Bowl season impressions

The highlights and lowlights for prospects so far during the 2009 bowl season.

• While watching the Wyoming front three, it was DE Mitch Unrein who looked to be the far better prospect than more heralded defensive lineman John Fletcher. Unrein was more flexible out of his stance, stouter vs. the run and more sudden on contact. He possesses a nice-sized frame at 6-4, 270 and has the ability to make a roster as a base type 4-3 defensive end.

• It was running back Ryan Mathews who received most of the attention in the Fresno State backfield this year, but backup Lonyae Miller definitely has an intriguing skill set in his own right. He’s a physical, no-nonsense type of runner who lacks any special qualities to his game but looks just as dynamic as senior running backs Javarris James, Brandon Minor and Andre Anderson, who are all considered mid/late-round picks.

• Sure, UCF defensive end Bruce Miller finished the St. Petersburg Bowl with eight tackles and a sack, but on the sack he was left unblocked, and nearly all of his tackles came on hustle plays down the field. It looked as though that Miller, who is only 6-2, 253 pounds, lacks the power to hold up at the point as a down defensive end at the next level and will either need to play as a nickel rusher only or make the move to OLB in a 3-4.

• It’s obvious when evaluating Rutgers left tackle Anthony Davis that the guy has the type of skill set needed to excel on the blindside at the next level. However, watching him let go of blocks in the pass game and not play with that type of killer instinct, knowing it would be his last performance in front of NFL scouts before declaring early for the draft, does worry me a bit, concerning his overall willingness to put in the work needed.

• Lost in the shuffle on the BYU offense is tight end Andrew George. George is a 6-5, 251-pound target who displays impressive body control and overall burst for his size. He exhibits a real understanding of the pass game and consistently showed the ability to line up on the outside and separate vs. man coverage Tuesday night against Oregon State. He’s not a guy to get overly excited about, but he certainly looks like a prospect who can make an NFL roster as a reserve-type tight end and at least help out in the pass game.

• I was shocked to see how the physicality of the BYU defense was able to really disrupt the timing of Oregon State WR James Rodgers, which in turn kept him from being a factor Tuesday night. That’s the kind of physical coverage Rodgers is going to need if he has aspirations of beating press coverage from the slot and producing at the next level.

• The gusting winds and dropped passes definitely didn’t help the cause of Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield on Tuesday night, but I still think he rates as one of the only senior quarterbacks with starting potential at the next level. However, he needs to do a better job maintaining his balance in the pocket, especially in the face of pressure, as his accuracy seems to go any time his footwork gets the least bit sloppy. And for a quarterback who depends on his accuracy and overall timing as much as Canfield, being mechanically sound from the waist down is a must.

• He isn’t the most gifted of athletes and lacks ideal range on the move, but California left tackle Mike Tepper finds a way to get the job done. He was consistently able to protect the edge and keep the blindside clean Wednesday night vs. Utah, and although he doesn’t display the type of footwork or overall athleticism needed for the left tackle position at the next level, in time I think he has the ability to fight for a starting right tackle job in the NFL.

• It’s obvious that Utah defensive end Koa Misi has the straight-line speed needed to track the football and make plays in pursuit. However, he doesn’t play nearly as fast or explosive from a three-point stance and struggles to shed blocks and change directions off the edge as a pass rusher. Misi looks more like a 3-4 OLB only who didn’t impress vs. California.

• One guy who did impress was Utah’s ball-hawking safety, Robert Johnson. Johnson is a tall, long-legged guy who displays good bend and overall flexibility for his size and possesses the range to consistently track the football sideline to sideline. Plus, he’s a powerful hitter on contact and looks like a prospect who could definitely carve out a niche as a starting center field-type defender at the next level.

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