R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs North Texas
Top Prospect: Brandon Silvers, QB, Troy
- This is probably one of the three worst bowl games for 2018 NFL Draft prospects. Neither team has a standout player with NFL ability. Troy QB Brandon Silvers might have a chance to push himself into the draft discussion due to his size (6-3, 219-pounds) and experience (four-year starter). Silvers has some major flaws with a somewhat elongated throwing motion and whippy arm that lacks velocity and strength. He’ll need to light up the bowl game, bank on an East-West Shrine Game invite, and be more than a throwing arm at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Projection: 7th-UDFA (Third-string QB)
AutoNation Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky vs Georgia State
Top Prospect: Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky
- Despite being a Group of Five quarterback, Mike White has the chance to be a mid-round draft pick. White has legit NFL starting QB size at 6-4, 225-pounds. He’s also started 43 games in his career (17 at South Florida, 26 at WKU). Size and experience are what gets a QB talked about, but the tape is what gets him drafted. White has a solid combo of arm strength, footwork, and clean mechanics. His production has also been impressive throwing 61 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions over the last two seasons at WKU. White has already accepted his invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl aka the best place to showcase talent leading up to draft day.
Projection: 4th-5th (Developmental backup)
Las Vegas Bowl: #25 Boise State vs Oregon
- It’s a weak offensive tackle and that means players at the position will be driven up the board due to team need. Oregon left tackle Tyrell Crosby has experience on both side of the line and will likely find a home at right tackle in the pros. He’s a massive human (6-5, 320-pounds) with a mean streak. Crosby is at his best run-blocking, but has a great anchoring ability in pass protection. A strong Senior Bowl week will lock him in as a day two pick
Porjection: 2nd-3rd (Starting right tackle)
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Marshall vs Colorado State
Top Prospect: Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
- A 2017 Biletnikoff finalist, awarded to the top receiver in the country, Michael Gallup has been one of the most productive pass catchers over the last two seasons in college football. Having already accepted his Senior Bowl invite, Gallup has a chance to be a day two draft pick. With solid size and consistent hands, he can be a starter in the NFL if he is able to create separation. Gallup isn’t the best athlete but he has no problem getting open and picking up YAC.
Projection: 3rd-5th (Future contributor)
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs Arkansas State
Top Prospect: Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, ED, Arkansas State
- If you aren’t familiar with Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, it’s probably because he has spent his career dominating the Sun Belt Conference. Since 2005 no player has had more sacks in their college career than Rolland-Jones, he has 42, and he’s fifth in that time in TFLs with 62. Rolland-Jones will almost definitely have to play outside linebacker in the NFL due to lack of size (6-2, 244-pounds). He lacks size, but makes up for it with athleticism. Although he hasn’t face high-end offensive linemen he dominates due to his explosion off the line. Rolland-Jones will have to make his name as a situational pass rusher in the NFL
Projection: 6th-7th (Situational pass rusher)
Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl: Akron vs Florida Atlantic
Top Prospect: Jalen Young, S, Florida Atlantic
- It would probably be a good move for Jalen Young to return to FAU for his Senior year. If he were at a bigger program he would likely be a much more talked about prospect, because he’s damn good. Young is surprisingly aggressive and one of the most consistent tacklers among safeties despite being just 5-11 185-pounds. He’s fearless when coming up against the run and has impressive instincts when taking calculated risks. Young has been a three-year starter for the Owls and has racked up 235 tackles and 12 interceptions. The interception numbers backup his solid ball skills. Young is under the radar, but if he returns to school and ends up at the Senior Bowl he could be a 2019 day two pick.
Projection: 4th-5th (Future contributor at S/NB)
DXL Frisco Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs SMU
Top Prospect: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
- In a weak receiver class, Courtland Sutton is almost a lock to be a first-round pick. Sutton has topped 1,000 receiving yards and 10+ TDs over the past two seasons for the Mustangs. He’s a big bodied outside threat who has a gift for winning 50/50 balls downfield. Most young receivers struggle to make plays in traffic, but that’s one of Sutton’s strengths. He’s a physically imposing receiver and if he runs a 4.55 or under 40-yard dash it’ll do wonders for his draft stock.
