Justin Herbert NFL Draft

New Year’s Eve Bowls Prospect Preview

December 30, 2018

With New Year’s Eve upon us the tradition of bowl games on this day is a great one. While we don’t have any of the “New Year’s Six” games today, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have good match ups or even quality players playing in these games. Our New Year’s Eve Bowls Prospect Preview takes a look at which 2019 NFL Draft Prospects are playing in today’s Bowl games.

New Year’s Eve Bowls Prospect Preview

Cincinnati Bearcats vs Virginia Tech Hokies
11:00 CST on ESPN

Cincinnati Prospects
WR Kahlil Lewis
DT Cortez Broughton
DT Marquise Copeland

Virginia Tech Prospects
RT Yosuah Nijman
DT Ricky Walker
SS Reggie Floyd

For Cincinnati they rely on two talented defensive tackles in Marquise Copeland and Cortez Broughton. Copeland has a shot to go on day two of the draft largely because of his size and explosive get off. He’ll be looking to disrupt the Hokies backfield and hopefully make plays or throw off the offenses timing. Broughton is also a disruptive tackle who produced 16.5 tackles for loss this season using lateral quickness. On offense the Bearcats do have a draftable prospect in Khalil Lewis who is leading the Bearcats in receiving yards and touchdowns. Lewis is a quality deep threat who also has some kick return ability. Virginia Tech’s defense is very young, but senior defensive tackle Ricky Walker is a force up the middle. At 6’2 300lbs Walker has a quick first step and is looking to get into the backfield and disrupt.


Stanford Cardinal vs Pittsburgh Panthers
1:00 CST on CBS

Stanford Prospects
WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside (#13 WR)
TE Kaden Smith (#6 TE)
LG Brandon Fanaika (#8 iOL)
C Jesse Burkett (#5 iOL)
RT AT Hall
ILB Bobby Okereke (#13 LB)
CB Alijah Holder

Pittsburgh Prospects
RB Qadree Ollison
RB Darrin Hall
WR Rafael Araujo-Lopes
LT Stefano Millin
RG Mike Herndon
RT Alex Bookser
DE Dwayne Hendrix
OLB Elijah Zeise
OLB Oluwaseun Idowu

Having Stanford running backs sit out of bowl games is not surprise as Christian McCaffery did it two years ago and now Bryce Love is doing the same. While it would have been nice to see Love play in this game, we’re not going to see anything here that would have changed our views on him. Our attention now shifts to receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside how has dominated defensive backs in the Pac 12 all season long. Arcega-Whiteside isn’t a good route runner but instead wins by using his size (6’2 225lbs) to shield off defenders downfield and to flat out box them out in the redzone to win contested catches. Pitt has two good running backs in Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall who have lead this offense for nearly 2,000 rushing yards. Ollison is more of a bruising back who can catch the ball while Hall is more of the speed back. Looking to stop this rushing attack is inside linebacker Bobby Okereke. Okereke is an instinctive linebacker who is at his best coming forward to fill gaps. Where Okereke will struggle is when he has to make plays on the outside and his lack of long speed and change of direction skills are exposed.


Michigan State Spartans vs Oregon Ducks
2:00 CST on Fox

Michigan State Prospects
TE Matt Sokol
OLB Andrew Dowell
SS Khari Willis

Oregon Prospects
WR Dillon Mitchell
RB Tony Brooks-James
TE Kano Dillon
DE Jalen Jelks (#7 Edge)
OLB Justin Hollins
S Ugo Amadi

This game is interesting because it lacks good 2019 NFL Draft star power, but since Justin Herbert announced he is returning for his senior year, we still get to see him play in the game against a top 10 ranked Michigan State defense. Herbert would have likely been the top quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft. Herbert’s top weapon is receiver Dillon Mitchell who has been produced big plays down the field all season long to the tune of 1,114 yards, 16.1 yards per catch and 9 touchdowns. Mitchell’s ability to play fast and change directions makes him tough to cover down the field or tackle him with the ball in his hands. Michigan State cornerback Justin Layne will not be playing in this game and it robs us of what could have been a juicy prospect battle. Instead the only draft eligible prospect in the Spartans secondary is Khari Willis who is more of an in the box safety whose good against the run. The top 2019 NFL Draft prospect in this game has to be Oregon defensive end Jalen Jelks who is a long and quick but had his sack numbers drop from his junior to senior year. Jelks played more as an outside edge rusher this year, but has shown that he can slide down and rush from the interior and get penetration. Jelks teammate and fellow pass rusher Justin Hollins is a sleeper name to watch out for after his 5 sack season. Hollins has good size at 6’5 245lbs and uses his length well to make plays.


