One of the more eventful days in the bowl season thus far, these set of games features at least one first rounder and could be as many as four featured today.
While West Virginia and Maryland feature quite a few early round prospects, the Iowa and Missouri game has a guaranteed 1st rounder and one quarterback who Optimum Scouting feels could be a 1st round prospect as well.
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. NC State Wolfpack – Champs Sports Bowl
Julian Miller, DE, West Virginia (JR)
My personal favorite from the Big East conference as far as surprisingly high prospects go, I scouted him in-depthly myself over the past two seasons, and I believe that he can be a very solid pass rusher at the next level in the right system. He hasn’t been as consistent of a threat as you’d like, but he should be the lead man getting pressure on Russell Wilson in this one.
Robert Sands, S, West Virginia (JR)
A much improved player over this season, Sands has moved from a decent in the box safety to a rangy threat against the run and pass. He’s become a more reliable tackler, he’s shown he can defend backs and tight ends man to man, and has made many plays in short and mid-range coverage. He’ll need to show instincts and the ability to stay at home against a nimble quarterback.
Russell Wilson, QB, NC State (JR)
A top baseball prospect who played this past baseball season and likely will try it out again this football off-season, Wilson may want to throw his hat into the NFL and see if he can stick. He moves very well, great accuracy and touch, and can also play in the pocket. His size and arm will hurt as well as sometimes inconsistent play, but he should make it very frustrating for the Mountaineers.
Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia
A lightening quick back who will likely have to be a situational back at the next level, he has shown a very impressive burst out of the hole and the deep speed to score on any play. He can’t carry the full time load in the NFL and has Darren Sproles-type potential, but he should be a handful for this NC State team.
Owen Spencer, WR, NCState
He and Russell Wilson have had great chemistry all season, and Spencer development as a pass catcher as well as his draft stock have gone up significantly throughout the year. Spencer has used great routes and catching the ball at the highest point to out perform his cornerbacks, and I expect another big game from Spencer to cap over his career at NC State.
Nate Irving, ILB, NCState
After a few devastating injuries over the early part of his career, Irving has proved, at least on the field, that he has just about fully recovered and has been a force all season long for this defense. He’s a consistent tackler with great range, and his athletic ability and hips likely make him a fit for most defenses at the next level.
Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia
Hogan has dealt with injuries and a suspension for the early part of the year, but he should be ready to go to cap off his senior season at West Virginia as he hopes to regain the draft stock that he lost. Hogan has the hips and ball skills to be a starter at the next level, but he’ll need to show the consistent speed, jumping ability, and tackling ability if he hopes to go in the first three rounds.
Scooter Berry, DT, West Virginia
Another Mountaineer who I’ve seen develop over the past two seasons, better is a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense at the next level. He doesn’t have a huge range of moves, but he moves well for his size, can get in the backfield, and can take up two defenders. He’ll try and set up this pass rush against NC State and has done well all season at helping his linebackers get into the backfield.
Missouri Tigers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes – Insight Bowl
Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
At one point early in the draft season, Clayborn was the clear cut top defensive player in the country. But his lack of great production and other players emerging, he’s fallen slightly. Still, his ability to fit in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense at defensive end and his range of pass rush moves still makes him a 1st rounder and a likely problem for the Missouri Tigers.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri (JR)
Since he took over for Chase Daniel, Gabbert has been extremely impressive with his arm strength, deep accuracy, and ability to make plays when the offensive line breaks down. He hasn’t been all that consistent over his career, but he has the size, arm, touch, and technique to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He’ll have a chance to showcase his mobility in this one against a tough Iowa pass rush.
Christian Ballard, DT, Iowa
He’s been overshadowed at times because of the defensive end production, but Ballard has been a force inside for this defense over the past two years. He has a few pass rush moves and engages well by keeping a low base, but he needs to show he can get in the backfield with more consistency and can stay at home against a team that runs quick routes, draws, and screen passes.
Tyler Sash, S, Iowa (JR)
While some have viewed Sash as a possible 1st-2nd round safety prospect because of his range, tackling ability, and mid range ball skills, Sash still has to prove, to me at least, that he can defend the deep pass as well as be more consistent in quick man coverage. He’ll have that chance against the pass happy Missouri team.
Tim Barnes, C, Missouri
One of the better senior centers in the country, Barnes has been a leader for this team for the past two seasons and has done a great job in getting to the second level for the inside running game. He’ll have a tough job setting his teammates up on the offensive line against one of the best in the country, and he’ll likely have the most to gain from this game.
Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa
Stanzi has not been physically impressive over the season and over his career, but he has the ability to keep his eyes down field and make a good throw in the short and mid-range area from different platforms and arm angles. Stanzi will likely struggle to have a shot at the NFL, but because of his winning ways and his scrappiness as a passer, he could get a look and should be a viable threat for this inconsistent Missouri secondary.