With one day to go before the first College Football Playoff game of the season, the bowl games all feature quality match ups with talented NFL prospects getting involved. Today holds five games playing all afternoon and each one should be exciting and worth watching for at least a few NFL prospects. Here is who to watch in today's games...
12 PM on ESPN-Liberty Bowl: Georgia v. TCU
- Greg Pyke, Tackle, Georgia: With Nick Chubb and Sony Michel set on returning for another year at Georgia, the best Bulldog to watch would be Greg Pyke, their talented offensive lineman.The 6-6, 320 pound senior has experience playing guard and tackle and his long arms, strength and mean streak allow him to get the job done on a regular basis. He is inconsistent as a pass protector because sometimes he runs into issues keeping up with speedier edge rushers. However he is a very good run blocker and could be a good player on a lot of NFL team's lines.
- Patrick Morris, Guard, TCU: Patrick Morris is the main cog in a talented TCU offensive line. The 6-3, 300 pound guard is a good athlete with consistent technique and awareness. He is an outstanding pass protector who rarely, if ever, allows disruption of the passing game. He is a solid run blocker to complement his overall skill set. In a weaker offensive line class, Morris is a player to get excited about.
2 PM on CBS- Sun Bowl: Stanford v. UNC
- Solomon Thomas, Defensive Line, Stanford: Solomon Thomas is not only a standout on the Stanford defense, but he is among the best defensive line prospects in the country. Even in a more talented class, the 6-3, 280 defender should warrant first round hype. Thomas gets moved around a lot and struggles with consistency, but he has as good of flashes as there is among this year's class. His athletic ability and ceiling to be a disruptive and versatile defender are tantalizing aspects of his NFL potential.
- Ryan Switzer, Wide Receiver, UNC: Considering that Mitch Trubisky will likely be the highest drafted Tarheel and Eagles fans should have no draft interest in any of the top quarterback prospects, be sure to keep an eye on his top target in the passing game, Ryan Switzer. Switzer does not have amazing size, but he is a dependable target with incredible route running skills and with the ball in his hands, he becomes a dangerous threat after the catch. While he will not be a number one receiver in the NFL, he is every bit an outstanding #2 receiver prospect who will thrive in the slot.
- Elijah Hood, Running Back, UNC: Elijah Hood is having a down season relative to what he did last year, but his talent is still evident. He is a well built running back (6 foot, 220) with a very impressive blend of burst, power, long speed and agility. He can also contribute in the passing game. Unlike a lot of the top backs this year, Hood lacks one elite trait, but makes up for it with a very complete overall game.
3:30 PM on ESPN- Music City Bowl: Nebraska v. Tennessee
- Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee: Derek Barnett has been one of the most productive defenders in the country over the last few years. Barnett is not an outstanding athlete, especially in relation to a lot of the other pass rushers in the class, but he has an excellent build to go along with great strength and a high motor. He is a well rounded defender and while he may not ever be a top defender in the league. He is the type of guy who could consistently be among the 20 best defensive lineman on a yearly basis. He is one of the safer picks in the draft.
- Alvin Kamara, Running Back, Tennessee: About halfway through the year, Alvin Kamara took over the role of the Volunteers lead runner and immediately showed his talent. He has a strong build at 5-10, 215 and his biggest strengths are excellent balance and agility. He does a great job of making players miss and breaking through arm tackles and rarely looses speed through his cuts. He is not a great inside runner, but flashes a home run threat skill set and due to his great third down ability, he should have a place in the league sooner than later.
- Nate Gerry, Safety, Nebraska: Nate Gerry does not get enough credit but the 6-2, 220 pound safety is one of the more well rounded defenders in the country. He is an incredibly savvy player who is always on alert, but he has an aggressiveness to his game that allows him to make impact plays against the run and the pass, as evidenced by the 13 interceptions and three forced fumbles he has accumulated over the last three seasons. Gerry is not a great athlete and is not a single high safety at the NFL level, but he could very quickly be a very good strong safety for an NFL team.
5:30 on ASN- Arizona Bowl: South Alabama v. Air Force
- Gerald Everett, Tight End, South Alabama: South Alabama's main offensive weapon is their 6-4, 240 pound match up nightmare, Gerald Everett. Everett is a bit smaller for a tight end and that hurts his blocking, but he is a good athlete with strong hands who can create mismatches for defenders. Everett looks like the new age NFL tight end and should warrant late round consideration.
- Randy Allen, EDGE, South Alabama: Randy Allen is one of the most productive defenders you have never heard of. The 6-2, 245 pound senior pass rusher has accumulated 11.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss this season despite being more of a rotational player. Allen is a bit smaller at 6-2, 245 but his quickness and motor make him incredible hard to deal with. It is to be seen if Allen's athletic ability will overshadow his diminutive stature in the NFL, but at the moment he stands as a stud college defender.
