NFL Draft Prospects – 2018 Bowl Game Preview: December 27th

INDEPENDENCE BOWL: Temple vs. Duke – 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Should he declare for the NFL draft, there will be no bigger prospect to keep an eye on than Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, who could be a fast riser up the draft boards depending on his performance from here on out. The 6’5 quarterback had a hot start to his season but ended up throwing for 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Jones throws with great touch and accuracy and is generally safe with the football. He lacks natural arm strength to really zip the ball in tight windows and is susceptible to crumbling when pressured. Look for Jones to be among the first handful of quarterbacks called should he declare his intentions for the NFL.

Temple has arguably the best name of any prospect in cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. An incredible story as he went from playing at Presbyterian College to Temple and now heading for the NFL, Ya-Sin is ready to rock the draft world. In his one season at Temple, Ya-Sin recorded two interceptions and 12 pass defenses. He comes in with a great frame at 6’1 and is incredibly gifted at playing man to man coverage. His efforts gifted him an invite to this year’s Senior Bowl where he could see his draft stock sky rocket. Ya-Sin is definitely a name to circle as we approach next year’s NFL draft.

Temple has another Senior Bowl invitee in running back Ryquell Armstead who cracked over 1000 yards rushing for the first time this season. The running back averaged over five yards per carry and had 13 rushing touchdowns. Armstead is incredibly shifty and freezes second level defenders with his jukes and lateral agility, he could be a day two sleeper pick.

PINSTRIPE BOWL: Wisconsin vs. Miami – 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Miami comes into the Pinstripe Bowl with a handful of electrifying players on defense, many of which will hear their name called during the upcoming NFL draft. The world will have to wait until the Senior Bowl to see Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis III as a hand injury will keep him out. Willis had a breakout year with 18 tackles for a loss and four sacks. Though a still very raw athlete, Willis comes with a very high ceiling but will need to be more consistent and put it all together at the next level, though his potential will make him an intriguing prospect.

Jaquan Johnson shapes up to be a promising day two- early day three prospect as the Miami safety comes with a great balance of ball skills and in the box physicality. Johnson has recorded five interceptions and five forced fumbles over his last two seasons. A consistent player over the last two years, Johnson has the potential to be a playmaker at the next level.

Other prospects for Miami include linebacker Michael Pinckney, a very athletic and instinctive linebacker who reminds me a lot of Sean Spence (not the Sean Spence we saw last season) and pass rusher Joe Jackson. Jackson could fit in well in a 4-3 as his bull rush is exceptional, and his 15 sacks over the last two seasons would suggest.

Wisconsin is known for two things – cheese and producing NFL caliber offensive lineman, particularly at guard. The Wisconsin Badgers have another pair of NFL ready guards this season with Beau Benzschawel and Michael Deiter. Benzschawel is the more NFL-ready prospect of the two as he can be a mauler in the run game and also hold his own in pass protection. Look for Benzschawel to hear his name called early. Deiter will likely be selected shortly after and could also see himself contributing immediately in the NFL.

TEXAS BOWL: Baylor vs. Vanderbilt – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Running back turned wide receiver, Baylor’s Jalen Hurd took a big gamble on himself and won as he has played just one season at his new position. Hurd finished with 69 receptions for 946 yards and four touchdowns in his debut season as a receiver. At 6’4, Hurd showed all the physical tools to succeed and his experience as a running back gives him excellent open field ability. He’s got receiver hands but Hurd is far from a polished product as he still has many mechanical issues that plague a first-year receiver. Hurd will sit out the Texas Bowl after suffering a knee injury but he is scheduled to be at the Senior Bowl in January.

With Hurd injured, Denzel Mims will be Baylor’s first option, a role he played in 2017 when Hurd was still with Tennessee. Mims recorded 699 receiving yards this season but had over 1000 in 2017 as Baylor’s primary receiver. Mims will be recruited as a deep ball, stretch the field-type receiver should he declare.

The son of Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, Kyle Shurmur has been commanding the Vanderbilt offense for the last three seasons. Shurmur peaked in 2018, his senior year, with 23 touchdowns to just six interceptions and a 64% completion percentage. Shurmur grades out as a likely mid round pick with the ability to develop into a starter one day.

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