Projection: 1st (Starting receiver)
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bow: Temple vs Florida International
Top Prospect: Sean Chandler, DB, Temple
- Again, a game that lacks NFL talent between two Group of Five schools. Temple is known for producing late-round or even UDFA players that make a splash in the NFL. Just last year Temple had linebacker Haason Reddick go in the first-round. This year defensive back Sean Chandler spent his fourth straight season as a starter. Chandler has nice size (6-0, 195lbs) and the versatility to play corner, nickel, or safety. He’s at his best in zone coverage and has impressive ball skills. Chandler has the feet and hips good enough to hold up in NFL coverage, but isn’t much of a tackler. He’ll often miss tackles and doesn’t have the aggression needed for run support.
Projection: 7th-UDFA (Practice squad player)
Bahamas Bowl: UAB vs Ohio
Top Prospect: Quentin Poling, LB, Ohio
- This game has some cool story lines, like the return of UAB football and the Canadian QB leading Ohio, but it doesn’t have much in terms of NFL prospects. Ohio linebacker Quentin Poling has been their defensive leader over the last two years. He’s a solid tackler with the aggressive mentality to be an NFL special teams guy. Poling doesn’t have the athleticism nor instincts to be a starter in the NFL. He’ll need to make a roster by playing hardnosed specials.
Projection: 7th-UDFA (Special Teamer)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Central Michigan vs Wyoming
Top Prospect: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
- No prospect has been argued about more this season than Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. There was talk entering the season of Allen being QB1, but after a rough Junior year only the Allen Truther’s remain thinking he’s even QB3. Usually the Allen Truther’s are the folks that somehow still believe Lamar Jackson isn’t an NFL caliber QB. Although, Allen has fantastic physical tools, including the strongest arm in the draft, he has no poise and plays with no conscience when it comes to turnovers. The physical tools might be enough to keep him in the first-round discussion. More than anything he needs to graduate school early and get himself eligible for the Senior Bowl (fourth-year Junior’s are eligible if they have graduated).
Projection: 1st-2nd (Future starter)
Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs South Florida
Top Prospect: Deatrick Nichols, CB, USF
- We have a couple low key prospects participating in this bowl game. Both quarterbacks are interesting prospects that could be potentially taken late. Texas Tech QB Nic Shimonek put up big numbers in one of the least NFL friendly offenses. USF QB Quinton Flowers also played in a system that will be difficult to transition from. The most likely prospect to be drafted is USF corner Deatrick Nichols. Nichols is a three-year starter with a ton of production. He has nice ball skills along with NFL level footwork. Nichols is at his best in zone coverage and could have a future at nickel.
Projection: 6th-UDFA (Contributing nickel)
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs Army
Top Prospect: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
- Running back is one of the deepest position groups in the draft class and teams will be able to select starting caliber RBs in the third and fourth round. Most years Rashaad Penny would almost certainly go in the second-round, especially after leading the country in rushing. He has a great build (5-11, 220-pounds) and although he won’t blow away teams with speed, power, or elusiveness that’s not all there is to being a running back. Penny has the vision and balance, the two most underrated traits of being a dominant runner, to succeed early and often in the NFL.
Projection: 2nd-3rd (Starting RB)
Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs Toledo
Top Prospect: Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo
- Surprise, surprise another Group of Five QB being the best prospect in their respective bowl game. Good Group of Five QB’s tend to come from offenses that play to their strengths. Also playing lesser competition allows for big numbers to get their names on the map. Anyway, Logan Woodside has some NFL ability. He has clean mechanics, nice accuracy on every level, and the poise needed for an NFL QB. In the right situation Woodside could be a high-level backup.
