Every College Football Bowl Game’s Top 2014 NFL Draft Prospects
The Top 2014 NFL Draft Talent of Bowl Season
With the college football regular season now over and the NFL regular season close to an end, the 2014 NFL Draft is beginning to come into focus. We can’t completely overlook the college season, though, seeing as the slate of 35 bowl games is nearly upon us.
During bowl season, we’ll have the opportunity to see some of college football’s top talent make one final push for a rise in draft stock. We could also see some of the year’s eligible playmakers tumble down draft boards with poor performances on the biggest stage of the season. Either way, bowl season has such a huge impact on the NFL Draft and where particular players will land when May rolls around.
Don’t think that NFL talent can only come from the BCS bowls, though. There are several non-BCS bowls with a plethora of prospects hoping to help their stock. Whether it’s the Las Vegas Bowl or the Fight Hunger Bowl, you better not overlook some of the smaller bowls when looking for top prospects to watch.
Either way, it’s going to be an exciting bowl season full of ups and downs for hundreds of NFL Draft prospects. It only takes one game to go from a Top 10 pick to a Day 3 flier – and vice versa – so keep your eyes focused and your mind open. Scouting, even for amateurs, takes a keen eye and a willingness to find talent in the strangest of places.
Here’s a look at all 35 bowl games and the top 2014 NFL Draft prospects in each one.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Colorado State: C Weston Richburg, OLB Shaquil Barrett, TE Crockett Gillmore
Washington State: SS Deone Bucannon, K Andrew Furney
This game features three players worth watching. Richburg is an intriguing mid-round center, while Barrett is a late-round sleeper with a high motor. Bucannon has some NFL potential, and will be looking to set the stage for a strong Senior Bowl showing.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State: QB Derek Carr, WR Davante Adams, TE Marcel Jensen
USC: WR Marqise Lee, DE Morgan Breslin, SS Dion Bailey, DE George Uko, ILB Hayes Pullard
One of the more-exciting crapshoot bowl games, the Las Vegas Bowl will feature a couple of first-round talents in Carr and Lee. The Trojans defense contains a few potential mid-round talents while the Bulldogs will put a couple of intriguing pass-catchers on display.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Buffalo: OLB Khalil Mack, RB Brandon Oliver
San Diego State: SS Nat Berhe, FB Chad Young, OT Bryce Quigley
All eyes will be on Mack, who is a potential Top 5 pick this upcoming May. Oliver, a punitive back who carries the Buffalo offense, will also be worth watching. On the other side, watch for Berhe to fly around and make plays for the Aztecs defense.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Tulane: WR Ryan Grant, K Cairo Santos, DT Chris Davenport
UL Lafeyette: WR Darryl Surgent, C Andre Huval
In terms of NFL talent, the only two players worth giving some serious thought in this one are Grant and Santos. Grant is a mid- to late-round receiver with a look, and Santos is considered the top kicker in the 2014 class. Surgert has some intrigue as a return specialist.
Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl
ECU: QB Shane Carden, OLB Derrell Johnson
Ohio: QB Tyler Tettleton, RB Beau Blackenship
While it’s unlikely he enters the 2014 NFL Draft, Carden is definitely one to watch. He’s a little-known passer with plenty of NFL-caliber talent. Tettleton is also a quarterback worth watching, possessing above average athleticism and a solid arm.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Boise State: DE Demarcus Lawrence, OT Charles Leno
Oregon State: WR Brandin Cooks, DE Scott Crichton, CB Rashaad Reynolds
Surprisingly, the Broncos don’t bring too much NFL talent to the table this year. The Beavers, however, have a couple of early-round talents to keep an eye on. Cooks was named the Biletnikoff Award winner, and Crichton is a high-motor pass rusher ready to soar up draft boards.
Little Caesars Bowl
Bowling Green: QB Matt Johnson
Pitt: DT Aaron Donald, WR Devin Street, QB Tom Savage
If you watch this one, don’t take your eyes off of Donald. After hauling in some postseason awards, he’s ready to prove himself as a top talent heading into draft season. Street and Savage should connect early and often. Johnson is only a junior, but could be intrigued by a suddenly-weak quarterback class.
