GREAT BLUE NORTH DRAFT REPORT
NEWS AND INFORMATION ON THE NFL DRAFT
Who to watch in college football bowl action
Monday, January 6
BOWL: #1 Florida State (13-0) versus #2 Auburrn (12-1); 8:30 PM ET;
The preliminaries are done and its time to get down to the only bowl that really counts as top-rated Florida State plays Auburn for the national championship in Pasadena at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN later this evening. Needless these are two very talented teams, but their storylines are quite different. Florida State QB Jameis Winston (#5, 6-3, 220), this year's Heisman Trophy winner is already a household, for example, although as a redshirt freshman won't be eligible for the draft until 2-15. Howeve, that hasn't stopped people from pencilling him in as the likely first pick overall at next year's draft. On the other hand, its likely that the majority of college football fans couldn't even name Auburn junior QB Nick Marshall (#14, 6-0, 210), the one-time Georgia corner, who has been one of the best stories in college football this fall.
Florida State is also likely to have the bigger overall impact at the 2014 draft, however, the first pick coming out of the BCS title game could be Auburn redshirt sophomore Greg Robinson (#73, 6-5, 320) who has been rocketing up draft boards across the NFL to the point where there are growing whsipers that he could ultimately be a top 10 pick were he to opt to jump to the NFL this year. In fact, Auburn is a relatively young team with veteran DEs Dee Ford (#95, 6-2, 240) and Nosa Equae (#94, 6-2, 270) the team's only real senior draft prospects, while junior RB Tre Mason (#21, 5-9,200) is an explosive slasher who could get some mid-round looks this coming May as a possible complimentary back.
In fact, the title game will offer a unique chance to watch two of the top OT prospects for the upcoming draft as FSU junior LT Cameron Erving (#75, 6-5, 320) has also been mentioned as a possible top 10-15 candidate this year. Same story for redshirt sophomore WR Kelvin Benjamin(#1, 6-5, 235), a mismatch waiting to happen athe next level. At the same time, junior DT Timmie Jernigan (#8, 6-2, 295), one of the quickest interior defensive linemen in the country, could also ultimately get some late first-round consideration, while CB Lamarcus Joyner (#20, 5-8, 190) and OLB Telvin Smith (#22, 6-2, 220) are both very active defenders with second-day grades, although both are somewhat undersized. Meanwhile, MLB Christian Jones (#7, 6-3, 235) and C Bryan Stork (#52, 6-3, 315) are both among the best prospects at their respective positions, although Jones might be a better fit on the outside at the next level.
Friday, January 3
BOWL: #8 Missouri (11-2) versus #13 Oklahoma State (10-2); 7:30PM ET;
Almost sounds like a Big XII conference game. Certainly these two have played beore many times, athough maybe not on quite as big a stage. Players to watch in this game start with aggressive Missouri DEs Michael Sam (#52, 6-2, 255) and junior Kony Ealy (#47, 6-5, 275). Sam came from nowhere tolead the team with 10.5 sacks and no doubt will get some serious second-day consideation at the 2014 draft, especially from 3-4 teams looking for an edge-rushing LB. The angular Kony, who had 7.5 sacks of his own this fall, though, is the better prospect; indeed, in a down year at the position he could sneak into the latter part of the opening round. Meanwhile, the Missouri offense is led by resurgent veteran QB James Franklin (#1, 6-2, 230), who bounced back from an inconsistent 2012 campaign marred by nagging injuries and inconsistency, to complete 66% of his pass attempts this fall including 19 TD passes against just 5 picks, although he is still considered to be something of a second-tier pro prospect for the upcoming draft. Franklin throws to a very good receiver corps that includes seniors WR Marcus Lucas (#85, 6-4, 220), a solid possession receiver, and L’Damian Washington (#2, 6-3, 200), a speedster who is starting to attract some second looks from pro scouts. The Tigers leading receiver this fall, though, was super sophomore WR Dorial Green-Beckham (#15, 6-5, 220), the top recruit in the country last year, who is finally starting to live up to the hype. At the same time, other Tigers to watch include veteran OT Justin Britt (#68, 6-5, 320), a solid technician who has battled injuries throughout his career, along with CB E.J. Gaines (#31, 5-9, 195), MLB Andew Wilson (#48, 6-2, 235), and SSLB Donovan Bonner (#8, 6-0, 240).
