The college all-star game season got under way two weekends ago with the Medal of Honor Bowl and this past weekend there were both the East / West Shrine game, the more prestigious of the two, and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl which just started in 2012. The Collegiate Bowl has been adding more talent every season with some notable alumni like Jarrett Boykin (GB), Oliver Vernon (MIA), Luke Wilson (SEA), and Mike James (TB). Last season, 19 players that participated in the game made opening day rosters, 7 were on injured reserve, and 17 more players made NFL practice squads. Of the 43 players who were on opening day NFL rosters this season, here are the ones who made the biggest impact:
C Jonotthan Harrison, Colts – Started 10 games at center for a playoff team. +1 run blocking grade from PFF, only 2 sacks allowed.
T Cornelius Lucas, Lions – Three starts at RT and 1 at LT for a playoff team. Played 47% of Lions offensive snaps at either left or right tackle.
K Cairo Santos, Chiefs – Finished 18th in total points among NFL kickers.
ILB Avery Williamson, Titans – Started 12 games at ILB. Rated as the 18th best ILB according to Pro Football Focus.
WR Albert Wilson, Chiefs – Only started 2 games, but finished 4th on the Chiefs in receiving yards and averaged a team high 16.3 yards per catch. Wilson has breakout potential in 2015.
QB Connor Shaw, Browns – Started one game at QB for the Browns (week 17).
In my recap of last year’s game I was highest on DT Khyri Thornton, FB JC Copeland, WR Isaish Burse, ILB Jeremiah George and DE Kasim Edebali. Four of the five are on NFL rosters right now. Copeland was released in final cuts by the Cowboys and never caught on with another team. With the transition to passing offenses across the NFL, it’s pretty tough to find a job as a fullback. I was crushed when the rival Packers drafted Thornton with their third round pick. He was unblockable in last year’s game and I figured it was another steal by Pack GM Ted Thompson. It still might be, but Thornton missed his rookie season with a hamstring injury. Isaiah Burse was the primary punt returner for the Denver Broncos and finished 20th in the NFL with a 7.6 ypr average. ILB George, who I really wanted the Bears to draft, was a 5th round pick of the Jets. They tried to stash him on the practice squad, but he was signed by Jacksonville. George had a solid debut in week 9, but was injured during the game and done for the season. DE Kasim Edebali played in 14 games for the Saints as a pass-rushing DE and had 3 sacks, including one against the Bears.
My long-winded point is that there was a lot of NFL talent in last year’s game and their is projected to be even more this year. It’s a relatively new bowl, but with so many un-drafted players becoming solid NFL contributors, there is more than enough talent to support another high profile college all-star game.
Here is a breakdown of players who helped or hurt their draft stock in this year’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl:
CB Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M (6’0 | 188 | 4.50) – One of the top prospects in the game and its showed on the field. Opposing QBs rarely tested Everett and when they did he broke it up and made it look easy. He also made a couple nice tackles in run defense and had a huge block on special teams. Solid all around performance for the potential mid-round pick.
S Erick Dargan, Oregon (5’11 | 212 | 4.62) – Made a couple of solid tackles on the open field on Saturday showing good technique, instincts, and closing burst. Dargan always seems to take the proper angle to the ball carrier and doesn’t miss many mistakes. He did get burned on one play when he underestimated the speed of RB Ross Scheuerman, but for the most part he played like a safety who doesn’t miss tackles, makes the right read, and is usually in the right place.
WR DeAndre Carter, Sacramento St (5’9 | 194 | 4.46) – Got hurt early in the game so didn’t have a chance to make an impact, but announcers Todd McCray and Greg McElroy were raving about his week of practice. Carter didn’t play against great competition in collge, but had over 1000 yards and 13 TDs. I haven’t seen any tape on Carter, but according to McShay he would make a dangerous slot receiver at the next level. He went as far as comparing Carter to a bigger Andrew Hawkins.
DE Zach Wagenmann, Montana (6’3 | 247 | 4.76) – One of the NCAA sack leaders with 17 this season, but against weaker competition in the Big Sky conference. Wagenmann needed a big game to prove he can get to the QB against better competition and he did exactly that. Offically he was only credited with one sack, but was the first guy to the QB three times and had another 2 pressures. Wagenmann showed a quick first step, good bend off the edge, and a non-stop motor. He moved up a few spots in my DE rankings.
DE Andrew Hudson, Washington (6’3 | 250 | 4.76) – Overshadowed by higher-profile Huskies like Danny Shelton, Shaq Thompson, and Hau’oli Kikaha, but Hudson had a productive season season with 12.5 sacks. He stood out during the game with 1 sack and 2 QB hurries. Hudson showed a good burst off the ball and consistently beat blockers with a combination of speed, power, and polished pass rush moves. He was the first guy in the backfield on multiple plays and one of the most disruptive players on the either defense.