S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Northern Illinois: QB Jordan Lynch, SS Jimmie Ward, DT Ken Bishop
Utah State: C Tyler Larsen, CB Nevin Lawson
After a poor performance in the MAC Championship, Lynch will be looking to mend his draft stock. Ward earned a Senior Bowl trip and will also be hoping to elevate his stock. The Aggies don’t offer much NFL-caliber talent, but Larsen is a mid-round center capable of making an impact.
Marshall: QB Rakeem Cato
Maryland: WR Stefon Diggs, CB Dex McDougle
One of the worst bowls in terms of NFL talent, there might be three or four pro prospects on the field. Cato is an outstanding quarterback, but is still only a junior. Diggs is an exciting prospect who has the potential to rise while McDougle could be a late-round option.
Minnesota: DT Ra’Shede Hageman, SS Brock Vereen, RB David Cobb
Syracuse: OT Sean Hickey, RB Jerome Smith
The attention will focus mainly on Hageman and Hickey here, who are the two early-round talents in the game. Don’t count out Vereen, though, who has quietly put together a solid season and could convince a team to take a late-round flier.
Fight Hunger Bowl
BYU: OLB Kyle Van Noy, WR Cody Hoffman
Washington: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, RB Bishop Sankey, QB Keith Price, WR Kasen Williams
This one features several players who could hear their names called before Day 3. Van Noy is an edge rusher with the athleticism to wreak havoc in the NFL. Hoffman is a phenomenal talent, but has struggled in 2013. ASJ won this year’s Mackey Award, so he’s also one worth watching.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Notre Dame: DT Louis Nix III, DE Stephon Tuitt, WR T.J. Jones
Rutgers: WR Brandon Coleman, G Antwan Lowery
There are a few exciting prospects worth watching in this one. Nix and Tuitt are two disruptive defensive linemen expected to go in the first round, while Jones has the potential to soar up draft boards. Coleman is a big receiver with some intrigue as an early-round talent.
Cincinnati: QB Brendon Kay, ILB Greg Blair, G Austen Bujnoch
North Carolina: TE Eric Ebron, FS Tre Boston, OT James Hurst, DE Kareem Martin, QB Bryn Renner
While the Bearcats do have some interesting late-round options, the focus will be on the Tar Heel’s top talents. Ebron is jockeying for the top tight end ranking while a host of other players are looking to improve their stock during the bowl season.
Russell Athletic Bowl
Louisville: QB Teddy Bridgewater, WR Devante Parker, SS Hakeem Smith, ILB Preston Brown, DE Marcus Smith
Miami (FL): QB Stephen Morris, OT Seantrel Henderson, OLB Denzel Perryman
Last year, Bridgewater elevated himself to the top of the 2014 class with a dominant bowl performance. Can he do it again? Other early-round talents such as Parker, Morris and Henderson will also be hoping to garner attention from scouts with big outings.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Kansas State: FS Ty Zimmerman, OT Cornelius Lucas, G Keenan Taylor
Michigan: OT Taylor Lewan, WR Jeremy Gallon
There isn’t much early-round talent in this one outside of Lewan, but still some late-round intrigue worth taking into account. Gallon is a small, explosive receiver who will scare away teams due to his size. Zimmerman is limited physically, but flies around the field and makes plays.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Mid Tennessee State: QB Logan Kilgore, DT Jimmy Staten
Navy: QB Keenan Reynolds, ILB Cody Peterson
Again, another one-player show here with the attention all going in the direction of Kilgore, a late-round quarterback. Don’t count out Reynolds, an “offensive weapon” with the excitement factor, and Peterson, a proven leader and consistent tackle machine.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Georgia Tech: OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, FS Jemea Thomas, OLB Brandon Watts
Ole Miss: WR Donte Moncrief, P Tyler Campbell
In terms of NFL talent, only Attaochu and Moncrief are serious considerations in the Music City Bowl. Attaochu is a pass rush specialist, and Moncrief is a big receiver with solid blocking abilities. Don’t count out sleeper safety Thomas to make an impact, though.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Oregon: CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, RB De’Anthony Thomas, DE Taylor Hart, OLB Boseko Lokombo, WR Joshua Huff
Texas: WR Mike Davis, CB Quandre Diggs, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, CB Carrington Byndom
If you’re looking to watch future NFL players, this one you must watch. Oregon features numerous early- to mid-round prospects on defense and a sparkplug runner in Thomas. Meanwhile, Texas also has a defense full of NFL potential. This could be an opportunity for Davis to shine on a national stage.
