defensive line comes to Lexington this weekend; Tyrus Wheat and Co. will test Levis, who is expected to play, by chasing him from the pocket. The Wildcats then have a bye week to help their signal-caller get healthy.

Twenty-five more to watch

Listed in alphabetical order:

  • Keeanu Benton, DL, Wisconsin (6-foot-4, 315 pounds)
  • Cameron Brown, CB, Ohio State (6-0, 192)
  • Arquon Bush, CB, Cincinnati (6-0, 198)
  • Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA (6-1, 220)
  • Blake Freeland, OL, BYU (6-8, 305)
  • Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma (5-10, 210)
  • Nick Hampton, Edge, Appalachian State (6-3, 235)
  • Zach Harrison, Edge, Ohio State (6-6, 272)
  • Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State (6-2, 232)
  • K.J. Henry, Edge, Clemson (6-4, 255)
  • Mikel Jones, LB, Syracuse (6-1, 224)
  • Isaiah Land, Edge, Florida A&M (6-4, 225)
  • Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State (6-3, 236)
  • Jordan McFadden, OL, Clemson (6-2, 305)
  • Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia (6-1, 210)
  • Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida (6-0, 221)
  • Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss (6-2, 225)
  • Gervarrius Owens, S, Houston (6-0, 200)
  • Jarrett Patterson, OL, Notre Dame (6-4, 310)
  • A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest (6-5, 205)
  • John Michael Schmitz, OL, Minnesota (6-4, 320)
  • Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan (6-6, 250)
  • Starling Thomas V, CB, UAB (6-0, 195)
  • Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee (6-3, 215)
  • Byron Young, DL, Alabama (6-3, 292)

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