Bowl Game Prospect Viewing Guide: Independence, Pinstripe, and Texas Bowls

Joe Malfa With His Bowl Game Prospect Viewing Guide: Independence, Pinstripe, and Texas Bowls.

‘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.

Independence Bowl

Matchup: Duke vs. Temple

Time: 1:30 p.m.

Network: ESPN

Duke’s prospects:

1) QB Daniel Jones (6-foot-5, 220 pounds)

2018 Stats: 207/351, 2836 yards, 16 TDs, 9 INTs

Career: 734/1234, 7778 yards, 47 TDs, 27 INTs

In a weak QB class that is now weaker after Oregon’s Justin Herbert decided to stay in school, Jones will be overdrafted despite his pedestrian numbers and average skillset. He reminds me of Davis Webb. Not necessarily in the way they play, but in the sense that he will work his way into Day 2 of the draft simply because there are not many QB options. Webb never struck me as a Day 2 guy, but in a QB class that had absolutely nothing after Trubisky, Watson, and Mahomes, he was the best of a below average bunch. I see the same here with Jones in an even weaker QB class. Today’s game should be a shootout, so you will have ample opportunity to judge him yourself and see if you agree.

Projection: 2nd-3rd round pick

2) LB Joe Giles-Harris (6-foot-2, 240 pounds)

2018 Stats: 9 games, 81 tackles, 7 TFLs, 1 sack, 2 passes defended

Career: 34 games, 313 tackles, 32.5 TFLs, 8.5 sacks, FF, 2 INTs, 8 passes defended

On a personal note, this listing is pretty cool to write because Giles-Harris was a friend of mine in high school. We both attended New Jersey football powerhouse St. Joseph’s Regional in Montvale. I got to watch him dominate there for three years, and when he went to Duke there wasn’t really any sort of NFL buzz. For some incoming freshman, you can tell “this kid will be playing on Sundays.” The redshirt year did wonders for Giles-Harris, and here he is now, one of the best linebackers you maybe haven’t heard of. He excels against the run, is a tackling machine, and is solid in coverage. He lacks some speed, but makes up for it with preparation and instincts, always being in the right place to plug a hole. He isn’t the type of athlete who will wow a team at the Combine, but his tape speaks for itself and knowing him personally I know he will knock team interviews out of the park. He will hear his name either on Day 2 or at the beginning of Day 3.

Projection: 2nd-4th round pick

Temple’s prospects:

RB Ryquell Armstead (5-foot-11, 215 pounds)

2018 Stats: 210 carries, 1098 yards, 13 TDs; 8 catches, 52 yards

Career: 573 carries, 2812 yards, 34 TDs

Armstead’s production was average at Temple, but with his size and ability he projects as a better pro than he was a college player. I had the chance to watch him this season as Temple visited Maryland (I man the All-22 coaches video camera for Maryland), and I was very impressed. He ran for 118 yards on 26 carries that day. The Maryland defense had no answer for him. His power and vision give him the potential to be a bell-cow back in the NFL, though he is of little to no use in passing situations.

Projection: 4th-6th round pick

Other names to watch: CB Rock Ya-Sin (5th-7th round pick), WR Ventell Bryant (6th round/undrafted free agent), S Delvon Randall (6th round/undrafted free agent)

Quick Lane Bowl

Matchup: Miami vs. Wisconsin

Time: 5:15 p.m.

Network: ESPN

I have to stray from the normal format for this game just because there are so many good prospects and I do not want to keep you here for 1,000 words. I’ll save that for the more in-depth breakdowns as we come closer to the draft.

This game has a great strength-on-strength matchup featuring a handful of potential 1st-3rd round picks when Wisconsin has the ball. Up front, OT David Edwards, OG Michael Deiter, and OT Beau Benzschawel will have immediate impacts on an NFL offensive line. All three will produce like 1st rounders at the next level, even if they are taken a bit later. Edwards and Benzschawel will likely be Day 2 picks, with Deiter as the most likely of the three to make a late push and end up in the back end of the 1st round. Wisconsin offensive linemen are always among the surest bets teams can make in the draft, and this year is no exception.

Those three will be charged with neutralizing Miami’s strength, which is its defensive front as well as a disruptive middle linebacker. Todd McShay recently highlighted DT Gerald Willis as a name to watch as a rapid riser up draft boards, as he thinks Willis could make it into the 2nd round. He has had some personal issues to deal with in college and transferred from Florida as a result, but he has come into his own at Miami with 59 tackles, 18 TFLs, and 4 sacks. One of his linemates, DE Joe Jackson, will be right there with Willis in the 2nd round range. He has enjoyed an outstanding career at Miami with 129 tackles, 35.5 TFLs, 22.5 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles in 35 games. With his production, size, and athleticism, he would be a 1st round pick in most years, but with this year’s glut of defensive ends he will fall into a team’s lap in the 2nd round. Behind both Willis and Jackson is ILB Shaquille Quarterman, who has been the leader of the Miami defensive renaissance in the “Turnover Chain Era.” He has 243 tackles, 30 TFLs, and 11 sacks in 38 games as a starter since the beginning. He may return to Miami for another season in the hopes of bumping his stock up from the 3rd round to the back end of the 1st or beginning of the 2nd, but if he doesn’t, he will be a mid-round gem.

Other names to watch (Wisconsin): LB TJ Edwards (3rd-4th round), LB Ryan Connelly (4th-5th round), S D’Cota Dixon (4th-5th round), Andrew van Ginkel (5th-7th round)

Other names to watch (Miami): S Jaquan Johnson (3rd-4th round), LB Michael Pinckney (4th-6th round), CB Michael Jackson (4th-5th round)

Texas Bowl

Matchup: Vanderbilt vs. Baylor

Time: 9:00 p.m.

Network: ESPN

Vanderbilt’s prospects:

CB Joejuan Williams: 5th round-7th round pick

QB Kyle Shurmur: 5th round-7th round pick

S LaDarius Wiley: 5th round-7th round pick

Baylor’s prospects:

OT Patrick Lawrence: 5th-7th round pick

K Connor Martin: 7th round-undrafted free agent