It’s that time of year again! That’s right – bowl season! Which means it’s time to put on our scouting hats and start honing in on some of the upcoming rookie class.
While there is a long way to go before the NFL draft, the bowl season can be a great time to get a first look at some lesser known prospects and begin compiling a list of intriguing names to dig deeper on throughout the offseason.
With that in mind, below is an NFL prospect to watch from every game this bowl season.
December 15th, 2018
North Texas vs Utah State – New Mexico Bowl
Rico Bussey Jr., WR, North Texas
This game doesn’t feature the high-end NFL talent that causes a rookie pick frenzy in dynasty leagues, but Bussey reminds me a bit of Robby Anderson. Tall, thin (6’2” 190 lbs) and explosive (15.0 yards per catch and 12 TDs this year), Bussey could end up an intriguing late round stash like Anderson if he decides to leave North Texas early.
Tulane vs Louisiana – Lafayette – Cure Bowl
Trey Ragas, RB, Louisiana – Lafayette
Ragas is only a sophomore so you’ll have to be patient here, but he should hit 2,000 career rushing yards during this game and has already racked up 17 touchdowns as well. At 5’11” 227, Ragas will have NFL size and a lot of production by the time he is ready to leave the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Arizona State vs Fresno State – Las Vegas Bowl
N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
With Harry, we have finally reached the first high level prospect of the bowl season. Harry has elite potential and will likely go in the first round of both the NFL draft and your rookie draft. With excellent size, good production, and some jaw-dropping highlights, Harry is just a strong combine away from consideration at the 1.01.
Eastern Michigan vs Georgia Southern – Camellia Bowl
Wesley Fields, RB, Georgia Southern
The home of Matt Breida, Georgia Southern has had success with under the radar UDFA RBs so maybe Fields has a chance. But Breida had significantly more production than Fields. If there was a game to take a break from the scouting – this might be it.
Appalachian State vs Middle Tennessee State – New Orleans Bowl
Jalin Moore, RB, Appalachian State
Moore started the season strong, but he had his season ended early by an ankle injury. He won’t play in this bowl game, but he will be on display in the 2019 Senior Bowl for NFL front offices. Meanwhile, Sophomore WR Corey Sutton has flashed at times and has NFL size if you want to get an early look at a potential NFL prospect during the game.
December 18th, 2018
UAB vs Northern Illinois – Boca Raton Bowl
Spencer Brown, RB, UAB
Another Sophomore means another player you’ll have to wait at least a year to draft. But Brown has had big time production in just 2 seasons at UAB. He has 2,478 rushing yards and 26 rushing TDs (and counting). There’s no harm in getting a head start on scouting him.
December 19th, 2018
Ohio vs San Diego State – Frisco Bowl
Papi White, WR, Ohio
Senior WR Papi White profiles as a quick slot receiver at the next level after a 897 yard, 9 TD regular season at Ohio. At 5’9” and 177 lbs, however, his upside may be limited.
December 20th, 2018
Marshall vs South Florida – Gasparilla Bowl
Mitchell Wilcox, TE, South Florida
Our first tight end to make the list, Wilcox should have solid NFL level size and athleticism and is currently projected as a day 2 pick in the NFL draft. That would make a solid but unexciting late round rookie pick.
December 21st, 2018
Toledo vs Florida International – Bahamas Bowl
Jon’vea Johnson, WR, Toledo
At 6 feet tall and an expected low 4.4 forty yard dash time, Johnson reportedly has caught the eye of NFL scouts. His lack of production at Toledo, however, has me a bit cautious about his NFL chances.
BYU vs Western Michigan – Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Jamauri Bogan, RB, Western Michigan
Bogan has 42 career touchdowns at WMU, but his size (5’7” 190 lbs) is better suited for somebody who has a history as a receiving back, and Bogan only has 10 career receptions.
December 22nd, 2018
Wake Forest vs Memphis – Birmingham Bowl
Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis
Henderson rushed for 1,900 yards and 22 TDs this season on an absurd 8.9 YPC average. The knocks on him will be size and school, but that is elite production. Rashaad Penny didn’t have an ideal rookie year, but his elite production at a non-power 5 school earned him a 1st round draft selection.
Army vs Houston – Armed Forces Bowl
Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
I’m reaching a bit here by going with an IDP, but 1. – IDP leagues are awesome, and 2. – Ed Oliver is awesome. If you play in an IDP league, he better be on your radar despite playing an interior line position.
Buffalo vs Troy – Dollar General Bowl
Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo
Our first quarterback! Jackson has garnered a lot of praise on draft twitter for his size, cannon arm, and mobility, and has even earned some comparisons to Josh Allen. I think Allen was a much worse prospect than his draft status suggested, but if you can grab similar traits in a much later round with Jackson, that’s a good deal.
