Led by redshirt junior quarterback Jarrett Stidham’s six touchdowns (5 PASS, 1 RUSH), the Auburn Tigers overtook the Purdue Boilermakers 63-14 in Friday’s 2018 Franklin Mortgage Music City Bowl. DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous gives a peek at some of the images from Nashville.
Washington State emerged victorious in a back-and-forth thriller against Iowa State. The Cougars defeated the Cyclones 28-26 to win the 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
16 Gardner Minshew (6’2 220) Washington State QB-Senior
The East Carolina transfer put together a season that ended with him winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, which is given to the nation’s top senior quarterback. Minshew impressed in the Valero Alamo Bowl with his short compact delivery and his elusiveness in the pocket. Iowa State opted to rush just three defensive linemen for the better part of the game and he took his time with patient reads. When he is at his best, Minshew can power off his back foot and drive the ball in the short and intermediate passing game. At the next level, the Cougars quarterback will have to answer questions about his deep ball accuracy and ability to run a less quarterback-friendly offense than head coach Mike Leach’s air raid offense. The former ECU Pirate finished his senior season with 4,779 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
4 Marcus Strong (5’9 185) Washington State CB-Junior
Marcus Strong showed his anticipation and ball skills when he jumped a slant in the first quarter and ran the interception in for a touchdown. The junior cornerback, however, was called for a taunting penalty and had his touchdown negated. For the game, Strong finished with seven tackles, one sack and one interception. He impressed this season -and against Iowa State- with his ability to compete and play through the whistle. Despite giving up nine inches against Iowa State receiver Hakeem Butler, Strong got physical and made life hard on the taller opponent. The lack of size will concern scouts, but the Cougars cornerback has the right mentality to play on the outside in the NFL.
18 Hakeem Butler (6’6 225) Iowa State WR-Junior
Butler is physical and not afraid to put his hands on the opposing cornerback to create room in his routes. He also showed the skills to seal the edge during running plays. Despite his height, Butler can still get low and get in-and-out of his breaks (see his comeback routes during the first half). The junior had a productive season, posting 60 catches for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns. Against Washington State, he caught nine passes for 192 yards. This included an acrobatic one-handed catch over the middle of the field.
32 David Montgomery (5’11 216) Iowa State RB-Junior
David Montgomery has the tools to be an every down back at the next level. He showed soft hands in the receiving game in the Valero Alamo Bowl (4 catches for 55 yards). And like he did all season long, he refused to go down on first contact. Against Washington State, he ran for 124 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. On the season, the Cincinnati native rushed for 1,216 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Temple got off to a strong start in the 2018 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, but the Duke Blue Devils took off in the second half to pull away from the Owls 56-27. DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous goes inside the action with his photo gallery from Thursday’s action.
A dominant second half by the Blue Devils was enough to help them cruise to an Independence Bowl victory. Duke scored 35 unanswered points to defeat Temple, 56-27. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:
17 Daniel Jones (6’5 220) Duke QB-Junior
With Oregon’s Justin Herbert returning to Oregon for another season, Duke’s Daniel Jones should get some attention earlier in next year’s draft. That is if the redshirt junior decides to declare early. The Blue Devil signal-caller finished with one rushing touchdown, five passing touchdowns and two interceptions against Temple. A throw that stood out to me was his pump-and-go pass for a touchdown to T.J. Rahming, the slight pump was enough to get the defensive backs attention and clear the way for Rahming. Jones not only sold the pump with his legs, head and arm moving in sync but he threw a good pass as well. The game was a microcosm of his season: a mixed bag of good and bad. Scouts will question his pocket awareness. Against Temple, he was sacked three times and for his career, he’s been sacked 82 times. I would like to see the internal clock in his head operate a little quicker and if plays aren’t developing, see him throw the ball away. The positives for Jones is that he has good size, great athleticism for his stature, can throw on the run and has worked with David Cutcliffe, who has enjoyed a myriad of success with young quarterbacks.
3 T.J. Rahming (5’10 170) Duke WR-Senior
You can’t help but think of former Duke wide receiver and Redskins current slot receiver, Jamison Crowder, when you see T.J. Rahming. The two have identical builds and are used in similar situations. Rahming is used on jet sweeps as a motion man and works mostly in the slot. Rahming might be a little faster straight-line than Crowder but he doesn’t have the same agility as his elder. Like Crowder, Rahming also can help out in the punt return game (5.9 yards per punt career average). Against Temple, Rahming caught 12 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns.
