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NFL Draft: Wednesday Bowl Preview

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Even in the middle of the week, the bowl season has four solid games lined up for College Football and NFL Draft fans. Even with some notable players sitting out; there should be a few intriguing prospects worth watching in each game.

Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, Southern Miss v. Florida State, 1:30 PM ET on ESPN

  • Auden Tate, Wide Receiver, Florida State: With Derwin James, Tavarus McFadden, Josh Sweat and Matthew Thomas sitting out; Auden Tate remains the only notable prospect playing for the Seminoles in today’s game. The 6’5”, 225 pound junior’s numbers were stymied by Florida State’s lack of total offense this season, but he remained an impact player when he was involved. He is a long, athletic player with strong hands and a great ability to make plays over defenders. He is a bit raw, but his athletic tools and “my ball” mentality will make him an intriguing mid round prospect.
  • Ito Smith, Running Back, Southern Miss: Ito Smith has been an integral part of the Golden Eagles offense his whole career there. The 5’9”, 195 pound senior is now onto his third straight 1,000 yard rushing season and has scored at least 10 touchdowns on the ground each of those years. Smith is a smaller back, but he is a quick, tough runner who can also be a weapon in the passing game. While it is unlikely people will see Smith as a featured back in the NFL, Smith has all the makings of an impact scat back and third down player who can catch passes out of the backfield.
  • Tavarius Moore, Safety, Southern Miss: Tavarius Moore is an underrated player in the national defensive back conversation. The 6’2”, 190 pound defender has picked off five passes in the last two seasons and chipped in a forced fumble. He is a rangy player with ball skills; but could stand to get better as a tackler. Teams might be interested in him as a potential cornerback conversion given his size and arm length. Moore will play a big part in limiting Auden Tate and company tomorrow and a big game versus a high profile opponent should get people talking.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Iowa v. Boston College, 5:15 PM ET on ESPN

  • Joshua Jackson, Cornerback, Iowa: Joshua Jackson has been the best ballhawk in college football this season. With seven interceptions, one forced fumble and two touchdowns; Jackson has been an unreal playmaker for the Hawkeyes. He has great length, closing speed and ball skills which make him a prototypical cornerback prospect. While Boston College does not throw the ball a lot, Jackson will be asked to defend against their run game and make plays against the pass when called upon.
  • Josey Jewell, Linebacker, Iowa: Josey Jewell is an emotional leader on the Hawkeyes defense. While he is not a great athlete, the 6’2”, 236 pound linebacker is a smart, instinctual and physical player who can make an impact coming downhill. Teams may worry about his ability to run in coverage; but Jewell will have a great opportunity against Boston College to show off his run defense. He will have to overcome a lot, but ultimately Jewell has plenty to offer as a potential two-down player in the NFL.
  • Akrum Wadley, Running Back, Iowa: Akrum Wadley’s name has faded a bit into obscurity this season given the massive amount of great running backs in college football and his relative play. Wadley, a 5’11”, 195 pound senior, posted his second straight 1,000 yard season but only averaged 4.4 yards per carry which is pretty low for a college back. However, he was playing on a relatively hamstrung offense and made plays when he was called upon. He is a tough running back with some wiggle, but lacks any special athletic traits. However, his impact over the last few years as a receiving back will give a lot of boost to his prospects. Against a tough Boston College defense, he has a chance to end his career on a high note.
  • Harold Landry, Edge Defender, Boston College: Harold Landry had an incredible junior season in 2016. He posted 22 tackles for a loss, 16.5 sacks and SEVEN forced fumbles. He opted to stay for another season but didn’t come close to his junior year numbers when he only picked up eight and a half tackles for a loss and five sacks. Nonetheless, he remains a find player. Despite being a bit light at 6’3” and 250 pounds, Landry remains a quick twitch defender with bend around the edge. He has a chance against a weaker passing offense to show out in this bowl game and go into draft season with a bang.
  • Zach Allen, Edge Defender, Boston College: While Landry has overshadowed Zach Allen; he remains a very solid defensive prospect. He is not the athlete that his teammate is, nor the explosive pass rusher; but he has great size at 6’5”, 285 pounds and plays with a high motor and great playing strength. Allen is a plus run defender first and he will have a great chance to show that against Iowa. While he will likely be selected after his teammate; Allen will show he has plenty to offer himself.

Foster Farms Bowl, Arizona v. Purdue, 8:30 PM ET on Fox

There are no draft prospects of note in this game but I highly recommend this game for viewing purposes. Khalil Tate is one of the most explosive players in college football even though he is a sophomore and Purdue coach, Jeff Brohm, has the Boilermakers offense humming in his first season. I expect a shootout between two teams with a lot of exciting underclassmen.

Academy Sports+ Outdoors Texas Bowl, Texas v. Missouri, 9 PM ET on ESPN

  • Malik Jefferson, Linebacker, Texas: With Connor Williams and DeShon Elliott sitting; Malik Jefferson is by far and away the top prospect in this bowl game. The 6’3”, 240 pound linebacker has been a chess piece on the Longhorn defense since arriving and while he is still figuring out how to master the linebacker position, his talent is evident. He is an athletic player who flashes in coverage, against the run and as a pass rusher. He tends to get lost sometimes, but his peaks as a player are tantalizing. Against a high scoring Missouri offense; Jefferson will need to play at a high level to prevent a high scoring affair. A big game from him might push him over the fence towards declaring.
  • Poona Ford, Defensive Lineman, Texas: Texas has not had a lot of studs on their defense in a long time, but Ford could be the highest drafted Texas defensive lineman in a while. The 6’0”, 300 pound senior has a stout build and is strong as an ox. He is a terrific run defender who can push the pocket against the pass and both will be needed tonight if Texas wants to win.
  • J’Mon Moore, Wide Receiver, Missouri: J’Mon Moore might be one of the most underrated offensive players in the country. Moore has been the most productive receiver in the SEC over the last two seasons; posting over 2,000 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns during that time, all the while averaging over 16 yards per catch. Moore is a dangerous player with a great frame at 6’3” and 190 pounds and solid speed. There is good chance this game turns high scoring and Moore will have plenty of opportunities to show off his playmaking ability.

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