NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl

Maryland and Boston College meet up in the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl and have some solid pro prospects. Both teams have put a lot of players in the NFL. One such candidate from this year, Maryland corner back William Likely, is injured and won’t be playing in this game. Besides Likely, here are the prospects to watch in this year’s Quick Lane Bowl:

Maryland Terrapins

Jesse Aniebonam, DL

Projected Draft Range: Fifth round-seventh round

Quick Lane Bowl

Jesse Aniebonam (Photo courtesy: AP)

Aniebonam is just a junior and may not leave for the NFL, but a has had a great season with nine sacks. At six foot three and 260 pounds he has good size for an NFL defensive lineman. Consistency is Aniebonam’s main issue. He had a five game stint with just a half sack. The Terrapins went 1-4 during that sack drought by Aniebonam. The wise decision is to go back to school, unless he has a great day in this bowl game, that improve his draft stock.

Boston College Eagles

John Johnson, S

Projected Draft Range: Fifth round-seventh round

Quick Lane Bowl

John Johnson (Photo courtesy: bostonherald.com)

Johnson has been the reason why the Eagles’ pass defense has been so good. As a safety, he has tremendous ball skills with seven passes defended and three interceptions on the season. His instincts lead him right to where the ball is on most plays. He isn’t afraid to do the dirty work and make tackles as he has 65 total tackles on the season. Johnson may have the versatility to play some corner in the NFL as well. At six feet one inch tall and 201 pounds, he will need to add some muscle, but has a solid frame to build on.

Harold Landry, DE

Projected Draft Range: Second round-fourth round

Landry is also a junior that may elect to stay in college, but his value is as high as it will likely get. He has 15 sacks this season, which is tied for the lead in the FBS. His consistency has been great, as there are only two games where he didn’t have a sack. He shows up in big games, with a sack against Clemson and two against Florida State. Landry is also great at forcing turnovers, something that all NFL teams value, with six forced fumbles on the season. Maryland won’t drop back to pass much in this game, so he has to make the most of the opportunities he has to impress scouts.

 

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2016 Quick Lane Bowl Preview

There is an old ACC match-up in the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl, where Maryland will be playing Boston College.

Maryland Terrapins

The Terrapins started the season at 4-0, but struggled in Big Ten play and finished the season at 6-6. They have only beaten one team who is bowl eligible, UCF. The good news is they don’t have any bad losses, as all of the teams they have lost to made bowl games this season. It was not a bad season for head coach D.J. Durkin’s first year.

Perry Hills has been the main quarterback for the Terrapins, although a lot have played. The best thing about Hills is his completion percentage at 66%. He has 1,235 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. Being mobile will be a key in this game for Hills.

D.J. Moore has been the best target for Hills and has 597 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He has big play capabilities with a long catch of 92 yards for a touchdown. Teldrick Moore has added 407 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Quick Lane Bowl

Ty Johnson (Photo courtesy: zimbio.com)

Running the ball is what this offense does best. Maryland has 14 different ball carriers on the season. Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison have been the most effective. Johnson has 845 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, but most impressively is averaging 8.9 yards per rush. Harrison rushed for 633 yards in the regular season and five touchdowns.

The rush defense for the Terrapins has been awful, allowing 218 yards per game, which ranks at number 101 in the country. The rank of the pass defense is 50, giving up 216 passing yards per game.

Jesse Aniebonam has been a force with nine sacks on the season. Jermaine Carter Jr. has done a little bit of everything for the Terrapin defense with 94 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.

Boston College Eagles

The Eagles were 4-6, but won their last two games to become bowl eligible. They have two good wins, one over NC State and one against Wake Forest. Both teams were bowl eligible. They did lose to one bowl ineligible team in Syracuse.

Patrick Towles, the transfer from Kentucky, is the signal caller for Boston College. He did not have a great year with 1,579 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, six interceptions and a completion percentage of 51%. Towles has NFL potential, but hasn’t played to his ability this season. He does have some mobility, as he was recruited as an athlete out of high school.

