In the "sandwich" game between two much more NFL Draft talent-laden match-ups on this New Year's Eve, both teams will be fighting for viewership while these prospects on the respective teams will be fighting to earn respect and draft stock in their final games as seniors.
While neither team is loaded with talent, both defenses, feature prospects that could intrigue as mid to late round selections, especially if they can impress here and in post-season games/workouts as well.
Notes by Jimmy O'Brien and Alex Brown of Optimum Scouting
Dexter McCoil, S, Tulsa - #
Tulsa is led by their big, hard-hitting safety, Dexter McCoil. McCoil, a physical, downhill player, demonstrates plus closing speed in attacking the line of scrimmage versus the run, eating up ground quickly. He flashes solid open-field tackling skills, plus range, and the willingness to lay out a receiver across the middle, though he can take poor angles to the ball. McCoil, who has the frame to fill out without sacrificing his speed, has strong ball skills, and the physical skillset to be a ball-hawking centerfielder, and should see his draft stock rise during post-season evaluations.
D'Aundre Brown, OLB, Tulsa - #,
Brown is an undersized but extremely active linebacker, who made plays all over the field this season. Brown picks his way through traffic well inside, and shows the ability to break down in the open field, particularly. The converted safety does a solid job covering backs and tight ends, and even shines in coverage at times.
Jake McDonough, DT, Iowa State - #94, 6’5, 280
Big-bodied and fairly explosive off the line, McDonough is capable of being a disruptive force but lacks the polish to consistently produce. A single blocker can neutralize McDonough when his initial move is stymied, but upper body strength and suddenness are readily apparent with this NFL prospect. A priority free agent that may be better served on a practice squad for his rookie season, look for McDonough to break up a few plays in the backfield against Tulsa.
AJ Klein, OLB, Iowa State - #47, 6’1, 244
As consistent and reliable a run fitter as you will find, Klein plays middle linebacker for Iowa State but will additionally be viewed by some NFL teams as a weakside linebacker prospect. Klein is a grab-and-drag down tackler that lacks great strength or explosiveness; however, he more than covers for such deficiencies with great instincts and play recognition. Balanced in his read steps, Klein always puts himself in correct position and seemingly is always near the football. A mid rounder that will contribute right away in his rookie season, Klein’s production and consistency make him a safe next level projection.
Jake Knott, OLB, Iowa State - #20, 6’2, 243
Though he won’t be playing in this game due to a shoulder injury that required surgery, Knott is a worthwhile mention as he’ll likely be a 5th round selection after predraft workouts. A better athlete than Klein but similarly consistent run defender, Knott is an excellent weakside linebacker prospect that has ideal cover skills and range. A team captain and leader on defense, Knott has remained involved with the team by coaching the linebacker corps.
Others to Watch
Steele Jantz, QB, Iowa State - #2, 6’3, 225
Josh Lenz, WR, Iowa State - #19, 6’0, 200
Carter Bykowksi, OT, Iowa State - #71, 6’8, 304
Brayden Burris, OT, Iowa State - #79, 6’6, 298
Willie Carter, FB, Tulsa - #34, 6'2, 252