By BBD Writer Tony Wiltshire
The first bowl game in 2012 will be the Gildan New Mexico Bowl featuring the Arizona Wildcats and the Nevada Wolfpack. They both finished the regular season with identical 7-5 records, feature explosive offenses, and have several draft eligible NFL prospects on their respective rosters.
RB Stefphon Jefferson, #25, 5’11, 205*
Jefferson finished second in the nation in rushing and is the primary offensive option for Nevada. He’s a one-cut runner who runs primarily between the tackles. He has a little wiggle, but he’s not vertically explosive and lacks the dynamic qualities to be anything more than a COP option at the next level. If he declares and tests well, he could sneak into the later rounds.
WR Brandon Wimberly, #4, 6’2, 215
Big WR that missed the 2011 season after being shot in the stomach. He’s a hands catcher that runs nice routes with the potential to play inside and out. He’s more of a possession receiver and can potentially have a career at the next level as a depth guy if he continues to make progress. He may be back in 2013 after applying for a medical redshirt.
TE Zach Sudfeld, #44, 6’6, 255
Prospect that is squarely on the radar after a solid season. After missing his junior season due to a leg injury, his game is still developing. He’s fluid on his release off the line, runs solid routes, and has the speed to make plays vertically. His blocking and playing strength must improve, but he has the tools to compete at the next level. If he can get past the medical, he could be a legitimate late riser.
OT Jeff Nady, #78, 6’6, 305
Nady is a tall and relatively athletic prospect with upside. He’s still raw in his technique and needs to add more girth to his lower half, but he has the ability to develop into a starting right tackle. He’ll need a year or two before he’s physically ready to compete. At the moment, he’s a mid to late round prospect.
OG Chris Barker, #75, 6’4, 305
Barker is a competitive and hard working prospect that has started 51 consecutive games for the Wolfpack. His physical skills are best suited in a system that doesn’t require him to cover much area. He’ll likely be a camp invite, but don’t be surprised if he earns a job in a reserve role.
DE Brock Hekking, #53, 6’4, 260*
Hekking is a rSO with two season of eligibility remaining. He led the team in sacks with 8 and added 70 tackles. He’s a versatile, explosive athlete who consistently gets after the QB. He’s effective standing up or with his hand in the dirt, and he has terrific balance and flexibility. It’s highly unlikely he declares, but he’s certainly a player to monitor over the next couple of years.
ILB Albert Rosette, #51, 6’2, 240
Rosette has been a highly productive player that has made a lot of tackles during his career. He’s instinctive in the run game and a solid tackler, but he’s not athletic enough to hold up in coverage at the NFL level. At best he’ll be a camp invite as a free agent and 2-down thumper..
CB Khalid Wooten, #2, 6’, 200
Wooten is a versatile player possessing good size with plus ball skills and athleticism. He needs to clean his footwork up, but he has the potential to play inside or out at the next level. He’s also outstanding in the return game as he was one of the top punt returners in the country. If he tests well, he could be a late riser.
SAF Duke Williams, #5, 6’1, 200
Williams is the top NFL defensive prospect for the Wolfpack. He’s physical in the run game, takes good angles and has above average range for the safety position. He’s not a consistent ball hawk, but he does have natural coverage ability both deep and from the slot. He needs additional work, but he comes with starting potential at the next level. At this point, he looks no worse than a mid-round selection. He could sneak into the top 100 if he shows well in Indianapolis.
QB Matt Scott, #10, 6’2, 198
After playing behind Nick Foles, Scott improved his stock after a solid final season. Besides the natural athleticism, however, I don’t see the special qualities that are required at the NFL level to be anything more than a developmental prospect. He doesn’t have a big arm, and he’s not consistently accurate. His footwork and balance is poor in response to pressure, and he has a tendency to drift when the pocket collapses. With the premium on the position, there’s a chance he’ll be drafted sometime late.
FB Taimi Tutogi, #31, 6’1, 260
Tutogi is a traditional fullback prospect with an intriguing skillset. He can play multiple positions and was occasionally used on defense to rush the passer. He has good feet, hands and he’s a competitor. He’s a late round prospect at best, and will primarily be a special teamer if he does stick.
WR Dan Buckner, #4, 6’3, 215
Buckner has the size NFL teams prefer. He’s not vertically explosive, but his long strides eat up ground. He’s a little slow out of his breaks, and it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to win isolation routes outside against man coverage in the NFL. Unless he times extremely well, he’ll likely be selected in the later rounds. He’ll likely be a scheme specific type player as a redzone / possession receiver.
WR Austin Hill, #29, 6’2, 212*
As a rSO, Hill will likely be back in Arizona for another season. Like Buckner, he has deceptive speed due to his stride length, but his body control and flexibility are far more impressive. He’s not fast, but he can get vertical. He possesses reliable hands, and his ability to run after the catch is excellent for a receiver his size. He’s been exposed to a limited route tree thus far in his development. If he continues to work at his craft, he has the chance to be special.
OG Trace Biskin, #72, 6’5, 286
Biskin is a high effort prospect with limited athleticism. Even though he has some power as a run blocker, he lacks the lateral agility and quickness to compete in pass protection at the NFL level. At this point, he’s nothing more than a camp invite.
OC Kyle Quinn, #76, 6’2, 295
A hard working and tough prospect that was a 2 year starter for the Wildcats. He has some natural range, but he doesn’t appear to have the power to hold his own inside at the NFL level. He could potentially get a look in an NFL camp if he has an impressive offseason.
OT Fabbians Ebbele, #73, 6’7, 310*
Ebbele is a rSO with plus size and NFL starting potential. He’s already an effective run blocker and pass protector. He has active hands, decent feet and the quickness to seal defenders from the action. If he becomes more consistent with his balance and adds more strength to his frame, he has a bright future. He was briefly suspended in the spring after an arrest so his character will come into question when he does make the jump.
OT Mickey Baucus, #68, 6’7, 295*
Bauces is another rSO. He’s not as talented as Ebbele, but is a solid prospect nevertheless. He’s shown natural skill in pass protection, effectively uses his hands and has the quickness to control the edge. Though he needs more development, he possesses the upside to compete in the NFL. After some back issues early in his career, his medical will be important.
LB Marquis Flowers, #2, 6’2, 221*
Flowers is a converted safety, and his game is a perfect fit for today’s NFL. He’s undersized, but he can run and cover. He’s a tackling machine, a playmaker and offers the skills to match up with athletic tight ends. There has been no word if he’s going to declare this season or return for his final year. Denver LB Wes Woodyard is a good comparison.
CB Shaquille Richardson, #5, 6’, 188*
Richardson is a terrific athlete with plus size, adequate ball skills and has a natural feel in coverage. However, his footwork is raw, and he’s had a difficult time finding any consistency to his game. After a disappointing season, another year improving his technique would boost his value. He certainly has the talent. It’s just going to come down if he’s able to put it all together.
Game Prediction: Arizona 43 – Nevada 36