With bowl season nearly wrapped up, several players entering the 2013 NFL draft have improved their stock with strong performances in their collegiate career finales.
Playing well in a bowl game can mean a lot to NFL teams. In most instances, the games are competitive and showcase some of the top talent in college football. Players are going up against the best teams and NFL front offices want to see how they do.
Having a big game and helping your team to victory can be the difference between a second-round draft pick and first-round draft pick—or maybe even the difference between being drafted or not. Unless a player is participating in the Senior Bowl, it’s the last time scouts will be able to see them in in-game action.
Let’s take a look at a couple of players who stood out during bowl season and will be drafted higher because of it.
Kerwynn Williams, Running Back, Utah State
Kerwynn Williams had a good year as the starting running back for Utah State, rushing for nearly 1,300 yards to go along with 12 touchdown runs. He isn’t one of the elite running backs in the country, but still had a good senior campaign that should earn him an NFL contract.
Williams was recently ranked the 18th-best draft-eligible running back by Bleacher Report Lead Writer Matt Miller.
That, however, was before the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl—which I’m sure a lot of people tuned in to watch. But if you did miss it, you missed watching Williams run for 235 yards on 18 carries—an average of 13.1 yards per run—with three scores, one of them going for 63 yards.
Williams’ top game of the season came at the right time and he’s sure to move up in the rankings next time around.
Matt Scott, Quarterback, Arizona
Matt Scott is not a quarterback that’s going to start in the NFL in 2013, but he will be one whose named is called somewhere between April 25 and 27.
Scott had a very good year, surpassing 3,200 yards through the air and throwing for 24 touchdowns. He threw for at least 300 yards in five regular season games and threw at least one touchdown in all but one game—a 49-0 loss to Oregon. He also nearly upended Stanford in an overtime loss where he was nine yards shy of 500 for the night.
In the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Scott threw a pair of touchdowns in the final minute to defeat Nevada, 49-48. It was a miraculous comeback by the Wildcats who had to recover an onside kick to even have the opportunity to win the game. Scott had thrown two picks earlier in the game, but all was forgotten after he tossed the game-winning score.
DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
DeAndre Hopkins is widely considered one of the best wide receivers in the nation and will be chosen within the first two rounds of the NFL draft. Being taken in the first round might have been a stretch when the season ended, but he may have done enough in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to guarantee it happening.
Hopkins scored 16 touchdowns during the year for Clemson, racking up 1,214 yards on 69 receptions. He had five games where he finished with over 100 receiving yards and had a touchdown in all but one game.
The junior then played his heart out against LSU in a 25-24 victory over the (other) Tigers. Hopkins finished the game with 13 catches, 191 yards and two touchdowns. The extra 191 yards helped him break the school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,404.
Aaron Murray, Quarterback, Georgia
Aaron Murray is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in college football and just missed leading his team to a BCS Championship Game berth. After falling to Alabama in the SEC Championship that would have given Georgia that berth, Murray came out with a vengeance against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.
Murray completed 18-of-33 passes for 427 yards and five touchdowns in a 45-31 victory for Georgia. He finished his junior season with 3,893 yards, 36 touchdown passes and just 10 picks. He has also already surpassed 10,000 passing yards for his career.
Murray hasn’t declared for the 2013 NFL draft yet, but if he does decide to, he will surely be a higher draft pick than he would have been a couple of weeks ago.