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NFL Draft Preview: Bowl Season (Part 7)

An eye on college football.

Arizona v Oregon Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

This will be a multi-part series looking at every bowl game and the prospect to watch on each team for their match up. Even with some players sitting out to prepare for the NFL Draft, there are still future pro players on the field worth keeping an eye on. All listed times are EST. Previously in this series: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5 | PART 6.

Pinstripe Bowl, December 29th, 2:15 PM on ESPN

Raheem Blackshear, Running Back, Virginia Tech: The Hokies have many of their top draft prospects sitting out of this bowl game, but Raheem Blackshear is a future NFL player worth watching. The former Rutgers running back blossomed in the Virginia Tech offense this season, especially towards the end of the season. Blackshear’s speed and quickness make him a big play threat and the Hokies will rely on him in a game where they are down so many playmakers.

Jaeylen Duncan, Offensive Tackle, Maryland: Jaeylen Duncan has the size and athleticism to be an NFL offensive lineman. Despite his talent, this season was a step back for him after high hopes. Duncan still has flashes of brilliance, but has been marred by inconsistency. As his decision to move on to the NFL hangs in the balance, finishing the season strong could be the difference.

Cheez-It Bowl, December 29th, 5:45 PM on ESPN

Andrew Booth, Cornerback, Clemson: In a surprising move, Andrew Booth is choosing to play in Clemson’s Bowl game despite almost certainty of him entering this upcoming NFL draft. Booth is projected by many to be the top cornerback in the 2022 class with his blend of size, physicality, and athleticism. This is one last chance to see one of the nation’s best defenders before he turns pro.

Mike Rose, Linebacker, Iowa State: With Breece Hall opting out of this game and Will McDonald returning for one more season at ISU, Mike Rose is the top draft prospect in this game. The senior linebacker is an experienced player who has led the ISU defense for as long as he has started. He is a smart, physical player who gets to take on a struggling Clemson offense in his final game as a pro.

Alamo Bowl, December 29th, 9:15 PM on ESPN

Verone McKinley III, Safety, Oregon: The Ducks safety was named an AP All-American for his outstanding play this season, but is still unsure of whether he will be headed for the NFL draft. The ballhawk will be crucial in Oregon’s effort to contain Caleb Williams and the Oklahoma offense, and a strong showing from McKinley could swing the game for the Ducks while pushing him towards entering the draft.

Isaiah Thomas and Jalen Redmond, Defensive Linemen, Oklahoma: With Nik Bonitto and Perrion Winfrey preparing for the NFL draft, Isaiah Thomas and Jalen Redmond become the most intriguing Sooner prospects in this game. Oklahoma had a phenomenal defensive front this season and Bonitto and Winfrey were the big names, Redmond and Thomas were big factors in the units success as well. Jalen Redmond is an incredibly athletic lineman with upside as a pass rusher. Thomas is a senior defender who plays with a high motor and great technique. Oregon’s offense will need a strong effort to slow down and it will be revealing to see how Thomas and Redmond play without their running mates with them up front.

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