Projection: 6th (Backup QB)
Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs Houston
Top Prospect: Ed Oliver, ID, Houston
- Do not get mad at me, I know Ed Oliver is an underclassman. It was just too good to pass up writing about Oliver, especially in a game that lacked a major eligible prospect. This also gave me an excuse to watch Oliver tape early. He’s as good as advertised, a generational talent on the defensive interior. Oliver is incredibly clean for a true sophomore with no major flaw in his game. He’s the best athlete on the field and looks like he could play linebacker, he’s that smooth moving. With the quickness and and hand use he has no interior offensive lineman can handle him. The best part is, despite the immense talent he is always working with a great motor. Oliver could be the prize of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Projection: Top 5 2019 (All-Pro 3-technique)
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah vs West Virginia
Top Prospect: Kyzir White, S, West Virginia
- Do you remember Kevin White? The Bears first-round pick at receiver from 2015? Well, he’s played in five games in three years. Kyzir White is his younger, and better brother. Unlike Kevin, Kyzir plays defense and has some of the most fun tape among safeties. He’s big for a DB at 6-2, 216-pounds and loves to hit people. Tackling and aggressiveness are his two best traits. He’s what I like to call a line lurker of a safety. When he’s near the line of scrimmage he’s at his best. Like his brother, he’s an impressive athlete with speed and explosion. Versatility is key for him, he can line up as a deep safety, box safety, and even at nickel.
Projection: 2nd-3rd (Starting SS)
Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs Northern Illinois
Top Prospect: Shawun Lurry, CB, Northern Illinois
- This game lacks talent, that’s the nice way to say it. The most productive player is NIU edge Sutton Smith, he led the country in TFLs, but he’s undersized and unlikely to declare as a redshirt Sophomore. Duke has a redshirt Sophomore linebacker named Joe Giles-Harris who is interesting, but also unlikely to declare. So we land on NIU corner Shawun Lurry. Lurry has production with 14 interceptions over the last three years, but aside from his ball skills there’s not a lot of positives. He’s just 5-8, 180-pounds and struggles a ton with tackling. His hips and man coverage ability leave a lot to be desired. In zone coverage he’s a solid player and will need to play nickel.
Projection: UDFA (Practice squad nickel)
Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs UCLA
- If Josh Rosen decided to sit out this meaningless bowl game I’m sure old-school scouts would be upset, but he doesn’t need this game. Rosen has elevated his stock this season to become the consensus QB1. He’s a classic pocket passer with big-time arm strength and the velocity needed for tight-window throws in the pros. Not only does Rosen have the arm talent, but he has the most consistent accuracy from short to intermediate to deep. Despite not having dominated at UCLA, Rosen carried the program the last few seasons. He lacked coaching and surrounding talent, two things he’ll likely lack if Cleveland drafts him.
Projection: Top 5 (Franchise QB)
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl: Southern Mississippi vs Florida State
*Derwin James will be sitting out the bowl game
- Even though Florida State had an awful year they’re still stacked with NFL talent. They have a handful of defensive players that will be drafted. With their biggest name, Derwin James, sitting out to prepare for the NFL the best prospect is cornerback Tarvarus McFadden. McFadden was marketed as the number one corner entering the year, but his production dipped and his flaws were exposed. On the plus size he’s 6-2, 205-pounds, ideal size for today’s NFL cornerback. McFadden has all the athletic tools to be a number one corner. He is productive in both man and zone coverage and has fantastic ball skills. Hip fluidity and footwork are a huge part of being a cornerback, McFadden has both covered. Despite his size he’s unaggressive and struggles to play press coverage. He’s not the most explosive corner either, in part because of his size. In the right system McFadden can be a top corner. He’s reminiscent of Chiefs corner Marcus Peters, they’ll both make big plays, but give up big plays.