No question that Oklahoma State is another program on the rise, although the Cowboys stillaren't likely to have a major impact early on at the 2014 draft, but do have a couple of solid second-day prospects in veteran CB Justin Gilbert (#4, 5-11, 200), who may ultimately be the first senior corner off the board this coming May, and DT Calvin Barnett (#99, 6-1, 300), while MLB Caleb Lavey (#45, 6-2, 235) and FS Daytaiwon Lowe (#8, 5-10, 205) are later round candidates and SS Shamiel Gray (#7, 5-11, 210), WRs Charlie Moore (#17, 6-1, 205) and Tracy Moore (#87, 6-1, 215), OGs Brandon Webb (#51, 6-3, 325) and Parker Graham (#71, 6-6, 315) and DE Tyler Johnson (#40, 6-0, 245) are free-agent prospects.
BOWL: #7 Ohio State (12-1) versus #12 Clemson (10-2); 8:30PM ET; ESPN
You know the whole bowl system is in trouble when Ohio State can't give away tickets to the Orange Bowl. Problem is nobody wants to be in a bowl any more. They want to play for the national championship; as such, it is going to be interesting to see how the 'other' bowls fare next year when the national championship playoff expands from 2 to 4 teams. Problem is that at least for now the Big Ten - and SEC, Pac-12, Big XII and ACC - still get their $1M plus per school every time one of their teams plays in a major bowl so they ain't going away without a squawk or two. Back to Miami where the Orange Bowl should at least provide an intersting showcase for two of the best QBs in the country in Tajh Boyd (#10, 6-0, 225) of the Tigers and athletic Ohio State junior Braxton Miller (#5, 6-1, 215). Both figure to be second-day picks, Boyd this year, and Miller whenever he opts to turn pro, althogh neither is a prototype pocket passer. The best prospect in this game, though, is Clemson junior WR Sammie Watkins (#2, 6-0, 205), a top 5-10 prospect for 2014 if as expected he jumps to the NFL winter. Unfortunately, though, the much anticipated dual between Watkins and Ohio State junior CB Bradley Roby will not materialize as the latter will not play because of a bone bruise. Too bad. The Buckeyes defense, though, will still has at least one potential first-round prospect on the field later this evening in junior OLB Ryan Shazier (#10, 6-0, 225), who isn't all that big, but who flies to the ball and makes an impact when he gets there. Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde (#34, 5-11, 245), a pounding inside runner with a burst, has also been moving up draft baords around the league. Hyde runs behind an big, experienced offensive front that includes LT Jack Mewhort (#74, 6-6, 310), C Corey Linsley (#71, 6-2, 300) and OGs Andrew Norwell (#78, 6-5, 320) and Marcus Hall (#79, 6-5, 315). Meanwhile, veteran FS C.J. Barnett (#4, 6-0, 205) heads the secondary, which also includes SS Corey Brown (#3, 6-0, 205) who is not to be confused with OSU WR Corey Brown (#10, 5-11, 190). Clemson also have a couple of solid veteran offensive linemen in OT Brandon Thomas (#63, 6-3, 305), who likely projects inside at the next level, and OG Tyler Shatley (#62, 6-3, 295), while PK Chandler Catanzaro (#39, 6-2, 195) is one of the most accurate kickers in the country.
Thursday, January 2
BOWL: Alabama (11-1) versus Oklahoma (10-2); 8:30PM ET; ESPN2
Don't want to go so far as to say this game is sympomatic of what went wrong with the whole bowl process this year, but one would have thought that there were several potentially fascinating Sugar Bowl matchups for Alabama, still argubaly the best team in the country despite that bizarre loss to Auburn on the final play of the SEC championship game. How about Alabama versus Ohio State in a penultimate SEC-Big 10 confrontation. Or maybe even better, Oregon versus the Tide in a game many people thought was going to be the BCS title match-up for much of the year. Instead, Alabama gets a very pedestrian Oklahoma team, which may travel well, but otherwise is as bland a match-up as one could imagine. Still, its Alabama with one of the top potential draft classes for the 2014 draft. Junior LT Cyrus Kouandjio (#71, 6-5, 310), who many scouts consider to be a more athletic prospect than either OG Chance Warmack and OT D.J. Fluker, the 10th and 11th players selected respectively at the 2013 draft, and LB C.J. Mosley (#32, 6-1, 235), for example, both have top 10-15 potential for this year, while juniors Adrian Hubbard (#42, 6-5, 255), a tweener DE/OLB who can attack the edge, and FS Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (#6, 6-0, 210) are late-first round candidates. Meanwhile, veteran 5-tech DE Ed Stinson (#49, 6-3, 295), OG Andrew Steen (#61, 62, 310), WR Kevin Norwood (#83, 6-1, 195) and CB Deion Belue (#13, 5-10, 185) have mid-to-late round potential. Then there is veteran QB A.J. McCarron (#10, 6-3, 215) who lacks prototype measuarbles but is a game manager par excellance who has done nothing but win in his football career.
