As the college post season gets deeper and deeper into its stock of bowl games, there are more and more good match ups to watch. Today has a host of intriguing bowls. At 2 PM, Northwestern takes on Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl (ESPN). At 5:30, there will be a showdown between West Virginia and Miami in the Athletic Bowl (ESPN). At 8:30, the Utah Utes face off against the Indiana Hoosiers in the Farm Bowl (Fox). The night finishes with Texas A&M going up against Bill Snyder’s Wildcats at 9 PM in the Texas Bowl (ESPN). Today’s games feature three ranked teams and for those interested in getting excited about draft prospects, plenty of top level players to keep an eye on.
- Adam Bisnowaty, Tackle, Pitt: In a draft that is a bit weak at the offensive line position, Adam Bisnowaty should be highly coveted in the spring. The big, physical tackle has tons of experience on the Pitt offensive line and he is an excellent run blocker and dependable in pass protection. Tackles are a premium position, so do not be surprised to see Bisnowaty’s name get more steam as the draft season quickly approaches.
- Dorian Johnson, Guard, Pitt: Similar to his teammate, Dorian Johnson is an experienced member of an excellent Pitt offensive line. At 6-5, 315, Johnson has outstanding size and uses his arm length well to neutralize defenders, also displaying a great motor and attitude at the position. He is a bit more raw in his technique than Bisnowaty, but he could absolutely end up being a better player with his skill set.
- James Conner, Running Back, Pitt: James Connor’s comeback this season cannot garner enough praise. Conner beat a bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was one of the best backs in the ACC this season and a big reason for Pitt’s strong year. Conner is a bully running back with incredible size (6-2, 230) to run through defenders, but he also has nice agility for a bigger back and can make guys miss. He has also proven to be an adept pass catcher this season, making him an every down back that should be a major NFL contributor.
- Ejuan Price, Defensive End, Pitt: Ejuan Price may not look the part of one of the country’s most disruptive players, standing at only six foot and 250 pounds, but Price has consistently dominated the ACC for his entire career at Pitt. Price has a non stop motor, great quickness and excellent ability to bend around the edge that has assisted in him collecting 40.5 tackles for a loss over the last two seasons, including 23.5 sacks. Price absolutely has a place on an NFL defense despite his size, even if just as an affective role player.
- Justin Jackson, Running Back, Northwestern: Justin Jackson is not the most physically imposing back, but any player who is rattling off three consecutive thousand yard seasons in a power five conference deserves recognition. The 5-11, 195 pound back has good quickness and burst, but he is creating yardage on a consistent basis with an overall tough running style and good vision. He may not immediately make a big impact in the NFL, but Jackson is absolutely a player who will demand carries in the league due to his dependability.
- Austin Carr, Wide Receiver, Northwestern: Carr is another dependable skill player who is really the only player producing in the Northwestern passing game. The 6-1, 200 pound receiver does not have any outstanding traits, but his ability to make tough catches over the middle and get open with solid route running scream impact NFL slot receiver to me.
- Rasul Douglas, Cornerback, WVU: West Virginia has had a very good season due in part to their young offensive playmakers, but also due to a strong year by their defense. Rasul Douglas was a big part of this defensive rebirth for the Mountaineers in only his first year at the FBS level of college football. The former JUCO player forced nine turnovers this season, eight of which were interceptions. The 6-2 cornerback has NFL size and arm length and is a fantastic man coverage cornerback with obvious ball skills. He is raw playing in zone, however. To top his game off, Douglas also does a good job run defending and is, in general, a solid tackler.
- David Njoku, Tight End, Miami: David Njoku is only a redshirt sophomore, but there are rumors that the talented young tight end may enter the draft. It is a deep class at the position, but as 6-4, 250 pound athletic specimen of a player who is averaging over 17 yards per catch at the tight end position should absolutely be weighing options to enter this year. He definitely has the talent to play the position well in a way the NFL is valuing more and more.
- Corn Elder, Cornerback, Miami: Corn Elder is a smaller defender (5-10, 180) in a class loaded with cornerback talent, but the senior defender is an absolute player. Elder is a good athlete who has good footwork and can play well in zone or man coverage. His best trait is his overall physicality. He has no issues playing tough at the line of scrimmage, in coverage or making plays as a tackler. He is a nasty, physical player who will deliver big hits and always fight to win the down. Even if he gets relegated to the slot in the NFL, defensive coordinators and fan bases will love him.
