‘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: Texas vs. Missouri
Time: 9:00 p.m.
1) OT Connor Williams
Key state: allowed just four quarterback pressures on 956 snaps in 2016
Williams was dominant in 2016, but 2017 was not his year. He had a poor game to open up the season against Maryland in which he allowed multiple quarterback pressures and was called for three holding penalties. The following week, he injured his knee and has not played since. Left tackle is a major position of need in the NFL so I can definitely see Williams coming off the board somewhere in the top-15 picks, but I don’t know if I would take a chance on him that early. Everyone is entitled to a bad game, but Williams did not look like the 2016 version of himself against Maryland in week one (I was at this game in person and had access to game film on the flight home from the game). Throw in the fact that he is coming off a knee injury, and I am a bit worried. I am not saying he won’t be good in the NFL because he certainly has the tools and he had a dominant 2016, but I have a gut feeling he turns out to be a bust.
2) OLB Malik Jefferson
2017 stats: 110 tackles, 4 sacks
When I saw Jefferson in person this season and every time I have watched him play ever since, one player comes to mind — Deion Jones. At 6-foot-3, 240-pounds, Jefferson is an inch taller and 20 pounds heavier, but he has that type of speed and athleticism. We saw how Jones has been able to help turn that Falcons defense around and play a key role in their 2016 Super Bowl run. Jefferson can have that same type of impact. Early mock drafts have him in the back half of the first round or front half of the second. I think he belongs in the first and a strong combine/pro day could give him a major boost.
3) S DeShon Elliott
2017 stats: 63 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 6 INTs, 9 passes defended
Almost like Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick (though not quite at the same level), Elliott has played cornerback and safety in college. With his size (6-foot-2, 220-pounds), speed, athleticism and ability to step up an play the run, he will be high on a lot of teams’ draft boards. There is no way he makes it through day two — he may not even make it through round two.
1) EDGE Marcell Frazier
2017 stats: 36 tackles, 7 sacks
Mizzou has been churning out edge rushers over the last few years, and Frazier is next in line. The 6-foot-5 defensive end is not quite a complete player, but he has a lot of raw talent and athleticism. If he is coached up properly and improves both his technique and ability to stop the run, he could be a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. Frazier will probably hear his name called in the middle of day two — somewhere near the end of the 3rd round or beginning of the 4th.
2) QB Drew Lock
2017 stats: 58.2% completion percentage, 3,695 yards, 43 TDs, 12 INTs
Career stats: 54.5% completion percentage, 8,426 yards, 70 TDs, 30 INTs
Disclaimer: I have not watched Lock at all and know very little about him. He flew so far under the radar all season and did not once appear on my quarterback trackers. The numbers are very impressive, but I am looking forward to evaluating him tonight against a stout Texas defense. It is no lock (sorry about the pun) that he enters the draft. The NFL’s Draft Advisory Council advised the first-team All-SEC quarterback to return to school rather than enter the draft.