NCAA Football

2011 NFL Draft Prospect Bowl Game Preview: BBVA Compass Bowl

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You would think that a Big East vs. SEC showdown would not end well from the Big East team. However, in somewhat of a confusing role-reversal, Pittsburgh has three legitimate 1st round potential guys and one very talented, formerly 1st round-type of athlete. Kentucky, on the other hand, has just one senior playmaker in their speedy running back.

However, football isn't a game of talents, it's a game of team and toughness, and Kentucky has enough younger playmakers that could either make this game very close or give the Wildcats the edge in this one.

 Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Kentucky Wildcats - BBVA Compass Bowl

Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
Greg Romeus was out early in the season with an injury, and the pass rush was thought to take a major hit. But expecting to see Romeus in the first game I saw of Pitt, I notice a player at first I assumed to Romeus, but turned out to be Sheard. Sheard is a high motor pass rusher with moves both inside and out, arm length to move blockers and still read the play, and quickness to get in the backfield. A first round talent, he'll be a difference maker in this one.

Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh (JR)
Baldwin already declared that he'll be leaving after the year, but he'll have one last showing against a Kentucky defense that is very average. He's not had a great year this year, but a lot of the blame has been on the quarterback play, not his. However, Tino Sunseri has developed over the year, and should be very ready for this game, meaning Baldwin has little excuse not to succeed in this one.

James Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh
One of the most consistent left tackles this year, he hasn't wowed as much this year, but his consistency and technique could make him a solid 1st rounder. Pinkston hasn't been tested much this year in the form of pass rushers, and probably his stiffest competition has been in practice. However, I expect Kentucky to attack the young Pittsburgh quarterback, so Pinkston may be tested in this one.

Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh
Injured most of the year, Romeus was the returning Big East Defensive Player of the Year, but really struggled through thisseason. He seems to have lost a step in his quickness of the ball,and he isn't as productive or consistent this year in his pursuit to the quarterback. This will be his last chance to prove himself in college, and I think he and Sheard should be the biggest factor in this one.

Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh (RS SO)
Somewhat frustratingly, Lewis said that this would be his final game at Pittsburgh, despite only being a redshirt sophomore and having an average season this year (959 yards). However, he has a lot of tread on his tires for a sophomore, and I can't blame him for not wanting to be maxed out in college. He should be the feature back in his final game in this one, and he'll need to end with a bang to hit the draft season on the right note.

Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky
While Junior Randall Cobb is the do-it-all weapon for this Kentucky team, Locke is the key cog to this Kentucky offense that will have to keep up with the Pittsburgh talented offense while still being aware of those defensive playmakers. Locke isn't the biggest of backs, but he's a tough runner who has the speed to explode through the hole or to the outside for a big pickup.