Projection: 1st-2nd (Starting cornerback)
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa vs Boston College
- After leading the country in sacks last season as a Junior with 16, Harold Landry opted to return for his Senior year at Boston College. Despite battling an ankle injury and missing four games this year, he may not be healthy enough to play in this one, Landry is still a top edge prospect. Landry has all the makings of a stud pass rusher. He’s the best edge bender in the class, but can also use his hands to shed off blocks. Landry isn’t a one-trick pony; he has an arsenal of moves to beat offensive tackles. He has no major flaws in his game and can be an every down edge. Landry might even be able to solidify himself as a top ten pick during the Senior Bowl.
Projection: Top 15 (Pro Bowl pass rusher)
Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona vs Purdue
Top Prospect: Gelen Robinson, ED, Purdue
- This game has a few minor names, but nobody that’ll be drafted for sure. It was hard to select a player with so few eligible options, but I leaned toward a Purdue defender due to their strong defense. Gelen Robinson isn’t a regular edge defender, he’s built like a tweener (6-1, 280-pounds). He’ll likely be best used as an interior defender in the NFL either as a 5-technique or an undersized 3-technique. Robinson has solid quickness and knows how to use leverage to beat blockers to apply pressure. What’s best for him would be spending time on a practice squad and learning to play on the interior.
Projection: 7th-UDFA (Developmental practice squad player)
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl: Texas vs Missouri
Top Prospect: J’Mon Moore, WR, Missouri
- After leading Missouri in receiving yards each of the past two seasons, J’Mon Moore has put his name into the draft conversation. He’s a tall and lanky outside threat with impressive straight-line speed. Moore doesn’t have the most impressive hands or the crisp routes needed to beat coverage regularly in the NFL. Luckily, Moore has accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl and a big week there could guarantee he’s drafted.
Projection: 5th-6th (Backup WR)
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman: Virginia vs Navy
- Rarely does a safety make as many tackles as Quin Blanding has in his college career. A four-year starter at safety Blanding has racked up 476 tackles in his career, a number linebackers rarely hit. Although the stats are impressive, Blanding doesn’t have the athleticism or the fluidity to be a star safety in the NFL. He makes up for it with consistent tackling and a nose for stopping the run. At 6-2, 215-pounds he’ll be able to make his name as a box safety. Blanding will be at the Senior Bowl and it’s important he shows enough athleticism to justify being taken on day two of the draft.
Projection: 3rd-4th (Starting SS)
Camping World Bowl: #22 Virginia Tech vs #19 Oklahoma State
- A lot of the top QB prospects are playing meaningless bowl games. But Mason Rudolph is playing in a game that can impact his stock because Virginia Tech has a defense full of NFL caliber players. If Rudolph can rip up a top defense it could solidify him as a first-round QB. He’s also the top QB prospect to accept his Senior Bowl invite thus far. Rudolph is the big strong QB most old-school offensive coaches covet as their franchise passer. He is 6-5, 235-pounds with a good enough arm, impressive deep accuracy, and tight mechanics. He won’t wow anybody with his mobility and his feet can be sloppy, but he will attract coaches like Bruce Arians who covet pocket passers. The biggest knock is the system he is coming from at Oklahoma State, but these days most prospects come from predominantly spread offenses.
Projection: 1st-2nd (Starting QB)
Valero Alamo Bowl: #13 Stanford vs #15 TCU
Top Prospect: Harrison Phillips, ID, Stanford
- Most years an interior defender like Harrison Phillips would have more first-round hype, but the depth this year has kept his name somewhat quiet. Phillips seems like the surest thing among the IDs based on his tape. He uses his strength to control the line of scrimmage unlike any of the other interior prospects. Phillips will be a great run-defender in the NFL because he understands leverage and how to hold the point. His hand use and power are good enough to generate some pass rush and he has an impressive motor for a man of his size (6-4, 295-pounds). Phillips is the type of player that goes in the second-round and starts for a decade.
