New Year’s Day Bowls Prospect Preview

The day is finally here, New Year’s Day. Sure it’s the last day of multiple bowl games which means college football is nearly over, but not before we have a full slate of games with plenty of NFL Draft Prospects. Whether it’s a New Year’s Six Bowl or not there is plenty of NFL Draft intrigue. The New Year’s Day Bowls Prospect Preview takes a look at all the 2019 NFL Draft Prospects playing in today’s games!

New Year’s Day Bowls Prospect Preview

Mississippi State Bulldogs vs Iowa Hawkeyes
11:00 CST on ESPN2

Mississippi State Prospects
QB Nick Fitzgerald
RB Aeris Williams
RG Deion Calhoun
C Elgton Jenkins
DE Montez Sweat (#13 Edge)
DE Gerri Green
DT Jeffery Simmons (#3 DL)
DT Braxton Hoyett
CB Jamal Peters
FS Mark McLaurin
SS Johnathan Abram

Iowa Prospects
WR Nick Easley
TE TJ Hockenson (#2 TE)
DE Anthony Nelson
DE Parker Hesse
DT Matt Nelson
FS Jake Gervase

For an almost afterthought of a bowl game the Outback Bowl is ripe with elite NFL Draft talent and a few prospect battles that are must see. In most situations when you have an elite level prospect like Noah Fant not playing in the game you really don’t have anybody ready to step up. Instead the Hawkeyes have TJ Hockenson who’s also considered to be a first round pick. Hockenson is the total package tight end showing the strength at the point of attack to be a force in the run game, but also has the speed to push the seam and the ability to high point the ball. Mississippi State strong safety Johnathan Abram is more of your traditional strong safety who wants to play in the box and be a physical headhunter. But if he wants to make it in the NFL as more than a special teams player he’ll need to show he can cover tight ends. This means we’ll likely see these to face off on a regular basis.

While Hockenson is good, the best prospect in this game is Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. On the field Simmons is a top 10 prospect using his elite strength and explosive quickness to manhandle interior offensive lineman and get into the backfield. While Iowa doesn’t have any big name prospects, they are consistently one of the best offensive line units and will be looking to neutralize Simmons. Simmons isn’t alone on the Bulldogs defensive line as defensive end Montez Sweat is one of the best senior pass rushers and is a solid round two prospect. Sweat is a bit stiff but he has enough burst and pass rushing moves that have allowed him to build up 30 sacks in two years at Mississippi State. Sweat against the Iowa tackles will be fun to watch, but also expect to see some of TJ Hockenson blocking against Sweat in the run game.

 

LSU Tigers vs Central Florida Knights
12:00 CST on ESPN

LSU Prospects
RB Nick Brossette
TE Foster Moreau (#13 TE)
LG Garrett Brumfield
DE Rashard Lawrence
ILB Devin White (#1 LB)
FS John Battle (#7 S)

Central Florida Prospects
LT Wyatt Miller
DE Titus Davis
ILB Pat Jasinski
SS Kyle Gibson

Without Greedy Williams playing in the game it robs us of one potential top ten pick but with Devin White playing in this game we at least get one potential top 10 pick. White is a joy to watch with his combination of explosive quickness and power that allows him to play sideline to sideline while also coming up to fill gaps. Other LSU prospects to watch include running back Nick Brossette who has been the main source of offense for the Tigers while John Battle has the ability to play both safety positions. Central Florida doesn’t have any top tier prospects like they’ve had the past couple of years, but they do have a couple of players that could be drafted on day three. Left tackle Wyatt Miller has experience on both sides and is light on his feet and a natural pass protector. The big issue with Miller is his size and at 6’3 297lbs he likely has to move inside. With LSU running a 3-4 defense he’ll likely see plenty of Rashard Lawrence who will give him his best look at a NFL defensive tackle. Defensive end Titus Davis lacks the ideal size at 6’1 232lbs to be a pass rusher, but did lead the Knights with 6.5 sacks..

 

Kentucky Wildcats vs Penn State Nittany Lions
12:00 CST on ABC

Kentucky Prospects
RB Benny Snell (#9 RB)
TE CJ Conrad (#9 TE)
OLB Josh Allen (#10 Edge)
CB Derrick Baity
CB Lonnie Johnson
FS Darius West
SS Mike Edwards

Penn State Prospects
QB Trace McSorley (#18 QB)
RB Miles Sanders
WR DeAndre Thompkins
WR Juwan Johnson
RG Connor McGovern
DE Shareef Miller
CB Amani Oruwariye (#5 CB)

This will be a fun match up between a talented Penn State team and a Kentucky team that is coming off a tremendous season. There is plenty of NFL Draft talent in this game, but nobody is better than Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen who has the chance to be a top 10 pick. Allen exploded in 2018 winning SEC Defensive Player of the year and accumulating 14 sacks on the season. Penn State doesn’t have the best offensive line play, so Allen could have a field day and increase his sack numbers. The other prospect in this game that has first round potential is Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwairye. Oruwariye can play both off and press man coverage using good technique and patience to force the receiver to make their break and then putting him in the right place. Oruwariye has good size at 6’1 and does well to play the ball in the air. He’s not going to blow you away with his athletic ability, but all he does is stick to receivers and get the job done. Kentucky running back Benny Snell is a bowling ball of a runner showing good power and contact balance to rush for 1,305 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley has had a tremendous college career and with the success of Baker Mayfield is getting a lot of attention. And while McSorley can run around and make plays, he lacks the accuracy needed to be considered to play quarterback in the NFL.

