Bowl Game Pro Prospect Watch: Champs Sports & Insight Bowls

Defensive end Adrian Clayborn is a potential first-round draft choice and the top prospect on display in this evening's bowl games.

One of the best parts of the college football bowl season is watching the guys who are going to play on Sundays in the very near future.

Here at Cheesehead TV, we're attempting to list all the senior pro prospects (even the longshots) and a couple very highly rated junior ones as well, as a de facto viewing guide.

Champs Sports–Tuesday Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m. on ESPN

West Virginia

  • Running back Noel Devine–Because he was productive so early in his career, he's become a household name, but he's probably not as valuable as you'd be led to believe. He's had foot and ankle injuries that have plagued him all year holding him to less than 1,000 yards rushing, but because this could be the healthiest he's been all season, it's a big game for him. It's his last chance to make a statement. Will probably be a situational back in the NFL. Mid-round draft choice.
  • Cornerback Chris Hogan–The 11th-ranked senior cornerback by NFL Draft Scout, Hogan was a firs-team All-Big East choice last season and second-team this season. Was named the Big East's Defensive Player of the Week against Pitt in the Backyard Brawl when he had an interception and forced a fumble. NC State has decent receivers so he should be in for a good match-up.
  • Defensive tackle Chris Nield–High-energy player that gets the most out of his ability. Was named first-team All-Big East. Plays zero-technique but it's hard to say how that will translate to the pros because at barely over 300 pounds, he just doesn't have the same size as a B.J. Raji to play the nose in the pros. Because he's so productive, he'll get a shot somewhere, though. He's the 16th-ranked defensive tackle by NFL Draft Scout.
  • Wide receiver Jock Sanders–He's talented but he's only 5-7. Caught a pass in 40 straight games, which tied the Big East conference record. He's the 21-st ranked senior wide receiver by NFL Draft Scout.
  • Safety Sidney Glover–The 21-st ranked senior strong safety by NFL Draft Scout. Part of a strong Moutaineer secondary, but maybe its weakest link, if there is one.
  • Outside linebacker J.T. Thomas–Had 63 tackles, seven for a loss and 2.5 sacks this season. Was named the Big East's Defensive Player of the Week against Rutgers the last week of the regular season in a must-win game the Mountaineers had to win to earn a trip to a BCS game. It didn't happen, but it was still a good performance in an important game. The 35th-ranked outside linebacker by NFL Draft Scout.
  • Defensive tackle Scooter Berry–The 37th ranked defensive end by NFL Draft Scout but worth keeping an eye on simply because he plays defensive end in a 3-4 defense.

North Carolina State

  • Linebacker Nate Irving–Richard Cirminiello of CollegeFootballNews.com writes, "Irving made his long-awaited return to the field after a serious car accident kept him out for all of 2009. A ferocious defender, he made it to the All-ACC first team with 88 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, and six sacks." He's NC State's best draft prospect, the 5th-best inside linebacker prospect by NFL Draft Scout and a likely mid-round choice.
  • Wide receiver Owen Spencer–Led NC State in both catches and yards with 57 for 868, which earned him second-team All-ACC. He's the 48th-ranked senior wide receiver by NFL Draft Scout.
  • Wide receiver Jarvis Williams–He's a tall receiver at 6-4 and ranks as the better prospect compared to Spencer, at least according to NFL Draft Scout who rank him 36th among senior wide receivers. He was ejected from a game this season for fighting.
  • Defensive end Michael Lemon–NFL Draft Scout says he's the 36-ranked defensive end in the senior class.

Insight Bowl–Tuesday Dec. 28, 9:00 p.m. on ESPN

Iowa

  • Defensive end Adrian Clayborn–His stock dropped this season when other Big Ten ends like Ryan Kerrigan and J.J. Watt performed better. Still, he's considered to be a first-round draft choice and an ideal 3-4 defensive end by many.
  • Defensive end Christian Ballard–At 6-4, 298, Ballard could also be a 3-4 defensive end in the pros. He's the 7th-ranked defensive end in country by NFL Draft Scout. Perhaps overshadowed by Clayborn.
  • Quarterback Ricky Stanzi–I personally don't think Stanzi has what it takes to play in the NFL, but that's just me. He is headed to the Senior Bowl in a couple weeks, so others obviously disagree. He's the 5th-ranked senior quarterback by NFL Draft Scout, but that might not mean much if some juniors come out and push him even further down the draft board.
  • Tight end Allen Reisner–The 9th-ranked senior tight end by NFL Draft Scout that can also play a fullback-hybrid. Could be a late-round draft choice.
  • Defensive end Karl Klug–Another cog in the highly-regarded Iowa defensive line that has done a very good job limiting opposing running games. He's the 20th-ranked senior defensive end by NFL Draft Scout.
  • Guard Julian Vandervelde–You might recognize him from a feature on ESPN that went into his ability to play piano and speak several languages. As far as a future pro, he's the 24th-ranked senior guard by NFL Draft Scout.
  • Safety Brett Greenwood–Received some sort of All-Big Ten honors for three consecutive seasons by the media. Has a nose for the football. Ranked as the 14th senior safety by NFL Draft Scout. He'll be a long shot to be drafted, but he should sign with someone given his penchant for interceptions.
  • Punter Ryan Donahue–One of the nation's best punters, he averaged 44.6 yards per kick this season and placed 21 inside the 20. Was a Ray Guy Award finalist. Will play in the NFL. He's the 2nd-ranked punter by NFL Draft Scout.
  • Long snapper Andrew Schulze–Never heard of him? Neither have I, but he's the 2nd-ranked long snapper by NFL Draft Scout.
  • Worth noting that Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is a talented receiver and would be a pro prospect but has been dismissed from the team after some drug charges.

