By BBD Editor Matt Elder
This game is in it’s second year and has made a few key changes this year. First off they no longer are allowing declared juniors to play in their game so for the first year the NFL will allow their scouts to attend. Secondly the game has paired with ESPN to both televise the game and also show four hours of practice coverage on Thursday January 17th. This will be the only game that will reportedly show any practice this week. The NFLPA Bowl has yet to release a full and complete roster so we will update this list with any late minute ads along with jersey numbers and teams once its released.
QB Brad Sorensen-Southern Utah
Many consider Brad Sorensen to be the top Small School QB in the country but personally I have questions about whether its him or Matt Brown from Illinois State. Sorensen could do a lot to show scouts that the distance between Brown and he is far more substantial than analysts like me think.
RB Orwin Smith-Georgia Tech
He may come from a Triple Option offense but Orwin Smith is anything but a system only RB. Smith has a nice combination of power and speed coming out of the backfield and when combined with his vision you can see why he’s a big play waiting to happen. Smith is also an accomplished pass catcher and he should become a QB’s best friend this week.
WR Sam McGuffie-Rice
The former Michigan recruit who was a Youtube sensation early on in his career eventually transferred to Rice and switched positions from RB to WR. As a WR McGuffie has made the most of his quickness and acceleration becoming a pain to cover and making life difficult for defenses in the open field. Look for him to be one who wows at times this week.
WR Chris Slaughter-Fort Valley State
Slaughter comes in as an under the radar prospect who could impress as a big play down the field type. He was a star in the SIAC and was considered basically uncoverable one on one. He will need to show the route discipline and speed that most scouts question for any prospect jumping up in competition. It would not surprise me though to see Slaughter have a great game in this one.
WR Xavier Boyce-Norfolk State
The former Virginia Tech produce has always been a guy that scouts have kept an eye on and last year with Chris Walley at QB Boyce put up career numbers with 750 yards and 4 TD’s. He added another 600+ this year and displayed the ability to use his size to fight for the ball and make big plays down the field.
TE Ben Cotton-Nebraska
Cotton will be a very intriguing prospect to watch over this week, he doesn’t have the numbers or notoriety of other prospects due to the dual TE system that Nebraska ran but with his size and ability he could open up some eyes.
TE TJ Knowles-Sacramento State
The Big Sky conference became famous a couple of years back when Portland States Julius Thomas burst onto the scene and sent the draft community into a frenzy. This year Knowles isn’t getting anywhere near the same level of love but he’s still a similar prospect. Blessed with size and athleticism Knowles may come in as an unknown and leave as the name people are talking about.
DT Darius Smith-Miami
In the preseason I named Darius Smith a Senior Sleeper to watch in the ACC and while he didn’t quite have the season I was hoping he did enough to get invited here and all you need is one shot sometimes. Smith is a big bodied interior defender who does a good job taking up space and pushing the pocket. His technique needs to be more consistent and if he flashes that this week he could see an uptick in interest.
OLB Will Compton-Nebraska
Last year one of our favorite LB’s was Nebraska’s Lavonte David and while Compton isn’t quite the exact same type he is still a productive LB who moves well and is a fundamentally sound tackler. Compton is also more than just a read and react style LB who makes a lot of tackles, he has the ability to both blitz and drop into coverage. He should be one of the most talked about prospects from this game.
OLB Nate Palmer-Illinois State
Nate Palmer is former Illinois transfer who was among the most explosive players at the FCS level the last couple of years. He has great explosion off the edge and is a pass rush specialist. He hasn’t had the numbers at the FCS level that a Adrian Hamilton or Joseph LeBeau put up but he’s a technically sound player who can do more than just rush the passer.
ILB Taylor Reed-SMU
Reed is a prospect I have followed since he was a freshman at SMU. He is a bit of an undersized MLB prospect who knows how to slip blockers and make plays. He is a solid tackler who knows how to read and react to the play as it happens. There are some questions about his range that he needs to answer this week.
ILB Jake Johnson-South Alabama
Jake Johnson is another MLB prospect who has for the most part flown under the radar and is a real steal for the NFLPA Bowl. He is far more athletic than give credit for and much like Reed really excels at form tackling. Johnson has never been asked to do a ton in coverage though and his ability to show that this week would be very beneficial.
SAF Ray Ray Armstrong-Faulkner
The former Miami Hurricane hasn’t played football in over a year after being declared ineligible by the NCAA. He tried to enroll at the NAIA level but there was some issues with eligibility and instead he remained in school and helped on the coaching side. It will be interesting to see how much Armstrong may have lost after spending so much time away but his story is one to definitely watch this week.