The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl 2018 resulted in a 23-0 victory for the National team’s seventh straight win since the NFL Draft showcase that began in 2012.
National team head coach Mike Martz said both defensive groups played with a lot of intensity. It was one of the more passionate groups he has seen in the bowl. This was visible through a scoreless first half.
“I knew from the first time we put on pads, this defense was going to be special,” said Martz.
The National head coach is 4-0 and he said 10-11 players could end up making NFL rosters and getting playing time in the upcoming season. The former Rams coach shouted out quarter Logan Woodside as a player who could play in the NFL. He also recognized guard Brandon Hodges who played well despite the tragedy in his family.
Martz also pointed out that the game is about teaching players how to become a professional including practice tempo. He said he could return next season if he is able to keep his staff of mostly former players together. Martz said he loves coaches with those guys which is an added bonus.
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl presser https://t.co/WIJ50T0zUX
— Pete D. Camarillo (@Petecertified) January 21, 2018
Nonetheless, the final score is not always important in a game that is really about getting more film and networking opportunities for players predicted to be second, third and undrafted players in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Losing head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Darrell Green said, besides the game results, his players did a lot of great things throughout the week.
“I know NFL teams got a lot of good canisters of good performances,” Green said.
He wanted to win the game but he was happy with the week’s experience. Green stressed that he won this week by being able to teach his players how to become better men and leaders.
Collegiate Bowl MVP
Penn St. safety Troy Apke earned MVP honors of the 2018 NFLPA Game. Apke made one of the biggest highlight plays of the game by intercepting Michigan quarterback John O’Korn on a broken bootleg play in the second half. O’Korn tried to throw deep, on the run and across his body to put his team in striking distance. Apke ran across the field, dived and made the interception. He got up immediately and took it 56 yards in what would help seal the game for the Nationals
After the game, Apke said he is a rangy safety who is comfortable playing the middle of the field and in the box. However, he said he needs to work on his technique in one-on-one coverage. Apke said he built lifetime relationships with a defensive group that had natural chemistry.
Apke finished his 2017 with 1 interception and 57 tackles for Penn St. Hopefully, he can use this game to propel himself up draft boards like 2017 MVP Lorenzo Jerome did. The graduate is headed back to Florida to keep preparing for the NFL Draft.
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NFLPA Game Quick Hits
This year, about 5,000 fans, scouts and family members attended the game’s first edition in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl. It was estimated that each NFL team had a scout present and there were about 11 general managers attending the game in sunny Southern California. Previously, the game was held in Carson at the StubHub Center.
— Pete D. Camarillo (@Petecertified) January 21, 2018
Here are some quick notes about NFL Draft 2018 prospects who were good and bad at the NFLPA Bowl.
- Tulane end Ade Aruna was one of the most draftable participates but only registered two tackles. He hobbled off the field in the first half so that could have impacted it. He was solid but not dominate.
- Virginia Tech linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka stood out in the first quarter. He broke up a pass and then made a nice tackle in space, deep in his own territory which ended the American Team’s drive. He has the career production to get another look.
- Aaron Tiller is a bit undersized at defensive tackle but he performed a nice spin move that got him a sack. He is a deep sleeper prospect from Southern.
- Defensive tackle Abdullah Anderson got himself a couple of tackles for a loss. He also got a forced fumble. Good tests could move him up from the later round projections.
- Defensive tackle Frank Herron had the play of the game. He had two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Herron had the scoop and score that not only put the dagger in the game for the National team but it also ignited his entire sideline. He is a three and five-technique defensive tackle from LSU so he will definitely get more looks in the Draft process.
- Grambling running back Martez Carter was the talk of the game and the week. He finished with 69 yards from scrimmage. The undersized, dual-threat back proved he can finish touches as he was the only American runner to gain anything significant.
- TCU quarterback Kenny Hill was the hype of the game but did not see action until the second half. He only threw for twelve yards and took a sack for the losing team. This might be it for his draft stock.
- Texas A&M-Commerce quarterback Luis Perez did throw some nice balls. He finished the day 8-for-10 with a 29-yard completion for the losing team.
- Temple receiver Adonis Jennings had one of the best catches of the day for either team. He caught one pass where he adjusted his route and made a sideline grab for the American squad. Jennings caught another pass between two defenders. The big receiver could become a great value pick with some development.
- Florida Atlanta and National Team receiver Kalib Woods had consecutive grabs in the second half. He had solid production despite missing half his 2017 season so he is another sleeper.
- Howard running back Anthony Philyaw finished the game 48 yards from scrimmage. He had one nice outside run for a touchdown when the game was out of reach. He also made consecutive catches for the National squad in the second half. Philyaw has legit hands and route running ability as he caught one pass across the middle and the other on the outside.
Who were some NFL Draft prospects that jumped out at you during the 2018 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl held on Jan. 20?