West Virginia and Utah are set to meet in the 2017 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. Two of the best prospects from this game, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and wide receiver David Sils V, have already announced they are returning to school. West Virginia has one of it’s NFL Draft prospects sitting out this game to prepare for the NFL Draft in Justin Crawford. With all that being said, here are the NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl:
Lowell Lotulelei, DT
Lotulelei is the younger brother of former Ute Star Lotulelei. He has been on the NFL’s radar for years now. In four years at Utah, Lotulelei has 18.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. This season Lotulelei missed four games and finished with one tackle for loss and no sacks. This lack of production has hurt his stock greatly, but he still has a great chance to get drafted.
At 6’2” and 320 pounds, Lotulelei could play defensive tackle in a 4-3 or nose tackle in a 3-4. The versatility helps his stock along with his ability to take on multiple blockers. His production problems will need to be addressed.
Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round
Darren Carrington, WR
Darren Carrington (Photo by sltrib.com)
Carrington transferred to Utah from Oregon for his last season of eligibility. With inconsistencies at the quarterback position for Utah, Carrington still had 918 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He also produced at Oregon and in his career totaled 2,837 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns.
He has a good build at 6’2” and 205 pounds. If he performs well at the NFL Combine and in workouts he can be drafted and make an NFL team.
Jennings is just a junior like some of his counterparts, but hasn’t made a comment on his NFL Draft status yet. He is an easy target to throw to with 94 receptions for 1,030 yards and a touchdown on the season. After not producing much in his first two years in Morgantown, with Grier at quarterback Jennings has thrived.
He has solid size at 6’1” and 204 pounds, which should help his stock. He has experience on special teams as a returner, which should also help his case. Jennings probably should stay for another year with Grier and Sils V, but does have a chance to be drafted if he decides to leave early.
The 2017 NFL draft has just concluded, but it is never too early to look to next year. Draft picks are ordered by Super Bowl Odds.
1. San Francisco 49ers- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Brian Hoyer isn’t the long term answer for the 49ers and they reached on C.J. Beathard in the 2017 NFL Draft. Allen may be from a small school, but he has legitimate talent. He has the prototypical size for an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 222 pounds. Allen will have to prove himself in his big games against Iowa, Oregon and Boise State in the 2017 season.
Joe Haden is aging and the Browns did a great job of addressing the rest of their defense in the 2017 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick has started since his freshman season and is a very versatile defensive back.
3. Los Angeles Rams- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
If Jared Goff is going to be the long term quarterback, he needs more weapons. Ridley is a good option with 1,814 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in two years at Alabama. He can be a good outside receiver for the Rams, which is not something they currently have.
4. New York Jets- Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Darnold needs to improve his mechanics and have a strong second season as USC’s starting quarterback. If he does so, he will be a first rounder with no doubts. The Jets need to get a franchise signal caller and so far, this looks like a good quarterback class coming in.
5. Chicago Bears- Derwin James, S, Florida State
Derwin James (Photo by: si.com)
Quintin Demps has had just one good season as a pro and that shouldn’t be expected to continue. James is an elite athlete at defensive back and will likely go in the top ten in the 2018 NFL Draft if he can stay healthy.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The USC-UCLA game will feature two great quarterbacks. Rosen has been a phenom since his freshman year at UCLA, but last year got his throwing shoulder hurt and even had some nerve damage. He needs to stay healthy and if he is able to, is capable of being the first quarterback selected. If the Jaguars are picking this high, Blake Bortles is out as the starting quarterback.
7. Buffalo Bills- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Wilkins is overlooked because of how many talented players were on Clemson last season, but with a lot of them gone, it is his time to shine. The Bills need to address the defensive line early in this draft. Two first round picks gives them some versatility in this draft.
8. Los Angeles Chargers- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Chargers doubled up on guards in the 2017 NFL Draft, but the tackles could be improved to protect the aging Phillip Rivers. McGlinchey would have gone first round in 2017, but elected to go back to school for one more year.
9. Detroit Lions- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Kirk might end up being the best receiver in this class, but will likely see his stock slide if he doesn’t produce this season with a new quarterback. He is a little shorter than most teams like at 5’11”, but can play on the outside and be a difference maker. The Lions need to upgrade their receiving corps to give Matthew Stafford some more weapons.
10. New Orleans Saints- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU
One thing that the Saints didn’t address in the 2017 NFL Draft was a pass rusher who could play opposite Cameron Jordan. Key is a great speed rusher, who elected to go back to school for another season. The Saints would love if they fell to them so they could get after Cam Newton, Jameis Winston and Matt Ryan more often.
11. Washington Redskins- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Mason Rudolph (Photo by: ncaa.com)
The Washington front office doesn’t have a good relationship with Kirk Cousins. He will likely leave after the season due to being franchise tagged the last two seasons. Rudolph is another quarterback who has great size at 6’5″ and 235 pounds. He only threw four interceptions last season, which shows how well he protects the ball.
12. Miami Dolphins- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Interior offensive linemen usually don’t go this high, but Nelson would’ve been a first rounder in the 2017 draft had he come out. The Dolphins were able to address a lot of their needs this offseason, but they still need to get a guard because they are moving Laremy Tunsil out to tackle.
Cincinnati addressed all of their skill positions in the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, but their offensive line is not good. Williams has a lot of experience at Texas and should upgrade the offensive line instantly.
14. Philadelphia Eagles- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Barkley helped lead Penn State to a Big Ten Championship last year and was their best offensive player. He does a little bit of everything well and will be one of the first running backs off of the board. The Eagles drafted Donnell Pumphrey, but he isn’t an every down back in the NFL.
