The AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl isn't circled on everyone's "must-watch" list over the next few days, but the NFL is certainly paying attention.
Tonight in Shreveport, Louisiana at Independence Stadium the 7-5 teams will put a number of talented prospects out on the field.
A lot of them will be wearing Tar Heel Blue.
Led by a potential-laden defensive front seven, the Tar Heels (again) will have a number of their players drafted this year.
Defensive lineman Quinton Coples didn't have the year many wanted to see from him, but at 6'6", 278 pounds, he is a built to dominate in the NFL. He has the speed, playmaking skills and overall athleticism to warrant a top 20 selection come April.
He faced a lot of double teams this year and didn't always give his all, but his versatility is very intriguing.
At his side is 6'3", 320 pound tackle Sylvester Williams. He's currently grading in the late second-to-third round range.
Two linebackers playing behind Coples and Williams, Zach Brown and Kevin Reddick, are also potential first rounders.
Brown is undersized at 6'2", 230 pounds, but he's a freak athlete with reported sub 4.5 40-yard dash speed.
Reddick is considered a better overall football player and has better size too.
The offense also isn't without a star, and features 6'4", 225-pound receiver Dwight Jones. The UNC senior has over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year.
Running back Giovanni Bernard is only a
freshman (according to ESPN) sophomore (according to the school's website), but he'll be someone to watch for the next two years. He has over 1,500 yards of total offense this season and 14 total touchdowns.
The Tigers' best player is senior tight end Michael Egnew. At 6'6", 245 pounds he has the complete package, but has turned in a down year in terms of production in large part due to quarterback play.
But scouts remember him last year as one of Blaine Gabbert's top targets and he's likely a Day Two pick barring anything weird. Junior receiver T.J. Moe is also someone to watch.
Replacing Gabbert is sophomore James Franklin. The 6'2", 225 pound signal caller is not an NFL-caliber quarterback, but he is a gifted athlete.
He struggles at times, but can make plays and has 20 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions on the year with just over 2,700 yards passing. He's also rushed for over 800 yards and 13 touchdowns.
When it comes down it, the Tar Heels feature the better individual players, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the Tigers pull out the win. Either way, the Independence Bowl is worth the watch.
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