Bowl Game Prospect Viewing Guide: Las Vegas, Camellia, and New Orleans Bowls

Joe Malfa with a prospect viewing guide for the Las Vegas, Camellia, and New Orleans 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.

Las Vegas Bowl

Matchup: Arizona State vs. Fresno State

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Network: ABC

Arizona State’s prospects:

1) QB Manny Wilkins (6-foot-3, 200 pounds)

2018 Stats: 228/362, 2896 yards, 19 TDs, 4 INTs; 101 carries, 416 yards, 8 TDs

Career: 685/1083, 8495 yards, 51 TDs, 21 INTs; 374 carries, 999 yards, 20 TDs

Wilkins checks all of the boxes when surveying the college landscape for serviceable backup caliber quarterbacks. He is average all around — average size, accuracy, arm strength. He throws a nice deep ball and Herm Edwards has raved about his intangibles this season. Another plus is the fact that he has operated multiple offenses successfully during his time in Tempe, which speaks to the strength that lies between his ears. Wilkins is the prototypical Day 3 pick to be the 2nd or 3rd QB on your roster, similar to Joshua Dobbs.

Projection: 6th round pick-Undrafted free agent

2) DL Renell Wren (6-foot-5, 300 pounds)

2018 Stats: 37 tackles, 1 sack

There will be two more chances for the senior to showcase his abilities — this game and the Senior Bowl. Wren possesses great strength and is a very explosive player. He is very disruptive in the heart of the defensive line, but he struggles at times with technique. The raw power and ability to make some eye-opening plays is there, but he needs refinement. Those raw talents, however, will turn some heads throughout the draft process at the Combine and bump him up some draft boards.

Projection: 4th-6th round pick

Other names to watch: OT Casey Tucker (5th round-7th round), OT Quinn Bailey (7th round/undrafted free agent)

Fresno State’s prospects:

1) WR KeeSean Johnson (6-foot-2, 200 pounds)

2018 Stats: 93 catches, 1307 yards, 8 TDs

Career: 273 catches, 3430 yards, 24 TDs

Because Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry is sitting this game out to make sure he stays healthy, Johnson is the top WR prospect in this game. He was solid as a sophomore, broke out and turned some heads as a junior, and took his game to a new level as a senior. He is a very natural, fluid route runner which makes up for average speed. Johnson may not have what it takes to be a Batman, but he will at the very least be a good Robin.

Projection: 3rd-5th round pick

2) QB Marcus McMaryion (6-foot-2, 200 pounds)

2018 Stats: 278/398, 3453 yards, 25 TDs, 3 INTs; 67 carries, 253 yards, 7 TDs

Career: 624/986, 7868 yards, 58 TDs, 16 INTs; 169 carries, 648 yards, 13 TDs

McMaryion is basically in the exact same boat as Wilkins. He has all the traits of a prototypical 2nd or 3rd string quarterback that a team will take a flier on in the late stages of Day 3. This game should be a fun little battle between two productive college quarterbacks looking to go out with a bang.

Projection: 6th round pick-Undrafted free agent

Other names to watch: P Blake Cusick (7th round/undrafted free agent), CB Anthoula Kelly (7th round/undrafted free agent)

Camellia Bowl

Matchup: Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Network: ESPN

Georgia Southern’s prospect:

RB Wesley Fields

2018 Stats: 177 carries, 959 yards, 9 TDs; 10 catches, 207 yards, 1 TD

Career: 545 carries, 2944 yards, 24 TDs; 36 catches, 590 yards, 6 TD

More so than any other position, bowl games give us great looks at some running backs we may not have previously known about. Given the state of today’s NFL in which running backs are so interchangeable, it is important to know as many as you can. Georgia Southern runs the triple option, so you will be seeing plenty of Fields in this contest and he has the talent and skillset to be the 2nd or 3rd option on an NFL team.

Projection: 5th-7th round pick

Other names to watch: DL Logan Hunt (7th round/undrafted free agent), TE Ellis Richardson (7th round/undrafted free agent)

Eastern Michigan’s prospect:

EDGE Maxx Crosby (6-foot-5, 247 pounds)

2018 Stats: 61 tackles, 18 TFLs, 7.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles

The 1st-team All-MAC selection (for the second year in a row) draws high praise for his motor and his technique around the edge. He has a knack for getting to the quarterback and does a great job of getting his hands on the football as well, tied for the second most forced fumbles in the nation. Crosby’s numbers dipped a little bit this season, but that is because he drew more tight ends and running backs chipping him around the edge. He had 11 sacks and 16.5 TFLs last season. Crosby has the tools to be a productive pass rusher in the NFL, worthy of a mid-late round selection.

Projection: 5th-7th round pick

Other names to watch: RB Blake Banham (6th round/undrafted free agent), RB Shaq Vann (7th round/undrafted free agent), OT Jimmy Leatiota (7th round/undrafted free agent), EDGE Jeremiah Harris (7th round/undrafted free agent)

New Orleans Bowl

Matchup: Appalachian State vs. Middle Tennessee

Time: 9:00 p.m.

Network: ESPN

Appalachian State’s prospects:

CB Tae Hayes (6th round pick-undrafted free agent)

LB Anthony Flory (6th round pick-undrafted free agent)

Middle Tennessee’s prospects:

QB Brent Stockstill (Undrafted free agent)

WR Ty Lee (Undrafted free agent)