The Reese’s Senior Bowl marks the unofficial start of NFL Draft Season. The deadline for draft declarations has passed, the top of the draft order is set, and the NFL calendar has a week break between Conference Championships and the Super Bowl. While some may fill that void with the Pro Bowl exhibition on Sunday, February 5, College Football fans know the best contests takes place on Saturdays, including the Senior Bowl game on February 4. The Senior Bowl serves as the premier college football all-star showcase and the first opportunity for some of college football’s best to make an impression directly to NFL scouts and coaches.
The 2022 TCU Football season was one for the ages and looks primed to produce the program’s best draft class ever. The 2023 Senior Bowl’s collection of five former TCU standouts is the most Horned Frogs to have ever appeared in a single game, with the next closest being 2011 when QB Andy Dalton (drafted 35th overall), WR Jeremy Kerley (drafted #153), and OL Jake Kirkpatrick (UDFA, Indianapolis) made the trip to Mobile. TCU has sent at least one player to the Senior Bowl every season since 2015 and that attendance has certainly contributed to draft stock improvement, like in 2017 when Defensive Linemen LJ Collier (29th overall) and Ben Banogu (49th overall) made big leaps up draft boards. A quick look at the Horned Frogs headed to Mobile in 2023 to impress NFL scouts and begin their own journey to the NFL:
Max Duggan, Quarterback
The Draft Network Grade: 71.5 (5th round)
Mock Draft Database Rank: #197 (QB 9)
What more can be said about Max Duggan? Opening the season as QB2 on the TCU depth chart and ending it as the Heisman Trophy runner up while leading the Frogs to the National Title game. He improved immensely in the Sonny Dykes and Garrett Riley offensive system that tailored itself to Duggan’s skill set. In 2022 Duggan became elite at the things that troubled him previously (avoiding turnovers, mid-level accuracy) while building on his foundation as a dangerous runner and team leader. The football world learned to not count out Max Duggan, so no matter when and where he is drafted, that team will get a warrior ready to work, regardless of his role.
Steve Avila, Offensive Lineman
TCU OG Steve Avila vs. Texas. Big frame at 6-4, 330lbs with natural strength. He'll be at the Senior Bowl. Want to see him in 1 on 1 pass rush period. pic.twitter.com/zwirmqC0Lj— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) January 27, 2023
The Draft Network Grade: 73.5 (4th round)
Mock Draft Database Rank: #103 (IOL 6)
The versatile O-Lineman was Second-Team All-Big 12 at Center in 2021 and was moved over to Guard with TCU’s addition of Alan Ali, excelling in his new role to become a Frist Team All-Conference and consensus All-American performer in 2022. Avila’s pure strength at the interior O-Line spots allows him to excel in the power run game and the quick pass game. According to PFF stats, Avila allowed zero sacks and just nine hurries on 540 pass block snaps in 2022.
Derius Davis, Wide Receiver / Kick Returner
The Draft Network Grade: 72.0 (4th round)
Mock Draft Database Rank: #419 (WR 52)
The game-breaking speedster is unlikely to show up in many mock drafts given his size (listed by TCU at 5’10” 175 lbs...but he’ll likely measure smaller once official measurements are taken throughout the draft process). While he has certainly shown the ability to perform as a slot receiver and on jet sweeps at the college level, he may have a challenge to find the same open space against the speed and physicality of NFL defenders. Where he will unquestionably be an asset to any NFL team would be as a Special Teams contributor. With 6 total career return touchdowns, including two punt return scores in 2022, Davis has game-changing ability to flip a field which should at minimum earn him a spot on an NFL roster, similar to former Frog KaVontae Turpin with the Dallas Cowboys.
Dylan Horton, Defensive Lineman
TCU’s Dylan Horton showing off why he was a member of @BruceFeldmanCFB’s Freaks List with a huge third down sack.— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) November 13, 2022
Horton’s blend of explosiveness and power at 275 pounds make him a very intriguing 2023 NFL Draft prospect. pic.twitter.com/kZZ92wLJkr
The Draft Network Grade: 78.5 (3rd round)
Mock Draft Database Rank: #142 (EDGE 19)
Another Horned Frog that made a leap in 2022, leading the Big 12 in sacks with 10.5. Horton shined brightest when the spotlight was on him, including four sacks and a forced fumble against Michigan’s Joe Moore Award winning Offensive Line in the Fiesta Bowl CFP Semifinal. He was also stout against the run all season, highlighted by five tackles at Texas, contributing to the TCU effort to hold projected first round pick Bijan Robinson to 29 yards. At 6’4” 250lbs, Horton could line up as a stand-up EDGE or a hand-in-the-dirt DE and will look to show off that versatility and high-motor at the Senior Bowl.
Dee Winters, Linebacker
The Draft Network Grade: 79.0 (3rd round)
Mock Draft Database Rank: #207 (LB 18)
Already the leader of the TCU Defense, with the new 3-3-5 scheme brought in by Joe Gillespie, Winters was pushed into a new and even more prominent role. He excelled against the run and pass rush, where his speed overpowered offensive schemes to earn him 7.5 sacks, 7 QB hurries, and a team-leading 14.5 tackles for loss on 79 total tackles. While sometimes vulnerable in pass coverage against elite TEs or slot WRs, Winters had one of the plays of the season in reading a JJ McCarthy pass and returning it for a TD in the Fiesta Bowl win over the Michigan Wolverines.
All of the Horned Frogs are on the American Team, making it easy to follow them throughout the practice week and on game day. You can check out the complete rosters to see the players they’ll face-off against in practice and then during the game.
Schedule & how to watch:
American Team Practice:
- Tuesday, Jan. 31: 2:00-4:00 PM Central
- Wednesday, Feb. 1: 2:00-4:00 PM Central - ESPN2 // WatchESPN // ESPN App
- Thursday, Feb. 2: 2:00-4:00 PM Central - ESPN2 // WatchESPN // ESPN App
The Senior Bowl Game:
- Saturday, Feb. 4 1:30 PM Central - NFL Network // NFL.com
A pair of other showcases taking place ahead of the Senior Bowl will also feature Horned Frogs: OL Alan Ali & RB Emari Demercado competed in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on January 28th; DB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson will play in the East-West Shrine Game on Thursday February 2nd. Enjoy these opportunities to catch these Horned Frogs in action one more time as they work towards earning an opportunity in professional football and to hear their name called during the NFL Draft.
Horned Frogs in the Senior Bowl