In contrast to Alabama which will be busy pretty much from the get-go this coming May, the draft pickings at Oklahoma are going to be relatively slim this spring. CB Aaron Colvin (#14,6-0, 185), though, could get some serious second-day attention, while diminuitive WR Jalen Saunders (#8, 5-8, 160) and C Gabe Ikard (#64, 6-3, 310) have early third-day potential. Meanwhile, FS Gabe Lynn (#9, 5-11, 200), OLB Corey Nelson (#7, 6-0, 220), and OG Bronson Irwin (#68, 6-4, 310) are solid veterans who should at least get free agent contracts after the draft if they don't get a late-round call.
New Years Day, January 1
BOWL: Nebraska (8-4) versus Georgia (8-4); Noon ET; ESPN2
This game would have a very different flavor if starting QBs Aaron Murray of UGA and Taylor Martinez of the Huskers were about but both 4-year starters are out with injuries and their backups are pretty much unknown quatitities. In the end, Murray will still likely get a reasonably early call at the 2014 draft, however, neither Georgia nor Nebraska figure to be a major player at the 2014 draft. Both teams, though, have several solid mid-to-late round prospects including TE Jake Long (#41, 6-3, 240), DE Jason Ankrah (#9, 6-3, 265), physical CBs Stanley Baptiste-Jean (#16, 6-2, 220) and Ciante Evans (#17, 5-10, 190), emerging WR Quincy Enunwa (#18, 6-2,225), and OT Jeremiah Sirles (#71, 6-5, 310) of Nebraska, along with TE Arthur Lynch (#6-5, 255), OG Chris Burnette (#68, 6-2, 315), OT Kenarious Gates (#72, 6-5, 325), OG Dallas Lee (#64, 6-3, 295), and DE Garrison Smith (#56, 6-3, 300) of Georgia.
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL: UNLV (7-5) versus North Texas (8-4); Noon ET; ESPNU
Who the heck are these guys and why are they playing on New Year's Day!
BOWL: Iowa (8-4) versus LSU (9-3); 1 PM ET; ESPN
LSU's disappointing year continues with a uninspiring draw with Iowa in the Outback Bowl. And the Tigers disappointing year may very well continue through the draft as LSU, which has had at least one player selected in the opening round in 9 of the past 10 drafts - they also had at least one player chosen in the top 10 selection sin 6 of the last 7 years - doesn't have anyone who is necessarily a lock to be taken in this year's first round. Veteran QB Zach Mettenberger (#8, 6-4, 230), who has really grown on pro scouts this fall as he finally has begun to take advantage of his prototype size and arm strength, arguably has the best shot at it, although his status is very much up in the air after he tore an ACL in the Tigers'season finale. However, what LSU lacks in opening round locks, they make up for with a pack of second day prospects inclding junior DTs Anthony Johnson (#90, 62, 295) and Ego Ferguson (#9, 6-2, 310); big-play junior WRs Odell Beckham (#3, 5-11, 190) and Jarvis Landry (#80, 6-0, 195), FS Craig Loston (#6, 6-1, 205) and junior G/T La'el Collins (#70, 6-4, 325). Meanwhile WLB Lamin Barrow (#57, 6-1, 235), along with the RB stable that includes redshirt sophomore Jeremy Hill (#33,6-1, 235) and junior Kenny Hilliard (#27, 5-11, 235) each has mid-round potential. Late note, DT Ferguson will not play because of an undisclosed medical issue.