- Garrett Bolles, Tackle, Utah: Bolles name has been getting more hype in the last few days. The 6-5, 300 pound junior has been a big factor in Utah’s power running game. Bolles is a physical offensive tackle with long arms and a mean streak. He is an excellent pass blocker and does a good job using his length in pass protection to defend the edge from pass rushers. I am still unsure about his overall athletic ability, but there is certainly a lot to like about the imposing tackle.
- Joe Williams, Running Back, Utah: One of the more interesting stories this year was Joe Williams returning midseason from retirement to be one of the more productive backs in the country. Williams had four games rushing for over 170 yards including a THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY TWO yard performance. Williams is a hard runner with excellent balance, but does not have a lot of experience as a third down back. As a pure runner he deserves a place in the NFL as his blend of strength and break away speed can make him a weapon in any offense.
- Marcus Williams, Safety, Utah: One of Utah’s many impact defenders is their ball hawking safety. Williams has picked off nine passes in the last two years and forced two fumbles this season. He is always looking to make a play on every down and his athletic ability allows him to close on the ball quickly to potentially force a turnover. His aggressive mentality can get him into trouble sometimes, but what he can do is hard to teach.
- Hunter Dimick, Defensive End, Utah: Dimick is an athletic pass rusher who does a good job winning one on one matchups with his speed and length. He has inconsistent technique and a hot and cold motor, but when he is on, he is as disruptive a player as there is in college football. It is about finding that consistency.
- Lowell Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah: A big reason Dimick sees so few double teams is because of Lowell Lotulelei eating up space in the middle. The 310 pound tackle is one of the strongest defenders in the class and his ability to push linemen around and change the course of the pocket on his own is pretty outstanding. He is not a great athlete from a movement perspective, but his hulk strength and non stop motor make him an absolute pain for offenses to account for.
- Richard Fant, CB, Indiana: Fant is another slightly diminutive cornerback who makes up for size with mental fortitude and ball skills. Fant fights on every down and is never afraid to stick his nose in a play, but he is also just a very solid cover corner who finds the ball very well in coverage. He will need to prove he is a good athlete to compensate for his 5-9, 180 pound stature, but Fant definitely has NFL smarts, physicality and technique.
- Dan Feeney, Guard, Indiana: Indiana had an outstanding offensive line prospect last year in Jason Spriggs and has another one this year with Dan Feeney. Feeney has prototypical NFL size at 6-4, 310 pounds. He is a nasty, physical blocker with consistent technique. His adeptness in pass protection and run blocking make him one of the classes most safe picks.
- Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M: Myles Garrett is the best player in the class. He is a freak athlete with perfect NFL size and has been productive since the moment he stepped on campus. In fact, if he were to get two sacks in the bowl game, he would match Von Miller’s career sack Total at TAMU in one less season. I am sure people will try to overthink Garrett once draft season kicks into full gear… Don’t.
- Justin Evans, Safety, Texas A&M: Justin Evans is a very good athlete who possesses good size at the safety position (6-1, 205). He has the athletic ability to play free safety and the physicality to play strong safety, but overall is a bit mentally raw. He has flashes of his ability closing to the ball, it is just a matter of nailing down consistency in order to be considered a top notch safety talent.
- Avery Gennesy, Tackle, Texas A&M: Avery Gennesy is one of the more underrated players in the class. He is a good athlete with outstanding size and arm length. He is raw in terms of technique, but his tools and aggressive, physical mindset should garner some attention in an offensive line class lacking depth.
- Daeshon Hall, Defensive End, Texas A&M: It is hard to get the attention you may deserve when you are playing on the same line as Myles Garrett, but Daeshon Hall is a quality NFL prospect in his own right. Hall is also a good athlete with very good size and arm length. He is not as physical as Myles Garrett, but you see his ability to cause disruption on passing downs and it is certainly impressive. Hall gets a lot more one on one match ups due to Garrett receiving a lot of attention, however I think Hall will have himself a solid NFL career.