BBD Writer Tony Wiltshire
There won’t be many senior NFL prospects on the field when the Michigan State Spartans play the TCU Horned Frogs in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. There will, however, be several underclassmen on both sides of the ball that possess solid NFL futures. It should be a physical game featuring balanced teams.
Michigan State Spartans
RB Le’Veon Bell, #24, 6’1, 244*
Bell has had a combined 380 touches in 12 games this season. He hasn’t declared for the NFL yet, but he’s going to be taking a huge risk if he doesn’t. As a RB, Bell has the complete package. Along with the NFL size, he has impressive elusiveness, balance, and vision. He has solid hands as a receiver, and he possesses the toughness to hold his own in pass protection. His initial burst appears a little slow on tape, and he’s never going to have the second gear to outpace angles at the second level. It will be interesting to see if this limits his ability to create on his own at the NFL level. If he does decide to come out, he will likely come off the board on the second day of the draft.
TE Dion Sims, #80, 6’5, 285*
Sims is an impressive physical specimen that looks like an offensive lineman on the field. He’s a powerful blocker who can win in both the run and pass game. As a receiver, he has soft, natural hands and the speed to occasionally attack the field vertically. He’s never going to consistently separate against man coverage, but he does have the deceptive quickness to quickly get on top of the defender. If he decides to come out this year, he’ll be selected in rounds 2 to 4.
OG Chris McDonald, #62, 6’4, 298
McDonald is a fringe level type of prospect that is going to struggle making an NFL roster. He doesn’t have the power to win inside, and he’s not athletic enough to pull in power situations. Even though he has some coordination in pass protection, but he isn’t laterally gifted, and he often fails to maintain balance when matched against speed.
DT Anthony Rashad White, #98, 6’1, 330
White is a stout defensive line prospect that will probably be a two-down stuffer at the NFL level. He offers some scheme versatility to 4-3 teams as a DT, but he’ll appeal primarily to 3-4 teams as a NT. He flashes some short-area burst and natural athleticism, but he’s at his best when stationed and anchored at the line of scrimmage.His motor runs hot and cold, and his work ethic will be questioned by talent evaluators. He’ll likely be selected sometime after round 5.
DE William Gholston, #2, 6’6, 278*
After an outstanding sophomore season, Gholston was considered a first round lock in 2013. Unfortunately, his stock has taken a hit after a largely disappointing year. Even though he has an ideal NFL frame with the athleticism to match it, he currently has too many deficiencies in his game to warrant an early selection and would be best served if he returned to the Spartans for his senior season in 2014.
LB Max Bullough, #40, 6’2, 252*
Bullough is a junior who will likely be in a Spartan uniform in 2014. He’s a natural born leader with the type of mental and physical skill set NFL teams look for. Even though he lacks elite athleticism, his instincts, redirection skills, and ability to locate the football are starter level caliber. He plays with a nasty streak, is disciplined with his assignments, and he’s a violent tackler. He’ll make an impact when he does enter the league.
LB Chris Norman, #10, 6’1, 233
Norman is a good player with average strength and athleticism. He lacks the instincts to play inside at the next level, but he does possess the physical skill set to play in space and get after the ball in pursuit. If he can find his way into the right scheme, he could contribute. At the very least, he should be a good special teams player.
CB Johnny Adams, #5, 5’11, 178
Adams is a nice looking athlete that has often been overrated by talent evaluators. Even though he has some straight line speed, he appears tight in the hips, and he doesn’t have the instincts needed to make many plays on the football. He’s a tough guy that plays with some physicality, and he’s not afraid to mix it up. At this point, he’s a later round prospect capable of contributing both on the outside and in the slot at the NFL level. He’s not expected to play in the game due to injury, and we likely won’t see him on the field until the Senior Bowl.
WR Bennie Fowler, #13, 6’1, 218*
OT Dan France, #59, 6’6, 315*
DE Tyler Hoover, #91, 6’6, 302
DE Marcus Rush, #44, 6’2, 250*
LB Denicos Allen, #28, 5’11, 225*
CB Mitchell White, #32, 5’11, 185
CB Darqueze Dennard, #31, 5’11, 188*
SAF Isaiah Lewis, #9, 5’10, 205*
PK Dan Conroy, #4, 5’10, 186
TCU Horned Frogs
RB Matthew Tucker, #29, 6’0 227
Tucker is a solid prospect that has consistently produced during his time at TCU. However, he’s an average athlete who lacks the skill set to be considered anything more than a COP option at the NFL level. He’s not an explosive runner, and he seems to only have one gear to his game. He has limited lateral agility, and simply lacks the type of athleticism needed to be considered dynamic with the ball in his hands. He’s a dime-a-dozen prospect and carries a free agent grade.
WR Skye Dawson, #11, 5’9, 183
Dawson is a dynamic athlete that plays the game in another gear. At this point, he’s more of a track guy than football player, but he’s a threat to create anytime the ball is in his hands. If he can improve his route running and hands, he could contribute in the return game or as a scheme specific type of player. If he’s not selected late, he’ll be a priority free agent.
WR Josh Boyce, #82, 5’11, 203*
Boyce isn’t the most explosive vertical threat, but he possesses good size and length for the position with the body control to go up and fight for the football in tight quarters. He’s not a burner, but he has good balance when changing directions, he accelerates out of his breaks, and he runs clean routes. Even though he’ll never have the speed to separate down the field against NFL corners, he’s a tough cover in every area of the field and has the potential to develop into a possession type WR as a very solid #2 or #3. He’s only a junior so another year working on his game will improve his 2014 draft position.
OG Blaize Foltz, #66, 6’4, 310
Foltz is one of the strongest players in football with a reported bench press of 580, a squat of 800, and a clean and jerk of 430. He’ll play inside at the next level where he can use his power and strength in the run game. In pass protection, he looks comfortable anchoring at the point of attack, and he does a good job sticking with his blocks through contact. However, he lacks the ideal range toward the corner, and he’s going to struggle with speed at the NFL level. He needs to work on his footwork and technique, but he looks capable of developing into a potential starter in a power scheme. He’ll be a priority free agent if he isn’t selected late.
DE Stansly Maponga, #90, 6’2, 265*
Maponga is another junior prospect with the physical and athletic skill set to someday earn a shot in the NFL. Despite some significant shortcomings from a technique standpoint, he has the ability to consistently create pressure on the QB. After a disappointing season, it would come as a surprise if he’s not back for his senior year. It will be interesting to see how much he develops over the next year, because he has the natural talent to be a solid player.
CB Jason Verrett, #2, 5’10, 182*
Verrett is a JUCO transfer and one of the top draft eligible players in the country. He’s a smooth, coordinated athlete with excellent ball skills and elite ability. He has one of the most explosive first steps in the country, terrific balance in his drops, and he’s smooth flipping his hips in coverage. Like all guys at the NCAA level, he needs to improve his footwork and increase his playing strength, but he looks capable of playing at a high level in any scheme. If he does declare, he’ll likely be a Day 2 selection, but he could sneak into Rd. 1 if he shows well in Indianapolis.
RB Waymon James, #32, 5’8, 203*
OC James Fry, #64, 6’2, 305
LB Kenny Cain, #51, 6’1, 225
Game Prediction: Michigan State 22 – TCU 19