Boxing Day bowls prospects preview

December 25, 2018

Boston College (7-5) vs #25 Boise State (10-3); First Responder Bowl; Dallas; 1:30 PM ET; ESPN … This is another one out of the ‘saving the best for first’ file as the BC-Boise State match-up in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas easily has the best line-up of draft prospects of any of the the three Boxing Day bowls. And while Boise State is the ranked team with ten wins, its actually 7-5 Boston College that will be the big attraction for pro scouts. In fact, the Eagles have at least one top 10-20 prospect for the upcoming draft in 6-5, 285-pound veteran DE Zach Allen (#2, 6-5, 285). BC also has a couple of possible second day candidates in FS Lukas Denis (#21, 5-11, 185) and OG Chris Lindstrom (#75, 6-3, 310), a typical East coast roadgrader with some athleticism who made several All-America teams after a stellar season this past fall. Meanwhile other Eagles to watch with later round or free agent potential include C Jon Baker (#77, 6-2, 290), LT Aaron Monteiro (#67, 6-6, 320),TE Tom Sweeney (#89, 6-5, 260), DE Wyatt Ray (#11, 6-3, 245), NT Ray Smith (#96, 6-1, 305), MLB Connor Strachan #13, 6-0, 230), SS Will Harris (#8, 6-1, 210), and WR/KR Michael Walker (#3, 6-0, 195). Pro scouts will also be keeping an eye on rising junior CB Hamp Cheevers (#4, 5-9, 180) one of the most aggressive ball hawking corners in college football who had 7 interceptions this fall, either for this year or next, along with true sophomore RB A.J. Dillon (#2, 5-11, 245) who isn’t draft eligible this year but is  quite simply one of the best players in the country regardless of class.

Boise State likely won’t have the same impact at the 2019 draft as Boston College, but veteran QB Brett Rypien figures to be one of the top second-tier prospects at the position. Rypien doesn’t necessarily have great physical tools, but he is a 4-year starter with over 16,000 career passing yards who is an accurate passer with a quick release who reads the field efficiently. This past year, Rypien completed 67% of his passes for 3,700 yards and 30 TDs versus only 7 picks.  However, Rypien is probably Boise State’s only draft lock, although several other veteran Broncos including OLB Jabril Frazier (#8, 6-3, 240), CB Tyler Horton (#14, 5-10, 190), DE Durrant Miles (#91, 6-5, 260), and WR Sean Modster (#8, 5-10, 190) could draw some late-round or free agent interest.

Minnesota (6-6) vs Georgia Tech (7-5); Quick Lane Bowl; Detroit; 5:15 PM ET; ESPN … Anyone attending the Quick Lane Bowl between Minnesota of the Big Ten and the ACC’s Georgia Tech hoping to see some quality NFL draft prospects will be sorely disappointed because there just aren’t any. But at least they get to spend Boxing Day in Detroit! On second thought, about those prospects. Fact is that the players on both teams are underclassmen who are either not draft eligible or are unlikely to enter the draft if eligible. Georgia Tech, for example, has one of the better interior offensive linemen in college football in junior Parker Braun (#75, 6-2, 280), but he’s awfully small by NFL standards. Meanwhile, sophomore P Pressley Harvin (#27, 6-0, 245) is one of the better punters around, while freshman All-America FS Juanyeh Thomas (#28, 6-2, 200) doubles as a dynamic kick returner.

Minnesota at least several seniors who could soem late-round or free agent interest including LT Donnell Greene (#73, 6-6, 320), C Jared Weyler (#62, 6-3, 300), LB Blake Cashman (#36, 6-1, 235), and safety Jacob Huff (#2, 5-11, 205), but like Yellow Jackets, the Golden Gophers best players are juniors Tyler Johnson (#6, 6-1, 200), a big-play receiver, and DE Carter Coughlin (#45, 6-3, 245), an edge rusher who tied for the conference lead with 9.5 sacks.

California (7-5) vs Texas Christian (6-6); Cheez-It Bowl; Phoenix; 9 PM ET; ESPN … Used to be a time when all the bowls had sort of dignified names: the Rose, the Sugar, the Orange, the Sun, the Liberty. At least they tried. But the Cheez-It Bowl ain’t even trying. It’s just blatant commercialism. And hell no, we ain’t splittin’ no profits with the players. They’re gettin’a free education. rant over, at least there’s nothing cheesy about the Cal ILB duo of Jordan Kunaszyk (#59, 6-2, 235) and junior Evan Weaver (#89, 6-2, 245), both of whom had over 130 tackles this fall when both also made at least one All-America team. The Bears also feature a pretty good second-tier offensive lineman in Patrick Mekari (#79, 6-3, 320) who actually started the final half of the season at LT. The Bears best prospect, though, is redshirt sophomore CB Camryn Bynum (#24, 5-11, 180) a rising cover corner with second-day potential for the upcoming draft.

The best overall prospect in this game, though, is likely TCU DE/OLB Ben Banogu (#15, 6-3, 250), a late second day prospect who had 7.5 sacks this past season. In fact, all of TCU’s best prospects are on the defensive side of the ball including DE L.J. Collier (#91, 6-3, 275), OLB Ty Summer (#42, 6-2, 235), FS Ridwan Issahaku (#31, 6-0, 195), and junior CB Jeff Gladney (#12, 5-11, 185) although none is more of a late-round or free agent type.