December 30th Bowl Scouting Guide

December 29, 2016

azlblogoGeorgia Bulldogs (7-5) vs TCU Horned Frogs (6-6)
11:00 CST on ESPN

Georgia Prospects
#27 RB Nick Chubb
#1 RB Sony Michel
#73 RT Greg Pyke
#54 C Brandon Kublanow
#7 OLB Lorenzo Carter
#17 LB Davin Bellamy

TCU Prospects
#69 RT Aviante Collins
#40 DE James McFarland
#94 DE Josh Carraway
#30 SS Denzel Johnson

Going into this game we had the potential for some pretty big 2017 NFL Draft prospects in Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to go along with talented linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy. Chubb could have been the third or fourth running back off the board showing good balance, the ability to stop and start, and the suddenness to burst past defenders. Lorenzo Carter was built much like former Bulldog Leonard Floyd being 6’6 and an athletic edge rusher. The issue is all four of those players announced their returning for their senior years and won’t be in the 2017 NFL Draft.

While Chubb is the clear best player in this game, it’s TCU defensive end Josh Carraway that is the best 2017 prospect. Carraway is an edge defender that has good acceleration to burst through the line to make a play on the quarterback and the lateral agility to give offensive tackles fits. However, Carraway can struggle against the run and will get a chance to show his wear against RT Greg Pyke who is a big physical run blocker. If Carraway can continue to make an impact rushing the passer and hold his own in the run game will definitely get everyone’s attention.

indexStanford Cardinal (9-3) vs North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4)
1:00 CST on CBS

Stanford Prospects
#3 WR Michael Rector
#6 WR Francis Owusu
#57 RG Johnny Caspers
#90 DE Solomon Thomas
#29 SS Dallas Loyd

North Carolina Prospects
#10 QB Mitch Trrubisky
#34 RB Elijah Hood
#3 WR Ryan Switzer
#13 WR Johnathan Howard
#71 RT Jon Heck
#68 C Lucas Crowley

It’s unfortunate that most of the attention of this game will be on Stanford’s Christian McCaffery choosing not to play in the game instead of some top tier talent that is actually playing. But when you look at this game there it’s not quantity but quality. We can first talk about North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky who if he declares could be the first quarterback taken in this class and potentially in the top five. Trubisky is a very accurate thrower and has the arm strength to make all the throws. Trubisky will look to throw the ball around the yard to lightning quick slot receiver Ryan Switzer and the big physical Johnathan Howard. While Switzer may seem like the stereo typical slot receiver, what makes him unique is he has the long speed to go with the change of direction ability.

The other top prospect in the game is Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas who plays the left defensive end position for the Cardinal 3-4 defense. Thomas uses strength and leverage well to hold the point of attack and clog up the running lanes. Against the pass he uses that same strength to put the offensive lineman in a tough spot and then can accelerate forward to make plays in the backfield. Thomas normally plays more against guards but when he does go one on one vs the right tackle we’ll get to see how North Carolina’s John Heck can do against him.

franklin-american-mortgage-music-city-bowl-official-logoNebraska Cornhuskers (9-3) vs Tennessee Volunteers (8-4)
2:30 CST on ESPN

Nebraska Prospects
#34 RB Terrell Newby
#11 TE Cethan Carter
#55 DT Kevin Maurice
#52 LB Josh Banderas

Tennessee Prospects
#11 QB Josh Dobbs
#6 RB Alvin Kamara
#3 WR Josh Malone
#9 DE Derek Barnett
#50 DE Corey Vereen
#23 CB Cameron Sutton

This game may have had a little more star power but injuries to Nebraska receiver Jordan Westerkamp and Tennessee linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin along with Nebraska safety Nate Gerry and Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd leaving the team took away four sure fired draftable players. But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t talent in this game.

The star of this bowl is Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett who has taken an already good career and elevated it into being one of the best defensive ends in all of college football. Barnett has good timing and burst off the line that really puts pressure on the left tackle which then allows him to use his heavy hands to get past and attack the quarterback. It’s imperative that Nebraska gives extra attention and help to their sophomore left tackle Nick Gates otherwise backup quarterback Ryker Fyfe is going to have a long day.

Volunteers cornerback Cam Sutton is still coming back from an ankle facture early in the season and could use a good game to still showcase his skills that had some (including me) believe he had first round potential. Sutton has good size and the quick hips that would allow him to turn and run out of press and the quickness to accelerate out of off man and zone coverage. Nebraska will be without their top receiver in Jordan Westerkamp but Nebraska will throw a variety of receivers at him and he’ll get to show off his full skill set.

