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Senior Bowl Review: What are the Boys in the Trenches Grilling?

With this year’s Reese’s Senior Bowl in the books you’re probably thinking that you’ve learned everything you need to know about this year’s players and prospects, but I can assure I was out here at the Senior Bowl asking the tough questions that most shy away from, namely: what is your go to grilling meat and side? And what better group to survey than this years the OL and DL players?

The players didn’t disappoint, each came with their own unique answers. I must say, I wouldn’t mind sharing a meal with any of them. I did include one special guest who isn’t a trench player, but their answer definitely didn’t disappoint. With that being said. let’s see what the boys in the trenches from the Senior Bowl are grilling on their weekends

National Team, Cody Mauch OL NDSU:

Mauch was a standout this week and the first player I pitched this question to. His answer inspired me to keep polling the trenches. Cody told me, “You know, anytime we get to throw a steak on the grill is a good time for me. Medium Rare. Medium Rare.” Cody said he didn’t care what the side was, we also both agreed that’s the proper way to cook a steak and will not be hearing any arguments

American Team, Steve Avila OL TCU:

Avila was another player who had a strong week in the trenches for the OL and, while his answer wasn’t the best from the week, it definitely drew the best reaction. I asked Steve at a round table full of other guys in the trenches what his choice would be and almost immediately he said, “I love a good sausage.”

Which, of course, caused the entire table of young potential draftees to erupt with laughter and a few reminded him we were trying to keep this PG. Avila was great sport, and it was cool to see how guys who had just met each other were already showing that sense of brotherhood that many who have played the game talk about.

National Team, Isaiah Foskey DL ND:

The long-arm master kept his answer simple, “It’s chicken, but its jerked chicken. That’s fire, like not gonna lie that made me hungry right now.” He wasn’t concerned with what his side was, which might explain why he’s one of the leaner guys in the trenches. Going with chicken is a bold move in my opinion, but he saves it by going with jerked chicken specifically.

National Team, McClendon Curtis OL UTC:

I didn’t know a ton about Curtis coming into the week, but if there’s one thing I learned for sure, it’s that this man is a certified grill boss. “It’s gotta be between the tomahawk steaks and lamb chops. When we get on the grill it’s between those two. But also for my sides […] twice baked potatoes loaded or parmesan crusted asparagus. Gotta get it right every time. I don’t cook with nothing else but cast irons.” Curtis clearly doesn’t play around when it comes to the grill. His answer made me the hungriest by far.

American Team, Jalen Redmond OU DL:

Redmond attended my college’s rival, Oklahoma, but I can’t deny the impressive speed he showed in the the trenches this week. Seeing as we both attended school in the state of Oklahoma, I was curious to know if we would have similar grill takes and it turns out we did.

“I’m gonna throw some burgers on there, [but I’m] definitely a hot link guy, too. My side, I make some bomb baked beans. You ain’t never had none like mine. You know I put the little meat in there, I can’t tell you the secret… it’s something special, but not too special.” I tried to shake him down for the secret, but it’s a Redmond family recipe and Jalen wasn’t budging. Much respect.

American Team, John Michael Schmitz C UMN:

Most consider Schmitz the best OL player of the Senior Bowl, and I have to agree. The center out of Minnesota dominated the competition for the most part, and competed in every rep. I was eager to get his answer.

“Nothing beats my fiancé’s ribs, she cooks one of the best ribs I’ve ever had. She gets it from her mother. It falls off [the bone], but it also has that bit of tenderness to it.” Ribs is one of the hardest things to pull off on the grill, any BBQ master can attest to this, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear someone bold enough to say it.

Sounds like Schmitz found him a real one, and I wish him and his fiancé the all the best.


Like I said from the beginning, the boys in the trenches know how to eat and it was tough picking a winner, but I definitely had to give the nod to McClendon Curtis. Out of all the guys in the trenches, he had one of the most unique answers. He also gets bonus points for doing all the cooking himself. You can trust a man who knows his way around a cast iron.

Special (Teams) Entry, Adam Korsak P Rutgers:

Y’all know me, I’m a special teams guy, so you know I had to talk to Ray Guy Award winner and Melbourne, Australia native, Adam Korsak. No, Korsak hasn’t made his name in trenches and isn’t one of the biggest guys here, but Aussies are known for their legendary barbecue (spelt using the Queen’s English), so let’s see what Korsak is throwing on the barbie.

