If you want to take your NFL mock drafts deep or you really want to see a bunch of pure football players competing for a chance to live their dreams and fill their tummies then you won’t want to miss the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday at 1 P.M. PST.
“It’s a training ground for every aspect of our business,” said NFL Players Association Director of Communications Carl Francis via Pasadena News Now.
It’s a training ground because players not only get to play in an All-Star game but they’re practicing all week with NFL players who are also trying to break into coaching. Additionally, they go through several different engaging workshops that teach prospects how to become professionals through money and health management. Experienced coaches and players are trying to help the prospects leave with game tape and life advice.
Since 2012, the 2018 NFLPA game give over a hundred draft-eligible players a chance to move up draft boards by impressing scouts in one of the offseason’s biggest All-Star games. This edition of the game heads to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and it features both big and small school prospects looking to climb their way up 2018 NFL Draft Boards.
Here are some prospects and storylines to watch in the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Formerly known as Kenny Trill and the heir to Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, Hill has by far the most star power in the NFLPA Bowl. No. 7 for the American team will have all eyes on him on Saturday.
Hill completed 67 percent of his passes, threw 23 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions for TCU in 2017. The TCU starting quarterback also logged 326 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Walter football says he can go as high as the sixth round. They’re about the only website that even has him among their draftable quarterbacks.
Either way, he’ll need a good game here to prove that he is worth a camp tryout as a late-round pick or priority free agent.
In a tight end class that lacks depth, Baugh can work his way up draft boards with a good game for the National team. He’ll sport No. 45 on Saturday.
The Ohio State alum is currently the No. 164 overall prospect per Drafttek. Walter Football has him slated for rounds 4-6. The six-foot-five tight end made a name for himself as a blocker at OSU but he also caught five touchdown passes. Baugh will need to showcase his pass-catching ability in the NFLPA Bowl if he wants to get drafted in 2018.
Which NFL Draft Prospect will make the most interceptions?
In a passing league, corners are a top priority. The NFLPA group of defensive backs features players with questionable size, speed, production and competition. However, it will be interesting to see what players can separate themselves.
Last year, Lorenzo Jerome won MVP of the game and played his way in the Senior Bowl. He created turnovers in both All-Star games. It was not enough to get him drafted but he did eventually earn himself a roster spot. There are a few DBs who will look to do that this year.
- Indiana corner Jaylen Dunlap (No. 23 American) is the 22 ranked corner per Walter Football.
- San Jose State corner Andre Chachere (No. 21 National) has a round 5-7 grade from Walter Football.
- UCLA Jaleel Wadood (No. 34 American) also has a 5-7 round grade from Walter Football.
- USC Chris Hawkins (No. 13 National) is No. 23 safety per Drafttek.com.
- Temple Sean Chandler (No. 43 National) is the 10th ranked free safety per Ourlads.
Nonetheless, there are a ton of unknown defensive backs who play themselves onto some draft boards on Saturday. Amari Coleman (27) had three career picks and interceptions for Central Michigan. Rico Gafford (26) had four picks in final year with Wyoming. Both American team players are just under six-feet-tall and less than 200 pounds which can be small for corners on some NFL teams.
Whatever defensive back can make the most turnovers will create a name for themselves.
Who will get the most sacks and pressures?
Speaking of stopping the pass, this defensive line group is also strong. Bruce Hector currently leads the group with a sixth-round draft grade from Walter Football. He had 7 sacks for USF last year. No. 60 for the American squad could develop into a three-technique at the next level.
Frank Herron is another draftable interior lineman as Drafttek has him at the No. 209 ranked prospect. He was stout and productive for LSU and he’ll wear No. 97 for the National team. Herron makes sense for a team that needs two-gapping interior linemen.
Factor in linebackers like Sione Teuhema from Southeast Louisiana and the edge rushers are just as good. The former LSU recruit finished his senior year with 18.5 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles. Walter Football has him in rounds 3-4. He will rock No. 59 for the American team.
There are more darkhorse candidates on the edges here. Tulane defensive end Adetarami Aruni is six-foot-six and a slender 265 pounds for the National team. He will try to harass American team QBs in the No. 91.
San Diego end Jonathan Petersen is undersized at six-foot-one. However, he registered 44 career sacks. Petersen will rock 99 for the American squad. Aaron Tiller (90) is another undersized end who will try to prove himself on the American team. Tiller had 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for Southern in 2017.
Darius Jackson (No. 90 National) is a six-foot-three end who weighed 237 pounds. He had 20.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks for Jacksonville State in 2017. Tennessee State edge Ebenezer Ogundeko (97) is another edge for the American team. He registered 9.5 sacks in his last two years but he was dismissed from Clemson a few seasons ago.
There is a lot of competition for these players to even see the field. It will be interesting to see what player gets the most pressure on oppossing quarterbacks.
What running back will lead the team in yards?
From top to bottom, this running back class is deep. The 2018 NFLPA game will not be any different.
Running back Lavon Coleman is No. 223 per Drafttek. Coleman is the most notable guy out of Washington. He had 7 total touchdowns in 2017.
According to Ourlads, this group also includes running back Demario Richard (No. 34 National) who is ranked No. 28 at his position. Dalyn Dawkins (American No. 31) is ranked 31st and Diocemy Saint Juste (No. 24 American) is ranked 32nd via the same list. It will be interesting to see what running back separates themselves from the pack. Ourlads gave those three guys 6-7 round grades. They all ended their careers with huge senior seasons on the ground.
Not to mention, Western Carolina running back Detrez Newsome (No.32 National) and Grambling runner Martez Carter (No. 35 American) could earn themselves some exposure with a big game. Newsome had three consecutive thousand rushing years and over 900 receiving yards. Carter had over 800 rushing yards, 300 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in both 2016 and ’17. That is hard to do at any level. Both backs are just over 200 pounds too so size should not be an issue for a team that needs a balanced runner and special teams contributor.
Again, a great showing here can only force scouts and executives give any of these running backs one more look before the NFL Draft.
Scouts will head to the Rose Bowl on Saturday to see all the players in action but you can also check it out on Fox Sports 1. Kickoff is at 1 P.M. PST.