‘Tis the season for over 40 college bowl games sponsored by some very obscure companies to celebrate the mediocrity of 6-6 teams. Surely there is an angry old man somewhere waving his fist screaming about how “everyone gets a trophy” and “the Millennials are ruining everything.” At TOJ, we love bowl season. Maybe not for the games because watching Western Kentucky against Georgia State is not very appealing, but it gives us a chance to watch some teams that we did not get a chance to watch this season and evaluate some prospects who may not have been regularly exposed to us.
Matchup: Iowa vs. Boston College
Time: 5:15 p.m.
1) MLB Josey Jewell
2017 stats: 125 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 INTs, 11 passes defended
Jewell has what it takes to be the quarterback of a defense in the NFL. He may not have the upside of a Tremaine Edmunds or a Roquan Smith, who will both likely be first round picks, but he can provide similar production. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker is not as athletic as Edmunds or Smith, but he has the IQ, leadership qualities, and instincts that can turn him into a pro-bowler. I may be higher on him than most because I go to a Big Ten school and have seen him play a lot, but even if I am overselling his ceiling, his floor is that of a middle of the pack linebacker who approaches 100 tackles every season. I view Jewell as a second round pick. He needs to improve in coverage, but I am excited to see what he can accomplish in the NFL.
2) CB Joshua Jackson
2017 stats: 47 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 7 INTs, 18 passes defended
Over the last month, Jackson has been rapidly ascending up draft boards. A few early mocks have him going between the 13th and 20th overall picks, and that is a good guess at where he will probably end up barring any major injury or off-field red flags that pop up during the draft process. He has good size at 6-foot-1, 195-pounds to go along with the instincts, ball skills, cover skills, and hands that NFL teams like to see. He played his best football against the best competition this season, coming away with three interceptions against Ohio St. and another two the following week against Wisconsin (he returned both of those for touchdowns).
Boston College’s prospects:
- EDGE Harold Landry
2017 stats: 8 games, 38 tackles, 5 sacks
Prior to the emergence of Bradley Chubb, Landry was my favorite EDGE prospect in this draft. He got off to a good start this season but he has been sidelined with an ankle injury since the middle of October. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound edge rusher is the total package. He can get after the passer and record 10+ sacks every year and get his hands up to bat down passes at the line. He has had some success stopping the run in college, though he may not have as much success in the NFL because he does not quite have the strength or length to shed blocks from NFL offensive linemen. He is an elite-level pass rusher and should not escape the top-10 picks of the draft. The only way I see him falling out of the top-10 is if the ankle becomes more of a concern throughout the draft process.