Missouri

  • Center Tim Barnes–Earned first-team All-BigXII honors this season and is the 3rd-ranked senior center by NFL Draft Scout, which makes him a likely mid-round draft choice. He'll have his hands full with Iowa's vaunted defensive line.
  • Safety Jasper Simmons–He's the 15th-ranked senior free safety by NFL Draft Scout, but he was suspended twice this season alone by Missouri for violations of team rules.
  • Cornerback Kevin Rutland–He's the 32nd-ranked senior cornerback by NFL Draft Scout and earned honorable mention All-BigXII this season.
  • Worth noting that quarterback Blaine Gabbert and defensive end Aldon Smith are both underclassmen but both could declare for the draft. It's possible they're both first-round draft choices. Without a doubt, they're the best players at Missouri.
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Comments (8)

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MarkinMadison's picture

December 28, 2010 at 06:56 pm

I'll put my two cents in as an Iowa fan who has watched almost every game this year. Clayborn's talent was not matched by his conditioning, and it showed at times. Ballard could be had after the 2nd round and could be a valuable cog in the Packers' rotation. Johnson-Koulianos was not a highly regarded prospect before the drug charges. He's been extremely productive in college (broke Tim Dwight's carrer yardage record) but is not considered to have the physical tools for the next level. Good kick-off returner. If he can add punt returning to his repitoire he might catch on somewhere as a street agent.

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MarkinMadison's picture

December 29, 2010 at 08:50 am

For those of you who stayed up last night, that was pretty typical for the Iowa defensive line. The major problem is that they tend to rotate 5, so Clayborn's average conditioning shows through. He could not go out an do the kind of job that Raji did this year. D-line probably looked a little bit better last night with a few weeks off to get fresh. LBs and CBs (including some guys that we dug off the bottom of the roster) could not stop the pass, and the D-line could not get home in all four quarters. Example - on game clinching interception Clayborn was smartly playing to contain Gabbert, paralleling him to the side line from 4 yards back, but he didn't even attempt to close to rush the throw until the last milisecond. You also saw Klug and Ballard make sacks (zero for Clayborn) and just as many plays as Clayborn. There were a few games this year when either Klug or Ballard just took over a series at critical points - just as often as Clayborn. Klug is undersized for an NFL D-lineman but he could play somewhere; he's got heart. Ballard is under-rated, IMHO. Clayborn will probably fail to meet the expectations put on a 1st round guy.

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CSS's picture

December 29, 2010 at 09:11 am

Clayborn was doubled, even tripled on almost every single play. He was average in run-defense.

And in all fairness, Raji couldn't come close to the stamina or number of snaps his senior year of college compared to what he's doing now. Not even close.

Klug is a converted linebacker with a natural weight of around 250 lbs. He added weight when asked by coaches, but the guy has the athletic ability and capable of holding the edge at the OLB spot in the 3-4. He's more than capable and will make a roster as a late round pick.

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Brian Carriveau's picture

December 29, 2010 at 12:11 pm

The Packers tried it with that kid from Wake Forest this offseason.

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CSS's picture

December 29, 2010 at 09:14 am

As a side note, if I had 600 + lbs. of beef leaning on me almost every snap against a team that throws the ball 50 times I would be gassed too.

Not dismissing your point, his conditioning will need to improve. That being said, he's not only doubled/tripled and chipped but teams roll away from him and he pursues.

Yes, his conditioning needs to improve. Phenomenal instincts, his anticipation is off the charts.

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MarkinMadison's picture

December 29, 2010 at 11:53 am

I agree with a lot what you're saying. There were questions about Raji's conditioning and motivation coming out too. I'll go back and look at the frequency on the double teams on Clayborn. OLB would be a pretty sizeable position shift for Klug.

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CSS's picture

December 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Klug played there through his redshirt year and was athletic enough at 230 lbs during his senior year in high school to be an all-state pick as a running back and linebacker.

Put it this way, he's more of an athlete than Zombo without the weight loss.

Just my 2 cents if I could advise the kid: with over half the league now playing a 3-4 base defense he has more value as a reserve OLB (where he could be stellar against the run) than he would as an undersized DE (see Mitch King, who didn't even get drafted.)

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aussiepacker's picture

December 29, 2010 at 05:46 am

"Defensive tackle Scooter Berry–The 37th ranked defensive end by NFL Draft Scout but worth keeping an eye on simply because he plays defensive end in a 3-4 defense."

Also worth keeping a eye on cause his name is Scooter. Lol.

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