Bowls allow lesser-knowns to boost stock

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Bowls allow lesser-knowns to boost stock

Postby BirdBrain » Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:10 am

Bowls allow lesser-knowns to boost stock
By Todd McShay
Scouts Inc.

Among other things, college football's bowl season is a rare opportunity for some under-the-radar NFL prospects to shine on the national stage. As we get ready to kickoff what will be a three-week, 32-bowl game bonanza, NFL fans should catch a glimpse of these 10 unheralded college players before they invade the pro game next fall:

1. Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan
Motor City Bowl, Dec. 26 (ESPN, 7:30 ET)
Staley is a converted tight end who has gained more than 70 pounds since stepping on campus at Central Michigan as a true freshman in 2003. He continues to improve his overall strength, which is considered his biggest knock as a pro prospect. On the flip side, it's rare to find an offensive lineman with such quick feet and 4.8-second speed in the 40-yard dash. Staley held his own early this season against big-boy competition (Boston College and Michigan). Strong postseason workouts could elevate Staley into the late-first-round range of next April's draft.

2. Aundrae Allison, WR, East Carolina Bowl, Dec. 23 (ESPN2, 1 ET)
Allison battled some nagging injuries early but finished his senior season strong with 684 yards and four touchdowns on 59 receptions. The 6-foot, 190-pound wideout displays outstanding burst in the open field and is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. An impressive bowl game and strong postseason workouts for NFL scouts could land Allison a spot in the second round.

3. Kevin Kolb, QB, Houston
AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Dec. 29 (ESPN, 4:30 ET)
Kolb hasn't consistently played against top competition in college (C-USA) and he comes from a passer-friendly spread offense, which generates some legitimate concerns regarding his transition to the NFL game. But I still think he's an underrated prospect who warrants consideration late on Day 1 of the 2007 draft. Kolb possesses a fine combination of size, arm strength and mobility -- not to mention experience as a four-year starter. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior led Houston to its first C-USA title in a decade and he's capable of leading his team to an upset over South Carolina in the Liberty Bowl later this month.

4. Eric Weddle, S, Utah
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 23 (ESPN, 8 ET)
Weddle lacks elite size and speed but his versatility is awfully enticing for salary-cap strapped NFL teams. He splits time between the cornerback and safety positions on defense, while frequently contributing as a running back and slot receiver on offense. In his spare time, Weddle handles some of the return duties on kickoffs and punts, while also serving as the holder on PATs and field goals. Overall, Weddle has returned a fumble and an interception for a touchdown, while rushing for four touchdowns and throwing for another this season.

5. Dan Bazuin, DE, Central Michigan
Motor City Bowl, Dec. 26 (ESPN, 7:30 ET)
Bazuin is a fierce, instinctive and speedy defensive end who has notched 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble return, which he took 32 yards to the house. He lacks ideal base and is a bit tightly wound, but Bazuin makes enough big plays as an up-the-field defender to warrant late-first-day consideration.

6. John Beck, QB, Brigham Young
Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21 (ESPN, 8 ET)
Beck's lack of ideal size and athletic ability limits his NFL upside. The fact that he will be a 26-year-old rookie is also unattractive to NFL teams seeking to develop a future backup. However, Beck displays adequate arm strength and good touch, timing and accuracy as a passer. He also is a tough, competitive quarterback with better-than-average mobility. Few players in the country have carried a team like Beck has carried BYU this season. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound signal caller has led the Cougars to victory in 10 of 12 outings in 2006 and the only two losses were by a field goal at Arizona and in double overtime at Boston College.

7. Garrett Wolfe, RB, Northern Illinois
Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 19 (ESPN2, 8 ET)
Wolfe shares a lot of similarities with Darren Sproles, who was a fourth-round draft pick by the Chargers in 2005. Unfortunately, the equally tiny Wolfe (5-7, 170) has almost no experience in the return game, which was Sproles' biggest value initially coming out of college. Regardless, Wolfe projects as an early second-day pick thanks to his outstanding quickness, vision and toughness as a runner. He leads the nation in rushing and his ability to handle such a huge workload (289 carries) as a senior is the main reason why Northern Illinois is going bowling this season.