For its part, Iowa has arguably the top senior TE prospect in the 2014 draft in C.J. Fiedorowicz (#86, 6-6, 265), a mid-round candidate for the upcoming draft. The Hawkeyes also have a solid LB corps including MLB James Morris (#44, 6-1, 230) and OLBs Christian Kirksey (#20, 6-1, 225) and Anthony Hitchens (#31, 6-1, 225). Junior LT Brandon Scherrf (#68, 6-5, 310) is also one of the best in the country, but is expected to return to schoolnext fall.
BOWL: Wisconsin (9-3) versus South Carolina (10-2); 1 PM ET; ABC
No truth to the rumor that this game is going to be renamed the SEC-Big Ten Bank Bowl. No question, thought, that more than a few NFLteams will have scouts at the game looking for one more chance to watch South Carolina junior DE Jadevon Clowney (#7, 6-5, 275) who is still the consensus favorite to be the #1 pick other than a QB at the 2014 draft despite an indifferent season on the field this fall. Indeed, Clowney had just 3 sacks this fall after racking up 13 in 2013, but is still probably the only defensive player in the country who opposing coaches start their game planning around. Pro scouts will also be closely watching disruptive junior DT Kelcy Quarles (#99, 6-3, 295) who has already announced that he will be entering the 2014 draft; for the record, Quarles, a second-day type prospect, had 9.5 sacks and 4 other tackles for loss this fall. Junior CB Vic Hampton (#27, 5-10, 200) has also entered this year's draft where he will likely be an early third day fit. Meanwhile, other South Carolina players to watch include enigmatic QB Connor Shaw (#14, 6-1, 205), OG Ronald Patrick (#67, 62, 315), DE Chaz Sutton (#90. 6-4, 255) and CB Jimmy Legree (#15, 5-11, 185), although none is more than a later round candidate. Indeed, other than Clowney and Quarles, South Carolina’s most interesting prospects are RB Mike Davis (#28, 5-9, 215) and OT Brandon Shell (#71, 605, 325), a pair of emerging sophomores.
Wisconsin isn't going to have anyone selected any where near as early as Clowney, however, the Badgers do have several solid second-tier prsopects including RB James White (#20, 5-9, 200), MLB Chris Borland (#44, 5-11, 245), TE Jacob Pedersen (#48, 6-4, 240), G/T Ryan Groy (#79, 6-4, 320), FS Dezmen Southward (#12, 6-1, 215), and WR/KR Jared Abbrederis (#4, 6-1, 190). For good measure, the Badgers also feature a big, physical, veteran defensive front which includes DTs Beau Allen (#96, 6-2, 335) and Ethan Hemer (#87, 6-5, 320) and DEs Pat Muldoon (#92, 6-2, 260) and Brendan Kelly (#97, 6-5, 260).
BOWL: Stanford (11-2) versus Michigan State (11-2); 5 PM ET; ESPN
Maybe the best game of the bowls other than the national championship game, but wouldn't it be great if it meant something like a national quarter or semi-final instead of well nothing! Stanford which will be looking to win a second straight Rose Bowl and has an underrated draft class headlined by DE Trent Murphy (#93, 65, 265) who is currently one of the fastest rising players in the 2014 draft class with many teams now giving him a mid-first round grade. Murphy still has to prove that he has the quickness to consistently beat NFL OTs to the edge, but will get a chance to impress working against the solid Michigan State offensive frontt. Stanford also has a couple of other players who could figure in the late first round discussion this coming May including versatile OG David Yankey (#54, 6-4, 315) and junior FS Ed Reynolds (#29, 6-1, 205) who figures to one of the first safeties off the board this May if he leaves school this winter. Meanwhile, veteran MLB Shayne Skov (#11, 62, 245), who lacks prototype speed but is tough and instinctive, heads a solid group of mid-to-late round prospects which also includes rugged RBs Tyler Gaffney (#25, 6-0, 225) and Anthony Wilkerson (#32, 6-0, 215), FB Ryan Hewitt (#85, 6-3, 245), C Khalil Wilkes (#65, 6-2, 290), CB Usua Amanan (#15, 5-9, 175) and DEs Josh Mauro (#90, 6-5, 285) and Henry Anderson (#91, 6-5, 285).
