While the bulk of this season’s bowl games have now passed by, there is still some good football left to be played. All four of the teams in action today have a few NFL draft worthy prospects of their own. More than a few key running backs, pass rushers and receivers will be in action today and you will not want to miss it.
Birmingham Bowl: No. 21 Cincinnati vs. Boston College – 3 p.m. EST, ESPN
Boston College running back A.J. Dillon will not play and that is unfortunate as Dillon’s running style is a throwback to the golden days of smash mouth football. At 6’0 and 250 pounds, Dillon is a truck running in the trenches. He has incredible contact balance and rarely goes down on first contact. Dillon led the ACC in rushing yards this year with 1685 rushing yards.
Two offensive line prospects from Boston College to watch are right tackle Ben Petrula and center Alec Lindstrom. Petrula has been a mainstay at right tackle, making 25 consecutive starts there, while Lindstrom commanded the center position full time this season.
Linebacker Max Richardson has been a tackling machine for Boston College. Richardson registered 107 tackles this season, fourth most in the ACC and 14 tackles for a loss. His draft status is unclear though as he is still a junior and may return for his senior year.
Cincinnati running back Michael Warren II has consistently been in the conversation for one of the top running backs in the Conference USA. Warren has rushed for 2489 yards and 33 touchdowns over the last two years. Warren is also an experienced pass catcher out of the backfield and could be in play near the end of next year’s draft.
Bryan Wright made the conversion from defensive end to linebacker last season and he has played lights out ever since. Wright recorded 95 tackles and 4.5 sacks this season and should also be in play towards the latter portions of next year’s draft.
Cincinnati will send one prospect to the Senior Bowl and that is tight end Josiah Deguara. The senior tight end put up 492 receiving yards and seven touchdowns this year. Besides his receiving ability, Deguara has also caught the eye of many for his hustle and effort.
🚨BEST PLAY YOU DIDN’T SEE IN WEEK 1: Cincinnati @GoBearcatsFB TE #83 Josiah Deguara (aligned at right TE) makes an unreal hustle play to prevent a pick-six vs. UCLA. That kind of relentless effort will get NFL scouts’ attention. The Reese’s Senior Bowl sees you, @JosiahD5! 💪👀 pic.twitter.com/tWZCDseoF5
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) September 2, 2019
Gator Bowl: Indiana vs. Tennessee – 7 p.m. EST, ESPN
Tennessee receiver Jauan Jennings is a real treat to watch play. Jennings is not only very smooth out of his breaks but he is a handful to tackle as well. The Tennessee receiver is great at racking up yards after the catch due to his size and incredible effort to keep his legs churning forward. He recorded 57 receptions for 942 yards this season along with eight touchdowns. Look for him at the Senior Bowl later this month as well.
In a loaded class of pass rushers, edge rusher Darrell Taylor is just begging to be this year’s under the radar pick. He has registered 15 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. Taylor has finished top five in the SEC in sacks for the second consecutive year and he flashes a lot of tools to work with. He is strong and comes equipped with a nifty rip move. Do not be surprised if Taylor is making plays for his NFL club in the coming years.
Indiana will also bring an impactful receiver of their own in Whop Philyor. The 5’11, 178 pound receiver is dangerous in space and very good at creating yards after the catch. The focal point of the Indiana offense this season was to get the ball in Philyor’s hands and let him make something happen. He did that often this year, recording 69 receptions for 1001 yards and five touchdowns.
To contrast Philyor, Indiana will also utilize the much bigger receiver Nick Westbrook. Standing at 6’3, Westbrook is capable of going up and getting the balls that Philyor may not be able to get to. The senior receiver will enter the draft with 140 receptions and 2178 receiving yards to his name. He could be a late round pick next spring.
In the trenches, look for Indiana guard Simon Stepaniak. The senior guard was named third team All-Big Ten this year by the media and has experience playing both right and left guard. His versatility and talent will make him an intriguing prospect for teams looking for offensive line help in the middle portions of next year’s draft.