Projection: 1st-2nd (Starting 1-technqiue or 3-technique)
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: #18 Washington State vs #16 Michigan State
Top Prospect: Hercules Mata’afa, ED, Washington State
- People are all over the place on Hercules Mata’afa. A big reason for it is Washington State has Mata’afa play out of position. He’s a natural edge defender, but for the Cougars they have him play everywhere from 1-technique to 5-tech as an interior defender. The man is just 6-2, 252-pounds and significantly smaller than the average defensive tackle. Playing out of position hasn’t helped his draft stock, but Mata’afa should be in the first-round discussion. Playing inside at a slight size has taught him to win with leverage, hand use, and a non-stop motor. Now, if you stick him on the edge he can use those traits plus his athleticism to dominate the run and pass.
Projection: 1st-2nd (Starting ED)
Belk Bowl: Wake Forest vs Texas A&M
- As one of the five best receivers in the class, Christian Kirk is generally considered the top slot receiver prospect. Kirk also adds a ton of value as a kick and punt return. He’ll thrive in the NFL as a YAC player because he’s built like a running back. There’s not a hard receiver to get down in the open field than Kirk. He’s got the speed, YAC, separation, and traffic ability to thrive as a slot early and often.
Projection: 1st-2nd (Starting slot)
Hyundai Sun Bowl: #24 NC State vs Arizona State
- Most bowl games are irrelevant and top prospects shouldn’t risk playing in them. Disagree? Just look what happened to former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith two years ago in the Fiesta Bowl. Bradley Chubb used his Senior season to shoot himself from a potential mid-first-round pick to a likely top five pick. He gains nothing by playing in this bowl game. But if he does play you’ll see a dominant force. Chubb is much larger than most young edge players at 6-4, 275-pounds. Most young edge players lack the ability to set the edge vs the run, but Chubb is at his best defending the run. Not only that, but he gets after the QB with speed, power, hand use and bend. He can bull rush with strength and leverage or bend the edge with athleticism and violent hands. Chubb is a complete player.
Projection: Top 5 (All-Pro edge defender)
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs #21 Northwestern
- I’ll admit Mike Edwards was not on my radar until this week when the redshirt Junior declared for the draft. Originally, I had Northwestern safety Godwin Igwebuike as the prospect to watch in this bowl, but then I put on Edwards tape. Edwards is well built to play free safety at 6-0, 200-pounds and the man plays hard. He’s constantly around the ball, whether it be as a tackler or forcing a turnover. Rarely does he put himself in a position to miss a tackle. He’s got the range to play deep safety and the ball skills to make plays. If he can clean up his footwork and work on his fluidity, he could be a steal.
Projection: 3rd-4th (Starting FS)
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State vs Utah State
Top Prospect: Jalen Davis, CB, Utah State
- No matter what happens with Jalen Davis during the draft process and even if he ends up undrafted, I’m confident he’ll make an impact in the NFL. Davis is a straight up baller. The undersized corner (5-10, 185-pounds) put together a fantastic Senior year racking up four sacks, five interceptions, three of which he returned for scores, and broke up 13 more passes. Davis is always around the ball making plays. He’s feisty as can be, a great trait to have in an undersized corner, and a more than willing tackler. Although, he’s a Group of Five player he looks like a guy that would start at most schools. He’s a good enough athlete, but needs to work on his footwork and man coverage technique. Nickel will be his home in the NFL because of his small stature, aggressive nature, and ability to play zone.
Projection: 5th-6th (Starting nickel)
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: #8 USC vs #5 Ohio State
- Maybe some people had too high of expectations for Sam Darnold after his impressive Redshirt Freshman year. More likely, they see his turnover numbers from this season and the elongated throwing motion and deem it a down year. A lot of the interceptions weren’t on Darnold this season and he’s been playing behind a banged up offensive line. He’s still a franchise QB and deserved of a top five selection. The Cotton Bowl will be a huge test because the Ohio State defensive line is stacked with NFL talent. He’ll likely face a lot of pressure and have to show off the “It Factor” that goes beyond his stats.
