The bowl season gives fans and scouts alike a chance to analyze NFL Draft prospects against solid competition. Bowl scheduling allows all eyes to be on each game. Here are the NFL Draft prospects in the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
Minnesota Golden Gopher Draft Prospects
Daniel Faalele, OT
Faalele has been a mainstay on the Minnesota offensive line ever since his freshman season. He started eight games as a freshman at right tackle for the Golden Gophers. Although he missed two games with an injury as a sophomore, Faalele started 11 games and was a Big Ten Honorable Mention for the second straight season in 2019. He opted out of the 2020 season, but returned to the lineup in 2021. He made the All-Big Ten First Team for his play in 2021.
At 6-foot-9 and 380 pounds, Faalele is a giant. He can be a bulldozer in the running game and clearly has good play strength. His pass blocking may not hold up against NFL athletes, but he could develop in that area. He is projected to be taken on day two or early day three of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Projected Draft Range: Second Round Pick-Fourth Round Pick
Boye Mafe, EDGE
Mafe has played since he was a freshman and continually got better during his college career. He has 83 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks in his career. The 2021 season has been his best yet with 30 total tackles, nine tackles for loss and six sacks.
He has a good body size for the NFL at 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds. His production hasn’t been as good as other edge rushers, but Mafe has traits that will be desired by NFL teams. Mafe is a projected mid to late-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Projected Draft Range: Fourth Round Pick-Sixth Round Pick
*Running back Mohamed Ibrahim has announced his return to Minnesota for next season and is out for this bowl game with an injury.
West Virginia Mountaineers Draft Prospects
Doug Nestor, OG/C
Nestor transferred from Virginia Tech to West Virginia and has made an impact at both schools over his career. He started 11 games as a freshman for the Hokies at right guard. In 2020, he started seven of eight games he played in at Virginia Tech. He has helped West Virginia at right guard this season.
He has great size for a guard at 6-foot-7 and 321 pounds. His size actually fits the profile of a tackle more, but his length could be unique for an interior lineman at the next level. He is projected to be a late-round draft pick or an undrafted free agent in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Projected Draft Range: Sixth Round Pick-Undrafted Free Agent
Dante Stills, DL
Stills will be one of the more experienced defensive linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft after playing a lot for the Mountaineers over his four seasons in Morgantown. He has 107 total tackles, 42 tackles for loss and 19 sacks in his career. This season, Stills has registered 32 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and six sacks for West Virginia.
He stands at 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, which is solid for the NFL. Stills may add a little weight to better match up with the power of the NFL. His production will draw eyes to him, especially his ability to rush the passer from the interior. Stills will be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent in the 2022 NFL Draft.
*Running back Leddie Brown opted out of this bowl game. He is a projected late-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
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