Senior Bowl: D-linemen Keeanu Benton, Andre Carter seize spotlight

Jan 31, 2023, 11:41 PM | Updated: Feb 1, 2023, 12:21 am
National Team at the Senior Bowl...
(Photo by Andrew Mason /
(Photo by Andrew Mason /

Click here for the American team report from Tuesday!

MOBILE, Ala. — On a day where the Broncos’ draft focus turned away from the first round, the first practice of Senior Bowl week offered some potential answers — especially up front, where the Broncos could face looming needs on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

MASE: Normally at this time of year, I’m waxing poetic about Wisconsin offensive linemen. But this year, the best Badgers prospect up front is on the defensive side: Keeanu Benton. For a player who checks in at 312 pounds, he has the requisite power expected. But what stood out Tuesday was the quickness of his hands, which he used to win multiple one-on-one matchups.

Benton was matched by a pair of outstanding offensive linemen — Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones and North Dakota State guard Cody Mauch. Jones’ length and massive 375-pound frame allowed him to win one-on-one matchups against Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey and Army’s Andre Carter — two defensive linemen who diced up the other O-linemen they faced. Mauch showed a nice blend of power and fluidity. I liked how adept he looked pulling out into space to run block.

Jones’ bulk puts him in the danger zone of having an increased injury risk at the next level — a problem that 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton has endured with the New York Jets. But as far as the work Tuesday went, he was arguably the best player on the field.

The biggest hit of the day came from Boise State safety J.L. Skinner. He was strong against the run, although his work in 1-on-1 pass-coverage drills was less consistent.

The quarterback play was ragged. Fresno State’s Jake Haener struggled to handle snaps early, and then was inconsistent — although he did have a singularly gorgeous deep strike down the right sideline in the 1-on-1 period. Haener also measured at an even 6 feet. (The Bulldogs listed him at 6-foot-1.) While he has a quick delivery, he has a low release point.

Elsewhere in the backfield, Northwestern RB Evan Hull flashed. He had an explosive run in the team period, but what jumped out was his work in the 9-on-7 repetitions. His quick feet, vision and fluid change of direction allowed him to surge for extra yardage in tight quarters.

And finally, it wouldn’t be a report without a look at the punter. Michigan State’s Bryce Baringer had hang times of at least 4.3 seconds on eight of his nine punts during a team special-teams period. He averaged 45.0 yards per punt, an averaged ragged down by punts of 31 and 33 yards. Baringer’s average hang time was 4.55 seconds — ideal for his average gross yardage.

CECIL: I was excited about a handful of players for this game when the roster was announced. Some of the players I liked — specifically, QB Jaren Hall –did not have a good day of practice.

However, I was elated to watch Army EDGE Andre Carter II have a great day. He’s one of the best pass-rushers in this draft class, and there is a good chance Carter hears his name called on Day 1 of the draft. I like the way he used his hands to fight and get around blockers in practice. He’s strong, and his hand strikes are vicious which allows him to get by opponents quickly.

Another player I liked entering this week was Texas RB Roschon Johnson. He was a backup in college behind Bijon Robinson, but he could have been a starter for many teams in college football. Now, he gets a chance to showcase his ability. It’s difficult to scout running backs at these all-star games because there is no live tackling to the ground. It’s made even more difficult when dealing with a powerful back like Johnson. I did like how swift he looked with the ball in his hands, and Johnson is an intent runner who wastes little motion when he’s got the rock.

Everyone who attended practice can agree that Stanford WR Michael Wilson was among the standout players on the National Team. He has some of the most natural hands I’ve seen this year scouting this incoming group of wide receivers. Seeing him in person is even more impressive. There were at least two times that I saw Wilson catch a pass that was way too low for him, and he was able to secure the pass cleanly. He’s got the flexibility to make plays near the sideline and the back of the end zone, and that skill was on display.

It’s fun to see what players jump off the field (in terms of their performance) at these all-star games. That’s exactly what Arizona State IDL Nesta Jade Silvera did on Tuesday. It didn’t take long for him to make his presence felt. They did my favorite drill — “the pit” — early in practice. During those 1-on-1 blocking drills there were few times when Silvera did not get to the quarterback. In team drills, he was able to continue his penetrating play. I like his low center of gravity, quickness off the line of scrimmage, and his ability to outmuscle the man in front of him.

I don’t think this is a great guard class, with perhaps only one going in the first round. However, if you want a developmental guard on the inside, you need to be considering North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch.

Now, only some in the scouting community think he should move to guard. There are many that think he can stay at tackle in the pros. On the first day of practice, Mauch worked at both positions. I like his ability to stop the first move, keep or readjust his feet, and then stunt the second move.



1. OT Dawand Jones, Ohio State
2. IDL Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
3. G Cody Mauch, North Dakota State
4. S J.L. Skinner, Boise State
5. EDGE Andre Carter II, Army


1. EDGE Andre Carter II, Army
2. RB Roschon Johnson, Texas
3. WR Michael Wilson, Stanford
4. IDL Nesta Jade Silvera, Arizona State
5. G Cody Mauch, North Dakota State


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