NFL Draft 2013: Which Prospects Have Most to Lose During Bowl Season?
Just one game stands between Barrett Jones and the 2013 NFL draft, but Alabama's unquestioned leader headlines a handful of prospects who have the most to lose during bowl season.
One of the top interior line prospects for the upcoming draft, Jones draws high marks for his intelligence and technique. However, he faces his toughest test of the season in the BCS National Championship game against the best front seven in the country.
Joining Jones on this list are two more offensive linemen as well as two big-name quarterbacks.
Let's take a look at which prospects have the most to lose during bowl season.
Note: This list only includes prospects who have yet to play in their bowl games and thus still have a lot on the line.
Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
During his four years at Alabama, Barrett Jones has earned All-American honors at three positions while blocking for 1,000-yard backs Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.
Despite his lengthy resume, the 6'5", 302-pound anchor of the Crimson Tide's NFL-caliber offensive line has the most to lose of any prospect who's yet to play his bowl game.
While Jones is credited with being a sound technician and a brilliant field general, he is not the most physically imposing guy in the trenches. Instead of relying on brute strength or great footwork, Jones relies on good hand placement and leverage.
However, in facing 6'3", 326-pound nose tackle Louis Nix and blitzing linebacker Manti Te'o, Jones could be in for a rough Monday night.
Nix is an absolute animal along the interior, using his impressive strength to simply overpower opposing offensive linemen. Jones' height could work against him in the matchup against the explosive Nix, and accounting for Te'o on blitzes will only make things more difficult for the multi-time All-American.
Already a fringe first-round prospect, a poor performance against the Fighting Irish could push Jones out of the first round altogether.
D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Joining Jones on this list is highly regarded teammate D.J. Fluker.
The former 5-star recruit spurned offers from Florida, Auburn, Clemson and Florida State to sign with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, and the decision has paid off.
Regarded as a top-10 offensive tackle, Fluker certainly doesn't lack the size or strength to be a great right tackle in the NFL. What prevents him from playing on the more coveted blindside is his lack of agility and balance to be an effective pass protector against speed rushers.
At 6'6", 335 pounds, Fluker has the ability to dominate in the run game when his technique is on point. However, that isn't always the case with the redshirt junior.
In facing future first-round pick Stephon Tuitt (42 tackles, 13 for loss, 12 sacks), Fluker will square off against one of the most physically gifted defensive ends in the country. Tuitt goes 6'6", 303 pounds but plays like a man much lighter than that.
Besides Tuitt, Fluker will face the heat of Notre Dame's top edge rusher, Prince Shembo, who's recorded 7.5 sacks this season.
The combo of Tuitt and Shembo could be too much for Fluker to handle, further exposing his deficiencies at right tackle.
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Once considered a surefire first-round selection, Landry Jones' draft stock has plummeted despite posting terrific numbers at Oklahoma.
The Sooners' signal-caller has thrown for 16,368 yards and 122 touchdowns during his four years as a starter, but few feel completely comfortable about Jones as an NFL prospect.
During his time under Bob Stoops, Jones has displayed great arm strength and solid accuracy, yet he has a penchant for turning the ball over in critical situations. With 51 career interceptions on his resume, it's clear the 6'4", 218-pounder isn't the best decision-maker.
While Jones would like to cap off his career with a win in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, the Texas A&M defense will have something to say about that.
Projected top-10 pick Damontre Moore is one of the premier defenders in the country and should be a nightmare for the Sooners to block. The former outside linebacker shifted to defensive end this season and proceeded to rack up 80 tackles (20 for loss) and 12.5 sacks.
If Jones is under pressure, he could be prone to adding a few more interceptions to his career total, causing him to slide on draft boards.
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
At 6'6", 303 pounds, Sooners offensive tackle Lane Johnson has the ideal frame and athleticism to be a great NFL lineman.
Unfortunately the senior has limited experience at the position and could get a schooling from Damontre Moore and the Texas A&M defense in the Cotton Bowl.
A former quarterback, tight end and defensive end, Johnson only has two years of starting experience at offensive tackle, including just one year on the left side.
The Texas native showed great improvement in 2012, but he will be facing one of the best, if not the best, defensive ends in the country when he squares off against Moore on Friday. Moore is a technician who also has the athleticism and motor to make even the best offensive linemen look silly.
Johnson has moved up draft boards and is currently rated as the No. 5 offensive tackle by CBSSports, but a whipping from Moore could cause scouts to question whether Johnson is NFL-ready or just a project with upside.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Collin Klein may have been a Heisman Trophy finalist and Oregon may be regarded as just an offensive juggernaut, but it is time to throw those expectations out the window when Kansas State and Oregon square off in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Thursday night.
Kansas State's quarterback led the Wildcats to a near-perfect regular season. However, an embarrassing 52-24 loss to unranked Baylor knocked K-State out of the top spot and out of the national title picture.
The Heisman Trophy finalist compiled some great numbers this season, throwing for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 890 more and 22 scores, but Klein is far from a first-round NFL prospect. The 6'5", 226-pound senior is more of an athlete than a quarterback at this point and lacks the accuracy to be anything more than a project at this point.
Much like Tim Tebow, Klein has some intriguing physical tools, especially as a runner, but the total package is not there.
Considered a late-round prospect, Klein could be in for a long day at the office against Oregon and its No. 26 scoring defense.
Dion Jordan is one of the premier defenders in the nation and is a nightmare for coaches to game-plan against.
If the 6'6" Jordan can contain Klein, the Heisman Trophy winner could be pushed out of the draft altogether.