10 Players Who Lifted Their NFL Draft Stock the Most with Bowl Game Performances
The college football bowl season is one of the last times players can impress NFL scouts in a live-game format.
We’ve seen plenty of impressive performances throughout this bowl season, and they will certainly boost those players’ draft prospects.
Here are the 10 guys who benefited the most from their bowls.
Stanford has had issues defending the pass all season, but they looked completely helpless against Justin Blackmon. The Cardinal went so far as to double-team him in the red zone.
When a guy singlehandedly erases a 14-point lead and totals 186 receiving yards and three touchdowns in a game, he’s probably your best bet. Blackmon is considered to be the top receiver in this year’s class and his performance in the Fiesta Bowl all but solidified that.
In a deep class of wide receivers, it takes an extraordinary game to stand out. That’s exactly what Patrick Edwards had against Penn State.
The Nittany Lions had been giving up the fourth fewest passing yards per game in the nation, and he torched them for 220 yards in the first half. Edwards will likely finish the year third in the country in receiving yards per game, which is really impressive, considering he is just 5’9”. He may move up a full round because of his performance.
Mercilus exploded onto the national stage this year; he currently leads the nation in sacks and is second in tackles for a loss. UCLA’s offensive line was no match for him, as he amassed five tackles, four of which went for a loss.
For whatever reason, he still isn’t considered to be an elite NFL prospect; but, like Justin Blackmon, sooner or later his production on the field will get him his due spot in the draft.
He hasn’t had the same type of year that he had last year and Ryan Swope has stolen a lot of the attention, but Jeff Fuller reasserted himself as an elite receiver in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He consistently got open, totaling 119 yards on just seven receptions, with none going more than 38 yards.
At 6’4” and 220 pounds, Fuller will get a lot of NFL teams calling him soon; beating up on Northwestern certainly helped his cause.
Curry has been one of the most consistent defensive ends in college football. He has 11 sacks this year, after totaling 12 last year, and has shown outstanding play as a kick blocker.
The Marshall defense held T.Y. Hilton and Florida International to just 10 points. Curry's five tackles, forced fumble and pass deflection certainly helped his team accomplish that.
Whoever drafts him will be getting a steal.
There hasn’t been a more productive receiver in college football this season than Western Michigan’s Jordan White. He has more receptions and more yards—1,911—than anyone else. He also is a dangerous punt returner.
White absolutely dazzled in the Little Caesars Bowl, putting on the best performance of his career, with a whopping 265 yards receiving and a touchdown. Why he isn’t getting anywhere close to the attention a guy like Justin Blackmon gets is beyond me, but people had better start taking notice of White after the way he handled Purdue’s defense.
Kellen Moore gets most of the attention from the media, but Boise State would not be anywhere if Doug Martin wasn’t on the team. Some people questioned whether the Broncos would show up to the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl—a game in which they really didn’t belong in—but he took the opening kickoff back 100 yards and never looked back.
He added 151 yards on the ground and another 26 through the air with a touchdown. Arizona State’s defense is nothing to write home about, but this was Martin's sixth consecutive game of over 100 yards when carrying the ball more than 20 times.
That type of consistency will impress a lot of people.
Florida International’s offense runs through receiver T.Y. Hilton, and he continued to impress against Marshall. He had eight catches for 88 yards, as well as 23 rushing yards with a touchdown. He is also one of the most dangerous return men in the game.
The Thundering Herd did everything in their power to stay away from Hilton. They keyed to him on just about every play from scrimmage, and he still gained close to half of FIU’s total yardage. Surround him with quality players and he’ll shine.
Porter was vastly overshadowed by Von Miller last year, but the Texas A&M linebacker has been one of the nation’s best. He is tied for 15th in the country in sacks and 23rd in tackles for a loss.
The junior continued to impress in Texas A&M's bowl game, with six tackles, a sack and a pass breakup. While he most likely will be in College Station for another year, NFL scouts will certainly start to take notice if they haven’t already.
The only logical conclusion I can come up with as to why Montee Ball isn’t considered a first-round draft pick is because the NFL may think the Wisconsin offensive line is too good. That logic barely makes any sense, but what does make sense is Ball putting up yet another 100-yard game with a touchdown.
He has scored in every game this season and has only been held to under 100 yards once since the beginning of October. If the NFL doesn’t start giving him a serious look now as a first- or second-round pick, they never will.