All five of this year's BCS bowl games are just around the corner, and they are packed with an enormous amount of talent. When it is all said and done, many of these players will see a rise in their stock as we head toward the 2014 NFL draft.
There is a lot at stake for these young players. Not only are they competing to win a bowl game for their respective schools, but they have their futures in the NFL on the line as well.
A great BCS bowl-game performance could bolster one of these players into the upper echelons of draft rankings; however, a poor performance could all but dash the hopes of a draftable grade for others.
Let's take a look at four players who will certainly see their draft stock rise when these games have reached their conclusions.
Tajh Boyd, Quarterback, Clemson
Right now, there is a slight uncertainty as to where exactly Boyd will be drafted. CBSSports.com had an early grade on the quarterback that pitted him somewhere in the third or fourth rounds of the upcoming draft.
Recently, that has changed, and early mock drafts are beginning to see a possible first-round grade for Boyd.
Since his projections are all over the place, it will be absolutely important for Boyd to put up impressive numbers in the Orange Bowl against a terrible Ohio State secondary.
Ohio State is currently ranked No. 102 in the nation while allowing an average of 259.5 passing yards per game, according to NCAA.com. They have given up 26 touchdowns through the air this season as well.
Boyd will be able to deliver a strong performance against this struggling defense to ensure that he will remain nothing less than an early second-round selection.
A.J. McCarron, Quarterback, Alabama
There seems to be a bit of confusion in the draft community as to exactly how much upside A.J. McCarron will bring to the NFL. That will most likely continue to be debated until he takes his first reps in a new uniform.
One thing that will be decided soon, however, is whether or not McCarron can hold a first-round grade for the upcoming draft.
According to CBSSports.com, McCarron was given an early second-round grade as he is projected within the top 50.
The senior quarterback has put together three-straight seasons in which he has been extremely efficient.
|A.J. McCarron's Stats from 2011-13|
After years of solid football, what more can McCarron do? He must go out with a bang.
McCarron will get his chance against a solid Oklahoma defense in this year's Allstate Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma is ranked No. 14 in the nation against the pass; they are only giving up an average of 198.0 yards per game, according to NCAA.com.
Once McCarron impresses yet again against a tough opponent on a big stage, it will begin to sway analysts and scouts in his favor. When it is all said and done, McCarron will jump into the first round of the draft.
Carlos Hyde, Running Back, Ohio State
Carlos Hyde led the Big Ten in rushing this year with 1,408 yards and 14 touchdowns despite missing the first three games of the season due to a suspension.
Hyde has a chance to continue to showcase his skill set during this year's Orange Bowl against Clemson. The tigers hold the No. 49-ranked run defense in the nation, allowing an average of 152.6 yards per game, according to NCAA.com.
Ohio State features its running game predominantly, so Hyde will have a great chance to shine in the contest.
Currently, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com sees Hyde as a second-day pick. Says Brooks:
Most NFL running backs of his size run in the 4.55 to 4.60 range in workouts. If Hyde meets those qualifications at the combine, I believe he could be a strong Day Two consideration for teams eyeing a rough and rugged workhorse to handle a heavy workload as a feature back.
A second-day pick consists of the second and third rounds of the draft. Lots of movement can happen in this area before the draft begins. It all starts with the bowl games. After the Orange Bowl is finished, Hyde has a great chance to receive heavy second-round consideration.
Tre Mason, Running Back, Auburn
Tre Mason may be one of the most intriguing underclassman-prospects at the running back position. He is not a large back like Hyde, but he has a strong frame despite his smaller stature.
Mason lit it up during the SEC Championship game against a stout Missouri defense. He rushed 46 times for 304 yards and four touchdowns in the contest. Questions about his size and durability should be tempered after that kind of performance.
Now, Mason has the chance to shine on the biggest stage of college football against a very good Florida State defense. The Seminoles are ranked No. 14 in the nation against the run, allowing an average of 116.5 yards per game, according to NCAA.com. This defense has only allowed five total rushing touchdowns throughout the 2013 season.
If Mason can provide another breakout performance, his name will certainly shoot up draft boards. The NFL is beginning to get smaller and faster—Mason fits perfectly into that mold.
According to NFLDraftScout.com, Mason could go by the second round of the upcoming draft.
Once he delivers another dazzling performance, that grade will not only be solidified, but the opportunity may be there to move into the first round after the combine.