Quick Lane Bowl

Harold Landry (Photo courtesy: bostonglobe.com)

The best receiver for Towles has been Jeff Smith with 391 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately a lot of the receivers can’t get the necessary separation for Towles to get them the ball.

Boston College has four players with over 200 yards rushing. The running back who has done the most is Jon Hilliman, who finished the regular season with 463 yards and five touchdowns.

Because the offense is so bad, the defense has to be great. The Eagles rank number eight in the country with only 107 rushing yards allowed per game. The pass defense is also pretty good and only give up 204 passing yards per game.

Defensive lineman Harold Landry is tied for the lead in the country in sacks with 15 on the season. That is more than one per game, as he has gotten continuous pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season.

Prediction

Boston College’s stout defense will limit what Maryland can do. While they stop the Maryland offense, Towles and the offense will find a way to score just enough points to win the game.

 

Boston College Eagles 19 Maryland Terrapins 13

 

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NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 St. Petersburg Bowl

Neither team in the St. Petersburg Bowl has a record above .500, but both teams have some quality players, who deserve a shot at the NFL. Both schools have quarterbacks starting for some of the NFL’s most storied franchises. Ben Roethlisberger, of Miami (OH), is a future Hall of Famer for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dake Prescott is off to a solid career start with the Dallas Cowboys. Here are some players who could follow in their footsteps and make the NFL:

Miami Redhawks

JT Jones, DL

Projected Draft Range: Sixth round-undrafted free agent

St. Petersburg Bowl

JT Jones (Photo courtesy: 247sports.com)

Jones has been a menace for opposing quarterbacks with 6.5 sacks this season and 10 last season. The production is good as he also had 14.5 tackles for loss in 2015. He has good enough height at six feet three inches tall, but is pretty slender at 246 pounds. He will need to put on a lot of muscle-weight for the NFL. Otherwise, NFL lineman will be able to push him around pretty easily.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Fred Ross, WR

Projected Draft Range: Fourth round-fifth round

St. Petersburg Bowl

Fred Ross (Photo courtesy: zimbio.com)

If teams are looking for a guy who could develop into a good outside receiver and have value in the middle rounds, Ross would be a good player to take. His 40 yard dash time should be pretty mundane. To go with that, his height is good at six foot two, but isn’t that much of a mismatch for defensive backs. Ross has produced, with over 1,000 yards receiving last season and 873 this season. In order to be great as an NFL receiver, Ross needs to be a great route runner with a good football IQ.

Richie Brown, LB

Projected Draft Range: Third round-fifth round

Brown adds a lot of value due to his ability to play inside linebacker and outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. He also has good size at six feet two inches tall and 245 pounds. Last season Brown had over 100 total tackles, and at the moment has 93 tackles on the season. He is decent at getting to the quarterback, with 6.5 sacks in 2015, but only has 1.5 this season. He needs to run well in the 40 yard dash, which he is not expected to do, in order to get a desirable draft grade.

 

 

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2016 St. Petersburg Bowl Preview

Miami has completed a great comeback to the season to match-up with the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the 2016 St. Petersburg Bowl.

Miami (OH) Redhawks

The Redhawks started the season 0-6, before finishing with six straight wins to become eligible. They were the first team ever to do this. Their wins over Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan are the only ones over bowl teams. Miami’s bad losses are to Eastern Illinois (FCS) and two bowl ineligible teams, Cincinnati and Akron.

St. Petersburg Bowl

Gus Ragland (Photo courtesy: wcpo.com)

Quarterback Gus Ragland is undefeated as a starter this season, helping the Redhawks win their last six games. The starter at the start of the season, Billy Bahl, got hurt, leaving Miami without many healthy quarterbacks. Ragland has thrown for 1,274 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season. He adds the ability to pick up some key yardage with his legs. The most impressive thing is that he has not thrown an interception so far in his college career. The ability to protect the football will be crucial in this game.

