With four bowl games and a bunch of NFL Draft prospects, the two days following Christmas will be a fun time for College Football fans and NFL Draft fans alike. The headline game over December 26th and 27th is Baylor vs UCLA but each of the four games has at least one NFL draft prospect. With first round prospects like Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) and Terrance Williams (Baylor), the games will also have star power.
Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan - Little Caesars Bowl
Quanterus Smith, 4-3 defensive end, 3-4 outside linebacker, Western Kentucky - At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Smith does not have the normal size for a 4-3 defensive end. He also lacks elite quickness to play 3-4 OLB which is why he is currently projected anywhere from the third to fifth rounds in the NFL Draft in April. However, despite his lack of elite size or speed, Smith has been able to compile 12.5 sacks and has dominated in most of the games he played. One concern with Smith is that he has missed the past month of the season with a knee injury and will likely miss the bowl game as well. If he is not able to participate at the combine, his stock will likely fall even further.
Eric Fisher, offensive tackle, Central Michigan - Fisher, standing 6-foot-8, 305 pounds, is currently projected as a first round draft pick after an incredible senior season. Over the course of the past two year's, Fisher has proven to be a tremendous pass blocker with great footwork and technique and projects as a left tackle at the next level. He is an above average run blocker because he lacks some strength but his frame has room to add at least ten more pounds. He is currently competing with other tackle prospects like Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan for the number two tackle spot in the draft.
San Jose State vs. Bowling Green - Military Bowl
Ryan Otten, tight end, San Jose State - Otten, at 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, posses the ideal size for an NFL tight end. Over the past two seasons, Otten has proven to be a great pass catcher, having over 700 yards in each season. He has also displayed great athleticism, as shown by his incredible yards per catch of just over 15. Otten is currently projected in the third or fourth round, however, because he has not shown the ability to be a factor in the blocking game. In order to improve his stock, Otten will have to display some improved strength at the combine and also, in this Bowl Game, show that he has some blocking ability as well.
Cincinnati vs. Duke - Belk Bowl
Dan Giordano, defensive tackle, Cincinnati - Giordano, at 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, has played mostly defensive tackle in college. This year, he was faced with the tall task of replacing 2nd round draft pick Derek Wolfe and he has done a solid job. This year, after a slow start due to some minor injuries, Giordano turned it on in the last half of the season and really looked impressive. Despite four solid years of contribution at Cincinnati, Giordano is projected anywhere from the sixth round to being an undrafted free agent because of his lack of size. He lacks the quickness to play defensive end in the NFL and therefore, will likely peak out as a 3rd down interior pass rusher.
George Winn, running back, Cincinnati - Winn has enjoyed a very good senior season, surpassing 1,200 yards and averaging over five yards per carry while scoring 12 touchdowns. However, despite having a great season and having good size, at 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, Winn is projected to go on Day 3 of the draft in April. The main reasons are that he lacks elite speed and also has not shown much as a pass catcher. Winn does most of his running up the middle and I compare him a little to Steelers running back Isaac Redman. I could see Winn being a successful short yardage back in the NFL.
Sean Renfree, quarterback, Duke - Renfree, who has ideal size for an NFL quarterback at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, has been a three year starter at Duke and led the resurgence this year and got Duke into a bowl game. He has always been known as a dink and dunk quarterback without great arm strength and did nothing to change that this year. He averaged under seven yards per attempt for his career and has struggled to take care of the ball. He is currently projected as a sixth or seventh round pick and it would take a lot to change that.
Conner Vernon, wide receiver, Duke - Vernon is the best prospect to watch in this game by far. At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Vernon has adequate size for the NFL and projects as a slot receiver. This year, he caught 75 balls for 955 yards and seven touchdowns and had countless huge 3rd down conversions. He is not likely to wow you with amazing speed or incredible one handed catches, but he is sure handed and steady over the middle. Due to his lack of elite size or speed, he is projected in the middle of the draft and that is where he will likely end up, unless he blows up the combine.
Baylor vs. UCLA - Holiday Bowl
Terrance Williams, wide receiver, Baylor - Williams, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, has enjoyed an incredible senior season, where he gained 1,764 yards on 95 catches and scored 12 times. The do-it-all receiver has shown that he can run any route on the route tree and that he has tremendous hands. He catches the ball at its highest point and attacks on every play. He has also shown a willingness to block and that is why he is currently battling to be the first wide receiver taken in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Joseph Fauria, tight end, UCLA - Fauria, standing 6-foot-7 and weighing 255 pounds, had an inconsistent senior season that was for the most part, a big disappointment. With his combination of size and athleticism, he should have been a dominant force, but all to often, he would simply disappear. Despite disappearing for most of games, he would somehow reammerge in the red zone and that is why he was able to gain 578 yards and score 11 touchdowns on 41 catches. Son of former Seahawks and Patriots TE Christian Fauria, he recently,dominated, scoring six touchdowns in his last six games and he has a chance to continue that in this bowl game. Even though he is inconsistent and not a great blocker, he will likely be taken no later than round four because of his tremendous potential.
Johnathan Franklin, running back, UCLA - Franklin has enjoyed a monster senior season, amassing over 2,000 total yards and scoring 15 touchdowns. At 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, he has the build and the look of an NFL running back. He posses above average speed and great one cut ability. This season, he added pass catching as one of his strengths, catching 32 balls for 319 yards. His biggest weakness would probably be his lack of pass blocking ability but with his running ability, it more than makes up for that. He is projected to go anywhere from the second to the fourth round and could use a big bowl game on national television to improve his stock.
Datone Jones, 3-4 defensive end, UCLA - Jones, 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, has had an incredible senior season, with 57 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles, and two blocked punts. He has the size to be a very good 3-4 defensive end and has been very stout against the run all season while also showing pass rush ability. At times, however, he has disappeared from games and some have questioned his motor. He is currently projected to go anywhere from the third to fifth round but could improve his stock with a good series of interviews and a good combine. The main weakness in his game would be his technique, as he has mostly succeeded because of his athleticism.