NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl

The 2017 Holiday Bowl will feature the Michigan State Spartans and the Washington State Cougars. Both coaches have created quality programs that have attracted some good talent. With that, some of these players will be playing in the NFL soon. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl:

Washington State Cougars

Luke Falk, QB

Falk has cemented himself as one of the best statistical quarterbacks in Pac-12 history. The senior has 14,481 passing yards, 119 touchdowns and 39 interceptions in his career. He also has 68.3% of his passes in his career. This season he has 3,580 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has been pulled from games for slow starts by Mike Leach, but he is still a good prospect.

He will have to add weight to his 223 pound frame, but is big enough to see over offensive lines at 6’4″ tall. Falk will have to answer questions about why he was pulled from some games and if he can make it in the NFL coming out of Washington State’s system.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Andre Dillard, OT

Dillard is a redshirt junior who may elect to leave school early. He has started the last two seasons at left tackle for the Cougars. While he has a lot of experience pass blocking in Washington State’s system, run blocking is not something he has been given the opportunity to show that he can do on a consistent basis.

At 6’5″ and 295 pounds, Dillard will need to add some strength before getting to the next level. The run blocking and physicality of Dillard will be a concern.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Hercules Mata’afa, DE

Mata’afa has produced since the second he stepped on Washington State’s campus. In his career, t

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl

Hercules Mata’afa (Photo by cougarcenter.com)

he junior has 44.5 tackles for loss and 20 sacks. This season Mata’afa has 21.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Mata’afa doesn’t have the prototypical size for a defensive end in he NFL at 6’2″ and 252 pounds. He makes up for his lack of size with strength and explosiveness. If he produces, no one will care about his size.

Projected draft range: 4th round-7th round

Cole Madison, OT

Madison plays right tackle for the Cougars. He too has gotten playing time since his freshman season and started since his sophomore year. With the same questions about run blocking as Dillard, Madison will likely be picked even later than Madison.

At 6’5″ and 315 pounds, Madison has decent enough size to play on the offensive line in the NFL. He will likely be a late round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Michigan State Spartans

L.J. Scott, RB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl

L.J. Scott (Photo by todaysu.com)

Scott is a big, powerful back for the Spartans. The junior has 785 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the season. He has some issues with protecting the football, but has shown an increased role in the passing game this season with 120 receiving yards and a score.

At 6’1″ and 230 pounds, Scott can run with some ferocity, but will need to show he is fast enough to be an NFL running back. If he runs a decent 40 time, he could be selected on day two of the draft.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Brian Allen, OG/C

Allen has four years of production at Michigan State and is now one of the best centers in the country. He hasn’t blocked for an explosive offense, but has plenty of reps for NFL scouts to go over.

His limitation is his size at 6’2″ and 305 pounds. Being a center, that won’t be a huge issue, but it extremely limits the amount of teams that will take a chance on him.

Projected draft range: 7th round-undrafted free agent

 

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Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Quarterbacks

It is still a long ways away from the start of college football and even further away from the 2018 NFL Draft. There are however, some great quarterbacks that are worth watching in the 2017 season, who can be good NFL players. These players have a chance to showcase their talents this upcoming football season and could be selected early in the NFL Draft process.

Josh Allen, Wyoming

Allen has created a lot of buzz, despite playing for Wyoming. He has the prototypical size of an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 222 pounds. Scouts have said that he may have been the first quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, had he elected to come out. He only completed 56% of his passes last year, but flashed his potential in his lone year as the starting quarterback.

Josh Allen (Photo by: trib.com)

He will have to improve his accuracy this season especially because he doesn’t play the best competition week in and week out. One of the most underrated parts of his game is his speed as he has been clocked at a 4.61 40 yard dash. Allen has the size, speed and arm strength to draw scouts’ eyes, but needs to start getting better results.

This season Allen will have a few chances to prove himself against good competition. The Cowboys start the season at Iowa and also play Oregon and Boise State. If Allen can improve his efficiency and pull of some big wins for Wyoming, he will likely go early in round one.