“Generally I do pork-chops, sausages, onions, bacon, mushrooms, and eggs all on the grill and just throw it all together like a big breakfast, English style. I like to grill in the morning, the breakfast stuff on the grill is good stuff.”

I mean, c’mon, who can deny that this man knows his way around the grill. Further strengthening my special teams agenda.

Closing Remarks

It was fun to get to talk with players on a more personal level and let them take a small break from the barrage of X’s and O’s being thrown at them all week. You could really see the guys relax and be themselves in these small moments. It’s important to remember that these guys are all human and just entering adulthood along with their professional careers.

They’re at one of the biggest job interviews of their lives’ and the way they all handle the pressure of the week is truly admirable. This was a fantastic Senior Bowl week and hopefully the first of many for me. Can’t wait to see where some of these guys end up and how they progress as players.

Potential Senior Bowl Draft Targets for the Miami Dolphins

The Senior Bowl brings the top collegiate talent to Mobile, Alabama for a week of practice, and more importantly, opportunity to show NFL teams, including the Miami Dolphins, that they can perform under NFL coaching.

Miami may not have a first round pick, but still has five other draft selections, and will look to add depth to a team that made the playoffs last season.

Through my week in Mobile, I was able to take a look at some of the top prospects in the country, and a few stood out as potential fits for the Dolphins in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Miami Dolphins Draft Targets from the Senior Bowl

Tyjae Spears, RB Tulane

Named the Player of the Week by NFL executives, Spears was electric in practice each of the three days. His explosiveness and start-stop ability were evident in one-on-ones and team drills, having several plays that elicited oohs and aahs from those in attendance.

Spears is certainly quick enough for Mike McDaniel’s outside zone scheme, and has the versatility out of the backfield that Miami typically looks for. The Tulane product was dominant in his route-running reps vs. linebackers, including a double move that has broken #DraftTwitter over the last few days.

Tyjae Spears, known destroyer of ankles, runs a double-move route.

With incumbents Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert entering free agency, it’s possible we see Miami look to the draft to select a running back, and Spears has the traits needed to succeed as a lead back.

Jake Haener, QB Fresno State

After multiple strong performances at practice throughout the week, Fresno State’s Jake Haener won the MVP of the Senior Bowl Game on Saturday, and for good reason.

From practice to practice, Haener consistently showed that he can be a high-floor backup and spot starter from day one. His progressions are some of the best in this class, and was the most consistent in Mobile.

I spoke to Jake Haener regarding his performance in College and at the Senior Bowl.

If Miami loses Teddy Bridgewater to free agency this spring, they will certainly be in the market for a backup quarterback. Furthermore, Tua’s injury concerns may force Miami’s hand to select someone who is more pro-ready, and Haener looks to be exactly that.

Will Mallory, TE Miami

Another potential position of need, and another top performer throughout the week in Mobile. This time, however, it comes in the form of Hurricane’ tight end Will Mallory.

Will Mallory makes a nice block in practice.

Mallory had a strong last two days of practice, showing sure hands and sound technique blocking in the run game. Contested catches were the story of the week, and Mallory had several, including a diving catch up the seam.

Mike McDaniel preaches versatility, and the tight end position is no different. If Miami is looking for a tight end on day three, it’s possible we could see Mallory stay in the same stadium to start his pro career.

Jammie Robinson, S Florida State

With Vic Fangio coming to town, the Dolphins’ defensive principles have changed. Post-snap rotations are common place, and Miami is expected to run much more two-high safety coverages. Thus, the need for safety may be necessary.

Among the top performers at safety, the versatile Jammie Robinson stood out to me. At only 5’10” and 194 pounds, he plays (and hits) far bigger than his size. Box play and versatility were his strong suits at Florida State, but in Mobile, we had the chance to see some different traits.

Jammie Robinson battles with Rashee Rice.

Specifically, Robinson excelled as a high safety in red-zone situations, flying around and making plays on the football. Miami already has one ball hawk in Jevon Holland, and if Robinson continues to improve in this aspect, it’s possible he could form a dangerous duo with the Oregon product.

Mekhi Blackmon, CB USC

It is another DB who makes the last spot on the list, and Southern Cal’s Mekhi Blackmon is no slouch. He proved himself as a smart, instinctual corner who has a knack for playing the football.

