I have finally gotten time in my schedule to watch my entire game tape from the Hula Bowl played last Saturday, January 14th. Following up on game information was a challenge. The Hula Bowl website still says team rosters will be available soon. That’s based on a visit to the site this morning the 22nd. Combine it all together and I think the best plan of attack here is to mention a small group of players who may have a chance to be drafted in April. These 8 guys were the best prospects based on their vital size stats, and what I saw of them in action. So let’s just go in alphabetical order and have at it.
TYLER BEACH #75 OG Wisconsin 6’5 3/4″/308# 9 1/2″ Hands/31 7/8″ Arms/ 79 3/8″Wing
Based on historical data it’s seldom a mistake to take a good luck at pro size OL coming out of the Badgers program. BEACH moved inside to OG full-time, which was a wise move given arm length of less than 32″. But lest he be written off completely, note that his Wingspan is a solid 79 3/8″. He’s not an elite player, but might be late round draftable. He moves well, excels in the run game.
CHRIS BROOKS #24 RB BYU 6’0 1/2″/232 8 3/4″ Hands/ 30 5/8″ Arms/ 74 3/4″ Wing
The Cougars needed a solid replacement after current FALCONS RB Tyler Algeier, took his 1,000+ yards to the pros after the 2021 season. BROOKS emerged as that guy and rushed for just under 1,000-yards himself. Transferred in from CAL and upped his YPC by almost a full yard. Looked the part of a power runner in Orlando. Top rusher in the game who showed burst through the hole, and runs thru and over defenders.
MICHAEL EZEIKE #35 TE UCLA 6’5/243 9 1/4″ Hands/33 3/8″ Arms/80 3/4″ Wing
Caught me eye late in the Pac-12 season. Mostly blocked for the Bruins and did a nice job of the same in the Hula Bowl game. But he also showed that he is developing as a receiver, with a nice back of the end zone TD catch in the 3rd Quarter. If he posts some really good numbers at the Combine he gets drafted in Day 3.
JORDAN FERGUSON #97 DE/ER MTSU 6’1/266 10 1/4″ Hands/ 33 3/8″ Arms/ 81 1/4″Wing
He may be a bit short for a DE, but everything else is long in hands/arms/wing span. He also plays low and can bend coming around the edge blockers. Was all over the field in the Hula game, and much of his time was at, or behind, the Line of Scrimmage.He showed that and more in being named the Player of the Game. He recorded 2 Sacks, ad a Forced Fumble, and was a challenge to contain all game long. Last season for MTSU he recorded 17 TFL & 9 Sacks, among his 68 Tackles. This guy should be drafted on Day 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
STEVEN GILMORE #21 CB Marshall 5’9/165 8 3/8″ Hands/30 3/4″Arms/73″ Wing
Yes this young man is little for a football player. Yes, he has a famous older brother who stars in the NFL, named Stephon. He flashed in coverage several times in the game, and also proved he was a willing tackler against the run. Let season at Marshall, he recorded 41 TT, 10 PD & 3 INT. He had 9 career INT for the Thundering Herd. He needs to show some quickness and ball skills at Combine/Pro Days. But a few guys his size play NB in today’s NFL secondaries. And that last name can’t hurt him in most scouts’ eyes.
JALEN HARRIS #94 DE/ER Arizona 6’4/258 10″ Hands/34 1/8″ Arms/82 18″ Wing
HARRIS has a father who played in the NFL. So the genes might be present to help him, and you just know that Pigskin luvs the gene pool theories. His length is hard to miss, and he has some good good instincts. He went high to block one pass at the line of scrimmage during game action. He spent 6 years at Arizona, in a bad program, with multiple coaches. He might get some looks as a late bloomer. I do NOT expect him at the Combine, but he has a chance to shine at a pro Day. Could be a priority, undrafted Rookie Free Agent next Summer.
JARED WAYNE #20 WR Pittsburgh 6’3/208 9 3/4″ Hands/32 3/8″ Arms/80″ Wing
Sat behind a very talented pool of receivers at PITT early on. Didn’t blow anybody away in the Hula game, but he looks like a football player when he suits up. His length is outstanding, but he lacks elite speed. He recorded 60 receptions this past season for the Panthers, and even tho he is often referred to as a possession receiver he did average 17.7 yards per catch. If he can post good numbers at workouts for NFL Scouts then he might work his way into Round 4/5, early on Day 3 of the Draft.
AVERY YOUNG #2 S Rutgers 5’11 1/2″/207 9″ Hands/31 7/8″ Arms/76 1/2″Wing
Was flipped around between CB & S at RUTGERS and clearly did his best work at S. That may help him since CB is loaded for this next Draft, S not so much. He is best in run D support. Ball skills appear to be OK at S. He showed out a few times on deep passes in the Hula Bowl. He had 84 TT last season for Rutgers with 4 PD & 1 INT. He was often around the ball and was a willing tackler all game long in Orlando.
In summation, I think this group of 8 managed to catch my eye, more than once during the Hula Bowl venue. There are no Day 1 or 2 guys on these rosters (IMO), but whereas lots of guys flashed a play or two during a week of activity, these guys showed out on multiple occasions. They also have some decent numbers during their college careers.
Aloha, for now, and let’s get our eyes tuned in to tracking the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this coming weekend.