Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan
For those that didn't know who White was prior to the Little Caesars Bowl, they definitely know who he is now. He put on a show for NFL scouts against Purdue. White started off the game with a 49-yard touchdown reception after burning a cornerback and a safety. All game, he ripped through the Purdue secondary, burning man and zone coverage. White did well against a quality young cornerback, Ricardo Allen, and kept moving the chains for the Broncos. On one amazing play, White made a left-handed circus catch as he was backpedaling to set up Western Michigan inside the 10-yard line. White also had a 45-yard reception after a double move on a deep post. For the evening, he caught 13 receptions for 265 yards and one touchdown.
White finished his senior season with 140 receptions for 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 6-foot, 211-pound White plays bigger than his size. He is an excellent route-runner with reliable hands and superb body control. The biggest question mark about White is his straight line speed. He is not a burner, but he produces and is a football player. White is a competitor that is a devout student of the game. If he runs well at the combine that could cement his stock as a third-rounder. If White has a slow time he probably will be a third-day pick.
Philip Blake, C, Baylor
It was hard to take away anything concrete from the Alamo Bowl because the defenses were so awful, but Blake had a fantastic game for the Bears. He had a lot of success going against Huskies defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu. Baylor was able to have a massive game on the ground to the tune of 482 yards. All night, Blake was opening up holes in the ground game. Quarterback Robert Griffin III had some stretches in the game where he was seeing some pass pressure, but it was coming from the edges and not going through Blake. The 6-foot-3, 320-pounder is a good athlete for his size. Blake has started at center the past two years having begun his collegiate career at tackle. Right now, he looks like a mid-round pick. If Blake has strong lead up to the draft, he could crack the second day.
Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State
One of the most impressive defensive linemen in the early bowl games was McClellin. He made his presence felt against Arizona State with a sack, three tackles for a loss and four tackles. McClellin had other pass pressures that caused disruption and helped teammates get to the quarterback. His sack total is down this season from 9.5 in 2010. He hasn't been helped by Boise State moving him all over the front seven. The Broncos played him as a base 4-3 end, stand up outside rush linebacker and inside linebacker. With Boise State blowing out a lot of opponents, McClellin didn't play as many snaps. All of that has combined to greatly reduce his pass-rushing opportunities in 2011.
This season, McClellin totaled 50 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. The drop in production doesn't help his draft status, but he has been a more active player than the numbers indicate. McClellin's had more pass pressure than can be seen in his sack total. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder looks like a perfect fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. McClellin should get consideration in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Billy Winn, DT, Boise State
One of McClellin's pressures against Arizona State was cleaned up for a sack by teammate Winn. McClellin collapsed the pocket and as quarterback Brock Osweiler stepped up in the pocket, Winn wrestled him down for a sack. Later on, he led a charge that sacked Osweiler. Winn did an excellent job of stuffing the run at the point of attack against the Sun Devils. Running back Cameron Marshall never got on track and Winn was very disruptive in the middle of Arizona State's offensive line. He had some good plays against Sun Devils center Garth Gerhart, a potential third-day pick next April. Winn went out in style in his collegiate finale with his first multi-sack game of the season. He recorded three tackles with two sacks.
Winn (6-4, 300) has the ability to be a 4-3 nose tackle or a 3-4 defensive end at the next level. He is very stout at the point of attack and does a good job of occupying his gap. Winn plays with good pad level and is very disruptive. A 3-4 defense may be his best fit at the next level. He looks like a solid second-round pick right now.
Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State
One of the players who produced the biggest stat lines of the early bowl games was Robinson. Versus Boise State, he torched the Broncos' secondary all night to the tune of 13 receptions for 241 yards and one touchdown. His score came on a 21-yard strike where he sprinted through the secondary. Robinson showed the ability to get downfield quickly and sit down in soft spots in zone coverage. Boise State had a big lead and played mostly soft zone coverage. On one of those plays, he caught a pass downfield in an opening and raced for a 58-yard reception. All night, Robinson was productive for his quarterback.
The senior didn't have much production entering this season, but Robinson came on strong late in the year for Arizona State. In the final five games, the 6-foot-4, 222-pounder recorded 785 receiving yards. In 2011, he totaled 77 receptions for 1,397 yards and seven touchdowns. If Robinson can produce a good 40-time at the NFL Scouting Combine, his stock could get a big boost. Right now, he looks like a fourth or fifth-round pick.
Tank Carder, ILB, TCU
When you look at Carder's stat line from his Bowl matchup against Louisiana Tech, one would think that he did not have much of an impact. Carder recorded four tackles with a pass broken up, but he had a much bigger presence than the numbers indicate. His pass breakup came when he flew in the backfield and blasted a running back on an attempted screen. It easily could have been called a forced fumble. Carder's awareness and play diagnosis was excellent. He was aggressively flying around the field and was extremely disruptive. The Horned Frogs' defense played a tough game, and the senior led the way.