National University Holiday Bowl
Arizona State: DT Will Sutton, RB Marion Grice, QB Taylor Kelly, OLB Carl Bradford, ILB Chris Young, TE Chris Coyle
Texas Tech: TE Jace Amaro, DT Kerry Hyder
There are numerous Sun Devils to keep an eye on in this one, including first-round talent Sutton and Grice, who is arguably the top runner in the 2014 class. Kelly could also be an option if he opts to forego his senior season. The only Red Raider worth watching is Amaro, arguably the top eligible tight end.
AdvoCare V100 Bowl
Arizona: RB Ka’Deem Carey, OLB Marquis Flowers, ILB Jake Fischer
Boston College: RB Andre Williams, DT Kaleb Ramsey
If you want to see some superb running, look no further than the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. Two of the top running backs in the nation, Carey and Williams, will be battling for draft positioning in this one. Don’t overlook the Wildcats’ promising group of linebackers, though.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
UCLA: OLB Anthony Barr, QB Brett Hundley, G Xavier Su’a-Filo, DE Cassius Marsh, WR Shaq Evans
Virginia Tech: CB Kyle Fuller, CB Antone Exum, DE James Gayle, QB Logan Thomas
While most eyes will be on Barr, a potential Top 5 pick, there are plenty of other worthy NFL prospects. The Bruins offense has a number of intriguing players while a number of the Hokies’ top defenders will be looking to slow them down. Fuller is expected to return and could earn back a first-round grade.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Mississippi State: G Gabe Jackson, RB LaDarius Perkins, QB Tyler Russell, QB Dak Prescott
Rice: K Chris Boswell
While the Bulldogs offer a number of promising prospects to keep an eye on – Jackson could be an early-round pick – the Owls have almost no draftable talent. You know when their kicker is the best (and only) pro prospect, it’s not a great game to watch from a scouting aspect.
Duke: CB Ross Cockrell, DE Kenny Anunike, RB Juwan Thompson
Texas A&M: OT Jake Matthews, QB Johnny Manziel, WR Mike Evans, OT Cedric Ogbuehi, RB Ben Malena
A bit of a one-sided affair, the Aggies feature upwards of four first-round prospects who will be looking to solidify their draft stock on game day. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils don’t offer much in terms of NFL talent outside of Cockrell, a late-round cornerback.
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl
Georgia: TE Arthur Lynch, OT Kenarious Gates, G Chris Burnette, OLB T.J. Strippling
Nebraska: RB Ameer Abdullah, FB C.J. Zimmerer, TE Jake Long
In a game filled with Day 2 and Day 3 talent, the only prospect worth watching closely is Abdullah, who still hasn’t decided whether or not he’ll forego his senior season. Lynch could also be an intriguing player to watch as the Bulldogs offense tries to survive without their starting quarterback.
Heart of Dallas Bowl
North Texas: ILB Zach Orr, G LaChris Anyiam
UNLV: RB Tim Cornett, WR Jerry Rice Jr.
Arguably the worst game in terms of NFL talent, none of these players are likely to be drafted. The most intriguing aspect of this game is that we could see Rice Jr. get in the mix against a poor Mean Green defense.
Iowa: TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, OLB Christian Kirksey, OLB Anthony Hitchens, ILB James Morris
LSU: WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Jarvis Landry, DT Anthony Johnson, DT Ego Ferguson, RB Jeremy Hill, ILB Lamin Barrow
This Tigers team is loaded with early-round talent, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the field. Beckham could go in the first round with a big bowl game showing. Make sure to keep an eye on the Hawkeyes’ linebacker unit, where you’ll see three potential late-round talents.
Capitol One Bowl
South Carolina: DE Jadeveon Clowney, CB Vic Hampton, DT Kelcy Quarles, DE Chaz Sutton, QB Connor Shaw
Wisconsin: RB Melvin Gordon, ILB Chris Borland, WR Jared Abbrederis, G Ryan Groy
The top prospect in the nation, Clowney will be under heavy scrutiny during the Gamecocks’ bowl game. A big performance will definitely help, though. A couple other Day 3 talents will be on display for USC. As for Wisconsin, Gordon, Borland and Abbrederis will all be looking to solidify their stock as Day 2 targets.
