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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Music City Bowl

Northwestern and Kentucky will meet in the 2017 Music City Bowl. While these teams don’t usually produce good NFL talent on a consistent basis, there are some players to watch in this game. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Music City Bowl:

Kentucky Wildcats

Josh Allen, DE/LB

Allen has had two really good seasons at Kentucky. In his career he has 20.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks. This season he has 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. NFL executives love his versatility, being that he can play both inside and outside linebacker.

He has good size at 6’5″ and 230. With that, and his production, Allen has even seen his name as high as the first round in some mock drafts. That might be a small stretch given the production this season, but he will be taken in the early rounds of the draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Derrick Baity, CB

Baity is only a junior, but may elect to leave for the NFL Draft. In his career he has 108 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions and 14 passes defended. He has tons of experience for Kentucky in the SEC, which has seen him go up against some pretty good receivers over the last three seasons.

His biggest asset is his size at 6’3″ and 182 pounds. The length is great for an NFL corner, but he will need to add some strength so that he isn’t pushed off the line of scrimmage.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

C.J. Conrad, TE

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Music City Bowl
C.J. Conrad (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Conrad is a good receiving tight end who doesn’t have the best production in his three seasons at Kentucky. That is partially because the last two seasons, Kentucky has emphasized the running game more than the passing game. This season is his best to date with 286 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

At 6’5″ and 245 pounds, Conrad has good size for an NFL tight end. While the lack of production does hurt, teams will look at the tape and see why. He could elect to come back to school for another year and help his draft stock.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

Matt Elam, DT

Elam is a former highly-touted prospect, who never really lived up to his potential. Some national pundits have blamed his work ethic or his weight, but the only thing that matters is that he hasn’t produced. In his career he has 50 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.

The production is really bad, but his size is what will get him a chance with an NFL team. Elam is 6’7″ and 360 pounds. Those types of players don’t grow on trees and some NFL team will try to mold him into the player he can be.

Projected draft range: 6th round-undrafted free agent

Northwestern Wildcats

Clayton Thorson, QB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Music City Bowl
Clayton Thorson (Photo by insidenu.com)

Thorson is another player that has seen his stock rise this season, but he hasn’t played particularly well. He has 2,809 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. One of the areas he has to work on is making better decisions, because that touchdown to interception ratio is way too close to one. He has completed over 60% of his passes this season.

He has the size to be an NFL quarterback at 6’4″ and 225 pounds. Thorson has some mobility, but has shown improved passing from the pocket, which will appeal to NFL teams.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Godwin Igwebuike, S

Igwebuike is the senior leader on the Northwestern defense. He has 318 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, seven interceptions and 23 passes defended in his career. This season he has 72 total tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defended.

At 6’0″ and 212 pounds, size won’t be an issue for Igwebuike. He will likely get drafted in the middle to late rounds of the NFL draft.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

Justin Jackson, RB

Jackson is 12th on the all-time rushing list for college football with 5,283 rushing yards. In addition to the great amount of rushing yards, Jackson has totaled 39 rushing touchdowns, 848 receiving yards and one receiving touchdowns. His production is unquestionable, especially against Big Ten competition.

He fits right in the mold of an NFL running back at 5’11” and 200 pounds. The fact that he can make plays catching the football bodes well for his draft stock and future playing time.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

 

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