Bowl season brings NFL fans a great opportunity to see future draft picks going head-to-head in high stakes games that provide a glimpse of how potential pros perform against top competition. But as any fantasy football player will say, you don’t have to be on a great team to be a great player. With that in mind we’ve pulled together our top-15 players who you won’t see in a bowl game this season:
- Nate Solder, OT, Colorado (6’9”, 315lbs) – Solder is a phenomenal athlete who has the potential to climb draft boards in a hurry if he puts up the kind of freakish combine he’s capable of. There is always a premium on elite offensive tackle prospects which will have Solder in the top-10 mix.
- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue(6’4”, 263lbs) – A unanimous All-American, Kerrigan led the nation with 26 TFL. With his blend of size and speed he could project to OLB or DE at the next level pending the system of the team that selects him. Kerrigan will likely be off the board within the top-15 picks.
- Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State(6’1”, 311lbs) – The PAC-10 defensive player of the year, Paea led the Beavers in 2010 with 6 sacks and ten tackles for a loss. Paea doesn’t have eye-popping numbers but is a tremendous inside presence who can anchor the middle of the defensive line at the next level.
- Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA (6’4”, 255lbs) – With tremendous physical potential and elite speed Ayers could have NFL success as a pass-rusher from either the OLB or, if he puts on some size, DE position. While his technique at times need work his physical gifts and upside more than make up for the occasional lapses.
- Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal(6’4”, 283lbs) – Arguably the top 3-4 DE prospect in the country, Jordan is seemingly a lock for the first-round. Jordan possesses great technique but, as cliché as it may be, it’s his incredible motor that really has scouts attention.
- Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (6’1”, 196lbs) – Moore led the nation in 2009 with ten interceptions and while he produced only one INT in 2010 that was more a product of quarterbacks staying away from him than any reduction in his skills. He will have to continue to show he has the strength to stop the run but his elite cover skills should see him off the board in the first round.
- Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia(6’2”, 200lbs) – After missing nearly all of his senior season with a range of injuries Dowling is a wild-card headed into the draft. He looked good in 2009 making the All-ACC second team but will have to rely on post-season workouts to prove to scouts he is fully recovered.
- Jerrell Powe, DT, Mississippi(6’2”, 320lbs) – Powe wrapped up his time at Ole Miss with 24 TFLs, seven sacks, and just one game missed in three seasons. Has the size to clog up the middle against the run and enough push to be a factor against the pass.
- Aaron Williams, CB, Texas (6’1”, 192lbs) – Williams is a smart player who should adjust quickly to the complexity of NFL defenses. He’s a great blend of size and speed who can effectively run with bigger wide receivers.
- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado (6’2”, 210lbs) – Smith is a true shut-down corner with great size. Smith allowed just 11 completions in the past two seasons and had he been on a better team would likely have had a lot more visibility.
- Davon House, CB, New Mexico State(6’0”, 182lbs) –House is a two-time all-WAC first team selection with all the physical tools to be an NFL corner. He has shown a nose for the ball with 14 career takeaways (11 INTs, 3 fumble recoveries) and knows what to do once the ball is in his hands as the NMSU career leader with 319 interception return yards. Don’t let New Mexico State’s poor season fool you, House will hear his name called on draft day.
- Sam Acho, DE, Texas(6’3”, 260lbs) – An academic All-American who led the nation in with five fumble recoveries in 2010. Acho boasts an NFL ready body and could potentially play in space or with a hand on the ground. Expect him to go in the first day of the draft.
- Shane Vereen, RB, Cal(5’10”, 204lbs) – Vereen blends speed and power well to get results despite not being elite in either area. He is a smart back who sets up blocks well and can catch out of the backfield. Should get a look in the 3rd-4th rounds depending on team needs.
- Curtis Brown, CB, Texas (6’0”, 184lbs) – A true cover corner who has gone one-on-one with some of the best college WR’s around in the Big-12. He will need to demonstrate increased strength in the combine to prove to NFL teams he can support the run as well.
- Jaiquawn Jarrett, FS, Temple (6’0”, 202lbs) – Jarrett is the poster child for a Temple program that has been revived since it’s departure from the Big East under Al Golden. Jarrett has played every game since he arrived on campus and is a heady player with the physical talent to play at the next level.
Remember, NFL scouts look at individuals not teams so while you may not see these guys in December or January you will see them in April.
Let us know who else should be on this list down in the comments.