Ironically, while Stanford is a solid favorite to in LA later today, Michigan State may have the best prospect for the upcoming draft in rising CB Darquese Dennard (#31, 5-10, 200) who has emerged as a potential mid-first round prospect. In fact, Dennard heads a very active, physical defense that also includes SS Isaiah Lewis (#9, 5-10, 200), OLB Denicos Allen (#28, 5-11, 225), and DT Tyler Hoover (#91, 6-6, 290), although none is more than a mid-round types. Of course, the Spartans' D took a real hit when rugged MLB ILB Max Bullough (#40, 6-2, 245), the heart and soul of the unit, was left home for disciplinary reasons. Over on offense, MSU has a veteran offensive front including OT Fou Fonoti (#51, 6-4, 300) and OGs Blake Treadwell (#64, 6-2, 300) and Dan France (#59, 6-5, 315), although again none is more than a third-day prospect at best.
BOWL: Baylor (11-1) versus Central Florida (11-1); 8:30 PM ET; ESPN
Imagine the mood in Waco after the Bears won their first ever Big XII championship and first BCS bid only to find out that instead of playing a prominent national opponent like Oregon or Ohio State they get something called UCF. Heck they could have gone 7-5 and played UCF in a bowl somewhere in Texas. Same story for Central Florida, although its hard to feel much sympathy for a team that earns a BCS bid from a conference 90% of college football fans couldn't name. For the record, UCF won the All Big American East or something like that this. Worse if one wins a BCS conference bid from a conference no can pronounce they make you travel and travel and travel just to get to the game. No wonder they can't give tickets away to most of these games. All that said, this game could feature one of the best QB duals ever between junior gunslingers Bryce Petty (#14, 6-3, 220) of Baylor and UCF's Blake Bortles (#5, 6-3, 230). Petty has already indicated that he will be back at school next fall where he is expected to battle with the likes of Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Florida State's Jameis Winston, the reigning Heisman winner, for the 1-2-3 QB ranking - if not the 1-2-3 ranking overall - for the 2015 draft. Bortles, on the other hand, has not announced any deicison and is expected to enter the 2014 draft where he could figure in the top 5-10 picks. Even with Petty likely to stay in scool, Baylor still has a likely first round pick in 2014 in massive LT Cyrus Richardson (#68, 6-5, 340), who is considered to be the top OG for the upcoming draft. Meanwhile, junior RB Lache Seastrunk (#25, 5-9, 210), the one-time celebrated Oregon recruit, currently rates as one of the top 2-3 prospects at the position for the 2014. Baylor also has a number of solid second-tier prospects including FS Ahmad Dixon (#6, 5-11, 205), TE Jordan Najvar (#18, 6-5, 260), RB Glasco Martin (#8,6-0, 220), CB Joe Williams (#22, 5-10, 190), DB Sam Holl (#25, 6-1, 210), OLB Eddie Lackey (#5, 6-0, 225), DEs Terrance Lloyd (#11, 6-3, 245) and Chris McAllister (#31, 6-2, 255), OT Kelvin Palmer (#77, 6-4, 295) and C Stefan Huber (#54, 6-3, 290). Meanwhile, the best is yet tocome for UCF which fields one of the youngest starting lineups in this year's bowls ith just 8 seniors on the roster period. UCF does have some experience upfront on offense with veteran OT Chris Martin (#70, 6-5, 290) and OGs Jordan McCray (#63, 6-3, 310) and Justin McCray (#64, 6-3, 310), while senior DT E.J. Dunston (#95, 6-1, 310) does a nice job clogging up the other side of the line, although none is more than a late-round free agent type prospect. In fact, along with Bortles, the Golden Knights best players are juniors like WR Breshad Perriman (#81, 6-1, 210), RB Storm Johnson (#8, 6-0, 220, LT Torrian Wilson (#72, 6-4, 310), MLB Terrance Plummer (#41, 6-0, 230), and FS Clayton Geathers (#26, 6-2, 205).
