Bowl season presents an opportunity for those wanting to continue their football careers at the next level. An opportunity to raise their draft stock as they play against some of the nation’s top competition. While some bowl games might be less exciting compared to others, each game is still another chance for these NFL hopefuls to establish themselves as a worthy prospect. So, who are some prospects to keep an eye out for this bowl season?
Payton Wilson, LB, NC State
The Butkus Award winner for this season, Wilson is a phenomenal talent at the linebacker position. At 6’4” 238 lbs, Wilson is the prototypical size of an NFL backer. A thumper who’s recorded 138 tackles this season, Wilson also has remarkable coverage skills as he’s also totaled 6 passes defensed and 3 INTs. Currently, Wilson looks like a day-two pick but he’ll look to raise his stock against Kansas State on December 28.
Image: Building the Dam
Kitan Oladapo, DB, Oregon State
Oregon State has enjoyed great success this season. They might not have had the luxury of competing in the final PAC-12 championship game, but they still surpassed expectations. Oladapo held things down as a veteran in the Beaver’s secondary this year. He was used in multiple ways covering slot receivers and also playing high as a safety where he wasn’t afraid to come down and hit, recording 62 total tackles this year. Oladapo will look to continue his success as the Beavers play Notre Dame on December 29.
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Cody Schrader, RB, Missouri
Not thought of as a powerhouse football school being in the same conference as Georgia and Alabama, Missouri enjoyed a terrific season finishing with 10 wins and 2 losses. A reason for this success is partly due to the sneakily good season Cody Schrader had for the Tigers. Schrader was a workhorse for Missouri this year racking up 1,489 yards on the ground to produce 13 rushing TDs. A Doak Walker Award finalist for the nation’s top back, Schrader will look to increase his draft stock versus a formidable Ohio State defense on December 29.
Image: Texas Athletics
Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas
Not having the season many expected him to have, Xavier Worthy will have the chance to increase his stock this college football playoff. Supposed to be one of the better prospects in this year’s draft, Worthy was underwhelming despite producing 969 receiving yards to go along with 5 receiving TDs. Throughout the draft process, there’ll always be a knock against his size, but slender receivers such as Jordan Addison, Devonta Smith, and Tank Dell are proving that size isn’t everything at the NFL level.
Image: Pro Football Network
Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas
While Xavier Worthy might not be having the season many expected him to have, his teammate Adonai Mitchell is surpassing expectations. Despite tallying over a hundred fewer yards than his teammate, his 10 TDs point to his potential as an NFL wideout. Like Worthy, Mitchell is a great prospect to keep an eye on as the Longhorns look to make a run as CFB playoff champion hopefuls.
Image: 247 Sports
Jalen McMillan, WR, Washington
With an offense already featuring Michael Penix Jr and Rome Odunze, it’s easy to overlook McMillan. Still, despite McMillan not eclipsing the 500-yard mark on the season, he’s more than capable of succeeding at the NFL level. He has a talent for getting open as he understands defenses and how to properly stem defensive backs when operating against man coverage. His stats may not look the part, but keep an eye on McMillan as Washington looks to take their first step in becoming champions against Texas on New Year’s Day.
Image: The Seattle Times
Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
Not many receivers have the season that Rome Odunze had for Washington. Totaling 1,428 yards and 13 TDs through the air, Odunze was a Biletnikoff finalist. A phenomenal talent with the ideal size of an NFL WR1 at 6’3” and 215 lbs, Odunze is more than capable of being WR2 behind Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. Still, for him to claim that stature, it’ll require him to ball out this CFB playoff as he’s in a tight race with Keon Coleman and Malik Nabers for that position.
Image: The Seattle Times
Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
We’re already on a run of Husky wide receivers, so why not continue with their quarterback? A Heisman finalist this year, Penix was no doubt one of the best players in college football this season. The lifeblood of the Husky offense, Penix led Washington to a PAC-12 championship and a CFB playoff berth. Still, Penix has much work to do as Caleb Williams and Drake Maye are respectively the QB1 and QB2 of this year’s draft class.
Image: Michigan Athletics
JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan
Like Penix, McCarthy had a breakout year for the Michigan Wolverines. Still, even as the number one seed in the college football playoff, there’s still work to do if McCarthy wishes to cement himself as a first-round pick. Michigan’s matchup against Alabama then possibly Washington or Texas will be a testament to McCarthy’s true abilities as a quarterback.
Image: Hawkeye Sports
Sebastian Castro, CB, Iowa
Sebastian Castro might not be a Jim Thorpe Award finalist, but he was quietly one of the best cornerbacks in college football. However, as a cornerback, it’s better to be quiet than not. Being quiet for a cornerback means that you aren’t on someone else’s highlight reel. For Iowa, Castro recorded 41 solo tackles, 3 interceptions, and 8 passes defensed. He might not be one of the top CB prospects this year, but still look for him on the field versus Tennessee on New Year’s Day.
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