Unless you follow one of the elite teams in the NFL, you're already looking forward to the draft in April. Since many of your teams aren't worth watching in the final two games of the season, here's a short list of the matchups that feature players with a bright NFL future.
You can begin salivating at the thought of these players in your favorite team's uniform.
Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib—West Virginia vs. Syracuse in New Era Pin Stripe Bowl, December 29
Smith is considered the top QB prospect in the nation. He lit defenses up early in the season before Texas Tech seemed to unveil the blueprint for slowing the Mountaineers' attack on October 13. The game marked the beginning of a five-game losing streak.
Smith still had a great season, though. He threw 4,004 yards and 40 touchdown passes while completing 71 percent of his passes.
ESPN's Todd McShay has him slated to Arizona at No. 8 in his first mock draft, but don't be shocked to see him rise if he's play well in this game, and his workouts are good.
He should have a good duel with underrated Syracuse signal-caller Ryan Nassib.
Nassib threw for 3,619 yards and 24 touchdowns in his senior season. He could improve his stock with a good showing in this game as well.
Stepfan Taylor and Montee Ball—Stanford vs. Wisconsin in Rose Bowl Presented By Vizio, January 1
Taylor is my favorite back in the nation, with Giovani Bernard from North Carolina a close second. However, you can't ignore the amazing production and durability Ball has shown in his career.
Ball's 1,730 yards was good for fourth in the nation, while Taylor's 1,442 was the 14th highest rushing total in the country.
Ball is facing an enormous test in this game.
The Cardinal have allowed the third fewest yards per game on the ground this season. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com indicated Ball may not hear his name on the first day of the NFL draft. If he and the Badgers can run it effectively against the Cardinal, it'll bring Ball's stock up a bit.
Taylor has been overshadowed by Andrew Luck and the Cardinal's defense in his college career, but this is a game where he can shine. He's a capable runner, receiver and blocker. When it's all said and done, he could be a real steal, if he's drafted outside of the first round.
JaDeveon Clowney and Taylor Lewan—South Carolina vs. Michigan in Outback Bowl, January 1
Clowney isn't eligible for the NFL draft until 2014, but he'll still give Lewan his toughest test of the year. The Wolverines' senior tackle will getting a glimpse of the type of athlete he'll face on Sundays in Clowney.
The 19-year-old sophomore had 13 sacks this season. That was tied for the most in the country. He's 6'6" 256 pounds, and he's getting stronger.
Clowney could easily be a top-five pick in 2014, and McShay has Lewan going to the San Diego Chargers at No. 9. If Clowney clowns—play on words entirely intentional—Lewan's stock could take a hit.
If he contains him, it'll solidify his spot in the top 10, and possibly move him even higher.
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