9 Michael Dogbe (6’3 280) Temple DL-Senior
Dogbe is a little light for a defensive tackle but his activity and constant movement is never lacking. In a time where defense is more about reacting than dictating, Dogbe is a throwback see ball/ get ball type of player. In the Independence Bowl, Dogbe impressed with his ability to attract double teams and follow and stick with the play from behind. He projects best as a 4-3 defensive tackle or a 3-4 defensive end at the next level. At Temple, single digit numbers are reserved for tough and hardworking players and Dogbe has earned his stripes. For the season, Dogbe finished with 12.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and three forced fumbles.
Two run heavy offenses squared off in Detroit in the Quick Lane Bowl. However, Minnesota was able to make more plays in the passing game, en route to a 34-10 victory over Georgia Tech. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
62 Jared Weyler (6’4 300) Minnesota OC/OG- Senior
Weyler has missed time over his career in Minnesota with a torn tricep and a torn ACL but when he is on the field, he provides toughness and leads the heavy run Gophers offense. The senior can play both guard and center. He is not the most athletic prospect and looks a little stiff when forced to block on screens. Against Georgia Tech, he did show the ability to call out blocking formations and provide a clean lane for his runners. Weyler, a captain for the Golden Gophers, projects best at the next level as a center.
24 Mohamed Ibrahim (5’10 205) Minnesota RB-Freshman
Ibrahim is only a freshman but he impressed all season long with his ability to serve as a workhorse running back. Despite his 31 touches in the Quick Lane Bowl, Ibrahim never looked tired or worn down. He is also a willing blocker in passing formations. For the season, Ibrahim finished with 1,160 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 202 carries. The running back from Olney, Maryland, didn’t get a chance to show his ability to catch very much this year (four receptions for 26 yards). In a few years, look for Ibrahim’s name to come up as a potential NFL prospect.
6 Tyler Johnson (6’2 200) Minnesota WR-Junior
Johnson is the best receiving weapon for the Golden Gophers. His explosiveness off the line of scrimmage is lethal. He was able to sell a move to the inside in order to get a clean release on the outside for a touchdown in the first quarter. Against Georgia Tech, Johnson hauled in two touchdowns on four receptions for 57 yards. For the season, Johnson had 78 catches for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. Johnson projects best as an X-receiver, who has the skills off the line to scare cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage.
Look here at how Johnson uses explosiveness in his routes, high- points the football and makes a play:
3 Tre Swilling (6’0 195) Georgia Tech CB-Freshman
The son of former Saints Pro Bowler Pat Swilling, the younger version stood out in the Quick Lane Bowl because of his clean hips and ability to mirror receivers. Swilling didn’t see much action to his side against Minnesota and at times it looked as if the Golden Gophers offense was intentionally avoiding him. For the season, Swilling had one forced fumble, an interception and six pass deflections. Swilling has the skills and bloodlines to be a next level talent. As the years go on, his progress will be worth monitoring.
Marshall used a strong first quarter to take care of business against USF in Tampa. The Thundering Herd defeated the Bulls, 38-20, in the Gasparilla Bowl. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:
84 Randall St. Felix (6’2 205) USF WR-Freshman
If his freshman year was any indication, St. Felix should join the long list of hometown Miami receivers, who have gone on to play at the next level. St. Felix finished the season with 33 catches for 679 yards and four touchdowns. Against Marshall, he hauled in six passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. St. Felix understood where to find the soft spots in the Marshall zone and in man-to-man coverage, and this was evident when he scored a touchdown using a double move in the third quarter. St. Felix is a clean route runner for such a young prospect, and look for him to only get more refined with more time in college football.
89 Mitchell Wilcox (6’5 245) USF TE-Junior
Wilcox fits the mold of the new age tight end: tall, strong and can run. He impressed when he extended and laid out for a 27-yard catch. The junior tight end seems like a natural catcher and doesn’t let the ball get into his body often, despite his fourth quarter drop. For the season, he finished with 43 catches for 540 yards and two touchdowns. Look for Wilcox to work best at the next level as a tight end out of the slot rather than a traditional in-line blocking tight end.
61 Levi Brown (6’4 290) Marshall OC-Junior
Levi Brown is a true mauler at center. Brown is a little tall for the position and that shows when he is in pass protection and is forced to maintain a low base. However, he has excellent hands and reach which allows him to hold sturdy in the interior. In the run game, Brown plays through the whistle and is almost always downfield finishing blocks. The Marshall center was named to the second team Conference USA roster in 2017. This year, he may been in for a first team finish. Brown will probably return for another year of college but look for him to be in the conversation as a Day 2 draft pick in 2020.
