Bowl games offer NFL scouts a chance to see what prospects can offer
How do they preform under pressure drastically changes their ranking in the upcoming 2013 NFL draft.
As we prepare to wager and watch this year’s College Bowl games, click to view the spreads, let’s also take a second to look at a few players who could make a difference in the 2013 NFL draft and the bowl games they play in.
Discover BCS National Championship Game : Jan. 7: ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET, Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
Notre Dame – Manti Te’o: Heisman finalist and defensive player of the year Manti Te’o could shape a defense for years to come and the Oakland Raiders could use it.
Alabama – Barrett Jones: Alabama Crimson Tide senior center Barrett Jones has become the first center from the university to take home the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding center in college football every season. A number of NFL teams could use a solid center that would solidify an offensive line.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl : Jan. 3: ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Oregon – Kenjon Barner: Barner should have been invited to the Heisman celebration but instead the All-American will have to prove his worth in the NFL. Rushing 248 times for 1,624 yards and 19 touchdowns his speed makes him a difference maker. Should be a late second-round selection and a difference maker like a C.J. Spiller or Jacquizz Rodgers.
Kansas State – Collin Klien: The senior quarterback led his team to an 11-1 overall record, including an 8-1 mark in the Big 12, and won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the nation’s top senior quarterback. A strong performance could send him shooting up the draft ranks. Could the Kansas City Chiefs pull the trigger that early?
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Jan. 4: Fox, 8 p.m. ET, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Texas A&M- Johnny “Football” Manziel: He completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 3,419 yards with 24 touchdowns and just eight interceptions for a 155.9 QB rating. He also did some serious damage on the ground as he rushed for 1,181 yards and 19 scores. Manziel is only a Freshman, which is a shame for him as he now has at least two more years to possibly screw everything up and fall down the draft ranks.
Oklahoma – Landry Jones: Jones may be the most talented QB available in the 2013 NFL draft but that doesn’t mean he will hear his name called in the first round. 2012 has been an interesting year for Jones as he has certainly had his up’s and downs in big game moments. Jones has completed 66.4 percent of his passes with 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He’s posted six 300-yard games and has at least two touchdown passes in nine of the Sooners’ 11 games. Maybe the next quarterback of the Buffalo Bills?
Chick-fil-A Bowl : Dec. 31: ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET, Georgia Dome, Atlanta
South Carolina – Devin Taylor: After 7.5 sacks in 2010, Taylor failed to live up to the hype and was overshadowed by Jadeveon Clowney who was the nation’s first sophomore to win the Ted Hendricks Award. This is his chance to shoot himself back up the draft board.
Michigan – Denard Robinson: Might not be an NFL caliber player at quarterback, but is one of the best runners in all of college football. Someone will take a chance on this exciting prospect at wide receiver, returner, special teams player or even quarterback.
Rose Bowl Game : Jan. 1: ESPN, 5 p.m. ET, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Wisconsin – Montee Ball: Previous head coach Bret Bielema spoke with several NFL scouts who view Montee Ball as the top running back in this year’s draft class, but many don’t have him being drafted until the 4th round. After a slow start it seems Ball has been rising. A strong performance could help his cause.
Stanford – Chase Thomas: He decided to return to Stanford for his final season even though he could’ve been a second-day pick in the 2012 draft. Might have been a solid decision as the Cardinal ranked as the top defensive unit against the run. Thomas could have moved his stock up to the first round and could help a team like the New Orleans Saints or Washington Redskins.
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Jan. 2: ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Louisville – Mario Benavides: Toughness and reliability are two of the most important attributes NFL teams look for in interior offensive linemen prospects, and in Benavides they’ll find both.
Florida – Matt Elam: Arguably the top SS in the NFL Draft class, Elam has been credited with 10.0 TFL this season for a loss of 35 yards, a team-high four interceptions which ranks tied for 25th nationally, one forced fumble and five pass breakups.
Discover Orange Bowl : Jan. 1: ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET, Sun Life Stadium, Miami
Northern Illinois – Jordan Lynch: Only a Junior it may be time to come out. Lynch and the Huskies made the improbable run to the Orange Bowl by winning their last 12 games of the season. As one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks, he even drew some Heisman Trophy consideration. He had 222-of-353 passing for 2,962 yards with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed for 1,771 yards and 19 touchdowns on 271 carries. It might not get better than this.
Florida State – Rodney Smith: A possible late round third or fourth round selection Smith has a chance to elevate his position. WR Rodney Smith has caught a pass 27 straight games.
Capital One Bowl : Jan. 1: ABC, 1 p.m. ET, Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
Georgia – Jarvis Jones: One of the most highly-touted prospects of the 2013 NFL Draft. Currently considered a lock for the Top 5, Jones is a natural pass-rusher that projects as a 3-4 OLB at the next level. Could be the difference maker the Cleveland Browns need.
Nebraska - Rex Burkhead: Making his first appearance sing aggravating a sprained knee, he scored the go ahead touchdown for Nebraska to secure a spot in the Big Ten title game. Burkhead only has up to go after suffering an injury plagued season and a dramatic drop down the draft board.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl : Dec. 27: ESPN, 9:45 p.m. ET, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Baylor – Terrance Williams: Any NFL team in need of wide receiver help could be calling Terrance’s name in the first or second round. Williams led the nation in total receiving yards with 1,693, and averages 153.91 yards per game, which is also tops in the nation. He finished the season with 89 receptions and 12 touchdowns.
UCLA – Anthony Barr: Three months ago, Anthony Barr played in his first game as a linebacker, now the pass rushing linebacker is slated for the second round.
Valero Alamo Bowl : Dec. 29: ESPN, 6:45 p.m. ET, Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Texas – Alex Okafor: NFL scouts must be impressed with Okafor’s consistency, 60 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 17 quarterback hurries, 3 forced fumbles, 1 blocked kick. He’s ranked the No. 22 player by CBS Sports and is rated as the fourth-best defensive end.
Oregon State – Jordan Poyer: A candidate for numerous All-America teams and was recently selected a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back) and the Bednarik Award (top defensive player). A strong possibility for any team that needs defensive backfield help in the first round, possibly the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl : Jan. 1, ESPN2, 12 p.m. ET, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
Mississippi State - Johnthan Banks: The top cornerback in the NFL draft, the Jim Thorpe finalist has tallied 59 tackles, seven pass breakups, four interceptions, 2.0 tackles for loss, a fumble forced and a fumble recovery.
Northwestern - Brian Mulroe: Mulroe was an anchor on an offensive line that helped the ‘Cats finish third in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game (230.9) and second in fewest sacks allowed (1.3 per game). Could be a late selection in the draft.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl : Dec. 29: ESPN, 3:15 p.m. ET, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.
West Virginia – Geno Smith: If last year taught us anything Geno Smith may see himself skyrocket to the top of the draft. Ranked as the No. 1 quarterback he throws a fantastic deep ball with decent accuracy. Many believe Smith is overated and plays in a weak conference. Could be the next franchise quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Syracuse – Ryan Nassib: Only two quarterbacks from Syracuse have been drafted since 1945 and Nassib will be the third. Going up against Geno Smith and having a strong performance could send teams looking for a QB scattering to the early second round.
GB Bongiovanni is a syndicated writer and owner of The Penalty Flag. He can be contacted on Twitter @GBBongiovanni and Facebook at http://facebook.com/Bongiovanni