A couple of other players to watch are Nebraska tight end Cethan Carter who isn’t fully utilized but he is an excellent blocker and an underrated pass catcher over the middle of the field. While most people had focused on Jalen Hurd at running back, Alvin Kamara is the more explosive back and even have some saying he was the better of the two. He’s at his best in space, so it will be interesting to see how the Husker linebackers can tackle him in one on one situations.

bowl_arizonaSouth Alabama Jaguars (6-6) vs Air Force Falcons (9-3)
4:30 CST on Campus Insiders

South Alabama Prospects
#12 TE Gerald Everett

Air Force Prospects
#9 WR Jalen Robinette
#8 SS Weston Steelhammer

While I’m not sure many fans will get to watch this game on the Campus Insiders (????) channel, but what I do know is that NFL teams are going to have an eye on this game for the juicy matchup between South Alabama tight end Gerald Everett and Air Force strong safety Weston Steelhammer. Everett is one of the many talented tight ends in the 2017 draft class providing an athletic slot type tight end that could be a matchup problem for defenses. Looking to slow him down with be the Falcons strong safety Weston Steelhammer whose game may just match his awesome name. Steelhammer is a statistical machine leading the team in tackles, tackles for loss and even had five interceptions.  Not very many service academy players get drafted but Steelhammer has a shot and if he’s able to show he can match up and slow down a talented hybrid tight end that will only solidify his status.

coob_gradient_4cMichigan Wolverines (10-2) vs Florida State (9-3)
7:00 CST on ESPN

Michigan Prospects
#4 RB De’Veon Smith
#82 WR Amara Darboh
#86 WR Jehu Chesson
#88 TE Jake Butt
#71 LT Ben Braden
#78 RT Erik Magnuson
#67 RG Kyle Kalis
#52 C Mason Cole
#96 NT Ryan Glasgow
#43 DE Chris Wromley
#33 DE Taco Charlton
#26 CB Jourdan Lewis
#8 CB Channing Stribling
#5 S Jabrill Peppers

Florida State Prospects
#4 RB Dalvin Cook
#23 FB Freddie Stevenson
#15 WR Travis Rudolph
#8 WR Kermit Whitfield
#77 LT Roderick Johnson
#72 LG Kareem Are
#44 DE Demarcus Walker
#91 NT Derrick Nnadi
#27 CB Marquez White

If both teams are motivated to plays this game, it should be a fun one to watch with several very good prospect battles. When Michigan has the ball they’re going to look to pound the rock to help set up their passing attack. To run the ball effectively they are going to need their talented offensive line to win at the point of attack and open up running lanes for their group of backs. The match up to watch will be center Mason Cole and right guard Kyle Kalis facing off against nose tackle Derrick Nnadi who at 6’1 300lb has good strength and low center of gravity which makes moving him very difficult.

While any Harbaugh team is known for their power running attack the Wolverines are much more of a balance offense than people think and that’s because they have a talented trio of pass catchers. The best out of the three is tight end Jake Butt who can run past linebackers but then use his size to bully defensive backs. On the outside they have two different receivers in Amara Darboah and Jehu Chesson. Darboah is not a great athlete but understands how to set up defenders and can get separation in and out of breaks. Chesson on the other hand is is more physically gifted and is a power route runner who can explode out of a break to get separation. Florida State’s secondary is young but senior Marquez White is the leader of the group and it will be his job to try and get physical with whichever receiver he has in front of him.

The other Seminole defensive lineman Michigan has to worry about is defensive end Demarcus Walker who is a stout run defender on the edge on early downs but become a deadly interior pass rushing shooting the inside gap against offensive tackles or even moving down to the defensive tackle position and beating guards with his burst. Michigan likes to stay ahead of schedule, but if they get behind they need to account for Walker.

When Florida State has the ball they want to feature their all world running back Dalvin Cook who is pushing Leonard Fournette as the best back in this class. Cook is a smooth runner who can change directions flawlessly before turning on the jets and running away from defenses. He has some help from fullback Freddie Stevenson who could be the best fullback in this draft class. If Cook is going to get yards he’s going to have to work hard because the Wolverines whose rush defense ranked 13th in the nation.

If Florida State can’t get the rushing game going they’ll be in trouble trying to through in obvious passing situations because the Wolverines are very good at getting pressure and finished the season with the fifth most sacks in the nation. Whether it is defensive ends Chris Wormley or Taco Charlton coming off the edge or even Jabril Peppers blitzing they’ll force freshman quarterback Deandre Francious to be on the move and have to make quick decisions.

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