*******Tuesday, December 31
BOWL: Arizona (7-5) versus Boston College (7-5); 12:30 PM ET; ESPN
Looking at the two team's records one does not immediately think 'can't miss TV' but first impressions can be deceiving as the game features a head-to-head dual between two of the best RBs in the country in Arizona junior Ka'Deem Carey (#25, 5-9, 200) and Andre Williams (#44, 5-11, 220). For the record, Williams came from literally nowhere this fall to rush for almost 2,200 yards, while Carey had almost 1,800 yards after posting over 1,900 the previous year. The two backs, though, are pretty much the only legitimate prospects on their respective rosters, although undersized BC OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis (#24, 6-0, 215) could get some later round attention. Meanwhile, potential free agents from Arizona include CB Shaq Richardson (#5, 6-0, 190) and OLB Marquis Flowers (#2, 6-2, 230), while those from BC include possession WR Alex Amidon (#83, 5-10, 190), former Florida OT Matt Patchan (#77, 6-6, 300) and LB Steve Divitto (#49, 6-2, 240).
BOWL: Virginia Tech (8-4) versus UCLA (9-3); 2:30 PM ET; CBS
The Sun Bowl, the only pre-New Year's Day bowl on a network other than ESPN usually has a decent match-up and this one will be no exception. In fact, UCLA may have the day's best prospect for 2014 overall in OLB Anthony Barr (#11, 6-3, 245), the one-time FB who has morphed into the country's most disruptive OLB and continues to challenge South Carolina DE Jadevon Clowney to be the top-rated defensive player on a lot of boards across the NFL. Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore QB Brett Hundley (#17, 6-3, 230) also has to 10 potential, although his grade has been all over the place in the latter part of the season. At the same time, the Bruins also have one of the better OGs in the country in junior Xavier Su'a-Filo (#56, 6-3, 305), who will actually be filling in at LT against the Hokies and figures to get some early second-day interest if he decides to enter this year's draft. Other UCLA veterans with mid-to-late round potential include DE Cassius Marsh (#99, 6-3, 270), WR Shaq Evans (#1,6-1, 215), and MLBs Jordan Zumwalt (#3, 6-2,235).
Virginia Tech isn't going to have anyone selected as early as Barr, and maybe Hundley, but pro scouts may actually be more focused in on the Virginia Tech side of the field to see where several of the Hokies' leading prospects are headed. It wasn't all that long ago, for example, that there were whispers that QB Logan Thomas (#3, 6-6, 260) just might be a dark-horse top 10 prospect for 2014 with Cam Newton like physical skills; however, Thomas suffered through a couple of miserable seasons, however, pro scouts keep waiting for the light to go to take advantage of his prodigious physical talents. There is something of a similar story for DE James Gayle (#6-3, 255) who has all the tools to be a dominating, explosive edge rusher including reported sub-4.6 closing speed, but like QB Thomas has yet to put it together on a consistent basis on the field. Meanwhile, other Hokies who pro scouts will be checking out include rising CB Kyle Fuller (#17, 5-11, 195), LB Jack Tyler (#58, 6-0, 225), who led the team with 119 stops last fall, stumpy DT Derrick Hopkins (#98, 6-0, 315), WR D.J. Coles (#18, 6-3, 235) and OG Andrew Miller (#74, 6-3, 295).
BOWL: Rice (10-3) versus Mississippi State (6-6); 4 PM ET; ESPN
Maybe -just maybe - there are in fact too many bowls. And this game between Rice, arguably the most nondescript football program in the country and a 6-6 SEC tem - on New Year's Eve no less - may be Exhibit A. The game certainly doesn't offer much in the way of legitimate draft prospects for 2014. At least Mississippi State OG Gabe Jackson (#61, 6-3, 330), a massive road grader who not that long ago was considered to be an early second-day candidate for the upcoming draft, is worth a look. However, even Jackson has seen his stock drop a couple of rounds because of limited athleticism and lateral agility. Meanwhile, neither of QB Tyler Russell nor safety Nickloe Whitley, the Bulldogs' next best prospects will play because of injury, while RB Ladarius Perkins (#27, 5-9, 195) could get some free agent looks. For its part, Rice has only had one player taken prior to the 5th round in the past two decades, and that isn't likely going to change this year, although RB Charles Ross (#28, 6-0, 230), who ground out over 1,200 yards on the ground this fall, and aggressive, ball-hawking CB Phillip Gaines (#15, 6-0, 185) could attract some late-round interest, while junior WR Jordan Taylor (#15, 6-4, 210) is one of those long, angular receivers that NFL teams love to find ways to matchup with smaller corners. At the same time, RB Turner Petersen (#26, 6-1, 230), C Nate Richards (#53, 6-3, 300), and PK Chris Boswell (#9,6-1, 200) could get some free-agent considertion.