8. Jonny Harline, TE, Brigham Young
Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21 (ESPN, 8 ET)
Beck's most reliable target is Harline, who has added 49 receptions to his impressive career résumé at BYU. Harline lacks ideal size and top-end speed, so he will never be more than a decent space-blocker and short-to-intermediate receiver in the NFL. However, he is an athletic and quick H-back prospect who shows the potential to develop into a reliable pass-catching reserve who contributes in sub packages at the next level. Harline could come off the board early on Day 2.

9. Jeff Rowe, QB, Nevada
MPC Computers Bowl, Dec. 31 (ESPN, 7:30 ET)
Rowe is a developmental prospect with ideal size. He is a confident leader and an accurate short-to-intermediate passer. However, Rowe comes from a passer-friendly "Pistol" offensive scheme that did not force him to make a lot of progression reads or downfield throws. He also possesses just decent arm strength and mobility. Rowe projects as a fifth-round pick right now but a good showing versus Miami's outstanding defense can only help his draft stock.

10. Ameer Ismail, OLB, Western Michigan
International Bowl, Jan. 6 (ESPN2, noon)
Ismail burst onto the NFL draft scene recently thanks to an incredibly productive senior year. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound outside linebacker finished the regular season as the nation's leader in tackles for loss (25.5) and sacks (17). He also intercepted two passes, one of which was returned 29 yards for a score. Ismail needs to finish strong in the International Bowl and carry that momentum into the postseason in order to improve his already rising Day 2 draft stock.

The following is an updated look at the top-32 NFL draft prospects in the 2007 class, which includes eligible underclassmen:

Scouts Inc.'s Top 32
1. Joe Thomas OT SR Wisconsin 1
2. Brady Quinn QB SR Notre Dame 2
3. Calvin Johnson WR JR Georgia Tech 3
4. Alan Branch DT JR Michigan 5
5. Adrian Peterson RB JR Oklahoma 6
6. Gaines Adams DE SR Clemson 5
7. Glenn Dorsey DT JR LSU 9
8. Sam Baker OT JR USC 7
9. Ted Ginn Jr. WR JR Ohio State 8
10. Leon Hall CB SR Michigan 10
11. JaMarcus Russell QB JR LSU 15
12. Jake Long OT JR Michigan 12
13. LaRon Landry S SR LSU 13
14. Jeff Samardzija WR SR Notre Dame 14
15. Brian Brohm QB JR Louisville 16
16. Dwayne Jarrett WR JR USC 17
17. Marshawn Lynch RB JR Cal 19
18. Amobi Okoye DT SR Louisvillea 20
19. Sidney Rice WR JR S. Carolina 25
20. Quinn Pitcock DT SR Ohio State 11
21. DeMarcus Tyler DT SR N.C State 21
22. Levi Brown OT SR Penn State 27
23. Adam Carriker DE SR Nebraska NR
24. Marcus McCauley CB SR Fresno State 22
25. Eric Wright CB JR UNLV 18
26. Frank Okam DT JR Texas 23
27. Antoine Cason CB JR Arizona 26
28. Quentin Moses DE SR Georgia 28
29. Kenny Irons RB SR Auburn 29
30. Patrick Willis ILB SR Mississippi 30
31. Daymeion Hughes CB SR Cal 31
32. Jamaal Anderson DE JR Arkansas NR

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN Insider.

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Postby Pudge » Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:58 am

Staley is the sort of athlete I know Gibbs likes to have at LT. He's a guy I'm going to try and keep an eye on. As for the rest, Wolfe, Allison, Bazuin, and Weddle are the only ones that really stand out to me as possible Falcon picks. All except Wolfe & Bazuin are expected to be Day 1 picks.

As for the rest, they could all make some other team very happy, but I doubt the Falcons will show any interest in them.

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