2014 NFL Draft: Prospects That Must Impress in Bowl Games to Restore Stock

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2013

Nov 30, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd (10) rushes with the ball against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Championship Saturday is in the books, which means we are now entering the thick of the BCS Bowl season in college football.

In other words, this is the final shot NFL draft hopefuls have to improve their stock via a strong collegiate performance. What a chance it is—starting on Dec. 21, 35 games will be played over a span of 17 days in what will surely please both college and draft aficionados.

Several big-name prospects are in serious need of a boost via a strong bowl performance. Should they falter, the recovery process during offseason workouts and interviews will be a daunting task. Should they impress, the road to a high selection will be paved.

No pressure.

2014 NFL Draft Big Board
No. Player Pos. Stock
1 Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville QB --
2 Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina DE --
3Derek Carr, Fresno State QB Up
4 Khalil Mack, Buffalo LB --
5 Jake Matthews, Texas A&M OT --
6 Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M QB --
7Cameron Erving, Florida State OT Up
8Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama OT --
9Mike Evans, Texas A&M WR --
10C.J. Mosley, Alabama LB Up
11Anthony Barr, UCLA LB Down
12Louis Nix, Notre Dame DT --
13Vic Beasley, Clemson DE Up
14Darqueze Dennard, Michigan StateCBUp
15Sammy Watkins, Clemson WR Down
16 Ryan Shazier, Ohio State LB Down
17 Trent Murphy, Stanford DE Up
18 Jason Verrett, TCU CB Up
19 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, OregonCBDown
20 Eric Ebron, North Carolina TE Up
21 Tajh Boyd, Clemson QB Down
22 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama S Down
23 Cyril Richardson, Baylor OG Up
24Carlos Hyde, Ohio StateRBUp
25Jace Amaro, Texas TechTEUp
.

 

Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois (S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl)

Dec 6, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Northern Illinois Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch (6) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Northern Illinois Huskies senior quarterback Jordan Lynch has put together quite the impressive body of work as a dual-threat weapon the past two seasons:

Jordan Lynch 2012-13 Stats
YearCMP ATT PCT YDS TDINTRUSHYDSTD
2013233 369 63.1 2676237274 1881 22
2012237 394 60.2 3138 256294 181519
ESPN

But Lynch is an extremely polarizing prospect, especially after his performance in the MAC Championship against Bowling Green. Lynch accounted for 345 total yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions as the Huskies were upset 47-27.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com writes that Lynch must change positions to succeed at the NFL level:

Lynch has had a pretty successful college career, and it won't be easy convincing him he can no longer play quarterback because you want to try him at running back. But that could be where he winds up.

If Lynch wants to play quarterback at the pro level, the journey starts immediately in the S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl against the 8-5 Utah State Aggies from the MWC.

It will by no means be an easy task. The Aggies rank in the top 10 with an average of just 17.3 points allowed per game. A big performance in a win for Lynch will help to make up for his failure in the MAC Championship, as well as help change minds about his position at the next level.

 

Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (Discover Orange Bowl)

Nov 2, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd (10) prepares to take a snap against the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Tajh Boyd is another senior quarterback in need of a massive bowl game to woo NFL teams.

On paper, Boyd is impressive. He threw for 3,896 yards, 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as a junior. He followed that up this year with 3,473 yards, 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

But once again, Boyd failed to overcome the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Palmetto Bowl to end the season. Boyd threw for 225 yards and two interceptions in the 31-17 knee-slapping affair.

The poor showing in yet another critical game does have a negative impact on draft stock. Boyd gets a serious shot at redemption to close his collegiate career when the Tigers take on the No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Discover Orange Bowl.

The Buckeyes allow an average of just 21.3 points per game, but what should concern Boyd the most is Braxton Miller and the Ohio State offense, which ranks in the top five with an average of 46.3 points.

In other words, Boyd must thrive in a shootout to repair his stock in what is a deep quarterback class.

 

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College (AdvoCare V100 Bowl)

Nov 30, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA; Boston College Eagles running back Andre Williams (44) runs around the end during the first quarter of a game against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome.Syracuse won the game 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get away from signal-callers and focus on another alarmingly deep position—running back. It is a spot that has an under-the-radar gem in Andre Williams out of Boston College, but he could easily climb way up draft boards with a strong bowl game.

There was a brief point in time when Williams' name popped up in the Heisman picture. The rumblings made sense, considering the senior rushed for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns on a 6.4 yards-per-carry average.

However, Williams is also guilty of falling short in his team's final game of the year. In a 34-31 loss to .500 Syracuse, Williams battled an injury and only rushed for 29 yards and a score on nine carries. 

But Williams will be back in action for the AdvoCare V100 Bowl against Arizona. There, Williams needs another excellent performance to revive his stock in what is a very deep class with names such as Ka'Deem Carey, who will be suiting up across from him for the Wildcats in their bowl game.