While Blackmon isn’t the most athletic corner in the class, he held his own against some of the most dangerous receivers at the Senior Bowl. Namely, Jayden Reed, who named Blackmon his toughest matchup during a media breakfast interview with ATB’s own Luke Krumich.

Mekhi Blackmon wins vs Jayden Reed.

Size may be a concern for Blackmon, who is only 182 pounds, but if he’s available come day three, the Miami Dolphins could look to the Senior Bowl corner build depth on a position that saw several key injuries in 2022.

Senior Bowl Risers and Fallers: Game Day

The Senior Bowl is a showcase event for players to prove to NFL teams that they are worth their selections, and on game day, a player’s performance matters to a certain extent, and can help them be “risers” and “fallers”.

However, context is important to remember, as the entirety of the week is much more important than anything that happened in the game — and the Senior Bowl itself is just a small piece of a very large puzzle that is the NFL Draft.

Senior Bowl Risers: Game Day

Photo Credit: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire
Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford

Michael Wilson was phenomenal throughout the week. The Senior Bowl game was no different. Wilson is 6015 and 216lbs. He displayed a terrific ability to adjust to the ball in the air, including a remarkable (and significantly underthrown) touchdown grab.

Lonnie Phelps Jr., Edge, Kansas

Lonnie Phelps Jr. had a fantastic Senior Bowl. Phelps is 6021, 251lbs with 32 and 1/8″ arms. He showed off impressive power throughout the game, as well as tremendous hand usage. He also added a strip of Chris Rodriguez to his stat line.

Payne Durham, TE, Purdue

Payne Durham really popped as a pass catcher on Thursday. He then built on that success with a good game performance. Durham is 6050, 258lbs with a 80 6/8″ wingspan. He had two catches on two targets for 24 yards, including a back shoulder throw from Malik Cunningham. He was able to showcase his versatility by doing a bit of everything, including lining up at fullback and carrying the ball, gaining two yards on the play.

Evan Hull, RB, Northwestern

Evan Hull was the most productive running back on the day. After having a very good first practice, he tailed off the rest of the week as others began to stand out. However, when it mattered most he flashed his potential, carrying the ball 10 times for 74 yards and adding two catches for 11 yards. Hull displayed solid burst and contact balance.

Karl Brooks, iDL, Bowling Green

Karl Brooks has had a great week at the Senior Bowl. He followed it up with a good game as well. Brooks is 6033, 303lbs with 32 2/8″ arms. Brooks had a (coverage) sack, as well as showed off his excellent hand usage, and a good swim move.

Ivan Pace, LB, Cincinnati

Ivan Pace had a terrific Senior Bowl game. Pace is a bit of an undersized linebacker at just 5102, but 231lbs at that height. He is well built and hits like a ton of bricks. He led the entire game in tackles with 1o, including nine solo, which does not include his phenomenal play where he leveled O’Cyrus Torrence straight into the running back.

Senior Bowl Fallers: Game Day

Photo Credit: Associated Press/LM Otero
Max Duggan, QB, TCU

Max Duggan was not good in the game. Duggan went just 4-9 for 26 yards. He was late getting to his reads and had to hold onto the ball. However, Duggan was named the American team’s top QB from the practices by the defensive players, and the practices are much more important than the game.

Jack Podlesny and Adam Korsak

Did Bryce Baringer or Chad Ryland do anything special for the National team? No. But they just weren’t as bad as the American team was. Baringer had one pretty solid punt that went for 47 yards with decent hang time that was fair caught. Ryland went 4/5, missing from 52 yards. It would’ve been beneficial to show more, but they didn’t fail miserably.

Now, the American team… they just so happened to. It started off well for them. Adam Korsak had a 45 yard punt downed at the 1, and Jack Podlesny made his first field goal from 35 yards out. After that, with Korsak’s next two punts, his average dropped to 35.7, totaling just 107 yards between the three. Podlesny would go on to miss a 30 yard field goal, as well.

Blake Freeland, OT, BYU

Blake Freeland had an up-and-down week. His Senior Bowl game performance was not good. He got beat with both speed and power by a couple different defenders, and did not make an impact on the game. On a positive note, he did show versatility by playing on both sides of the line.

Camerun Peoples, RB, Appalachian St

Camerun Peoples struggled a bit yesterday. Peoples is 6015 and 215lbs. On his lone carry, he gained 15 yards. However, in the passing game, he had two costly drops in a two minute drive. His two receptions went for a combined -3 yards.

Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville

Malik Cunningham did not have a great week of practice. He missed Tuesday’s practice, and struggled to get into rhythm. He had issues throughout the game as well, including a bad turnover. However, he was able to provide ample value as a runner, adding five rushes for 22 yards and a touchdown.

Senior Bowl Week Recap

There were a lot of players who stepped up and had great weeks, far too many to name in a single article. The quarterbacks as a whole struggled, and I would venture to say not a single one stood out, despite some getting awards (their quarterbacks, they always will).

The running back group was extremely deep and talented, and would have been even more so had Roschon Johnson been able to stay healthy. Some receivers and tight ends were able to step up and produce.

A few defensive linemen showed their strength and technical ability, and some defensive backs showed out this week as well. Overall it was a solid, but not exceptional, group.

Senior Bowl Prospects to Watch for the Atlanta Falcons

The Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile opened some eyes to names that you will see come off of the boards mostly in days two and three of the NFL Draft. While the bulk of the Atlanta Falcons scouting brass was in Las Vegas for the Shrine Bowl, we were down here scoping out some of these mid-to-late-round talents at the Senior Bowl.

Every single one of the players that came down to Mobile should be on your big board somewhere. They all came down to Mobile and competed mightily. However, there were five prospects that jumped out that Atlanta Falcons fans should keep their eyes on from this year’s Senior Bowl.

Senior Bowl Prospects the Atlanta Falcons Should Watch

Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech

With the hire of Ryan Nielsen, expect the defensive line of the Falcons to get bigger everywhere. That includes on the outside. It is apparent that Nielsen has a type when it comes to getting pressure from the outside. Nielsen wants bigger, more physical guys on the edge.

Enter Keion White. The Georgia Tech edge may have made himself a bit too valuable for the Atlanta Falcons to pick him up at pick 44 with his play at the Senior Bowl. But, if he is there expect Atlanta to pull the trigger. He is a strong, physical presence on the outside with some good lateral quickness that lends itself to immediate value in the run game.

Jammie Robinson, Safety, Florida State

This is more of a safety valve, no pun intended, in case the Falcons don’t get Jessie Bates in free agency. Jammie Robinson has shown a physicality this week that new assistant head coach, Jerry Gray, would covet in the back end of the defense.

Gray was spoiled back in Green Bay with the duo of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage. With the versatility of both Robinson and Grant in the back end, Gray should be able to get creative with how he can run his coverage. Not to mention that both of them are threats to rush the passer if in the box.

Keeanu Benton, Interior Defensive Lineman, Wisconsin

Benton showed a bevy of pass-rush moves throughout the week and was a nightmare in one-on-ones. He has violent hands and some explosion that a man his size (6’3″, 312 pounds) should not have. He moves smooth laterally and is steadily improving as a pass rusher.

Benton also has an extremely high motor. A trait that would be perfect to match with the likes of Ta’Quon Graham and Grady Jarrett. Everyone knows how difficult it has been to get to the quarterback recently for Atlanta defenses. Benton would be a nice step in the right direction to fixing that.

Jayden Reed, Wide Receiver, Michigan State

Okay, that’s enough defense. The Falcons are squarely in the wide receiver market and they need speed. Or at least some type of explosiveness. A solid route-runner could help as well. Well, you get all three with Jayden Reed.

In this draft, there are a slew of day two wide receivers that are going to be instant producers in the NFL. From Xavier Hutchinson and Rashee Rice (who both also had great weeks) to Zay Flowers and Josh Downs. With his performance this week, Reed cemented himself in that conversation.

He is an absolute burner, hitting a top speed of 20.03 MPH. A savvy and explosive route-runner would do wonders for opening up Arthur Smith’s passing game.

John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota

Finally, we have the big bully of the Senior Bowl. Will we be able to draft him? Who knows. Schmitz really showed out this week and cemented himself as the top center in this draft. If the Atlanta Falcons were at the Senior Bowl, you would probably see Arthur Smith and OL coach Dwayne Ledford salivating over Schmitz and his ability to anchor.

He showed an ability to finish his blocks in pass protection that the Falcons do need in the interior. Not to mention his ability to move in space. In the team drills, he impressed me with his ability to move laterally after snapping the football. Schmitz could easily have a good career in the NFL, maybe in Atlanta.