Hawaii vs Louisiana Tech – Hawaii Bowl
Adrian Hardy, WR, Louisiana Tech
Hardy has over 1,000 yards and 6 TDs so far this year as a sophomore – meaning he’s also at least a year away from the NFL.
December 26th, 2018
Boston College vs Boise State – First Responder Bowl
Sean Modster, WR, Boise State
Modster, a Senior, should hit the 1,000 yard mark for the year in this game and has 8 touchdowns so far as well. At 5’11” 190 lbs, he has enough size to play in the NFL.
Minnesota vs Georgia Tech – Quick Lane Bowl
Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
Johnson, a Junior, has already hit 1,000 yards (1,112) and has double-digit TDs (10 and counting). At 6-2, 200 lbs, Johnson could shoot up draft boards with a strong combine if he declares.
TCU vs California – Cheez-It Bowl
Patrick Laird, RB, California
Laird has caught more than 45 passes each of the past 2 seasons at Cal which is promising for him as a prospect in the modern NFL, even if his 1st and 2nd down potential is limited.
December 27th, 2018
Temple vs Duke – Independence Bowl
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Jones may be better off leaving school early to take advantage of what looks to be a weak QB class. He has ideal size at 6’5” which could help him shoot up QB needy teams draft boards. However, this doesn’t make him an exciting dynasty prospect.
Miami vs Wisconsin – Pinstripe Bowl
Travis Homer, RB, Miami
Homer has back to back 900 yard seasons for Miami and decent receiving ability, but he may stay in school. Even though he’s at least a year away, Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin is the true name to watch in this game – if he stays for 4 years he should break the all time collegiate rushing yards mark.
Baylor vs Vanderbilt – Texas Bowl
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
Another Junior means another player who may not enter the draft – especially after a disappointing season. Mims sits at 699 yards to date after totaling more than 1,000 last year, but he should earn an NFL look at some point.
December 28th, 2018
Auburn vs Purdue – Music City Bowl
Jarret Stidham, QB, Auburn
Stidham hasn’t impressed me in the snippets that I have seen, but he’s another QB who could work his way into the 1st round conversation thanks to a weak class. He does benefit from a strong-arm, good size, and experience playing in the SEC.
West Virginia vs Syracuse – Camping World Bowl
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Grier is in a very similar situation to Stidham. His draft stock could vary wildly in the next few months, but it will only take one team to make a commitment. Grier probably has fewer physical tools than Stidham, but his production in WVU’s wide open offense has been better. The question is if that production can translate to the NFL level.
Iowa State vs Washington State – Alamo Bowl
David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
Montgomery has a few ardent supporters in the NFL draft world so he should gather some hype in dynasty circles during the draft process. Compared to last year’s class, Montgomery isn’t a top-level back, but he may be one in 2019.
December 29th, 2018
South Carolina vs Virginia – Belk Bowl
Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina
Edwards should be part of a special WR class. At 6’3” 220, Edwards also marks a return to bigger WR prospects this year. If some of them test well at the combine they have elite potential.
Nevada vs Arkansas St – Arizona Bowl
Justin McInnis, WR, Arkansas St
Speaking of big WRs, McInnis comes in at 6’6”. He lacks the production needed to be a high level prospect, however, so the combine will be important for him.
Michigan vs Florida – Peach Bowl
Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
You might start noticing a theme here. Patterson is another unexciting QB prospect who may leave early thanks to the QB class. I know I’m mentioning a lot of QBs, but none of them are very high level prospects.
Alabama vs Oklahoma – Orange Bowl
Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
Brown has been earning comparisons to Antonio Brown for his play of late. That seems…aggressive. But regardless, Brown is an exciting player who is doing a lot of things right to earn that comparison. Brown could be the first wideout off the board this spring.
I’ll mention a second player here since this game could feature the top RB and top WR of the class in Harris and Brown respectively. It will also be worth keeping on eye on Alabama RB Josh Jacobs. I am interested to see how Harris and Jacobs split the workload in the CFP game(s).
Clemson vs Notre Dame – Cotton Bowl
Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame
Boykin is another big bodied WR with good production this past year. It will be interesting to see how heavily Notre Dame relies on him to get open quickly against a fearsome Clemson pass rush.
On the other side of the ball, Travis Etienne is only a sophomore, but he’ll be a name to keep an eye on for the future at RB.
December 31st, 2018
Cincinnati vs Virginia Tech – Military Bowl
Kahlil Lewis, WR, Cincinnati
The Senior wideout has 2,100 yards and 21 TDs in his Bearcat career, showing a propensity for the end zone.
