BBD Editor Anthony D. Macari
Looking at the list of prospects to focus on for the game alone makes this Bowl look like a complete mismatch. While Northern Illinois will be counting on Junior QB Jordan Lynch to continue his magical season into the post season, seemingly alone against a Florida State defense that is stacked with draft worthy prospects. If Northern Illinois is to make a game of it, they will have to neutralize Junior Bjoeren Werner, who is likely to be a top 5 pick assuming he declares. N Illinois does catch a break as talented senior DE/Linebacker Brandon Jenkins and Cornellius Carradine will miss the game due to injury. The Huskies are the more motivated team here trying to prove they belong. That may be enough to keep things close, but in the end look for talent to win out.
Northern Illionois Huskies
#6 Jordan Lynch QB 6’0″ 216*
Lynch will be worth the price of admission. The dual threat Junior will have a national stage to prove he belongs in the conversation for next year’s Heisman. At 6’-0” he has an uphill battle to show he will ever be much more than a terrific collegiate QB, but there is some Russell Wilson to his game so this is a chance for him to convince scouts he deserves a look next year. He’ll have to take advantage of an aggressive and athletic Florida State defense with draws and play action to keep this close.
#95 Sean Progar DE 6’2 254
Northern Illinois does have another prospect besides Lynch to focus on. Sean Progar led the Huskies in sacks with 8.5 and added 10 tackles for loss. He has the athletic ability to transition to a 34 OLB.
#3 Bjoeren Werner DE 6’4″ 256*
Werner is a terror running the arc and is simply too quick off the snap for most collegiate tackles to stay with for an entire game. He has powerful hands and the strength to anchor against the run and the quickness and hands to pressure the QB against the pass. While he is not a physical freak, he has an impressive combination of quickness and strength that he is really just learning to use to full potential. He is a foreign exchange student who didn’t start playing the game until he was 15, but already has good read and react skills to put him in the right position to make plays. I have him currently projected to go #2 overall in my early mock.
#27 Xavier Rhodes CB 6’-1” 217*
Rhodes is a long lean lock down corner that will not have to wait long to hear his name come draft day. His interception and pass break up numbers are down this year only because of the respect teams have when facing him. He has great ball skills and great body control to stay in lock step with receivers.
#3 EJ Manuel QB 6’4″ 240
Manuel has prototypical size, a rocket for an arm and tremendous athleticism for the position. However, he is wildly erratic and inconsistent. He struggles to recognize coverage and will force passes into traffic, holds the ball too long trying to extend plays with his legs instead of his arm. The bigger the competition, the smaller Manuel played which is a huge concern for the next level. He can be rattled by pressure and has the look of a prospect who will entice a team to draft and play him sooner than he should based on his rare physical talent but he will need a very patient team to let him sit and learn the game before he will be ready to contribute on the field at the next level.
#4 Chris Thompson RB 5’8″ 187
#24 Lonnie Pryor FB 6’0” 229
#84 Rodney Smith WR 6’6″ 219
#91 Cornellius Carradine DE 6’5” 265 Injured
#93 Everett Dawkins DT 6’3” 304
#92 Anthony McCloud DT 6’2″ 322
#4 Brandon Jenkins OLB 6’3” 260 Injured
#7 Christian Jones OLB 6’3″ 232*
#10 Nick Moody OLB 6’-2″ 237
#11 Vince Williams ILB 6’1″ 250
#20 Lamarcus Joyner S 5’8″ 195*
#18 Dustin Hopkins K 6’2″ 190
Prediction: Florida State 30 Northern Illinois 20