Ragland has a lot of targets to choose from. Leading receiver James Gardner, is hard to cover at six feet four inches tall. He has 658 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Jared Murphy has added 532 receiving yards and five more touchdowns. Rokeem Williams is a big play guy, with 21 yards per reception.

Two players get a lot of carries for Miami. Alonzo Smith has 689 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on the season. Second on the team in carries, Kenny Young, has 490 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Ultimately running the ball hasn’t been too kind for the Redhawks this season.

The Redhawks have an above average pass defense, giving up 215 passing yards per game. Run defense is good for Miami, as they allow just 140 rushing yards per game.

Defensive back Heath Harding leads the team with four interceptions on the season. The Redhawks need to win the turnover battle and Harding is the key. He has also added 65 total tackles to help the teams’ cause.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State finished the regular season at 5-7, but was able to reach a bowl game due to their excellent academic progress rate. Their losses all came at the hands of bowl-eligible teams, but they should’ve been able to beat South Alabama. They were able to beat two bowl eligible teams: Texas A&M and South Carolina.

St. Petersburg Bowl

Nick Fitzgerald (Photo courtesy: Clarion Ledger)

Nick Fitzgerald has done his best to fill in for a campus legend, Dak Prescott. He has had a solid first season as a starting college quarterback. Fitzgerald has thrown for 2,287 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The running game is also helped out by Fitzgerald, who is the teams’ leading rusher. He has 1,243 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.

Fred Ross is the best receiver on the team and leads the Bulldogs with 12 receiving touchdowns. He also leads the team in receptions with 68 and receiving yards with 873. Donald Gray has added 691 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Fitzgerald leads the rushing attack, but running back Aeris Williams helps out too. He finished with 656 yards rushing on 5.2 yards per carry. His four rushing touchdowns lead all running backs on the team. They use a lot of running backs to keep all of their legs fresh.

The Bulldogs allow 177 rushing yards per game, which is pretty average. The pass defense for Mississippi State though, is horrendous, allowing 283 yards per game.

Richie Brown has been a standout on the Bulldog defense with 93 total tackles. He only has 1.5 sacks on the year, compared to his 6.5 last season, but overall he has had a tremendous season.

Prediction

Fitzgerald has gotten better as the season has gone on and will be the difference-maker in the game. Miami won’t be able to stop his dual-threat abilities and Brown will help shut down Ragland and the Redhawks.

 

Mississippi State Bulldogs 45 Miami Redhawks 28

 

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NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 Hawaii Bowl

Most people will be celebrating the holidays with their families on Christmas Eve, but there is a bowl game to watch. The Hawaii Bowl will pit the Rainbow Warriors vs. the Blue Raiders. Hawaii doesn’t currently have any former players in the NFL, so will be looking for this year to change things. Middle Tennessee has five players in the NFL, most notably running back Benjamin Cunningham and linebacker Erik Walden. Here are some of the best prospects from these two teams this season:

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

Marcus Kemp, WR

Projected Draft Range: Undrafted free agent

Hawaii Bowl

Marcus Kemp (Photo courtesy: youtube.com)

Kemp is an intriguing draft prospect, that not a lot of people have on their draft boards. Why is he intriguing? Production and size. He has 1,036 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, without the greatest quarterback play, making those stats hard earned. He stands at six feet four inches tall and weighs in at 200 pounds. His height can create match-up problems, even against some of the taller NFL corners.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

I’Tavius Mathers, RB

Projected Draft Range: Sixth round-undrafted free agent

Mathers has talent, good enough for him to play at Ole Miss, but he decided to transfer to Middle Tennessee. He didn’t get much opportunity at Ole Miss, but made the most of his chance for the Blue Raiders. His production jumped up to 1,504 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. Mathers is capable of ripping off big gains with his longest run being 78 yards. He also has experience playing special teams at Ole miss, which will help his value.