- Weston Steelhammer, Safety, Air Force: Despite having the coolest name in college football and possibly (definitely) the entire world, Weston Steelhammer might be the most productive defensive back in college right now. Over the last three seasons, Steelhammer has racked up 17 interceptions, an astounding number. Steelhamer has NFL size (6-2, 220) and has a ballhawking mentality. He is not an outstanding athlete, but has good quickness to complement his field IQ. A playmaker like Steelhamer deserves an NFL roster spot, even if it is just to get that name on a jersey.
- Jalen Robinette, Wide Receiver, Air Force: Air Force does not throw the ball much, but when they do, they throw it deep to Jalen Robinette. The senior wide out has only caught 59 passes in the last two years, but he averages 25 yards per catch. The 6-4, 215 raw athlete has an awesome skill set despite lack of polish and should warrant serious consideration as a high upside pick in the middle rounds.
8 PM on ESPN- Orange Bowl: Florida State v. Michigan
- Dalvin Cook, Running Back, Florida State: I have waxed poetic about Dalvin Cook's immense talent many times before, but I might as well do it a bit again. Cook is the best running back in this class. Not only is he an awesome athlete with world class speed, he is a versatile and well rounded offensive player who can make in impact in the passing and running game. He is the type of player a team can build an offense around and he should be the first running back taken, no question.
- Demarcus Walker, Defensive Line, FSU: Demarcus Walker has had a very productive season for FSU. The 6-3, 270 pound defender has long arms, incredible strength and a relentless motor. He is not the great, bend around the edge type of athlete that a lot of this year's defenders are, but his skill set should make him a productive NFL defender, even if a team wants to change his role at the next level.
- Marquez White, Cornerback, FSU: A bit underrated is Florida State's Marquez White. The 6-1 cornerback has good size and arm length and possesses NFL athletic ability. He is a bit raw in terms of awareness and technique, but he is a gifted athlete at a position where gifted athletes are at a premium. I should be interesting to see how the NFL values him.
- Jourdan Lewis, Cornerback, Michigan: Jourdan Lewis has a lot of convincing to do. He is a gifted player with incredibly consistent technique and awareness and has been one of the most reliable defensive backs in the country. However, the NFL is bound to worry about his size (5-10, 185) and he will need to display incredible athletic ability to compensate. I think Lewis will be an excellent NFL defensive back regardless of where he is chosen, but the next few months will dictate where that might be.
- Channing Stribling, Cornerback, Michigan: Stribling does not have the consistency of his teammate, Jourdan Lewis, but his size (6-2, 175) and play making ability (16 PDs, 4 INTs and 1 TD) will make some people like him more. I would disagree with that sentiment, but there is still plenty to like about Stribling, especially if he can add weight to his farm without losing speed.
- Taco Charleton, EDGE, Michigan: Michigan's incredible defense starts up front and starts with Taco Charlton. The excellently named defender has incredibly long arms to pair with his 6-6 frame and he is a good athlete. His flashes in the passing and running game are very exciting and if he can nail down consistency, he will be a very good NFL player.
- Amara Darboh, Wide Receiver, Michigan: Despite not being a passing team, Amara Darboh has still been a spectacular player for the Wolverines during his career. The 6-2, 215 target has highlight catch after highlight catch, a testament to his outstanding ball skills and concentration. He is not a great athlete in terms of speed, but his ability to consistently convert targets, even tough ones, into catches will make him a coveted NFL player.
- Jake Butt, Tight End, Michigan: As much as I want to make a joke about a tight end named Butt, I won't. I will let you do that. However, I can talk about how dependable Jake Butt is not only in terms of being a pass catcher, but also in terms of his blocking. He is a consistent, dependable blocker who can basically function as an extension of a line. While he may not be the flashy, new age tight end that this class has in spades, his old school game will make him highly coveted.
- Jabrill Peppers, Defender, Michigan: It is only December and Jabrill Peppers is already the most talked about and divisive player in this class. The former top high school recruit has played more positions on offense, defense and special teams than I can count and was a Heisman finalist this year. There is no doubt that Peppers is a flashy athlete and that shows during his highlight kick returns and plays on offense. However, there is a doubt that he really has a position in the NFL. Peppers is too small (Six Foot, 220) to play linebacker every down in the NFL and is too raw in coverage to be an immediate impact defensive back. Playing him at linebacker will get him washed out on a regular basis and it will take time for him to grow into covering as a safety. So, at this point, Peppers is basically an NFL box safety with potential to be something more. That does not really sound like a top five pick. He is a good player and prospect, but they hype could have him going about 30 picks before where he should.