Monday - St. Petersburg Bowl: East Carolina vs. Ohio, 2:00 p.m. on ESPN
Junior WR Justin Hardy
- Perhaps the most underrated WR prospect in this class. Typically a slot receiver in the Pirates’ multiple wide set. Displays good burst off the snap but smooth in his movements. Light on his feet to change direction. Might not be the most physical receiver in terms of strength off the line, but body control and footwork allows for separation to be created. Hardy understands leverage and positioning to get his body in between the ball and the defender. Doesn’t mind going up and getting it or running vertically, but he might be best in the short to intermediate game.
- Julian Edelman could be a worthwhile comparison.
Junior QB Shane Carden
- Carden has really produced in this spread out offense. He displays some composure in the pocket and enough velocity to make plenty of short to intermediate throws. Many of the targets are pre-determined, but Carden is an extension of the coach on the field in terms of fulfilling a gameplan.
Tuesday - Hawaii Bowl: Boise State vs. Oregon State, 8:00 p.m. on ESPN
Redshirt senior LT Charles Leno Jr.
- Leno could be seen as an upside pick that satisfies a swing tackle role early in his career. He does a pretty good job keeping a stiff jab on inside lines and has enough length to keep rushers away from his frame on edge rushes. His base can get too wide, leading to lower body stiffness and waist bending, but flashes are there. Posture and balance could be major questions.
Redshirt junior DE Demarcus Lawrence
- The Bronco plays the field side defensive end role and certainly has an NFL frame, but he needs to fire off the ball better. Lawrence was spun around at the point of attack on multiple occasions in the running game, but fights back to the ball. He has issues getting stuck in no man’s land when rushing the passer, although there is length to be used correctly in those situations. Lawrence’s closing speed is there once in space and crashing from the end, and if he can utilize length on first contact he’ll generate some interest.
Junior WR Brandin Cooks
- An explosive receiver that wins at every level of the field. Can take short passes for long gains after creating even more separation. Creates space on intermediate patterns. Tracks vertical passes exceptionally well. Takes the top off coverages. Has a large catch radius for someone his size. Currently ranks as my No. 3 receiver behind Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans.
- NFL Comparison: Victor Cruz
Junior QB Sean Mannion
- Kind of reminds me of Philip Rivers in terms of release and loft that he puts on passes. Can make some outstanding throws with placement and timing, but pressure really screws him up. Mannion needs workable space in order to operate, and interior disruption throws everything off. Poor decision and bad placement follow. Does operate from center and has experience in a so called “pro style offense.” Loft, touch, and placement and the key to his game. Falls off too many throws.
Junior DE Scott Crichton
- There’s a lot to like about Crichton, but his lack of flexibility and counter moves will be what hold back his evaluation. He does win in a few obvious ways: hand use, power, momentum, and strong run defense. He projects as a defensive end in an even front and wins from the 5, 7, and 9 spots. Crichton’s best trait is his initial pop, usually occurring behind the line of scrimmage. his tendency to instantly jolt the opposition off balance gives him an advantage. I’m reminded of Charles Johnson when I watch Crichton, and would like to see him drive the offensive lineman’s chest more often.
Senior CB Rashaad Reynolds
- The East-West Shrine invite has experience in press and off coverage situations. Corners can be difficult to evaluate off the TV angle, so I don’t have a great feel on Reynolds at this time. I kept writing “adequate” with each exposure.
Thursday - Little Caesars Bowl: Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh, 6:00 p.m. on ESPN
Senior WR Devin Street
- Frequently lines up in the slot as a big target and occupies space on slants, ins, or curls after a free release. Flashes some yards after catch ability, but really fits the Colston role. In fact, he might be a nice replacement for the New Orleans receiver. Is a hands catcher for the most part, but does not extend them away from his frame consistently. Street creates separation with head fakes and positioning. Should be stronger when going up and getting it at the catch point.
Redshirt senior QB Tom Savage
- Savage has a big arm and even earned a comparison to Troy Aikman from a long time NFL evaluator. He needs operational space in order to succeed and can get quite frenetic when feeling pressure. He displays some patience to work to multiple levels on reads, but is likely a third day pick at best. Expect him to play in the NFLPA all star game.
Senior DT Aaron Donald
- Excellent burst off the line to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Despite size knocks, he has good length and active hands. Able to get skinny to work through gaps and trash. Closing quickness is there to make tackles for loss. Obvious nickel or dime rusher, but likely not limited to that. He disrupts fronts. Could see him lining up in a variety of sub-package sets at 1, 3, or 5 technique.
Thursday - Poinsettia Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Utah State, 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
Redshirt senior QB Jordan Lynch
- Makes good decisions on run/pass options. Breaks a lot of arm tackles as a runner. Carries the ball high and tight. Does not mind taking a hit. Willing to stay in the pocket without pressure and hit open receivers, but wins as a ball carrier. Most quarterback conversions end up as a receiver, but this is an unlikely fit for Lynch. His style projects as a ball carrier that wins with patience and breaking arm tackles. Maybe even a lead blocker.
Senior S Jimmie Ward
- Plays a variety of assignments and alignments, including single high zone or man to man in off coverage on slot receiver. takes fairly tight angles but is very wary to strafe at the second level and fill open holes on cutbacks. I would not call Ward aggressive, but he’s very responsible in terms of not making a mistake.
Senior S Tyler Larsen
- There is an argument for the center being the most important member of the offensive line. Interior pressure vital in today’s NFL, and many centers make protection calls and anchor the unit. Larsen isn’t overly athletic but he’s very good at occupying his opposition. He continues to shuffle to gain an anchor, and that will only improve with better leverage.