With a Pittsburgh Steelers loss dampening the mood over the weekend, Pittsburgh natives are looking ahead to the Panthers’ Military Bowl game against the No. 21-ranked Navy Midshipmen, which is a bowl game loaded with NFL prospects.
Military Bowl — No. 21 Navy (10-2) vs. Pittsburgh (8-4), 2:30 p.m., ESPN
This game — in terms of NFL draft prospects — likely starts and ends with Panthers star wide receiver, Tyler Boyd.
As of right now Boyd is my No. 4 receiver in the 2016 class. That’s high praise for a guy who never won a major award as a member of the Pitt football team. However, Boyd was largely overlooked at times because of the relative struggles of the Panthers team week to week.
At 6’2”, 190, Boyd projects to be more of a slot receiver in the NFL in the mold of Philadelphia’s Jordan Matthews or Miami’s Jarvis Landry. That said, Boyd is a dynamic weapon that can be a No. 1 receiving option for a team in need of receiving help in the middle of the first round.
He’s a solid route runner who gets open largely based on his ability to find openings in coverage through precise route running. Boyd also possesses great body control, which allows him to make tough catches in traffic.
Along with Boyd, offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty could declare for the NFL draft this year thanks to a strong junior year. Although he possesses ideal size for a tackle at the next level (6’6”, 300), he would be best served as sliding inside to guard where he can use his athleticism as a pulling guard, similar to Notre Dame’s Zack Martin did when Dallas drafted him in the middle of the first round two years ago.
For Navy, quarterback Keenan Reynolds should have been a Heisman finalist thanks to his outstanding senior year in which he rushed for 21 touchdowns and threw seven touchdowns in the triple-option Midshipmen attack.
Reynolds will make the switch to running back at the Senior Bowl to try and show scouts he’s capable of playing at the next level. He’s a very powerful runner at the point of contact and is also a smooth runner in the open field with the speed to pull away from defenders when the opportunity presents itself.
Quick Lane Bowl — Minnesota (5-7) vs. Central Michigan (7-5), 5:00 p.m., ESPN
Keep an eye on Minnesota cornerbacks Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
Murray received an invite to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama at the end of January. The senior corner is comfortable playing both press and off coverage while also showing a willingness to throw his hat into the ring against the run.
The 5’11”, 196-pound corner doesn’t have great ball skills as he got his hands on the ball just three times all season (one INT, two pass deflections).
Boddy-Calhoun will play in the East-West Shrine Game, as well as the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in hopes of improving his draft stock.
The 5’11”, 188-pound corner has a history of injury, having missed three games this year. Add into the mix his raw technique in coverage and the senior cornerback could be a mid-round project for a team deep at cornerback.