8 Tyre Brady (6’3 206) Marshall WR-senior
Back in his home state of Florida, Brady put on a show. The Homestead native caught five passes for 88 yards and ran once for 14 yards. Despite his 6-foot-3-inch frame, Brady moves with fluidity and was used on reverses and screens throughout the game. The senior wide receiver also showed strong hands on a 42-yard catch in the first quarter when he used an inside release and then out- muscled the smaller USF corner for the football. On the season, Brady finished with 71 catches for 1,002 yards and nine touchdowns. An NFL team will be getting a productive and versatile receiver if they bring in Brady.
This year’s championship game in Atlanta will feature two SEC teams and two coaches who are familiar with one another.
Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) will face off against his former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs (13-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) on Monday night.
Both teams are led by stingy defenses. Each unit ranks top five scoring defense.
Worth noting, Saban is 11-0 against former assistants.
Players to watch
3 Roquan Smith LB- Junior
Smith, at 6’1 225 lbs., is a little smaller than a typical first round linebacker but he has typical high-round talent. Smith finished the College Football Playoff semifinal versus Oklahoma with 11 total tackles. For the season, Smith has 124 tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Smith already has an SEC Championship game MVP under his belt, and the Bulldogs will need a similar effort to handle the Crimson Tide.
1 Sony Michel RB- Senior
Michel is a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball. In the semifinal against the Sooners, Michel scored the game-winning touchdown and finished with 181 yards and three touchdowns. This year, he is averaging eight yards a carry.
94 Da’Ron Payne DT- Junior
Payne is poised to join the likes of Marcell Dareus and Jonathan Allen, former Crimson Tide defensive linemen who have become premier run stuffers at the next level. Payne, at 6’2, 308 lbs., is a space eater and does the dirty work in the trenches that allows the ‘Bama linebackers to roam free. He also intercepted a pass and caught a touchdown against Clemson in the College Football semifinal.
29 Minkah Fitzpatrick DB- Junior
Fitzpatrick patrols the back end for the Crimson Tide and his measurables (6’1, 203 lbs) could make him useful at the next level as a nickel corner and safety. Versatility is the name of the game for defensive backs in the NFL and Fitzpatrick possesses that ability. On the season, Fitzpatrick has eight pass deflections, one interception and one forced fumble.
Prediction: Georgia 13 Alabama 21
—Troy Jefferson, DN Staff Reports
The battle of the Wildcats ended in dramatic fashion as a failed two-point conversion by Kentucky propelled Northwestern to its second consecutive bowl victory for the first time in school history. DraftNasty’s National Correspondent De’Angelo Bryant provides a deeper look in analyzing the potential NFL prospects of this game.
21 RB Justin Jackson (5’11, 200, Sr.)
Jackson earned game MVP honors after being the workhorse with a season-high 32 carriers for 157 yards and two TDs. Jackson can best be described as elusive as he mixes a dose of quickness, jump cuts, and short-area explosion to elude defenders. He naturally squares his shoulder pads to get vertical and squeezes through tight areas to reach the second and third levels. There are times when he makes one too many cuts which causes him to accumulate negative yards. Despite his thinly-built frame, he shows toughness on initial contact. He only caught one pass for 10 yards.
18 QB Clayton Thorson (6’4, 220, Jr.)
Before being carted off the field from a right leg injury, Thorson was proficient moving the Northwestern offense downfield. He attempted just eight passes but showed precision in the pocket and kept his eyes downfield versus the rush. He showed quick shoulder nods when pump faking and remained in a strong throwing position to release the football.
9 H-Back Garrett Dickerson (6’3, 248, Sr.)
Dickerson caught my eye with his combination of speed and size. His position on the team is referred to as the Superback, a hybrid running back, fullback, tight end position. On a few occasions, he won on vertical routes versus linebackers and forced safeties Mike Edwards & Darius West to push to their maximum speed to avoid getting beaten. Though he has caught over 30 passes this season, there were a few times I questioned his hand-eye coordination.
2 WR Flynn Nagel (5’11, 194, Jr.)
Used in motion to line up as a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver. Product of hide and mid-star routes where he is responsible for reading the linebacker and safety drops to find the open zones. Tough when catching the football in traffic and knows how to protect his body to avoid the big hits. When being motioned in to block the overhang defender, he was often over-matched (particularly versus Kentucky OLB Josh Allen). At times, he was also nudged off his landmark on routes downfield.