Sam Darnold, USC

At the start of last season, Darnold was a backup. He didn’t have to wait too long to get his shot as a redshirt freshman and led USC to nine straight victories to end the season, including a Rose Bowl win over Penn State. The best thing about Darnold is his accuracy, as he completed 67.2% of his passes. His arm strength is good too and he can make a lot of NFL level throws. He also helped lead the Trojans to big wins during the regular season, the most notable coming over Washington.

Darnold does need to work on his mechanics because he has a windup in his throwing motion. He also threw nine interceptions and didn’t start a full season, so he needs to keep that number down. The main thing for Darnold is to have a strong second season and avoid a sophomore slump.

He will be on national television a lot this year with USC playing Notre Dame and Texas out of conference and have some tough games in conference as well.

Luke Falk, Washington State

Falk will have to prove that he is more than a system quarterback, but he is already on a lot of NFL radars. He completed 70% of his passes last season, while also leading the cougars to eight straight wins in the middle of the season. One thing that Falk won’t be short on for NFL scouts is reps. He has over 1,520 passing attempts in his career already.

With being in a system, the most important thing for Falk is to prove that he can complete passes down the field that will be expected of him in the NFL. The problem is that he loses his two top receivers in Gabe Marks and River Cracraft.

The Cougars have games against Boise State, USC, Stanford and Washington to get one final year of good tape for NFL scouts.

Deondre Francois, Florida State

Not everyone is as high on Francois, but he has a chance to have a breakout sophomore season. Last year, he was one of the toughest quarterbacks in college football, as he was continually hit. He still managed to complete 59% of his passes. That isn’t great, but when you consider how much he was under pressure and the fact that he was in his first year starting, it is way better than expected. He also only threw seven interceptions showing his ability to protect the football through the air.

Deondre Francois (Photo by: scout.com)

While they did lose to Louisville, North Carolina and Clemson, Francois stayed poised and helped lead the Seminoles to two big wins over Florida and Michigan to end the season. He didn’t have great games against these teams, but getting the win is worth something. He adds the ability to run, which is a nice asset he will have to use if his offensive line doesn’t improve.

Francois has the chance to show his stuff early this season, when the Seminoles play Alabama in week one. With Florida, Clemson and Louisville all still on the schedule, Francois will have every opportunity to improve his stock.

Josh Rosen, UCLA

After a great freshman season, Rosen only played in six games as a sophomore due to a shoulder injury. He has a nerve issue in his shoulder, which is cause for concern, but if he can play well this season and be cleared by doctors, he can be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The most important thing for Rosen is to show he has shaken off the rust and effects from the injury. He also needs to improve his efficiency. Rosen has all the talent you want in a quarterback prospect, but does have things to give NFL scouts to think about with injuries and quirkiness off of the field.

His biggest games of the season are against Texas A&M, Stanford, Washington and USC.

Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Rudolph is another quarterback who has great size for an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 235 pounds. He had a great season last year and only threw four interceptions while attempting 448 passes. These stats are good and they are even more impressive because he threw for over 4,000 yards. Yes, these stats are mostly against Big 12 defenses, but it is impressive nonetheless.

Mason Rudolph (Photo by: scout.com)

With so many great quarterbacks in this class, Rudolph gets overlooked, but he has the potential to be the number one pick. He needs to put up similar stats to last season to reach that goal and it is definitely possible.

Pitt will be their big matchup in the nonconference schedule and they will have a light Big 12 schedule to go through with one big game against Oklahoma. Rudolph will have a chance to put up some big stats this season.

Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Stidham had an impressive season at Baylor when he filled in for Seth Russell, but decided to transfer to Auburn. In his one season of playing so far he has 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He completed 69% of his passes in his limited action at Baylor.

He is going from Baylor to a much tougher SEC. A lot is unknown about Stidham and he really has to get more reps for NFL evaluators to rate him, but he can put up some big numbers under Gus Malzahn.

There will be plenty of chances for Stidham to prove himself this season with games against Clemson, LSU, Georgia and Alabama.

 

Check back at the end of the season to see where these quarterbacks are in the 2018 NFL Draft positional rankings.

 

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