The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will air Saturday, January 19th at 6 ET on ESPN2.
Many prospects for the 2013 NFL draft have started their pre-draft process by participating in one of the many pre-draft bowl games. The Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game are the most notable of these games and they annually host some of the draft’s best prospects. The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, now in its second season, is hoping to gain some traction as a premier event for NFL draft prospects.
Hosted in the media hotbed of Los Angeles at the Home Depot Center, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is hosting mostly players that will be Day 3 prospects (4th round and lower at the draft) and players that are just trying to get themselves noticed by NFL teams. You’re not going to see Geno Smith, Jarvis Jones, Star Lotulelei, or any of the other top prospects at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this year, but there are some noteworthy players that should help their draft stock as a result of this process.
The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will be aired on national television. You can catch the game live Saturday, January 19th at 6:00 ET on ESPN2.
Jordan Rodgers, QB, Vanderbilt
The brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jordan isn’t quite as good a prospect as his brother once was. Rodgers is a bit on the small side for a quarterback at 6’1″ and 212 pounds, but as we saw with Russell Wilson this year teams will take a chance on a quarterback if he has the talent to play. Rodgers led a historically poor Vanderbilt team to a 9-4 record and a bowl win over North Carolina State, who was led by top quarterback prospect Mike Glennon. Rodgers has had a very strong week of practices and could really push his draft stock up with a great game on Saturday.
Brad Sorenson, QB, Southern Utah
Sorenson hasn’t really gotten much attention before this draft prospect due to the fact that the Southern Utah football program doesn’t get much, if any, national exposure. But what Sorenson has the chance to show in a nationally-televised game this weekend is his combination of prototypical size (6’5″-230) and great arm strength for an NFL quarterback. His accuracy and decision making are both things that Sorenson will have to address in order to make it to the pros. He’s a guy that could be drafted in the 5th or 6th round range and brought in as a project behind a more established quarterback.
Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas
Crist struggled during his time at Notre Dame, having to fight off teammate Tommy Rees as the two both had a hard time holding down the starting quarterback job. But when coach Charlie Weis left to coach Kansas, Crist followed him there. But the mercurial quarterback struggled mightily at his new school, completing more than 50% of his passes in just two games, and finishing the season with 4 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He’s arguably the most recognizable name in this game, but Crist will have to prove that he still has the tools to make him worthy of an NFL team’s draft pick.
Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State
Rouse is widely regarded as the best running back at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and he put up very impressive stats throughout his career at Fresno State. Two things will keep Rouse from being a high draft pick: his diminutive stature (Rouse is listed at 5″7″ and 190 pounds), and the fact that he had 898 carries in his four-year career. The best comparison for Rouse would be the Saints’ Darren Sproles, who had 815 carries at Kansas State from 2001 to 2004. Rouse could be an impact player in a similar role, but such a player probably wouldn’t warrant anything more than a fourth-round draft pick.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas
Goodwin is an intriguing prospect for NFL teams. The 5’9″, 180-pound Goodwin doesn’t have great size for a receiver, nor was he extremely skilled in the nuances of the position. What Goodwin does have, however, is tremendous speed and athleticism. Not only was Goodwin a dangerous weapon for Texas’s offense, but he also succeeded in track and field, making the 2012 Olympic Games in the long jump. At the very least, Goodwin should find himself being drafted in the later rounds as a kick returner.
Bruce Taylor, LB, Virginia Tech
In terms of raw skill for his position, Taylor could actually be one of, if not the best prospect in this game. The main reason he’s being pushed down draft boards is the fact that he’s had many injuries during his time as a Hokie. Taylor redshirted as a freshman after sustaining a shoulder injury in 2008. An ankle injury hobbled Taylor in 2010, and then the following year Taylor suffered a Lisfranc sprain that ended his season. Taylor closed out his career at Tech with a solid season, missing only one game and registering 77 tackles and 5.5 sacks. The 6’1″, 247-pound Taylor could be in line for a fifth or sixth round draft selection.
Ray Ray Armstrong, S, Miami
At one time, some scouts saw Armstrong as a legitimate first-round prospect following a sophomore season in which he totaled 79 tackles (4.5 for loss) and 3 interceptions. But in 2011, everything went downhill for him after booster Nevin Shapiro named Armstrong as one of 12 Miami players who Shapiro provided improper benefits to. Armstrong had a subpar performance in 2011 and ended up leaving the team in 2012, playing for the NAIA team at Faulkner University in Alabama. Armstrong is a big, physical safety who excels at playing up in the box, but teams will look for him to prove that he can improve his coverage and ball skills.
Dave Kruger, DT, Utah
The 6’5″, 300-pound Dave Kruger comes from an impressive set of football-playing brothers. His older brother Paul now plays as a 3-4 outside linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens after also playing college ball at Utah, and his younger brother Joe is a 6’7″, 280-pound defensive end who chose to forego his senior season at Utah and enter the 2013 draft along with Dave. Kruger doesn’t flash the skill to be a great player at the next level, but he was known as an incredibly hard worker during his time at Utah, and that will certainly lead teams to believe that he can improve his game. Both Kruger brothers have a good shot to be late-round selections in this draft.
Marcus Cromartie, CB, Wisconsin
That last name should look familiar, as Marcus is the cousin of New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie. While his name might give him some more recognition heading into the draft, Cromartie did not have much production in college to show for scouts. He only registered one interception, and that came in the Badgers’ 70-31 drubbing of Nebraska in the Big 10 Championship. Still, a big performance in this game could put Cromartie on some team’s draft boards.
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