BOWL: TexasA&M (8-4) versus Duke (10-3); 8 PM ET; ESPN
What if they had a big bowl and a basketball game broke. That's what it feels like with Duke meeting Texas A&M and its bevy of stars headed to the upcoming NFL draft. Indeed, for all its success on the basketball court, Duke has redefined ineptitude on the football field. The Blue Devils, who won ten games for the first time in its history this fall, hadn't had a winning season since 1994. And Duke's lack of success on the field has translated into some very quiet draft days for the program which has only had 8 players selected total in the past two decades and didn't have anyone selected at all between 2004 and 2012. Duke has also only had once player taken before the 4th round since the Giants selected Dave Brown with a first round supplement pick way back in 1992. And Duke isn't likely going to turn that around this coming May, although CB Ross Cockell (#6,5-11, 180) is a solid veteran who should get some third day looks. Meanwhile, RT Perry Simmons (#72, 6-5, 300) and DE Kenny Anunike (#84, 6-4, 260) are free-agent sleeper types. Anunike, in particular, has been an aggressive, disruptive player when he's played, but he's had to overcome multiple surgeries including for on one knee alone. However, what Duke has are several good young future prospects including junior WR/PR Jamison Crowder (#3, 5-9, 175 ), junior LB Kelby Brown (#59, 6-0, 230) and sophomore CB Jeremy Cash (#16, 6-1, 210).
In fact, pro scouts also have to be more than a little disappointed with the Duke-A&M match-up which could be 45-0 at the half if the Aggies actually show up to play. Indeed, the Aggies could have as many as 4 top 20 picks picks this year including QB Johnny Manziel (#2, 6-0, 200), LT Jake Matthews (#75, 6-5, 305), RT Cedric Oguehi (#70, 6-5,300) and WR Mike Evans (#13, 6-4 225). Indeed, Matthews is the top-rated OT this year and could go as early as the first 2-3 selections, while Manziel and Evans, a pair of all-world redshirt sophomores, could also factor into the first ten picks. Meanwhile, junior DB DeShazor Everett (#29, 5-11, 185) and RB Ben Malena (#1, 5-8, 195) are mid-round prospects.
Monday, December 30
CITY BOWL: Mississppi (7-5) versus Georgia Tech (7-5); 3:15 PM ET; ESPN
interesting game with an SEC Westteam forced to deal an old-time
wishbone running offense.This game also features a trio of very good
dunder-the-radar prospects for the 2014 draft in Ole Miss junior WR
Donte Moncrief (#12, 6-2, 225), one of several big, physical receivers
who'll get looks early in this year's second round, along with junior
All-America FS Cody Prewitt (#25, 6-2, 215). And while Georgia
Tech is known for its wishbone offense, the Jacket best prospect is
actually edge-rushing OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (#45, 6-, 245) who
had 22 sacks over the course of the past couple of seasons including 12
in 2013. However, these two are likely the only two locks to be drafted
on either squad, although Tech DB Jemea Thomas (#14,5-9, 195) is a
versatile guy who could get some late-round looks as a nickel back
defender.Same for backs David Sims (#20, 5-11, 220) and big play slot
receiver Robert Godhigh (#25, 5-7, 195), as well as veteran CB Louis
Young (#8, 6-0, 195). Meanwhile, Ole Miss also has several late-round
free agent types including WR Ja-mes Logan (#85, 6-2, 195), MLB Mike
Marry (#52, 6-2, 255), CB Charles Sawyer (#3, 5-10, 185), and C Evan
Swindell (#56, 6-3, 305).
