In just two weeks’ time, the Senior Bowl will have its players arrive and get ready for a long week of practice in Mobile, Alabama. While the NFL scouting community will be focused much more heavily when players are preparing and trying to impress at Ladd Peebles Stadium that week, the GoDaddy.com Bowl features a handful of NFL talent that’ll try to impress in Mobile this week.
Kent State features the country’s best returner and an impact offensive tackle, while Arkansas State has a handful of receiver talents combined with a quarterback hoping to end his college career on a high note.
Dri Archer, RB, Kent State - #1, 5'7, 185 (JR)
One of the most explosive, quick twitch, and fastest playmakers in college football, Archer has gone from an undersized MAC running back to a potential NFL considering junior with explosive upside. I don’t, however, believe he should declare, as he’s more of a “weapon” only and not necessarily a true running back or receiver. Still, he’s a pleasure to watch and should be the focus of the Northern Illinois defense in this game.
Brian Winters, OT, Kent State - #66, 6'6, 344
The best NFL prospect in this game, Winters is a mauling offensive tackle prospect who attacks with his hands violently and through the whistle. He lacks ideal kick slide ability and lateral balance to be a left tackle prospect, Winters has shown ability to block upfield as a run blocker, extension and hand strength to protect in pass protection, and even the inside leverage with great lower body strength to protect the inside.
Tyshon Goode, WR, Kent State - #5, 6'0, 180
Coming into the season, Goode likely had much higher expectations than just two games over 60 yards this year, as the quick, turn and run receiver was set to be the feature receiver in the offense. However, he’s been overtaken by Archer and other receivers in the offense, and now will have an uphill battle to get the attention he wants and needs for an NFL future.
Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas State - #16, 6’0, 205
Aplin played in Guz Malahn’s up-tempo, no-huddle offense, and while his yardage totals weren’t as prolific as a year ago, his decision-making and accuracy improved. Aplin throws well on the run and is also willing to stand in the pocket to make throws with pressure in his face. He has the ability to get the ball downfield even with less-than-elite arm strength. His footwork is consistent in games vs lesser competition. He’s able to move the pocket in order to avoid the rush. Aplin’s lack of size and elite arm strength should prevent him from being drafted, but he’s got enough ability to stick around on a practice squad as a rookie.
Josh Jarboe, WR, Arkansas State - #3, 6’2, 215
With his past troubles and sporadic playing time at the FBS level, Jarboe needed a big 2012 in order to cement his status as a legit prospect. Instead of meeting his potential, he took a step back from his solid 2011 season. He’s got the size and speed to be an NFL receiver, but he tends to have concentration lapses that lead to drops. He also does not have great quickness or lateral agility and therefore rarely makes plays in the open field. Going into the season as ASU’s #1 receiving option, it became clear as the season went on that he was not their best playmaker and his production was nearly doubled by freshman WR JD McKissic.
Others to Watch:
Taylor Stockemer, WR, Arkansas State - #2, 6’3, 210
Zach McKnight, OT, Arkansas State - #74, 6’4, 300
Don Jones, SS, Arkansas State - #5, 6’0, 208
David Oku, RB, Arkansas State - #25, 5’10, 195 (JR)
Josh Klien, OG, Kent State - #61, 6’2, 310
Luke Batton, ILB, Kent State - #30, 5’11, 230