Jeremy Cutrer, CB

Projected Draft Range: Fifth round-seventh round

Hawaii Bowl

Jeremy Cutrer (Photo courtesy: twitter.com)

Cutrer has great size at six feet two inches tall, which is great for teams that want taller corners now. He is only 170 pounds so his biggest focus before the NFL draft is adding muscle. He is good in coverage, good enough to be originally committed to LSU, before going to junior college. His biggest asset is his ability to play the run, with 56 total tackles and four tackles for loss.

 

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2016 Hawai’i Bowl Preview

The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, of the Mountain West Conference, and Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, of the C-USA, square of in the 2016 Hawaii Bowl.

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

The Rainbow Warriors had the benefit of playing 13 games, but finished 6-7. Their bad losses includes games against UNLV and Arizona. They have one good win, which came against Air Force. Hawaii wasn’t expected to get anywhere near a bowl game this season, so they overachieved.

Dru Brown took over the quarterback position after a quarter of the season. His 2,214 passing yards aren’t great, but he completed 62% of his passes, making him efficient. He has a 15 to seven touchdown to interception ratio, which isn’t impressive. He does add the ability to run with 283 yards on the ground.

Wide receiver Marcus Kemp is the best receiver on the Rainbow Warriors with 1,036 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Hawaii

Jahlani Tavai (Photo courtesy: hmswire.com)

Hawaii has three running backs who have been productive with over 400 yards rushing yards. Diocemy Saint Juste has he most yardage with 836 rushing yards, while Steven Lakalaka has the most rushing touchdowns with 12.

The run defense for Hawaii is awful, giving up 244 rushing yards per game. Fortunately the pass defense is average, allowing 212 yards passing.

Sophomore linebacker Jahlani Tavai has been a monster on defense. He has 80 solo tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

The Blue Raiders finished the season at 8-4. They have a good win over Louisiana Tech, but that is their only win over an above .500 team. All of their losses came at the hands of bowl eligible teams, except for their game against Marshall.

The head coach of Middle Tennessee Rick Stockstill has his son, Brent Stockstill as the quarterback. He is hurt, but is supposed to play through the pain. Stockstill threw for 2,801 yards passing and 27 touchdowns. He shows the intelligence of a coach’s son, by only throwing five interceptions.

Richie James is Stockstill’s best target with 1,436 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He also has a few carries for 300 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, showing his versatility.

Hawaii Bowl

I’Tavius Mathers (Photo courtesy: twitter.com)

At running back the Blue Raiders also have a guy who can do multiple things, I’Tavius Mathers. The Ole Miss transfer rushed for 1,504 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also added 589 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.

Middle Tennessee has a below average rush defense, giving up almost 200 rushing yards per game. The defense is also below average in pass defense allowing nearly 250 yards per game.

Jeremy Curtrer is a solid corner for the Blue Raiders with 56 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss and three interceptions.

Prediction

Mathers will have a big day against a bad Hawaii run defense and Stockstill will protect the football. The Blue Raiders will win comfortably.

 

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 34 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 21

 

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The Third and The Don NFL Picks Week 16

Cecil Walker (The Third) and Joe DiTullio (The Don) make their week 16 NFL picks. Regular picks are worth one point, weekend prime-time games are two points and upset picks (will be marked) are worth three points.

Away Team Home Team Joe Cecil
New York Giants Philadelphia Eagles Giants Giants
Miami Dolphins Buffalo Bills Dolphins Bills
New York Jets New England Patriots Patriots Patriots
Tennessee Titans Jacksonville Jaguars Titans Titans
Minnesota Vikings Green Bay Packers Packers Packers
San Diego Chargers Cleveland Browns Chargers Chargers
Washington Redskins Chicago Bears Bears Bears
Atlanta Falcons Carolina Panthers Panthers Falcons
Indianapolis Colts Oakland Raiders Raiders Raiders
Tampa Bay Buccaneers New Orleans Saints Saints Bucs
Arizona Cardinals Seattle Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers Los Angeles Rams Buccaneers 49ers
Cincinnati Bengals Houston Texans Bengals Bengals
Baltimore Ravens Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers Steelers
Denver Broncos Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs Chiefs
Detroit Lions Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys
Season Total 140 132