15. Tennessee Titans- Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
The Titans don’t have too many needs, but can improve the pass rush. He was a monster for the Boston College defense last year, finishing with 16.5 sacks. There were only two games were he didn’t register a sack, which bodes well for his NFL future.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
Donovan Smith hasn’t gotten his career off to a great start, meaning if he struggles again he will be replaced. Protecting Winston’s blindside has to be the number one priority for the Bucs.
17. Baltimore Ravens- Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The Ravens haven’t had an effective running back in years. Guice showed flashes of what he could do when Leonard Fournette sat out with injury last season. He should have a breakout year for LSU.
The Panthers continue to not address the offensive line well. They need to clear some holes for McCaffrey and protect Cam Newton. Brown is a big prospect, who is another good tackle prospect in this draft class.
19. Arizona Cardinals- Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
Luke Falk (Photo by: seattletimes.com)
This year’s quarterback class is going to be loaded, if everything happens the way most think it will. That paired with the fact that there are a lot of aging quarterbacks and as usual teams that are bad and need new ones, A lot might go in the first found in the 2018 NFL Draft. Falk is a system quarterback, but Patrick Mahommes overcame that to be the second quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. He will need to have an impressive senior season where he shows he can read defenses to maintain his spot in the first round.
20. Minnesota Vikings- Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Shariff Floyd injury complicates things for the Vikings. Lotulelei is a big physical defensive tackle that can really plug up the running lanes.
21. Indianapolis Colts- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
Jefferson has all the potential in the world and it should all come together for him this season for Texas. The Colts have started to revamp their defense, but it still needs a lot more work.
Sutton was a fringe first rounder had he come out this year and will likely be one of the best wide receivers coming out next season. With Sammy Watkins possibly leaving in free agency, Sutton can be paired with current rookie Zay Jones.
23. New York Giants- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
The Giants didn’t draft a tackle and now will need to get one next year. Fortunately for them, as it now stands, there are a lot of good tackles in this draft class.
If Jesse James doesn’t step up, the Steelers will need a new tight end. Fumagali made some incredible grabs in the Cotton Bowl and with a good season, will move himself into first round consideration.
25. Denver Broncos- Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Jamal Charles was just signed, but that isn’t a long term solution. Chubb could be the selection if the Broncos lose faith in Devontae Booker. He has some injuries, but when healthy Chubb is a great running back.
26. Oakland Raiders- Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama
Hand has been burried on the depth chart at Alabama, but will get his chance this season. The Raiders have a terrible defensive line and need to start addressing it.
27. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
Whitehead can play a variety of positions in the secondary and can fit in next to Jabrill Peppers. The Browns’ luxury of a lot of picks, gives them a lot of options.
28. Atlanta Falcons- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
The Falcons need to get some players on the interior of the defensive line. Payne, like Hand, will get his chance to shine this season.
29. Seattle Seahawks- Martez Ivey, OL, Florida
Ivey could play guard or center for the Seahawks, but they need offensive line help so badly, it doesn’t matter. Protecting Russell Wilson hasn’t been a concern in the past for Seattle (even though it should have been), but it should be going into the future.
30. Green Bay Packers- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
McFadden is a lengthy corner that can help the Packers stop the pass. They addressed the secondary this offseason, but if it doesn’t improve, they will target more secondary help.
31. Dallas Cowboys- Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
Hubbard got to start in Joey Bosa’s place when Bosa was suspended, but made a name for himself. After a few more years of good play, he could go in round one. Dallas picked Taco Charlton in the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft, but could still use pass rushing help.
32. New England Patriots- Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State
The Patriots have a glaring need at pass rusher and Lewis might be their guy. He has a lot of experience at Ohio State and New England can turn him into a star.
Indiana and Utah match-up in the Foster Farms Bowl, where a lot of NFL prospects will be facing off. There will particularly be a lot of lineman to watch in this game. Here are the best draft prospects from this game:
Dan Feeney, OG
Projected Draft Range: first round-third round
Dan Feeney (Photo courtesy: chicagotribune.com)
Feeney was one of the best guards in the class before the season and has done nothing to change that. At six feet four inches, he has the necessary size to be a good NFL guard for years to come. He has all of the necessary skills you would want in a guard. He can both run block and pass block really well. His mobility is also great as he can pull on running plays and move to pick up blitzers too.
Garrett Bolles, OT
Projected Draft Range: first round-third round
Bolles will be one of the first tackles taken off the board in the 2017 NFL Draft. His physicality has helped Joe Williams successfully un-retire and rush for over 1,000 yards. He has to prove that he can pass block well to move up into the first round. If he plays well in this bowl game and performs well leading up to the NFL Draft, he can leap up draft boards.
Marcus Williams, S
Projected Draft Range: first round- third round
Marcus Williams (Photo courtesy: sltrib.com)
At six feet tall and 190 pounds, Williams will need to bulk up before the NFL season. He has the necessary cover skills to even play some corner back if a team chooses to use him that way. He is a turnover machine for the Utes with four interceptions and two forced fumbles. In the 2017 NFL draft, Williams will be one of the first five safeties taken and the team who takes him will be satisfied.
Lowell Lotulelei, DT
The younger brother of Star, Lotulelei isn’t quite the prospect his brother was. Lowell isn’t a slouch though. He is six feet two inches tall and 310 pounds. Double teams aren’t always enough to stop him from getting to the ball carrier. He has an impressive seven tackles for loss on the season. One area he can improve is his pass rushing, with only 3.5 sacks recorded on the season.
You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and eSports articles from other great TGH writers along with Joe!