Missouri Tigers vs Oklahoma State Cowboys
2:45 CST on ESPN

Missouri Prospects
QB Drew Lock (#6 QB)
WR Emanuel Hall
TE Albert Okwuegbunam
TE Kendall Blanton
DT Terry Beckner
WLB Terez Hall
SLB Brandon Lee

Oklahoma State Prospects
QB Taylor Cornelius
DE Cole Walterscheid
DE Jordan Brailford
DT Trey Carter
SLB Justin Phillips

These former Big 8 rivals face off for the first time since Missouri left the Big 12 a few years back. And while Missouri now plays in the SEC, this game will resemble a Big 12 game with plenty of points scored. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is playing in his final college game and has as shot to really light up the stat column against a poor Cowboys offense. Lock is considered a first round pick because of his arm talent but he has a couple of weapons that allows him to shred inferior defenses. Receiver Emanuel Hall is a speedster with size (6’3) that is able to push defenders down field but can also take a short throw and reel off a long run. At tight end the Tigers have one of the best in college football in Albert Okwuegbunam. Okwuegbunam is only a redshirt sophomore and lacks elite physical traits, but does have soft hands and a knack for finding open areas in the defense. He reminds me a lot of former Oklahoma Sooner Mark Andrews who was drafted in the middle rounds last year by the Baltimore Ravens. Defensively for the Tigers their top prospect is defensive tackle Terry Beckner who uses his burst off the line to penetrate into the backfield as he finished with 9.5 tackles for loss. For Oklahoma State they will be without star running back Justice Hill who is sitting out the game to prep for the NFL Draft, so their top prospect playing in this game is defensive end Jordan Brailford. Bradford has his best season of his career this past year with 10 sacks and 17 tackles for loss using his athletic traits to get into the backfield.


Northwestern Wildcats vs Utah Utes
6:00 CST on FS1

Northwestern Prospects
QB Clayton Thorson (#12 QB)
WR Flynn Nagel
LT Blake Hance
DT Jordan Thompson
DE Joe Gaziano
MLB Paddy Fisher (#6 LB)
SLB Nate Hall
CB Montre Hartage

Utah Prospects
LT Jackson Barton
C Lo Falemaka
RG Jordan Agasiva
MLB Cody Barton
LB/S Chase Hansen (#12 S)
SS Marquise Blair
FS Corrion Ballard

This game gives us a chance to see Clayton Thorson take on a good top 25 ranked Utah defense as he enters the Pre-Draft Process. Thorson has some arm talent but he struggles with consistency and the Wildcats really lack the weapons that he needs around him as his best receiver is an undersized slot receiver in Flynn Nagel. Utah has a few intriguing prospects in their secondary that will look to slow down Thorson as this passing attack. Julian Blackman is a former receiver who has good size and length while showing off his receiving skills when he plays the ball in the air. Strong safety Marquise Blair plays with good speed and loves contact but isn’t overly fluid. Chase Hansen is a cross between a linebacker and safety who plays with good instincts and is used in a variety of ways. Outside of Clayton Thorson, Northwestern’s top draftable talent is all on the defensive side of the ball and the top prospect may cornerback Montre Hartage. Hartage has size and ball skills, but has missed a few games late in the season with an injury. Paddy Fisher is a popular linebacker prospect showing good instincts and the ability to tackle so he’ll be looked to provide a solid presence in the middle of the field against the run game. One prospect battle to watch on this side of the field is left tackle Jackson Barton facing off against defensive end Joe Garziano. Barton has good size and is more of a mauler than pass protector while Garziano’s 11 sacks on the season gives him two straight years with ten plus sacks and 19.5 in three years.

North Carolina State Wolfpack vs Texas A&M Aggies
6:30 CST on ESPN

North Carolina State Prospects
QB Ryan Finley (#8 QB)
RB Reggie Gallaspy
LT Tyler Jones
LG Terrone Prescod
C Garrett Bradbury
DE Darian Roseboro

Texas A&M Prospects
RB Trayveon Williams
TE Jace Sternberger
C Erik McCoy
RG Keaton Sutherland
DE Landis Durham
DT Daylon Mack (#17 DL)
DE Kingsley Keke (#14 DL)
MLB Otaro Alaka
FS Donovan Wilson

There isn’t a ton of star power in this game but there are a few intriguing prospects and a quality prospect battle. Your eyes will naturally go to NC State Ryan Finley because he’s a quarterback and they dominant our attention. Finley isn’t a first round quarterback, but he does throw with good accuracy on short to intermediate throws while showing some touch down the field. He’ll be without his star receiver in Kelvin Harmon, but expect Finley to play well. While Finley may be the household name I’m excited to see Wolfpack center Garrett Bradbury take on Aggies defensive tackle Daylon Mack and occasionally Kingsley Keke. Bradbury is a good athlete and former tight end that allows him to reach and get into good position to seal off defenders. He’ll be tested in this game against Daylon Mack who is short and squatty but is extremely powerful and will test Bradbury’s anchor. Mack isn’t considered to be more than a day three pick, but he should prove to get a good test. Texas A&M also has a good center in junior Erik McCoy who has the ideal size and power needed to face off against powerful defensive tackles that the NFL has.

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