Washington Huskies vs Ohio State Buckeyes
4:00 CST on ESPN

Washington Prospects
RB Myles Gaskins (#6 RB)
TE Drew Sample
RT Kaleb McGary (#10 OT)
DT Greg Gaines
LB Ben Burr-Kirven
CB Byron Murphy (#1 CB)
CB Jordan Miller
FS Taylor Rapp (#2 S)
SS JoJo McIntosh (#11 S)

Ohio State Prospects
QB Dwayne Haskins (#2 QB)
RB Mike Weber (#12 RB)
WR Terry McLaurin
WR KJ Hill
WR Parris Campbell (#18 WR)
RT Isaiah Prince
DT Dre’Mont Jones (#9 DL)
CB Kendall Sheffield (#6 CB)

Out of all the non Playoff Bowls, this game has all the intrigue and will be so fun to watch. The biggest reason is we get to see Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins  and the explosive Buckeye offense take on one of the best secondaries in college football. Haskins uses his elite arm talent to win down the field both driving the ball and making touch throws. His receivers Paris Campbell and KJ Hill are the Buckeyes top draftable receivers both providing speed down the field. The Huskies have the athletes to match up with Ohio State and the standout of the group is cornerback Byron Murphy. Murphy has the quick twitch ability to stick with receivers and is even better playing the ball in the air. At safety the Huskies have two draftable prospects in Taylor Rapp (#2 S) and JoJo McIntosh (#9 S). McIntosh projects as a day 3 prospect while Rapp has a shot to go in round one. Rapp is a defensive chess piece who can match up in the slot, play deep zone or help out in the run game. Don’t be surprised if the Huskies try to disguise their coverages with Rapp and McIntosh to try and confuse Haskins into making some poor throws.

Offensively for the Huskies they are a run oriented team and have a not only a talented back in Myles Gaskin (#6 RB) but also two tackles with NFL starter traits. Gaskin is lightning quick to make defenders miss both inside and on the edge reeling off chunk runs. At right tackle Kaleb McGary (#9 OT) is a massive man at 6’8 325lbs but despite that size is still able to use his strength to push defenders off their spot while having enough lateral quickness to cut off defenders in pass protection. On the left side Washington will have Trey Adams making his second start after missing the entire regular season with a back injury. Adams is returning to Washington for the 2019 season but when healthy is one of the best tackle prospects. Both McGary and Adams will be tested by true sophomore Chase Young who has number one overall potential. As for the Buckeyes defense they do have some prospects that could go high in the 2019 draft. Defensive Tackle Dre’Mont Jones is an athletic penetrating defensive tackle while cornerback Kendall Sheffield has the speed and change of direction skills needed to be a good press man corner.

 

Texas Longhorns vs Georgia Bulldogs
7:45 CST on ESPN

Texas Prospects
WR Collin Johnson
WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey
TE Andrew Beck
LT Calvin Anderson
DE Charles Omenihu
NT Chris Nelson
MLB Anthony Wheeler
OLB Gary Anderson
CB Kris Boyd (#7 CB)
CB Davante Davis
NB PJ Locke

Georgia Prospects
RB Elijah Holyfield
WR Riley Ridley
WR Terry Godwin
C Lamont Gaillard
TE Isaac Nauta (#8 TE)
DE Jonathan Ledbetter
OLB D’Andre Walker (#15 Edge)
S JR Reed (#9 S)
CB Deandre Baker (#4 CB)

This should be an interesting game as both teams are talented and while Texas should be excited to play in their biggest Bowl game in a while, the question will be whether the Bulldogs will be up for this game after getting left out of the College Football playoff. The match up I’m most anticipating is Texas receiver Collin Johnson against Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker. Johnson is big at 6’6 and his improvement as a route runner this season has given quarterback Sam Ehlinger a reliable target. Baker plays with good technique and is instinctual allowing himself to always be in the right place. Baker will be tested against Johnson’s size at the catch point, so it will be a fun match up to watch. At left tackle for the Longhorns is Calvin Anderson, the Rice transfer, will see plenty of OLB D’Andre Walker who is the Bulldogs top pass rusher with 7.5 sacks this season. Anderson can struggle getting good depth in his drops which could be a problem with Walker who can really attack the edge quick before using his lateral quickness on secondary moves.

Georgia under Kirby Smart will always be a run first team and rightfully so when they have Elijah Holyfield and sophomore D’Andre Swift. Texas has a strong front seven that will look to stop the two Georgia backs and is highlighted by defensive tackle Charles Omenihu. Omenihu stands 6’6 and is a stout run defender who uses his hands well to take on blockers. Anthony Wheeler and Gary Johnson really benefit playing behind Omenihu and Chris Nelson who allow them to run free. Wheeler is better in space where Johnson is a physical downhill run stuffer.

When Georgia isn’t pounding the rock with their running backs they’re airing it out to their weapons on the outside. Terry Godwin is a complementary role but has the speed to win the down field while Riley Ridley is good at the catch point leading the Bulldogs with 8 touchdowns on the season. Texas has two good outside cornerbacks in Davonte Davis and Kris Boyd while nickel corner PJ Locke could be the best defender on their roster. With Boyd playing the boundary (short side) and Davis playing the field we’ll get to see all three corners get matched up against with Godwin and Ridley throughout the game.

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