MOBILE, Ala. — The practices continued on Wednesday at Hancock Whitney Stadium for Day 2 of the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl week.
With plenty of position groups in need of upgrades for the Bears, what players stood out for the National and American Team?
I highlight some of the potential draft prospects in my top observations from Wednesday’s practice.
For the first Senior Bowl practice on Tuesday, I primarily watched the National Team’s offensive and defensive linemen. I switched it up on Wednesday and watched the group’s skilled players.
One of the most consistent players from the practice was Stanford’s Michael Wilson. The 6-foot-1, 216-pound receiver ran precise and crisp routes. Whether it was in routes on air or in the one-on-ones, Wilson did not take unnecessary steps and clearly understands how to get a defensive back off balance.
Wilson also has some speed to his game. There was one rep in the one-on-one portion of practice where the Stanford receiver simply just outran the defender. I’m looking forward to seeing if he can stack another good practice on Thursday.
And the same goes for Wilson’s former teammate Kyu Blue Kelly — which is an awesome name by the way. Kelly is a 6-foot-1, 193-pound cornerback and he made life difficult for opposing wide receivers. He easily could’ve had four interceptions in the practice (due to his good positioning and instincts), but he only ended up with one.
In team drills, Kelly was isolated with his man as the left outside cornerback. Kelly ripped the ball from the receiver and ran back all the way into the end zone. The entire defense joined Kelly and celebrated the play.
A player who didn’t go to Stanford and had a good practice was Michigan State’s Jayden Reed. The 5-foot-10, 191-pound pass catcher also understands how to run routes while maintaining his speed. This rep against USC’s Mekhi Blackmon displays that perfectly and also his ability to fight through contact to make a contested catch.
As a bonus, the former Spartan is also a big fan of Bears quarterback Justin Fields, who he has faced while they were both in the Big Ten Conference.
On Day 1 of the American Team practice, I watched the wide receivers and defensive backs. Wednesday’s focus changed to the offensive and defensive lines and also the running backs.
Let’s start with Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz. He plays with physicality and nastiness. In a few of his one-on-one reps, Schmitz finished the play by throwing down the opposing defensive lineman.
Schmitz isn’t just a bruiser, though. In one of the team reps, the offense called a screen pass and Schmitz got out in space, located Sacramento State linebacker Marte Mapu and shoved him to the ground. Had this been a live drill, Schmitz was ready to put his full body weight on Mapu to finish the play.
On the other side of the line, Oklahoma’s Jalen Redmond showed some polished pass rush moves. He is listed at 6-foot-2, 293-pounds, but look how smooth and quick he beat the offensive lineman on this play.
He also had some reps where he just walked the opposing offensive lineman backward. A good combination of finesse and power on Day 2 for Redmond.
Getting closer to the end of practice, running back Tyjae Spears broke off a big run through the interior of the defense. Once Spears got to the second level, he easily made the safety miss for a 50-yard touchdown. Spears’ offensive teammates celebrated with him in the end zone.