Carder recorded 70 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions and three passes broken up in 2011. He played well down the stretch, and for the second straight season, Carder was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. He had a solid game against Boise State in TCU's road upset. The 6-foot-2, 237-pound Carder could be a solid pick late in the second day. His best fit might be to add some weight and play inside in a 3-4 defense in the NFL.
Cordarro Law, DE/OLB, Southern Miss
As Walt so accurately pointed out months ago, Cordarro Law sounds like the title of legal comedy starring George Lopez, but in reality, Law is turning into an interesting sleeper defensive end/outside linebacker prospect for the 2012 draft. He had a massive performance against Nevada in the Hawai'i Bowl. Law recorded seven tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and one pass broken up. One sack came when he was unblocked, but there were a bunch of plays where the redshirt senior beat his blocker with a combination of speed and strength. The other sack came on a stunt where Law side-stepped a guard and came up the middle onto the quarterback.
Law finished 2011 with 9.5 sacks with 22 tackles for a loss, 64 tackles and four forced fumbles. The 6-foot-2, 261-pounder has a lot of speed and athleticism to go along with quality size. In the NFL, he may be best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The story on Law was that prior to this season he was lazy and unfocused, but he grew up a lot and applied himself this year. Law will have to prove that is the new norm to talent evaluators. Currently, he looks like a boom-or-bust pick early on the third day of the draft.
Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
Martin got his bowl game started with a kickoff brought back 100-yards for a touchdown. All night, he powered through the Arizona State defense. Martin churned out tough yards and finished his runs well. He showed a good burst to hit the hole along with vision to weave through defenders. Even when the Sun Devils were selling out to stop Martin, he was able to run for positive yardage. Against Arizona State, Martin ran for 151 yards on 31 carries with a touchdown.
This season, the senior averaged 4.9 yards per carry with 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns. Martin also caught 28 passes for 255 yards and two scores. The 5-foot-9, 215-pounder could be an early pick on the third day of the draft. He is put together well and could be a quality contributing back in the NFL who also will help on fourth down.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina
It is tough to put Jones on this list, considering he made a phenomenal touchdown catch and some other nice receptions against Missouri, but Jones also had three dropped passes. Two of the passes were easy receptions that hit him squarely on target. One dropped pass came when he took a big shot from the safety and let the ball pop out. It was juggled around, rolled across Jones' back and landed in the hands of a defensive back. That definitely was a fluky interception that typically would be an incompletion, but Jones still couldn't hold onto the ball after making the catch. In the Bowl, he had six receptions for 77 yards and a score.
Overall it was a disappointing performance from Jones, but by the time of the draft, it shouldn't hurt him. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder should perform well at the Senior Bowl, if he participates, and looks very likely to test well at the combine with his speed. In the 2012 NFL Draft, Jones looks like a pick on Friday night.
Austin Davis, QB, Southern Miss
After playing extremely well against Houston in the conference championship game, Davis struggled against Nevada. His accuracy was off throughout the Bowl as he was consistently overthrowing open receivers. Davis completed only 18-of-41 pass attempts for 165 yards with two touchdowns.
The 6-foot-2, 221-pounder has put his name in the school record books next to Brett Favre, and Davis has a good arm. He has to improve his mechanics and his footwork. Too often, his feet are out of whack even when given a clean pocket. With the demand at the quarterback position, Davis was pushing for consideration on the second-day of the draft, but his performance in the Hawai'i Bowl knocks his stock back into the third day.
Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
Burfict barely played in what could be his final collegiate game. Against the Broncos, in a contest where the Sun Devils could have used their big play linebacker, they kept him mostly on the sidelines. Burfict was benched for a lot of Arizona State's regular season finale versus California and that continued in the bowl game. Against Boise State, Burfict recorded only one tackle. He did dish out a devastating block on an interception return, but other than that it was an uneventful outing for him.
It was a disappointing and frustrating year for Burfict. His production was down as he recorded 68 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, five sacks, three passes broken up and an interception. Allegedly, Burfict is tired of dealing with the Sun Devils and will enter the draft. After starting the year in the top half of the first round, the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder now looks like a late first-round pick.
Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington
Ta'amu had an inconsistent performance as a senior. He played well against Nebraska, Colorado and Washington State. However, Stanford dominated him, and his Bowl performance against Baylor wasn't too different. Blake and the Bears guards moved Ta'amu around to open up running lanes up the middle of the Washington defense. Ganaway had huge runs straight up the gut, and that is the area that Ta'amu is supposed to dominate. The dismal showings against Stanford and Baylor are disappointing and knock his stock down significantly. Ta'amu looks like a late second-round or third-round pick, having once been in the running to be a late first-rounder.
@Mark C. I was going to point out to Walter that people can actually travel and most people attending games don't live within walking distance of the stadiums. A 4 or 5 hour drive to go see a game is absolutely nothing. It's only 8 regular season home games each season after all.