Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
To say Van Noy had a dominant bowl game performance would be an understatement. He was outstanding and had a game for the ages as he carried BYU to a victory in the Poinsettia Bowl. All night, Van Noy was making plays in the backfield and causing the offense major problems. Van Noy fired by the right tackle to the inside late in the second quarter and ran down the quarterback for a sack.
Van Noy also burned the right tackle with a speed rush around the corner during the fourth quarter. Van Noy reached out to slap the ball out of the hands of the quarterback as he tackled him. Van Noy recovered the ball in the end zone for a Cougars touchdown.
The junior caught a pass that flew right to him a bit later and returned the interception 17 yards for a touchdown. He totaled eight tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, forced fumble and two touchdowns against San Diego State.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker is extremely explosive coming off the edge. He has good strength to go with his speed and tremendous instincts. Van Noy was one of the nation's leading sackers this year with 13. He also had 53 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles and five passes batted. If Van Noy enters the 2013 NFL Draft, he could be a first- or second-round pick.
Ezekiel Ansah, OLB, BYU
Ansah used the Poinsettia Bowl against San Diego State to put on a display of strength and speed. He made a nice adjustment near the line of scrimmage at the beginning of the game to intercept a deflected pass. Ansah also came close to another interception when he did a good job of reading the quarterback's eyes just before halftime. Ansah almost caught the pass with an astounding vertical leap, but it became an impressive pass break-up instead.
In the fourth quarter, Ansah leveled the running back and forced a fumble that was recovered by the offense. He totaled five tackles with one forced fumble, one pass batted and an interception. Ansah also got consistent pressure on the quarterback as a pass-rusher.
The 6-foot-6, 270-pounder showed nice flexibility to move around the front seven and play a variety of techniques. He played three-technique defensive tackle as well as defensive end. On some plays, Ansah dropped back to linebacker after the snap.
The senior's athletic ability is off the charts. With his display in this bowl game, he showed that he is worth consideration as a 3-4 defensive end as well as a 4-3 defensive end. Ansah totaled 62 tackles, 4.5 sacks, nine passes batted and 13 tackles for a loss this year. He definitely looks capable of cracking the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft next April.
Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State
McFadden had a solid night in pass coverage against BYU and did well when he went against their No. 1 receiver, Cody Hoffman. Throughout the night, McFadden was lined up in man coverage, and he did a good job of not allowing separation.
The Cougars rarely threw the ball at McFadden, and when they did, they did not get good results. McFadden made his presence felt late in the first quarter Mas he busted up a wide receiver screen. McFadden broke on the ball and forced an incompletion on a third-and-1 play. He had his second pass break-up after darting in front of Hoffman to slap the pass away.
The senior totaled 61 tackles, three interceptions, 12 passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2012. San Diego State mixed in some zone coverage as well as man; McFadden looked good in both techniques. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder has nice cover skills and could be a top-100 pick next April.
JC Tretter, G/C, Cornell
There are few Ivy League products to make it to the Senior Bowl, but Tretter was able to buck the trend and force his way to Mobile. He was an All Ivy League selection at left tackle in 2012. It was his second season starting at left tackle. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder has the makings of an NFL offensive lineman. Tretter has some athleticism as well. He played quarterback in high school and started his collegiate career at tight end.
Tretter is moving inside to compete at guard and center at the Senior Bowl. His body type is a better fit for the interior of the offense line at the next level. If Tretter plays well in Mobile, he could prove to NFL teams that he is worthy of a third-day selection.
Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern
The 6-foot-3, 325-pounder has rare skills as an interior pass-rusher. NFL teams are always pressing to find interior defensive linemen who can put heat on the quarterback, and Williams has proven that he has that rare trait. The senior is Missouri Southern's career sack leader with 27.
Williams is very consistent, recording sacks in 9-of-12 games this year. He totaled 68 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in 2012.
To further illustrate his consistency, Williams had eight sacks as a junior and nine sacks as a sophomore. As with any prospect from a small school, the level of competition is a concern. Williams will be able to answer those doubts at the Senior Bowl. A good week there could send his stock skyrocketing.
J.J. Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern
Wilcox is an impressive athlete who started out his career as a wide receiver. He played running back for two seasons before moving to safety as a senior. Wilcox totaled 88 tackles, two interceptions and three passes broken up this season.
Some believe that Wilcox could be a diamond in the rough. There is no doubt that the 6-foot, 215-pounder is a developmental project, but he has shown enough intriguing athletic ability to be invited to the Senior Bowl. If Wilcox plays well in Mobile, he could solidify his status as a late-round pick.
Dwayne Gratz, CB, Connecticut
Gratz is an experienced cornerback with 31 career starts for the Huskies. The senior totaled 53 tackles, 11 passes broken up and three interceptions this year. It was almost a mirror of his junior season when he was a Second-Team All-Big East Conference pick. Gratz totaled 53 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, four passes broken up, a forced fumble and three interceptions in 2011.
The 6-foot, 198-pounder has nice size with a mix of speed and ball skills. If Gratz performs well at the Senior Bowl, he could solidify his mid-round status.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut
The big cornerback has a lot of supporters that think highly of him. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder has great size and length to help him cover up receivers. The senior had a quality year with 46 tackles, nine passes broken up and one interception. Wreh-Wilson missed five games of the 2011 season with a knee injury, but returned for the final three contests. He had 37 tackles, seven passes broken up and two interceptions as a junior.
Wreh-Wilson will be under the microscope at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. Corners of his size need to prove that they have the ability to flip their hips and run with receivers downfield. If Wreh-Wilson struggles with that, he could be relegated to a zone-based defense or a move to safety. Wreh-Wilson has an interesting skill set and could get second-day consideration if he performs well at those events.
2012 NFL Draft Stock Down
Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois
Spence had a disappointing junior season, so one has to wonder why he would enter the 2013 NFL Draft. Spence totaled 72 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and one sack. Many thought that he would take the next step this year and become a disruptive force in the Big Ten. Playing next to Whitney Mercilus, Spence had a decent 2011 season with 69 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Another detriment to Spence's draft stock is his lack of scheme flexibility. The 6-foot-1, 305-pounder is only a 4-3 player as a gap-shooting three-technique defensive tackle. Even in a 4-3, he doesn't have the size or power to hold up as a nose tackle or a two-gap defender. Spence had an ugly game against Wisconsin and its downhill running attack. He looks like a third-day pick and needs a big performance at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
Walt did a good job of explaining why Davis should've gone back to school, "Knile Davis is a former second-day prospect who struggled this year coming off a broken ankle. He would have been better off going back to school and rehabbing his draft stock, especially with Bret Bielema being hired to be the head coach."
In 2010, Davis was one of the best backs in the SEC. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry and totaled 1,322 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Razorbacks. Davis broke his ankle in August of 2011 and missed the season. It wasn't the first ankle injury for him as he broke the same ankle during his senior season of high school.
Davis gradually lost his starting spot and carries to teammate Dennis Johnson this year. Davis finished with only 377 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 3.4 yards per carry. He looked slow to the hole and seemed rusty all season.
When healthy, the 6-foot-1, 226-pounder has some quickness to along with power, but there are a lot of negatives with his draft stock. Davis has major durability concerns, and now some will question his judgement and whether he is avoiding a competition for playing time under a new coaching staff.
Davis could go on the third day of the 2013 NFL Draft, but it wouldn't be a complete shock if he is one of the "name" players who goes undrafted (e.g. LeGarrette Blount, Chris Polk).