Vizio Rose Bowl
Michigan State: CB Darqueze Dennard, DE Shilique Calhoun, ILB Max Bullough, OLB Denicos Allen
Stanford: G David Yankey, OLB Trent Murphy, ILB Shayne Skov, FS Ed Reynolds, WR Ty Montgomery, RB Tyler Gaffney
One of the top talent pools of bowl season, a few potential first-round picks will be on display. Dennard will be expected to shut down the Cardinal passing game while late-round sleeper Gaffney attempts to prove he can be a legit NFL runner against a stout Spartans defense.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Baylor: G Cyril Richardson, SS Ahmad Dixon, RB Lache Seastrunk, WR Tevin Reese
UCF: QB Blake Bortles, WR Storm Johnson, DT E.J. Dunston
The entire game will be abuzz about Bortles, a quick-riser who is suddenly in the talk as the best quarterback of the 2014 class. Look for Dixon and the Bears’ defense to try to keep him in check, though. Seastrunk will also get an opportunity to exploit the Golden Knights’ tough defense.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Alabama: ILB C.J. Mosley, FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, OLB Adrian Hubbard, QB A.J. McCarron
Oklahoma: CB Aaron Colvin, WR Jalen Saunders, C Gabe Ikard
A bit of a one-sided affair in terms of NFL talent, Alabama will field at least four potential first-round picks. Meanwhile, the Sooners might have a couple of mid-rounders battling for the Sugar Bowl. Look for Clinton-Dix and McCarron to have big games and maintain their high draft stock.
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Missouri: DE Kony Ealy, DE Michael Sam, CB E.J. Gaines, WR L’Damian Washington, WR Dorial Green-Beckham, QB James Franklin
Oklahoma State: CB Justin Gilbert, WR Josh Stewart, DT Calvin Barnett, WR Tracy Moore, QB Clint Chelf
The Tigers’ defense is loaded with top talent this season, and we’ll get a great look at how good they are against a high-flying Cowboys offense. We’ll see if Ealy and Sam can get pressure on Franklin and keep him from connecting with Stewart and Moore early and often.
Discover Orange Bowl
Clemson: WR Sammy Watkins, QB Tajh Boyd, DE Vic Beasley, ILB Stephone Anthony
Ohio State: DT Michael Bennett, OLB Ryan Shazier, CB Bradley Roby, RB Carlos Hyde, QB Braxton Miller, OT Jack Mewhort
Another talent-laden bowl game, we’ll see an explosive Tigers offense go up against a sensational Buckeyes defense. Shazier and Roby will look to keep Boyd and Watkins in check, while Beasley hopes to keep Miller on his heels all game long.
BBVA Compass Bowl
Houston: P Richie Leone, G Ty Cloud
Vanderbilt: WR Jordan Matthews, OT Wesley Johnson, FS Kenny Ladler
If you were hoping to see some exciting Houston prospects, think again. Most of their playmakers aren’t even eligible for the draft. The Commodores, however, have a couple capable talents. Matthews has the talent and size to convince NFL teams to spend a Day 1 pick on him.
Arkansas State: QB Adam Kennedy, DT Ryan Carrethers, WR Julian Jones
Ball State: QB Keith Wenning
A battle of two sleeper quarterbacks, Kennedy and Wenning will be looking to raise their draft stock with impressive wins to close out their college careers. Apart from those two, don’t expect to see much NFL-caliber talent in the GoDaddy Bowl.
Vizio BCS National Championship
Auburn: OT Greg Robinson, RB Tre Mason, DE Dee Ford
Florida State: OT Cameron Erving, FS Lamarcus Joyner, ILB Christian Jones, DT Timmy Jernigan, WR Kelvin Benjamin
Surprisingly, neither of these teams are stacked with top-tier talent. The rosters are, however, loaded with superb Day 2 talent. Robinson and Erving will likely go in the first round if they declare, but the other big-name players in the title game still have ground to gain in terms of draft stock.
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