Projection: Top 5 (Franchise QB)
Taxslayer Bowl: Louisville vs #23 Mississippi State
- If you believe Lamar Jackson isn’t a first-round quarterback, please for the love of football go watch the tape. Anybody that claims he isn’t suited to be an NFL QB, I’m not even talking franchise QB just QB in general, has not put in the time on his tape. Jackson has improved each of his three years at Louisville as a passer. This season was even better than his Heisman year in 2016, specifically as a passer. Often times Jackson is the best athlete on the field and rarely does a player like that get to touch the ball every play. On the right team he can use his athleticism and arm talent to put every defense at a disadvantage. The team that drafts Jackson needs to be open to building the offense around his talents.
Projection: 1st (Franchise QB)
Autozone Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs #20 Memphis
Top Prospect: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
- Yet another receiver that has accepted his Senior Bowl invite, Anthony Miller has gone for 3,535 yards and 36 touchdowns in his career at Memphis. Miller is one of the smaller receiver prospects in the class (5-11, 190-pounds). He makes up for lack of size with separation ability, awareness, and YAC. Miller is like a running back in the open field and can always find the holes in coverage. Too often he drops routine catches, but he’ll make up for it by catching the impossible balls. If he can prove his hands and routes during Senior Bowl week, he could go as early as round two.
Projection: 3rd-4th (Future starter)
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: #11 Washington vs #9 Penn State
- It feels like some of the Saquon Barkley hype disappeared as he fell out of the Heisman race, well the draft hype is still very much real. Barkley is one of the best, if not the best, running back prospects of the decade. He doesn’t have any major flaw in his game and is the best player in this draft class. Barkley is almost always a guarantee to make plays in the running or passing game. A 5-11, 230-pound running back shouldn’t be such a smooth runner and dominant receiver out of the backfield, but Barkley is incredible. Any team that needs instant offense shouldn’t hesitate to draft Barkley early despite the devaluing of the RB position.
Projection: Top 10 (All-Pro RB)
Capital One Orange Bowl: #6 Wisconsin vs #10 Miami
- Nothing is more exciting than seeing a top player at his position accept a Senior Bowl invite. Well, Troy Fumagalli has accepted his to add to the already stacked Senior Bowl rosters this year. Despite only having nine fingers (he’s missing his left index finger), Fumagalli doesn’t let it limit him at all. Not only is he ideal size (6-6, 248-pounds), but he knows how to use his size as a blocker. He’s the best all-around blocker at the position and has the receiving ability to be a day one starter. It’s a deep tight end class, but Fumagalli is one of the best.
Projection: 2nd-3rd (Starting TE)
Outback Bowl: Michigan vs South Carolina
Top Prospect: Maurice Hurst, ID, Michigan (May sit)
- There’s talk that Michigan’s best player, Maurice Hurst, will sit out the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft, and he should. If he does the next best prospect would be South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst, a Junior that has already declared. So either way we’re getting a Hurst as the best prospect. Maurice Hurst is a new wave type of interior defender that players like Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins have paved the way for in the league. He lacks ideal size at 6-2, 280-pounds, but has rare quickness for the position. Hurst is explosive off the snap and can be a great pass rusher with his speed rush. He uses leverage well enough to hold up vs the run.
Projection: 1st (Pass rushing 3-technqiue)
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: #12 UCF vs #7 Auburn
- Coaches that love to play man coverage are going to fall in love with Carlton Davis, just like I did. He’s got great size to at 6-1, 203-pounds and he isn’t not going to shy away from contact. Auburn has Davis play man-to-man frequently and his footwork and ability to mirror a receiver is similar to Aqib Talib. When factoring in his natural talent of pressing a receiver and using his size to handle them, he’s the ideal man-to-man corner. Davis has good enough athleticism to keep up with smaller quicker receivers, but he’s perfect for bodying today’s big outside threats. Depending on how he runs at the NFL Combine it’ll drive his stock up or down.