Other Senior Bowl Names to Watch

Darius Rush, cornerback, South Carolina

Kenny McIntosh, running back, Georgia

Daiyan Henley, linebacker, Washington State

Trey Palmer, wide receiver, Nebraska

Josh Whyle, tight end, Cincinnati

Senior Bowl Day Three Risers and Fallers: American Team

It’s the third and final day of practices at the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl for the American Team down in Mobile, Alabama. Which means another day of covering the risers and fallers from each Senior Bowl squad.

There were plenty of guys who rode the momentum from their first two days of practice. There were also those that turned it on after the rust of inactivity from the end of their college seasons finally dissipated.

Lastly, and unfortunately, we do have those who either didn’t live up to the billing or, worse, fell even further with their subpar performance on the final day of practice. 

Senior Bowl Risers: Day Three

Photo Credit: Charles Mays/Tomahawk Nation

Jammie Robinson, Florida State

Robinson had another great day of coverage today. He was constantly around the football in team and red-zone drills. There was a play where he ranged from the middle of the field to the hash and almost intercepted the football (Darius Rush ended up with the interception) and it was telling about his improvement as a center field safety.

He showed a lot better range and man-coverage ability than he did at Florida State. Look for him to make a play or two on Saturday during the 2023 Senior Bowl game for the American team.

Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State

Well, it happened. As soon as Hutchinson’s play was in question, he proceeded to show up and show out in day three. He was making contested catches and creating easy separation against everyone. Any rust that he had from the first two days has been completely knocked off, and I can’t wait to see how he performs in the game Saturday

Darius Rush, South Carolina

Rush had a couple of flashes the first two days but it all culminated on day three. He was sticky in both one-on-ones and team reps. He was physical at the top of routes and repeatedly beat receivers to the spot. That led to two interceptions and multiple pass deflections. Rush has been an up-and-down guy, but today he put it all together and left a great impression.

Don’Tayvion Wicks, Virginia

Wicks has been a solid guy all week, but he really put it together today. He repeatedly was getting early separation and showcased a really diverse package of releases. From step-back releases to two- and three-step releases, he kept defensive backs guessing from the snap of the ball to the top of the break. He did a great job giving his quarterbacks an easy target. 

John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this before: John Michael Schmitz has completely dominated the Senior Bowl. He’s shown unreal anchoring ability and fantastic play strength at the center position. He simply has been the best offensive lineman at the 2023 Senior Bowl this season.

Aubrey Miller, Jr., Jackson State

Miller, Jr. has shown so much physicality throughout this week, but he hadn’t put it all together yet. Today, he continuously brought the energy in every one of his reps. He impressed with his motor while coming downhill and his ability to get into the backfield in the run game.

Tyjae Spears, Tulane

I refuse to go three days without saying how much Tyjae Spears has shown his explosiveness and raised his stock. He has been one of the more consistent running backs in the fact that he is a threat to score whenever he touches the football.

He still has some struggles with pass blocking but you can see the strides he’s taking as a receiver. He is constantly improving and I do hope to see even more improvement at the game on Saturday.

Senior Bowl Fallers: Day Three

Photo Credit: Associated Press/LM Otero

Max Duggan, TCU

Please do not be fooled by whatever may be talked about, Max Duggan has not been good throughout this week. Duggan has looked shaky this entire week and it has looked no better today. He repeatedly overthrew receivers and missed layup throws that, yet again, he was expected to hit throughout the week. I hope that on Saturday he shows more in front of the scouts, but he did not do well throughout this week. At all.

Anthony Johnson, Jr., Virginia

After having a really good day yesterday, Johnson, Jr. really had an off day today. He was far too handsy throughout the day and was getting beat at the top of routes too easily. Johnson didn’t win many of his reps in one-on-ones and struggled keeping up with receivers in both team and red-zone today. 

Isaiah Land, Florida A&M

The coaching staff for the American team seemed to not like Land at EDGE and had him playing in off-ball linebacker all day. While this may not be an omen for his NFL projection, it is something to watch as he goes through the draft process.

He clearly looked uncomfortable at the position but, in his defense, it was a snap decision and a new experience for the Florida A&M product. It will be interesting to see if NFL teams are going to want to do the same throughout his process. 

Honorable Mentions

Here are some final notable names for the American team here at the 2023 Senior Bowl. Zacch Pickens had another really good day in team drills and got good penetration in the middle of the line. Byron Young (Tennessee) was another guy who dominated in team drills as he beat guys to the spot very easily. Derick Hall had another day where he showed his strength and that coveted long arm in team drills.