1 DT Tyler Lancaster (6’3, 315, Sr.)
Subbed a lot due to the personnel sets from Kentucky. Played predominately on potential run plays. Strength to move the center backwards is evident, but he struggles to maintain low pad level throughout his penetration. As a pass rusher, he did show an athletic spin move to complement his bull rush.
24 CB Montre Hartage (6’0, 195, Jr.)
Passes the eye ball test and has the physical style of play to complement the look. Kentucky picked on him on the first possession by going to Tavin Richardson. This was just one of several shots they took at Hartage. After the first possession, he was moved to the opposite side away from Kentucky’s X-receiver and played more to the combination receiver side. This suited him well, as he did a good job of using the sideline as an extra defender to the boundary and played the underneath routes well when squatting in rolled coverage. A physical tackler, Hartage will duck his head and not bring his eyes with him through contact. He had difficulty locating the ball in the air.
21 S Kyle Queiro (6’3, 220, Sr.)
Was not impressive on the opening kickoff. He was literally put on his backside by KR/RB Zach Johnson because of his high pad level on contact. Stiffness was exploited on several occasions when attempting to make tackles in space as defenders danced around him. His length was his savior. He does a good job of communication and can cover ground well. Maintained good leverage in bracket coverage.
16 S Godwin Igwebuike (6’0, 212, Sr.)
Aggressive safety when entering the box and can fill alleys with aggression. Interchangeable safety in 3-deep zone coverage concepts (can play both SS & FS). Can roll to the middle or roll to hold the No. 2 receiver’s vertical route. Versus trips formations, he was effective holding the No. 3 receiver’s vertical route and buzzing to cover the flats. Good wrap tackler and will look for an opportunity to go for the strip. When playing the backside safety, he identifies the crosser and looks to rob the route. His lower body stiffness was exploited when attempting to recover on routes after getting his eyes caught in the backfield on flash fakes from Kentucky’s QBs. Grabs in coverage and was called for a pass interference on Kentucky’s last drive. Doesn’t really have a defined technique, but maximizes his effort on every play.
32 LB Nate Hall (6’2, 230, Jr.)
Missed game due to a knee injury suffered in bowl preparation practice.
73 RT Kyle Meadows (6’3, 300, Sr.)
Veteran savvy. Understands the DL stunts, slant and twist games. Slow movement off the snap. Appears he doesn’t trust his feet; which puts him in bad position versus the rush. Uses little technique when releasing inside to get to the second level. Struggles to sit his hips down and it causes him to absorb contact too often.
41 OLB Josh Allen (6’5, 230, Jr.)
Active LB off the edge. Good speed rush and will dip his shoulder to avoid contact from the OT. His backside pursuit on screens and options displayed his lateral movement skills. When Northwestern motioned a receiver or H-back in to block him, he showed quickness when slanting inside the blocks to take away his gap for the RB.
34 LB Jordan Jones (6’2, 221, Jr.)
High-energy, sideline-to-sideline defender. Does a good job of his scrape-to-fit versus the run game. Has a good sense of when to trigger when the QB becomes mobile outside the pocket. Will backdoor and shoot the gap on runs away. Needs to be more efficient on wrap stunts from the backside. Will overrun gaps because he’s too fast when tracking.
8 CB Derrick Baity (6’3, 186, Jr.)
Shows the most fluidity between he, Johnson and Westry. Evident that the coaching staff believes in his coverage ability more than the other two. Adjusted well to coverage checks. When playing press-man he shows some quickness and suddenness when reacting to the receiver’s moves off the line. To the nub side of the formation, he was over-matched when taking on blocks.
6 CB Lonnie Johnson (6’3, 203, Jr.)
Started the game and rotated with Westry. Also was a part of Kentucky’s nickel package, where he lined up over the outside receiver. Patient in his off-man technique, but he will drop his foot in the bucket when transitioning out of his breaks. When taking on blocks he tends to get his hands outside of the blocker’s frame, which makes it difficult for him to shed them.
21 Chris Westry (6’4, 195, Jr.)
Long and rangy defender with experience. Did not start the game, but played a significant amount of snaps. Shows a strong punch and extension in press coverage. Can close on a ball carrier or receiver in a hurry, but will get bounced around due to his thin frame.
7 Saf Mike Edwards (6’0, 200, Jr.)
Mainly played the free safety position. In sub-packages, he rocked down to cover the slot in man coverage and to also play man on RB Justin Jackson. Showed some twitch when changing from his pedal to plant-n-drive coming downhill.
