‘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 two small schools battle for an irrelevant trophy 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.
Boca Raton Bowl
Matchup: UAB vs. Northern Illinois
Time: 7:00 p.m.
1) OLB Jamell Garcia-Williams (6-foot-8, 245 pounds)
2018 Stats: 13 games, 42 tackles, 9.5 sacks
For a program that has only been around for two years after a brief hiatus, you can’t really expect many draft prospects considering they had to build from the ground up with underclassmen. Well, now one of those underclassmen has reached his seniors year and he has turned a lot of heads. Garcia-Williams really jumps off the screen for two reasons — his 6-foot-8 frame and his ability to blow up blockers to get to the quarterback. UAB’s defense has been stellar this season and Garcia-Williams has been one of the major reasons for the dominance. This game presents him with a chance to really showcase his talents to a national audience as he takes on one of the top 10 left tackles in this draft class.
Projection: 6th round pick-Undrafted free agent
Other names to watch: LB Chris Woolbright (7th round pick/undrafted free agent), WR Andre Wilson (undrafted free agent), NT Anthony Rush (7th round pick/undrafted free agent)
Northern Illinois’s prospects:
1) OL Max Scharping (6-foot-6, 320 pounds)
Notable: All-MAC 1st Team Honoree
Tuesday’s Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl is the 7th bowl of the season so far, and Scharping will hear his name called before anyone else who has played in a bowl thus far. He is better suited as a run blocker than a pass blocker because he struggles with the speed rush to the outside, but that might not be a problem he has to worry about in the NFL anyway with a move to guard potentially in the cards. There is nothing about his game that stands out that would lead a team to draft him in either of the first two rounds, but he has the makeup of a steady NFL started that a team finds in the 3rd or 4th rounds. He will have his hands full with UAB’s Garcia-Williams in this one.
Projection: 3rd-5th round pick
2) EDGE Sutton Smith (6-feet, 240 pounds)
2018 Stats: 13 games, 56 tackles, 15 sacks, 4 forced fumbles
If you were to take the production in a vacuum, teams would consider drafting smith early on Day 2 of the draft. When you factor in that he is undersized and not playing against great competition in the MAC, he slides down to the middle of Day 3. His 15 sacks led the nation in 2018 and it was a great encore to his 14 sacks output in 2017. He uses his size (or lack thereof) to his advantage, routinely beating tackles around the edge with his quickness and bend. He is only a junior so he can return to school if he chooses. It might not be a bad decision because if he has another 14-15 sack season, NFL teams would almost be forced to take a look at him earlier in the draft despite his size.
Projection: 5th-6th round pick
Other names to watch: DE Josh Corcoran (7th round/undrafted free agent)