CITY BOWL: #10 Oregon (10-2) versus Texas (8-4); 6:45 PM ET; ESPN
Needless to stay the story line from San Antonio will be Mack Brown making his last stand as Texas head coach afterbeing essentially forced out in the wake of another disappointing season. And the bowl schedule maker did Brown and the Longhorns no favors by drawing them in against Oegon and the Ducks' potent offense which should be purring again now that star redshirt sophomore QB Marcus Mariota (#8, 6-3, 215) is reportedly healthy again after hobbling around the final month of the schedule with a torn MCL. Mariota had been considered to be a top 2-3 prospect for the 2014 draft, but surprisingly announced he will eturn to school for another run at a national title next fall. Pro scouts are also intrigued to see Oregon junior RB/WR De'Anthony Thomas (#6, 5-9, 180), an electrifying open-field runner who a large chunk of the season with an anle injury. Thomas isn't all that big, but he is as slippery as they come with Tavon Austin, the 8th player taken at the 2013 draft, type abiliy, although Thomas still appears to be rated as more a second-day prospect at best at this time. In fact, the Ducks' best prospect for 2014 is junior CB Ifo Ekpre-Oluma (#14, 5-9, 190), a potential mid-first rounder should he enter this year's draft, although there have been conflicting reports that he will also return t school for the upcoming season. The Ducks also have a big-play senior in WR Josh Huff (#1, 6-0, 215), a second-day prospect for the upcoming draft who averaged almost 20 yards per catch so far this fall. The Oregon defense also has a potential second-day candidate in 5-tech DE Taylor Hart (#66, 6-5, 295), while DTs Ricky Havili-Heumuli (#90, 6-3, 305) and Wade Keliikipi (#92, 6-2, 295), OLB Boseko Lokombo (#25, 6-2, 235), and SS Brian Jackson (#12, 5-10, 205) are later round prospects. Its probably no big secret why Texas has struggled of late as the Longhorns just aren't that talented. Indeed, Texas doesn't have anyone this year close to being a first-round propsect; in fact, the Longhorns don't have anyone who is a lock to go even on the second-day, although DE Jackson Jeffcoat (# 44, 6-4, 255), a one-time first round candidate whose draft grade has been impacted by a torn pectoral muscle that ended his 2012 season prematurely, CBs Carrington Byndom (#23, 5-11, 180) and junior Quandre Diggs (#6, 5-9, 200) and speedy WR Mike Davis (#1, 6-1, 195) all have the potential to sneak into the top 100 picks. The Longhorns also have a veteran offensive front including LT Donald Hawkins (#51, 6-5, 320), RT Trey Hopkins (#75, 6-3, 300) and
BOWL: #14 Arizona State (10-3) versus Texas Tech (7-5); 10:15 PM ET;
Holiday Bowl should feature an interesting contrast in styles with
TexasTech running an uptemp offense, while the Sun Devils run a
more traditional power offense, although Arizona State will be without
veteran RB Marion Grice (#1,
5-11, 205) who will likely will miss the game with an injury. However,
State will have undersized, but very active DT
Will Sutton (#90, 6-0, 305), a late first or early second day prospect.
Sutton was unblockable at times last
fall when he posted 13 sacks, but has been less effective this year
after adding 25-30 pounds in the off-season; indeed, he has just 4
sacks to date, although his game did pick upin the latter part of the
campaign; still Sutton will represent a real challenge for pro scouts
off-season as they try to figure which was the real #90. Meanwhile,
TE/FB Chris Coyle (#87, 6-2, 225), OT Evan
Finkenberg (#62, 6-3, 295), junior OLB Carl Bradford (#52, 6-0, 245),
OLB Chris Young (#21, 6-0, 235) and safety Allen Darby (#4, 5-10, 195)
are all mid-to-later round candidates. Texas Tech also features a
potential opening round pick in emerging junior TE Jace Amaro (#22,
6-5, 260), a gifted receiver who had a remarkable 98 receptions this
fall for over 1,200 yards. Amaro combines with veteran WR Eric Ward
(#18, 5-11, 205) to give the Red Raiders a very dynamic 1-2 receiver
punch, although Ward is still more a later round or free agent
prospect. Same story for the Red Raiders'leaders on defense including
OLBs Will Smith (#7, 6-2, 225) and Terrence Bullitt (#1, 6-1, 225), DE
Kerry Hyder (#91, 6-2, 285) and FS Tre Porter (#5, 5-11, 205) .
If you have comments or suggestions, e-mail the Editor, Great Blue North Draft Report. The GBN can also be reached by phone at (613) 692-1088; or regular mail at 320 Shadehill Crescent, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2J 0L6.
The GREAT BLUE NORTH DRAFT REPORT is a division of SQUITER5LAND ENTERPRISES, Ottawa, Ontario,Canada