December 29th Bowl Prospect Preview

The Saturday of New Year’s Weekend brings up five good games including the first New Year’s Six Bowl along with the first round of the college football playoff. While we have a separate post for the College Football Playoff games here we take a look at the Peach, Belk and Arizona Bowls that take place in the morning.  The December 29th Bowl Prospect Preview takes a look at which 2019 NFL Draft Prospects will be playing in each of these three bowls.

December 29th Bowl Prospect Preview

Florida Gators vs Michigan Wolverines
11:00 CST on ESPN

Florida Prospects
WR Van Jefferson
LT Martez Ivey
LG Tyler Jordan
RG Fred Johnson
RT Jawaan Taylor
DE Jachai Polite (#3 Edge)
DE CeCe Jefferson (#12 Edge)
NB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (#11 CB)

Michigan Prospects
WR Grant Perry
DE Chase Winovich
DT Bryan Mone
LB/S Khaleke Hudson
CB Lavert Hill
FS Tyree Kinnell

These two teams are no strangers to each other playing several times over the last couple of years both in the regular season and in other bowl games. What makes this game a bit different is there really isn’t anything on the line (despite being a New Year’s 6 Bowl) and the Wolverines will be without star players Rashan Gary, Devin Bush and Karan Higdon. Not having these players will hurt the Wolverines on both sides of the ball, but they are still a loaded team which should make for a fun game to watch. The top prospect in this game is Florida defensive end Jachai Polite who is an dynamic pass rusher off the edge that uses his explosive speed and ability to bend the edge has allowed him to rack up 11 sacks on the season. Polite has spent time with CeCe Jefferson throughout the season who had 5 sacks this year despite a disappointing performance. With Michigan struggling to to protect the quarterback this year and starting right tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty also sitting out this game, this could allow Polite to really go off. While the Wolverines will be without star defensive end Rashan Gary they still have senior Chase Winovich who only had 4 sacks this season, but really grew as a prospect. Winovich will see two Florida tackles with NFL potential in Martez Ivey and Jawaan Taylor. While Ivey is projected to move inside to guard, Taylor is getting some first round buzz largely due to his size, light feet and strength. It will be anxious to see Taylor take on Winovich throughout the game and how he handles the pass rush intensity that Winovich brings on every snap. This game also provides us some defensive backs to watch. Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson plays the nickel corner but is all over the field making tackles. Gardner-Johnson has the body of a cornerback, but may be more suited to play safety in the NFL. For Michigan safety Tyree Kinnell is a potential late round safety who does well seeing plays develop and then reacting while junior cornerback Lavert Hill is a true cover corner that can lock down one side of the field.

 


South Carolina Gamecocks vs Virginia Cavaliers
11:00 CST on ABC

South Carolina Prospects
WR Bryan Edwards
LT Dennis Daley
SLB Bryson Allen-Williams
CB Rashad Fenton
CB Keisean Nixon
S Steven Montac

Virginia Prospects
RB Jordan Ellis
WR Olamide Zaccheaus
TE Evan Butts
WLB Chris Peace
CB Tim Harris
CB Bryce Hall
S Juan Thornhill

No Deebo Samuel in this game is a bummer because he is one of the better receivers in this class and would have given a good matchup against a talented Virginia secondary. The game isn’t a total loss because South Carolina still has junior receiver Bryan Edwards to go against the Cavaliers defensive backs. Edwards is a raw route runner that primarily uses his 6’2 220lb frame to win contested catches. Virginia’s top corner Bryce Hall matches up very well to Edwards with his 6’1 200lb frame, speed to run deep and his 20 passes defended shows that he can play the ball in the air. Hall is far from the only NFL Draft prospects in the Cavaliers secondary as Juan Thornhill has thrived since moving to safety from cornerback. Like most free safeties Thornhill is able to play deep zone coverage and react to the ball while also retaining his man coverage skills. We probably won’t see Thornhill match up with Edwards man to man, but he could play some single high or bracket coverage over the top to try and limit Edwards impact on the game.

 

Arkansas State Wolves vs Nevada Wolfpack
12:15 on CBSSN

Arkansas State Prospects
QB Justice Hansen
WR Justin McInnis
LT Lanard Bonner
OLB Ronheen Bingham

Nevada Prospects
SLB Malik Reed
FS Dameon Baber

The Arizona Bowl seems like a bowl game that would take place before Christmas and could easily get lost in the shuffle with Belk and Peach Bowls both kicking off right before. That being said there is some NFL Draft talent in this game worth keeping an eye on, even if it is flipping back and forth between games. The top two prospects for both teams are shorter pass rushing outside linebackers. For Arkansas State they have the reigning Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year in Ronheen Bingham who finished with 9 sacks on the season. Bingham has a quick first step that can put tackles on their heels and then has the agility to get around the edge. Nevada’s Malik Reed transitioned well from defensive end to a standing outside linebacker and finished with a second straight eight sack season. Where Reed plays in the NFL is still up in the air but his motor does run hot which makes him difficult to block.

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