NFL Draft Prospects To Watch In The 2016 Dollar General Bowl

The Dollar General Bowl is new this season, giving everyone a chance to see even more prospects in bowl games. Both teams produce NFL talent. Ohio has three players in the NFL, while Troy has six players currently on rosters. Here are the prospects to watch in the Dollar General Bowl:

Ohio Bobcats

Tarell Basham, DE

Projected Draft Range: Sixth round-undrafted free agent

Basham has a huge chance to slow down the Troy offense as I mention in my bowl preview. Even though he goes to a MAC school, Basham has good size for a defensive end. He stands at six feet four inches tall and weighs in at 262 pounds. The most impressive thing about Basham is his consistency as a pass rusher. He only had three games all season, without at least half a sack. He also showed up big time in the Bobcats’ game against Tennessee with two sacks and a forced fumble. This showing against good competition should make NFL scouts interested.

Blair Brown, LB

Projected Draft Range: undrafted free agent

Dollar General Bowl

Blair Brown (Photo courtesy: Athensmessenger.com)

Brown was also mentioned in the Dollar General Bowl Preview. He is a tackling machine, which is increasingly important in the NFL. Most experts will tell you they have seen a lot of bad tackling games in the NFL season, so a guy like Brown is valuable. He has 65 solo tackles on the season. Another area he is good at is blitzing. Brown has 4.5 sacks, which is impressive for a non-edge rusher. To improve draft stock he has to show he can cover running backs and tight ends.

Troy Trojans

Antonio Garcia, OT

Projected Draft Range: undrafted free agent

Dollar General Bowl

Antonio Garcia (Photo courtesy: whodatdish.com)

Garcia has a lot of college experience with four years as a starting lineman. The main appealing thing about him is his size at six feet seven inches and 302 pounds. He will get a shot to make a roster, but will have to prove he can block athletic pass rushers at the NFL level.

 

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2016 Dollar General Bowl Preview

The Mac-East winner Ohio takes on the Troy Trojans in the 2016 Dollar General Bowl in Alabama.

Ohio Bobcats

The Bobcats had a bad loss to Texas State to start the year, but then finished the year at 8-5 and made it to the MAC Championship Game. They had key wins over Miami (OH) and Toledo, both of which are bowl eligible.

Greg Windham and Quinton Maxwell both played quarterback this year and combined for 2,830 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns and eight interceptions. They both have bad completion percentages at around 55%. Both players have the capability to run the ball as well to change the game. For this game, both quarterbacks will likely see some action.

Dollar Genral Bowl

Papi White (Photo courtesy: ndnsports.com)

Sebastian Smith and Papi White are the two best targets for the quarterbacks. Smith is a big receiver who plays on the outside. He currently has 877 receiving yards, but only four touchdowns. That isn’t good enough for his size. Papi White is a running back that moves around a lot. With 203 rushing yards and 608 receiving yards he is a key player for the offense.

Ohio has two running backs who have rushed for over 400 yards on the season. Dorian Brown has rushed for 802 yards and four scores. Maleek Irons rushed for 434 yards and 5 touchdowns. Brown has a good yards per carry average at 5.3.

Luckily for Ohio, they have the seventh best rush defense in the country and only allow 105 yards per game on the ground. Unfortunately, they have one of the worst pass defenses in college football and allow 257 yards per game.

Defensive lineman Tarell Basham has 11.5 sacks on the season to be their star. To go with Basham, Ohio boasts one of the best tacklers in college football, Blair Brown, who has 65 solo tackles on the year.

