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Senior Bowl
NFL Draft

Senior Bowl 2023 Defensive Standouts To Note

  • Ryan Fowler
  • February 7, 2023
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With Mobile in the rearview mirror, we’re now full steam ahead toward the NFL Combine and pro days. And with the Senior Bowl now in the past, it’s time to take a look at who stood out the past week during the individual, team, and game portions of the showcase on the defensive side of the ball. 

Keeanu Benton, IDL, Wisconsin

A former wrestler, Benton’s quickness, leverage, and hands flashed all week long. He was nothing short of fantastic and raised his stock immensely in all facets.

Darius Rush CB, South Carolina

A late addition to the Senior Bowl event, Rush checked every possible box on the outside, including the old eye test. At 6-foot-1 with nearly 33-inch arms, he had a pick on Wednesday—could have had two—nearly another on Thursday, and remained constantly in phase with pass-catchers in one-on-one opportunities. During portions of practice tailored toward wide receivers, Rush’s knack for mirroring and “running the route” for some of the wideouts in attendance popped every day during practice. 

In a day in age where corners are asked to work in multiple coverages, he looked smooth and comfortable during all phases and has been a common voice that has echoed during special teams work. The instincts he also showcased spoke volumes –  it’s stuff you simply can’t teach. Technique, working with different leverage, eyes… those are things you’re able to control and ingrain into guys, but having a “feel” for the game that allows an athlete to consistently make plays on the football is unteachable. 

From a technical standpoint, he’s not perfect—and his tape this fall oftentimes saw him get caught peeking in the backfield in an attempt to read eyes—but he’s a ball of clay dripping with tools that any DB coach would, and should, pound the table to get their hands on. Tools and traits are often the common buzzwords this time of year, and while they matter, and Rush has them, there’s something to be said about just being a “good football player.”

Jammie Robinson SAF, Florida State

I love the way Robinson approaches the game. He looks to embarrass offensive players on every single snap and carries an alpha mentality at the roof of the defense. A standout this week on teams, he’ll be a day-one contributor for any unit in football.

Adetomiwa Adebawore DL, Northwestern

I saw him push Notre Dame’s Jarrett Patterson 10 yards into the goal post in one-on-ones, and if there were any questions on his ability to overpower interior guys, all he did was answer them at the Senior Bowl. I expected him to rise, and any ballclub in search of an interior mover that can play all three downs should have him high on their board. He was fantastic.

Aubrey Miller Jr. LB, Jackson State

Everywhere you looked, Miller was near the football. He remains a day-three guy on my board, but I have a feeling he could be one of the steals of the class with his ability to explode through creases in the run game and identify offensive concepts before the ball is snapped. If I’m a GM, I hope the buzz stays low on Miller because he’s a heck of a football player that any coordinator would like to get in their LBs room. 

Marte Mapu LB, Sacramento State

A late Senior Bowl addition, Mapu made his way to Mobile after dominating at the NFLPA Bowl. While consecutive weeks of practice and a step up in competition were questions for him as practice arrived, Mapu silenced critics and was one of the more impressive defenders at the event. He’s built like a safety and has all the tools in the bag to play at all three levels if need be. He’s a sleeper worth becoming familiar with that will be able to wear multiple hats for a defense on Sundays. 

Jakorian Bennett CB, Maryland

He had a pick during Saturday’s Senior Bowl game, but where Bennett flashed to me the most was in his attention to detail, coachability, and applying critiques during one-on-ones. He’s extremely detail-oriented, and while we often get caught up in the tools and traits of players, watching (and hearing) Bennett align teammates and proceed to dominate highlighted a player beyond his years. His approach on the outside will allow him to play at a high level right away. 

Tyrique Stevenson DB, Miami (FL)

He’ll play safety on Sundays, but Stevenson was a standout at corner all week long. Although he missed Thursday’s practice, he was physical, patient, and never looked out of sorts. He’s been a riser within league circles the last few weeks and will come off the quick on draft weekend. 

Other Senior Bowl Notables:

  • Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford
  • Daniel Scott, SAF, Cal
  • Sir’Vocea Dennis, LB, Pitt
  • Cam Jones, LB, Indiana
  • Jerrod Clark, IDL, Coastal Carolina
  • Byron Young, EDGE, Tennessee
  • Nesta Jade Silvera, IDL, Arizona State

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Ryan Fowler