It’s that time of year when I turn my focus to the college bowl games to gain insight. I will do my best to find some draft eligible players that could improve your dynasty teams. This article intends to start conversations and encourage continued thought throughout the entire draft process. These are my observations based on the bowl games, unless otherwise indicated. I am listing these players alphabetically.
Tajh Boyd, QB CLEM
Boyd impressed me against LSU. He took a beating, but showed toughness competing on every single play. Some of his decisions were questionable when you look at his 29 rushing carries for 22 yards. Yes, his 11 yard touchdown run in the first quarter was fantastic as he looked like a pinball bouncing off six different bumpers, but the rest of his rushing attempts were not effective. After the rushing touchdown, Boyd kept on taking hit after hit, but the threat of the rush from him slowed down the LSU front seven enough to make the passing game work. I saw a confident, strong-armed leader that felt pressure well. He knew when to check down the ball, and when to press it down the field. Boyd shrugged off big defensive linemen all over him to complete a desperate fourth and 16 with less than a minute and a half left in the game which lead to the game winning field goal. I’m not sure if it was his physicality or his presence that reminded me so much of the late Steve McNair. If he decides to declare, Boyd might be the quarterback steal of rookie drafts. Update Boyd has elected to stay in school, look for him in 2014.
Andre Ellington, RB CLEM
Ellington had a decent bowl game overall (12 touches for 85 yards), but he was pulled from the game too often for my taste. This senior back does a good job of not giving defenses a lot to hit when he runs, has enough vision to find most of his blocks, and takes good angles to make defenders miss. He keeps his legs churning after initial contact is made, is more quick than fast, and tends to bounce his runs outside. Ellington tries to pick up blitzers, but didn’t do much to slow them down. I was impressed how high he leapt to make his only reception, and the way he ran a deep post pattern like a wide receiver. He gave up a crucial fumble near their end zone which lead to a LSU score, so ball security may be an issue with him. Ellington remains a top five rookie running back option in a weak class. He would have to go to a running back hungry team to make an impact in 2013.
Mike Glennon, QB NCS
Glennon is considered one of the best senior quarterbacks, but it was hard to tell against Vanderbilt. While he did throw for over a 66% completion rate and passed for nearly 400 yards, he was very inconsistent throughout the afternoon. The quarterback put the ball where only the receiver could catch it when he had time in the pocket. He has a strong arm, that at times, got away from him, especially when he was under pressure. When he doesn’t step up as he is throwing, he floats the ball which happened several times during this bowl game. I liked when the coaching staff ran a few bootlegs as this opened up one side of the field to him and gave him more time to throw. Glennon is not very mobile and needs to work on feeling pocket pressure. He reminded me a lot of Brandon Weeden, as he showed a strong arm and concrete feet.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR CLEM
Hopkins has been the most impressive player I have watched this bowl season to date. He is excellent at catching the ball at its highest point regardless if he has one on one coverage or when he gets bracketed. The receiver runs crisp routes, sells the defender on where he is going, then suddenly changes direction. I love his little “shake and bake” juke that he uses to get separation. He manipulates the sidelines as an extra blocker once he gets the ball in his hands. Even when a corner is in his hip pocket, he can out-muscle his coverage, shield the ball away and come down with the contested reception. When he gets to a ball in full stride, Hopkins is hard to bring down as he keeps his legs pumping and has no wasted movement. He demonstrated his catch radius on an 11 yard second quarter touchdown reception that was thrown low and then in the last three minutes of the game as he tip-toed in the back of the end zone for his second score of the night. I would be very excited to select him in my start-up or rookie draft this year.
Barkevious Mingo, DE LSU
Mingo made an immediate impact in his bowl game. He crashed down the line, forced a fumble, and injured Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins in one fell swoop. The defensive end looked more like a linebacker as he ran down a receiver from ten yards away and had great instincts trying to create turnovers. He held his spot on the line of scrimmage making it difficult to run his direction. Mingo delivered some huge hits on the quarterback as he broke free from blockers by using spin moves. leverage, and raw power. He looked more like a OLB than a DE, regardless, he will be a top IDP rookie this coming season.
Sam Montgomery, DE LSU
Montgomery played injured during this game. He, like Mingo, was very strong at the point of attack which forced Clemson to run inside most of the night to avoid these bookend defensive ends. He did a good job caving in the pocket and seemed to pick up his game when Mingo went out due to injury. The defensive end finished the game with two sacks. His final sack forced the Tigers to go for it on fourth and 16. Montgomery has a better chance of playing DE than Mingo, but at 260 lbs he will need to bulk up to make that happen.
Zac Stacy, RB VAN
Stacy was quite the playmaker in the Music City Bowl. While he ran out of a single back set for most of the game, the running back was most effective running from the wildcat formation. Stacy has good downfield vision that makes it easier for him to read the running lanes that his offensive line created. This senior back can make the first defender miss or just shrug them off using his strong upper body. He makes himself small in the hole, uses strong leg drive (love the way he picks up his feet), and always leans forward for extra yardage. In the passing game, Stacy is a better receiver than a blocker. I expect Stacy to be a part of an RBBC in the NFL.
Robert Woods, WR USC
Woods is an ultra-talented receiver. It was too bad he had the freshman quarterback, Max Wittek, throwing him the ball. Somehow, the declaring junior wide receiver caught three passes for 33 yards. He had passes thrown too high, too low and too outside for him to get his hands on. All three of his receptions were hard to bring in as Woods had to do a great job climbing the ladder to get to the ball. He would extend his body and contort it to somehow make a bad pass look decent. Woods was visibly frustrated, but kept his head in the game. His effort on running plays is something else entirely. The wide receiver looked disinterested in the process and did his best to get in front of defenders without really engaging them. Woods is a top four rookie wide receiver no matter where he lands.