Troy Trojans

The Trojans had a really nice season at 9-3. Their only bad loss came at the hands of Georgia Southern, who can be a tricky team to beat. Troy’s solid wins include USA, Idaho and Appalachian State.

At quarterback, Brandon Silvers has played well. He has 2,945 yards passing on 65% passing. His 22 to 10 touchdown to interception ratio is also solid, as he will have to prove he doesn’t turn the ball over often with Basham pressuring him.

Silvers has three receivers with over five touchdowns: Emanuel Thompson (five), Deondre Douglas (six) and Tevaris McCormick (five). Thompson is the leader in yardage with 737 yards, but all three are valuable targets for Silvers.

Dollar General Bowl

Jordan Chunn (Photo courtesy: zimbio.com)

Jordan Chunn has had a great season for the Trojans in the run game. 1,232 yards and 13 touchdowns. His yard per carry average of 4.8 could be a little higher, but is still good enough.

With their offense scoring 34.2 points per game, the defense usually just needs a few key stops per game. The rush defense for Troy gives up 124 yards per game, which is one of the best in the country. The weak link for Troy is the pass defense, which allows 241 yards per game.

Defensive lineman Rashad Dillard is the best on the team in creating pressure on the quarterback with 7.5 sacks. Defensive back Blace Brown takes full advantage of this pressure and has picked up six interceptions this season.

Prediction

 

Troy will shut down the run game of Ohio and force them to pass. Dillard and Brown will help force turnovers, leaving it up to the Trojan offense. Ohio’s defense won’t be able to keep up with Troy’s offense.

 

Troy Trojans 38 Ohio Bobcats 23

 

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NFL Draft Prospects To Watch In The 2016 Armed Forces Bowl

AWith great offenses playing in the 2016 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl it should be a good game for casual fans to watch. Along with fans scouts will be watching some of the players on the offensive side of the ball, because despite the teams not having a lot of players in the NFL, there are some good players on these teams. Here are the prospects to watch in the Armed Forces Bowl:

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Ryan Higgins, QB

Projected Draft Range: Undrafted free agent

Armed Forces Bowl

Ryan Higgins (Photo courtesy: AP)

Higgins has thrown for over 4,000 yards on the season, but scouts will chalk that up to playing in a system and against competition that allows that to happen. He is still worth taking a look at though. He has average size at six feet two inches tall and 207 pounds. His main problem is that he will have to prove he can make NFL throws and not just ones that fit the Louisiana Tech system generates. Another issue is why couldn’t he beat out other quarterbacks in his sophomore and junior seasons? There is a lot left to be answered with Higgins.

Carlos Henderson, WR

Projected Draft Range: sixth round-undrafted free agent

At five feet eleven inches tall, Henderson is actually a really good outside receiver for Higgins. The size isn’t great, but Odell Beckham Jr. is the same height and is very effective. Like OBJ, Henderson needs to offer something else to entice teams. He is a big play threat at 19.5 yards per reception. His 17 touchdowns show how good of a red zone threat he is.

Trent Taylor, WR

Projected Draft Range: undrafted free agent

Taylor is a slot receiver at five feet eight inches tall and makes dynamic plays. He catches passes over the middle, runs around the edge on jet sweeps and can create big plays. With slot receivers, quickness is key. At the 2017 NFL Combine he will have to do well on the agility drills. Taylor also has to show he can find soft spots in zone defense and beat man coverage off of the line of scrimmage.

Navy Midshipmen

Jamir Tillman, WR

Projected Draft Range: sixth round-undrafted free agent

Jamir Tillman (Photo courtesy: zimbio.com)

Jamir Tillman (Photo courtesy: zimbio.com)

Tillman is a great match-up problem for a team to have at six feet four inches tall. He makes big plays when people try to stop Navy’s good rushing game. Tillman is also a good blocker for the Midshipmen, which will make him appealing to teams who like to run the football a lot. Speed and quickness are the question marks on Tillman, but he has the fundamentals such as blocking down.

 

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