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Broncos Senior Bowl Notebook: 3 Stand-Outs From Day 1

By Luke Patterson,


Amid the tectonic Sean Payton news, three potential Denver Broncos prospects flashed at Senior Bowl practices.

Mobile, AL. — There’s no rest for the wicked as I packed up my Shrine Bowl coverage in Las Vegas to travel across four different states to get to the 2023 Senior Bowl. NFL scouts, coaches, and executives alike crammed into planes with early mornings and late nights in search of the next crop of prospects that will enter this year’s NFL draft.

The city of Mobile is an interesting town, with residents and diehard football fans eager to see the NFL masses and, more importantly, the country’s elite senior class show their stuff. Home to Hank Aaron and phenomenal BBQ, I’m always eager to arrive in Mobile and enjoy that famous Southern hospitality.

On the first day of practice between the National team, coached by Chicago Bears OC Luke Getsy, and the American team, led by Las Vegas Raiders DC Patrick Graham, the Denver Broncos stole the show by consummating a deal with the New Orleans Saints to acquire head coach Sean Payton as the lead man in the Mile High City. The Broncos will reportedly surrender their 2023 first-round pick and next year’s second-rounder in exchange for Payton and the Saints’ 2024 third-rounder.

Now more than ever, Denver can ill afford to miss on any prospects in the upcoming draft, as there is hardly any room for error. While Broncos Country revels in the Payton news, there's still crucial scouting business to be done, so let's review a trio of prospects that caught my eye at the first practice of the Senior Bowl.

Michael Wilson | WR | Stanford

At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Wilson was unquestionably the most dynamic player at his position for the entire day. The California native was an accomplished high school athlete, listed as a four-star recruit who also played basketball, and was sought after by a plethora of universities for his playmaking services.

As a team captain in 2022, Wilson fought through injuries, appearing in six games and recording 26 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns while averaging a career-high 16.1 yards per reception. The fifth-year senior leaves Stanford, having played in 36 career games, totaling 134 receptions, 1,662 yards, 11 touchdowns, averaging 12.4 yards per catch for the duration of his collegiate career. Wilson also earned honors as a three-time Pac-12 All-Academic Honor Roll player.

In both one-on-one drills and 7-on-7, Wilson demonstrated his poise as a route runner with exceptional footwork. He utilized double moves to his advantage while simultaneously getting defensive backs to cheat with his quick change of direction, specifically with his shoulder movement.

Wilson’s poise and ability to accept coaching made him a favorite of his coaches and QBs alike. He was usually the first man in the line for positional drills and was always working with teammates and coaches to make the most of his time at the Senior Bowl.

Why Denver Could be Intrigued : I have Wilson graded as a mid-round draft pick, while his draft stock is significantly on the rise here in Mobile. Broncos WR Tim Patrick will be returning from injury, while Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler’s roles could be in question with the coaching shake-up.

Perhaps Denver attempts to trade one of its receivers to gain draft capital with hopes of getting in front of the Payton trade. Even if the Broncos don’t, receivers should be drafted every year as the QB-dependent position continually battles injury, and depth at wideout couldn't be more valuable in today’s NFL.

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Cody Mauch | OL | North Dakota State

Since Broncos OL Quinn Meinerz dazzled all of us at the Senior Bowl a couple of years ago, it seems like the smaller schools are continually helping NFL teams discover the next diamond in the rough. I’m not saying Mauch is the next ‘Belly’ to be reckoned with in the league, but the 6-foot-6, 300-pounder can play football.

A native of North Dakota, Mauch played tight end, quarterback, and defensive end in high school, in addition to playing baseball, basketball, and participating in track.

The redshirt senior played in 12 games and took 671 snaps for the Bison in 2022, and was a pillar of consistency on the offensive line. Mauch only allowed four QB hurries, one QB hit, and one sack while playing at left tackle last season. He concluded his collegiate career with 58 games played and logged a total of 2,279 snaps.

Mauch plays with a heightened level of physicality. During one-on-ones, he was rarely beaten with power moves, and when he did get bested by a swim or rip move from an opposing defender, Mauch bounced back the next rep with improved fundamentals, showing great hand placement and literally throwing defenders to the ground legally. That garnered him some positive attention from coaches and scouts.

The 24-year-old is exceptionally lean for his size, carries his weight very well, and isn’t sloppy in the least bit, recording a 5.20-second 40-yard dash in college. During team periods, Mauch also provided a wealth of generous run blocks against quicker defenders that were unfortunately caught in his grip.

Why Denver Could be Intrigued : The Broncos will overhaul the offensive line room, specifically the starting five because they’re broken. Expect that to be Payton’s first priority as head coach, having previously hired Mark Schlereth as an outside consultant during his tenure with New Orleans.

Currently, I have a mid-round grade on Mauch and am projecting him to be selected in the third round of the draft. If selected by Denver, this young man would assimilate well into the OL room and could press veteran players for snaps in training camp.

Julius Brents | CB | Kansas State

At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Brents is hardly ever outsized or outplayed by opposing wide receivers. The Indiana native was a highly recruited high school prospect who spent the first duration of his college football career with Iowa. He appeared in seven games for the Hawkeyes, totaling 17 tackles (nine solo), four passes defended, and logged one interception in two seasons.

Brents transferred to Kansas State in 2021, where he immediately made an impact for the Wildcats by playing in 13 games and was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention in his first year. Last season, Brent recorded 45 tackles (28 solo), 3.5 tackles for a loss, four passes defended, four interceptions, and one forced fumble. In 726 snaps, he allowed an impressive 48.3 QB rating when targeted, making him a cornerback to avoid in opposing teams' game plans.

Brents' size and physical ability immediately make me think of Seahawks CB Tariq Woolen, though Brents is not as speedy. Brents forced multiple incompletions whenever the receiver he was tasked with covering was targeted, including an interception.

Brents is also a willing participant in the run game and utilizes his physicality to attack what would normally be larger backs and tight ends. But the most impressive aspect of his game is the manner in which his smooth backpedal and loose hips complement his impressive frame.

Why Denver Could be Intrigued : There’s no doubt about it that this man’s stock is red-hot while teams look for large and physical defensive backs to shut down X-receivers. One thing we know about Broncos GM George Paton is that he considers corner to be a premium position, having selected four such players over the last two drafts.

To be completely honest, Brent is my favorite prospect I’ve seen this past week, including prospects that I evaluated in the East-West Shrine Bowl.

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