Projection: 1st-2nd (Starting cornerback)
Citrus Bowl Presented by Overton’s: #14 Notre Dame vs #17 LSU
Top Prospect: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
- Usually, guards are considered to be less sexy than the other offensive positions, but a great guard can help dominate run defense. Quenton Nelson is the rare guard that should and will be a top 12 pick. He’s one of the ten best players in this class and probably the safest pick. Nelson is a run mauler that doesn’t take BS from anybody. He plays through the whistle and finishes every block. Despite being a big guard (6-5, 330-pounds) he’s great when asked to pull on run plays and can always get to his second level blocks. His pass protection ability is solid with good enough feet and great hand use. Nelson will be an instant impact player.
Projection: Top 12 (All-Pro guard)
*For the College Football Playoff Games I’ll pick the best prospect from each team
Top Prospect Georgia: Roquan Smith, LB
- All the playoff teams are dripping with NFL talent. Georgia is stacked at running back and all over their defense, but one defender stands out unlike the rest. Roquan Smith is the heart and soul of one of the countries top defenses. This linebacker class is filled with big-time athletes at the position, the majority of which are raw football players. Smith, unlike the others, has the instincts needed to dominate at the position. He’ll often see a play before it happens and get himself or someone else in position to stop it. What’s most well known about Smith is is aggressiveness. He brings it every play trying to light up anyone in his way. Although, he isn’t on the Reuben Foster level of linebacker prospect, he’s one of the best over the last few years.
Projection: Top 20 (All-Pro MLB)
Top Prospect Oklahoma: Baker Mayfield, QB
- If anybody can elevate their stock and solidify themselves as a first-round player during the bowl season its Baker Mayfield. He has the chance to topple Georgia’s great defense and then either Alabama’s or Clemson’s great defenses. Word is NFL scouts are doubting Mayfield due to lack of size, off-field/attitude problems, and the quality of defenses he’s faced in the Big 12. They say you can’t teach height, and he’s always going to rub some people the wrong way. So, Mayfield can get one of those bogus knocks out of the way in the College Football Playoff. He has enough arm strength to be a franchise QB, he put up the numbers, has the experience, and is a known winner. Mayfield’s height has never been an issue in college and he’s played behind one of the tallest offensive lines. He is a dominant passer outside of the pocket and has consistent accuracy all over the field. Mayfield never gets rattled under pressure and might have the best poise of all the QB prospects. If Mayfield was taller (he’s reportedly under 6-1) there would be no doubt he’s a franchise QB.
Projection: 1st (Franchise QB)
Top Prospect Alabama: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB
- At the top of the draft there are two defenders worth top five picks, Bradley Chubb and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick had the year that Derwin James was suppose to have by dominating everybody. Although, his positon isn’t set in stone, he can play safety, corner, or nickel, I have evaluated him as a safety. His size is perfect (6-1, 202-pounds) and he wants to hit everything in front of him. Fitzpatrick lives for being aggressive and blowing up plays. Combine that mentality with his ball skills and you have a stud. Best of all his instincts are off the charts. He can quarterback a defense from the free safety spot and put people in a position pre-snap to make plays. Fitzpatrick can upgrade any secondary instantly.
Projection: Top five (All-Pro FS)
Top Prospect Clemson: Christian Wilkins, ID
- Currently, Christian Wilkins sit atop most interior defender rankings for the 2018 NFL Draft because of his potential. Rarely are there defensive tackles with the size (6-4 310-pounds) and athleticism he possesses. After spending his Sophomore year playing out of position on the edge, a nod to his elite athleticism, Wilkins played his natural 3-technqique spot this season, but didn’t produce like expected. He has all the tools to be a gap-shooting pass rusher on the inside with an explosive first-step, good hand use, and quickness to get around offensive linemen. If Wilkins can be consistent with his disruption in the playoffs, he may be able to move himself back into the top ten conversation.
Projection: Top 20 (Pro Bowl 3-technique)