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Thursday Bowl Preview: 13 NFL Draft prospects to watch

NCAA Football: Kansas at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Four more games today and even more draft prospects! Here is who to check out for Eagles fans.

Military Bow, UVA v. Navy, 1:30 PM ET on ESPN

  • Quin Blanding, Safety, UVA: Ever since being a high recruit out of high school, Quin's Blanding has been a productive presence on the Cavalier defense. The 6’2”, 210 pound senior is a very solid tackler, strong run defender and has decent instincts in coverage. He is certainly more effective the closer he is to the line of scrimmage so today’s game against Navy should be a great display of his downhill skill set.
  • Micah Kiser, Linebacker, UVA: Micah Kiser is a leader on the Virginia defense and has been for three years now. At 6’2” and 240 pounds; Kiser has an awesome build and plays with great strength. He is heavy footed when dropping into coverage or moving sideline to sideline, but he will hit players in the mouth against the run and as a blitzer. Like Blanding, Kiser will have a good opportunity today to showcase his run defense.
  • Juan Thornhill, Cornerback, UVA: Juan Thornhill started his career off as a free safety, but after switching to cornerback this past spring he has become a very important player for the UVA defense. The 6’0”, 200 pound junior has a solid build with long arms and is a playmaker in coverage. He can be a bit too aggressive sometimes attacking the ball or as a tackler, but his mentality helps create big plays. Against Navy, he will ge t a chance to show off his safety skill set in attacking the run on the perimeter; but he will also be tested deep down the field.

Camping World Bowl, Virginia Tech v. Oklahoma State, 5:15 PM ET on ESPN

  • James Washington, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State: James Washington has been tearing up college football for the last three years. The senior wide receiver is among the best deep threats in the country and what he lacks in size and blazing speed, he makes up for in technical ability and incredible ball skills. Washington will have his hands full today with a stingy Hokie defense but it will be one of his best tests yet to show off his gamebreakinig ability.
  • Marcell Ateman, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State: Marcela Ateman has played second fiddle his whole career but had a nice breakout season in his senior year. The 6’4”, 220 pounder went over 1,000 yards at nearly 20 yards per catch while also hauling in eight touchdowns. Ateman has solid speed and is an okay route runner; but his calling card is his dominating ability at the catch point. He is a jump ball type of player and could see a few opportunities today to show off those skills.
  • Tremaine Edmunds, Linebacker, Virginia Tech: Tremaine Edmunds is one of the best best linebackers in the country. He is a moving chess piece on the Hokie defense and can work defending the run, getting after the passer or making plays in coverage. At 6’5” and 250 pounds; he has a massive build that allows him to play a bunch of positions. Against Oklahoma State, Edmunds will be facing one of the best offenses he has seen this year. A strong game from Edmunds will help Virginia Tech stymie the Cowboys.
  • Cam Philips, Wide Receiver, Virginia Tech: On his second straight 900 yard season; Cam Philips has been an underrated receiver in college football. The 6’0’, 200 pound senior is a very good route runner with dependable hands and a tough attitude. He will make tough catches and run hard after the catch. In the highly possible event this game goes into high scoring territory; Philips should hear his name called early and often.
  • Adonis Alexander, Cornerback, Virginia Tech: At 6’3” and 200 pounds, it is hard to miss a player like Adonis Alexander. His massive frame is tantalizing for a lot of NFL scouts. He is a physical player who can bully receivers at the line and at the catch point and makes up for his lack of speed by forcing receivers to move at his pace. Alexander will likely be matched up on Marcela Ateman to mitigate the size advantage and he will have plenty of chances to show how he defends an NFL caliber and sized receiver.
  • Greg Stroman, Cornerback, Virginia Tech: Greg Stroman not only led Tech in interceptions this year; but he also returned two kicks for touchdowns as well. Actually, each of the last three seasons Stroman has at least one kick return touchdown to go along with at least two interceptions. He is an athletic player and has a nice frame at 6’0” but is a skinny 180 pounds. Stroman will match up with James Washington today and there are few tougher match ups in the country. Not only that, but a big return in the kicking game would be a huge boost for Tech’s chances. It should be fun to see Tech’s cornerbacks and State’s wide receivers do battle.

Alamo Bowl, Stanford v. TCU, 9 PM ET on ESPN

  • Bryce Love, Running Back, Stanford: Who else? The Heisman finalist has steamrolled college football for almost 2,000 yards so far this season and 17 touchdowns. He is unbelievable at breaking away from defenses with his angle breaking speed. Love might be facing the best defense he has seen yet today against TCU and a big bowl game should quiet any conversations about if he can handle NFL defenses at his smaller size.
  • Harrison Phillips, Defensive Tackle, Stanford: With 16.5 tackles for a loss and seven and a half sacks, there is no denying Harrison Phillips’ importance to the Stanford defense. He is an excellent run defender and a high effort pass rusher. At 6’4” and 295 pounds; there is some flexibility as to where he can play on the defensive line. TCU has a strong run game and Phillips will be needed to shut it down.

Holiday Bowl, Washington State v. Michigan State, 9 PM ET on FS1

  • Hercules Mata’afa, Defensive Lineman, Washington: Hercules Mata’afa is one of the most exciting defenders in the country. The 6’2”, 252 pound junior has incredible explosive ability and is played all over the defensive line to disrupt the offense. Mata’afa is incredibly raw but his athletic ability is too hard to pass up. Michigan State has a solid offense but Mata’afa may be too much for the Spartans to handle up front.
  • LJ Scott, Running Back, Michigan State: LJ Scott has had a relatively underwhelming year this season despite high expectations; but the 6’1”, 230 pound runner can have some brilliant moments carrying the football. Scott is a powerful, athletic runner but has a tendency to try and do too much and then he runs hot and cold with power. However, Scott has flashed some awesome ability and a big game today could play a big part in his decision to enter the draft.

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