Military Bowl 2012: Top NFL Prospects in Action in Washington, D.C.
The Military Bowl in Washington, D.C., doesn't feature BCS teams, but the game won't be void of NFL prospects. NFL scouts will be watching both San Jose State and Bowling Green as each team will have players with designs on hearing their names called in the 2013 NFL draft.
Here are the players to watch that have an immediate pro future.
Chris Jones, DT, 6'1", 293 pounds
Though Jones is a little short for a defensive tackle, players like Geno Atkins have proven that the prototypical height isn't everything at the position.
Jones has racked up 12.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss thus far in his senior season. If he can add to those totals, he'll almost certainly boost his stock.
He's had two or more sacks in three games this season, but against the only two ranked opponents on the Falcons' schedule (Sept. 1 at Florida and Nov. 17 vs. Kent State) Jones was shut out.
This is an opportunity for him to shine in front of a major audience.
Per NFLDraftScout.com, Jones is listed as the 12th-best DT in the current class. Here are some highlights of him from this season.
John Pettigrew, HB/KR/PR, 5'8", 178 pounds
Pettigrew is a long shot because of his size, but he does have some playmaking ability. He could be a late-round pick or even an undrafted free agent if he impresses in workouts. His NFL future would have to be as a third-down back or as a kick/punt returner.
In his senior season, he rushed for 503 yards and five touchdowns, caught eight passes and returned kicks.
A big performance at the Military Bowl could heighten scouts' awareness of Pettigrew.
With smaller backs like Darren Sproles, Dexter McCluster, LaMichael James and Jacquizz Rodgers finding a place in the league, it's possible Pettigrew could fit into the same niche.
Here is a highlight of Pettigrew breaking off a 29-yard run:
San Jose State
QB David Fales and CB Bene Benwikere are perhaps two of the Spartans' best prospects, but both are juniors.
Though both could possibly be drafted if they declared for the NFL draft, they would be best suited to wait until 2014.
De'Leon Eskridge, HB, 5'11", 215 pounds
The Spartans' leading rusher has good size for the position in the NFL, but his production isn't eye-popping. He rushed for only 992 yards as a senior, but his 5.1 yards per carry prove he did a lot with limited carries.
His lack of production may very well be a product of the Spartans offense and that he sat out 2011 after transferring from Minnesota, though his lack of wear and tear may also appeal to some scouts. He compiled 1,670 yards in three seasons as a Golden Gopher.
He's coming off a monster performance against Louisiana Tech on November 24. He ran for 217 yards and three scores in the Spartans' 52-43 win.
A big game against the Falcons could be a nice stepping stone for him in the draft process. NFLDraftScout.com has Eskridge listed as the 43rd-best RB in the draft class.
Here are highlights from the win over Louisiana Tech. Eskridge is No. 2.
Ryan Otten, TE, 6'6", 245 pounds
Of all the seniors in this game, Otten could be the highest draft pick. NFLDraftScout.com lists him as the second-best TE in the class. He caught 44 passes for 706 yards and four touchdowns this season.
He has the height, hands and speed NFL teams will covet from a pass-catching tight end.
Otten had five or more catches four times this season, and he'll be looking to possibly move into the third or fourth round with a strong performance. CBS Sports currently has him projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick.
Travis Johnson, DE/OLB, 6'3", 245 pounds
Johnson is one of the nation's best pass-rushers, but because of his size, he seems better suited as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
He has shown steady improvement throughout his collegiate career. This season, he posted 12 sacks after years with 9.5, 7.5 and two.
Despite the lofty statistics, he still has something to prove against top competition. Johnson didn't record a sack against either of the Spartans' toughest opponents (August 31 at Stanford and October 13 vs. Utah State).
He could help his stock by having a strong game against the Falcons.
NFLDraftScout.com lists Johnson as the 13th-best DE in the class.
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