2017 NFL Draft: Quick Lane Bowl

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 2
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports /

College football bowl season is officially underway. If you are like most NFL fans, you know some of the top NFL draft prospects but that is about it. Since the Bears season has been over for awhile, I’ve been looking forward to the draft for a few months now and have gotten an early start on my scouting for the 2017 NFL draft.

Like last season, I will be breaking down the potential NFL players in most bowl games to give you an idea who to watch. I’ve tried to list at least one player on each team who has a shot at hearing their name called in the draft or at least getting a training camp invite.

If relevant, I’ll discuss how the player may fit in the Bears future plans. So if you end up watching the Quick Lane Bowl, here are some players to keep an eye on.

Quick Lane Bowl: Boston College vs Marylandold

Monday, December 26, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Boston College

#7 DE Harold Landry (6’3 | 250 | 4.62)

The junior tied for the FBS lead in sacks with 15, added 20.5 tackles for loss, and also led college football with seven forced fumbles. Landry has been one of the most disruptive edge rushers in the nation this season.

His play has improved as the season went on, including a three sack, 4.5 tackle for loss game in the regular season finale against Wake Forest that earned a bowl bid for the Eagles. Landry is playing his best football of the season with six sacks over the last two games and shouldn’t have much trouble with a bad Maryland o-line that gave up 41 sacks this season.

Landry wins most of his edge battles with an explosive first step, elite closing speed, and an increasingly diverse bag of pass rush moves, but also has enough power to drive tackles back with a bull rush. Against the run, he disengages well and is agile enough to change directions quickly without losing much speed.

He’s a late-rising prospect but has played so well in the second half of the season that he’s a lock for a day two selection if he declares early. With the momentum Landry has created the last two months, it would be a surprise if he didn’t enter this year’s draft.

The Bears had their best pass rush in over a decade this season, but teams never have enough pass rushers. The combination of Leonard Floyd and Landry on the edges would give the Bears two explosive pass rushers to complement power rushers like Willie Young and Pernell McPhee.

Projection: 2nd round

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

#28 LB Matt Milano (6’1 | 221 | 4.50)

A productive college OLB who will have to move inside at the next level. Milano has 12.5 sacks and 28 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. He will be undersized in the NFL as an edge rusher, but Milano has shown natural blitzing instincts. His blitz timing, ability to pick the right gap, and perfect timing on delayed blitzes are skills that will play well at linebacker in any scheme.

Milano reminds me of a cross between Dolphins ILB Kiko Alonso and Bears ILB Nick Kwiatkoski (Kiko Kwiatkoski would be a great LB name). He just has a knack for getting through the traffic at the line of scrimmage and generating pressure in the backfield against both the run and pass. Milano will need to bulk up significantly to play linebacker at the NFL level, but he could be an impact special teams player right away.

His lack of ideal size will likely drop Milano to the third day of the draft and he will probably have to move inside at the next level, but he has the speed to play in the league and worst case his floor is a special teams asset. Milano’s ceiling as a sideline-to-sideline ILB who can also rush the passer should get him drafted early on day three.

The Bears have two solid ILBs right now in Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan, but a long-term prospect like Milano could be worth the investment. He would add a much needed boost to the Bears special teams unit in the short-term and eventually team with Kwiatkoski to give the Bears two play-making ILBs in 2018 and beyond.

Projection: 4th-5th round