NFL Draft 2014 Bowl Preview, Week 3
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Alabama (Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET)
Oklahoma: Aaron Colvin, CB.
Colvin will play in the Senior Bowl, and that week of practice prior to the All-Star Game might determine once and for all his draft status. He looked like a sure first-rounder at points during his junior season, then slumped a bit in 2013. The talent and versatility is there to justify a high selection.
Alabama: A.J. McCarron, QB.
What more can we learn about McCarron? We’ve seen him time and again perform on college football’s biggest stages, even if people want to chalk his success up to the talent around him. He’ll be a very interesting case come the draft, where his “winner” tag might push him higher than expected.
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri (Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Oklahoma State: Justin Gilbert, CB.
After a rough 2012, Gilbert has starred in 2013, pretty emphatically proving that he’s a fit for a team willing to play press coverage. He finished the regular season with six interceptions, topping the five he had in 2011.
Missouri: Michael Sam, DE/OLB.
The Tigers list Sam at 6-2, 255, which might be pushing it on both counts. No matter the size, though, he’s been a terror off the edge this season to the tune of 10.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. An OLB spot in a 3-4 defense might be the best fit going forward.
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Ohio State (Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET)
Clemson: Vic Beasley, DE.
There’s a clear top tier of pass-rushers in the 2013 draft: Clowney, Anthony Barr and Khalil Mack. Beasley’s one of the players pushing to be included in that grouping. He has yet to declare for the draft (Beasley is a redshirt junior), though he did say last month that he’s leaning toward turning pro.
Ohio State: Jack Mewhort, OT.
Mainly choosing Mewhort as the Buckeyes’ guy to watch because he should see plenty of head-to-head battles with Beasley. The 6-6 Mewhort is in a similar spot to Beasley: below the projected upper-echelon players at his position in the draft but clearly possessing enough talent to warrant an early choice.
BBVA Compass Bowl: Vanderbilt vs. Houston (Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET)
Vanderbilt: Jordan Matthews, WR.
In some ways, Matthews reminds me of Keenan Allen last year — meaning that some scouts will knock his speed and athleticism but will be making an egregious mistake if they ignore his production. Matthews caught 107 passes this season, working all areas of the field, and he is advanced as a route-runner.
Houston: Zachary McMillan, CB.
McMillan may have to deal with Matthews in this one, which will be a tall order. The Cougars have milked a ton out of McMillan, a 5-10 corner with limitations to his coverage game. Has he done enough to justify a draft selection? Playing well here would help.
GoDaddy Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Ball State (Jan. 5, 9 p.m. ET)
Arkansas State: Ryan Carrethers, DT.
An All-Sun Belt first-teamer, Carrethers has stayed mostly below the radar because … well, he plays in the Sun Belt. But at a massive 330 pounds, he’s shown himself more than capable of collapsing opposing lines, as evidenced by his 87 tackles.
Ball State: Keith Wenning, QB.
All Wenning did this season was throw for nearly 4,000 yards with 34 touchdowns. He’ll be participating in the Shrine Game, giving scouts a chance to take a closer look. And should he impress there, it would not be a surprise at all to see him drafted on Day 3 — a team with the patience to continue developing him might score huge.