Michigan State vs Oregon – Redbox Bowl
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert is the 2019 class’s best shot at a legitimate Franchise QB prospect. Unfortunately, there’s also been a lot of talk about Herbert staying in school another year.
Missouri vs Oklahoma State – Liberty Bowl
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
Lock is considered by many to be the top QB after Herbert. He has yet to impress me, but I haven’t watched him much so I’m excited to watch him New Year’s Eve and see if he can light up the Cowboys.
Okwuegbunam has begun to gather some buzz as one of the top tight ends in the class. He has 17 touchdowns over the past 2 seasons and could be a dangerous red zone weapon at the next level. He’ll be one of the more interesting prospects to watch during the draft season as I could see his stock varying wildly in the coming months.
Northwestern vs Utah – Holiday Bowl
Zack Moss, RB, Utah
Moss is currently wrapping up his second straight 1,000 yard, 10 TD season for the Utes. If he leaves Utah a year early he could be an interesting mid round prospect for NFL teams.
Texas A&M vs NC State – Gator Bowl
Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
Williams had an impressive 2018 season with over 1,500 yards and 15 TDs on the ground. His freshman and sophomore seasons weren’t bad either, making Williams one of the most productive backs of this year’s class if he declares. While he is a bit small, Williams has 66 receptions in 3 years making him an excellent fit for the modern NFL.
Pittsburgh vs Stanford – Sun Bowl
Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
Love had a massive season a year ago that makes his 2018 campaign feel like a bit of a disappointment. While it does suggest he’s a step below the backs of the 2018 class, Love is still a strong RB prospect in a much weaker group.
Arcega-Whiteside has frequently been compared to Mike Evans over the past few months. While it’s unfair to expect him to reach those levels in the NFL, the comparison does make some sense. Arcega-Whiteside is big at 6’3” 225 lbs and dominant in the red zone with 14 TDs this year – some of them on very impressive jump ball catches. A strong combine performance could skyrocket his draft stock.
January 1st, 2019
Mississippi State vs Iowa – Outback Bowl
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Widely considered the top TE in the class, Fant should be a more exciting TE prospect than any of last years options. That’s a good thing, because the position is looking pretty sparse at the NFL level right now. Fant will likely be a 1st round pick in dynasty rookie drafts. His teammate and fellow tight end TJ Hockenson is another name to keep an eye on. They could be the top 2 tight ends off the board.
Penn State vs Kentucky – Citrus Bowl
Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky
Sanders has been flying a bit under the radar in dynasty circles, but he’s one of my favorite backs of the 2019 class, if not my outright RB1 at this point. He should have the size and athleticism to be a workhorse NFL back. The Citrus Bowl against Kentucky should be an excellent test for him. He could, however, return to Happy Valley for his Senior season.
Snell is yet another RB who will be vying for RB1 status in next years draft. That makes this game must see TV for dynasty players hoping to grab a back in the spring. Snell has 3 straight 1,000 yard, 13 TD seasons.
Ohio State vs Washington – Rose Bowl
Myles Gaskins, RB, Washington
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Oh look, another RB tossing his hat in the 2019 RB1 ring. The production is there, but Gaskins may be undersized to be a top back when considering all the other solid (and bigger) options. That said, his film is impressive.
Haskins – along with Herbert and Lock – make up the top end of this years QB class. Haskins and Herbert are likely the better 2 prospects, but they also are likely to return to school. It will be interesting to see if Urban Meyer’s decision to retire will have any impact on that.
UCF vs LSU – Fiesta Bowl
Nick Brossette, RB, LSU
Brossette replaces Derrius Guice, who replaced Leonard Fournette at RB for the Tigers. Brossette is easily the least exciting pro prospect of the 3, but he should still get a shot in the NFL and he has ideal size.
Texas vs Georgia – Sugar Bowl
Elijah Holyfield, RB, Georgia
Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey, WRs, Texas
Overshadowed by the deadly RB trio at Georgia last year, Holyfield has had his best season now that he only needs to contend with D’Andre Swift for carries. Swift, however, is not eligible for the draft this year.
Humphrey and Johnson are two massive WRs – both listed over 6’4” 220 – who help round out this years WR class. As you may have noticed, a lot of the receivers this year are big outside receivers. This should make for an exciting combine process to determine which of these wideouts have a chance to be special.
And that wraps up our bowl game NFL prospect preview. It doesn’t cover every prospect who will take the field for these teams, and there are plenty of excellent prospects who didn’t make it to the bowl season, but it should be a helpful list if you’re looking for a head start on your rookie scouting.
There will be more rookie content throughout the offseason as we learn more about all these prospects, and which players NFL teams have their sights set on.
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