* 26 Benny Snell Jr. (5’11, 223, So)
Thickly-built and strong through contact. Shows good vision and will patiently follow his blocks. One-cut runner with a short area burst and a secondary move in his repertoire. Scored the game’s opening TD, but was ejected in the 2nd quarter for removing an official’s hands following a play.
Two blue chip programs will matchup in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night.
The Cotton Bowl will serve as a consolation prize for Ohio State (11-2 overall, 8-1 Big Ten) and USC (11-2 overall, 8-1 Pac-12), both of whom had College Football Playoff aspirations at the beginning of the season.
Both teams are led by star quarterbacks. Sam Darnold, a consensus Top 10 NFL draft prospect, leads the men of Troy. J.T. Barrett, one of the most decorated quarterbacks in college football history, leads the Buckeyes.
Both teams enter the game as conference champions as USC defeated Stanford and Ohio State beat Wisconsin in their respective conferences.
Players to watch
Ohio State Buckeyes
J.K. Dobbins RB- Freshman
Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins averaged 7.5 yards per rushing attempt and had six games this season with more than 100 rushing yards. After just one season, Dobbins is making waves and could find himself in the same breath as former Ohio State running backs Archie Griffin, Maurice Clarett and Eddie George. Dobbins took home the MVP award in the Big Ten Championship after finishing with 174 rushing yards on just 17 attempts.
Tyquan Lewis DL-Senior
Lewis is expected to be an early-round draft pick and will have to be accounted for by the Trojans offensive line. Lewis has 22 career sacks, 34.5 tackles for losses and four forced fumbles. When Lewis is at his best, he’s a relentless pass rusher who is never out of a play.
Ronald Jones II RB- Junior
Darnold might receive the air time but Ronald Jones II was the workhorse running back behind the Trojans offense. Jones II finished the season with 242 carries for 1486 yards. Like Dobbins, he had an impressive conference championship game. He finished with 140 rushing yards (4.7 YPC) and two touchdowns against Stanford.
Iman Marshall CB- Junior
Marshall has been as reliable as they come at USC. The junior cornerback stands 6’1″ 205 lbs, and he has the size scouts will covet in the NFL. Marshall has six career interceptions. A knee injury forced him to miss four games in the middle of the season. However, Marshall returned for the final two games of the season, finishing with two pass deflections.
Prediction: USC 21 Ohio State 35
The Heart of Dallas Bowl will feature two teams with explosive offenses that underwhelmed in their respective conferences.
Utah (3-6, 6-6) will match up against West Virginia (5-4, 7-5) in Dallas on Tuesday.
The Mountaineers will be without transfer quarterback Will Grier, who is out with an injured finger. The Mountaineers will also be without running back Justin Crawford, who is entering the draft and will sit out.
The Utes resume lacks a signature victory but they did defeat short-handed UCLA in November and could have similar success against the Mountaineers, who will be without two key offensive pieces.
Utah has won 13 of its past 14 bowl games.
Players to watch
13 David Sills V WR-Junior
Crawford and Grier combined for over 4,500 yards worth of yardage during the regular season. Junior wide receiver, David Sills, who led the team with 18 touchdowns, will have to shoulder the load if his team has any chance of winning. Sills, 6’4, 203 lbs., will be targeted early and often by backup quarterback Chris Chugunov.
3 Al-Rasheed Benton LB-Senior
Al-Rasheed Benton ranks at the top or near the top in every statistical category for the Mountaineers defense. Benton led the team with 73 solo tackles (102 total) and finished second with two interceptions, a forced fumble and three quarterback sacks. He has 18 career tackles for losses.
9 Darren Carrington II WR-Senior
Senior Utes receiver Darren Carrington will suit up one more time in his collegiate career, which spans back to three years at Oregon. Carrington, 6’3 205 lbs, feasted on early non-conference opponents and against his former team. Despite having not recorded a single 100-yard receiving game since that matchup versus the Ducks, he enters the bowl game with 66 receptions for 918 yards and six touchdowns.
23 Julian Blackmon DB-Sophomore
Utah’s sophomore defensive back Julian Blackmon covers a lot of ground and is equally strong against the run as he is against the pass. Blackmon finished the season with 36 solo tackles and two interceptions. The Heart of Dallas Bowl could be a sneak preview for the future NFL prospect.
Prediction: Utah 34 West Virginia 23