5 prospects that helped their NFL draft stock during bowl season
With bowl season wrapped up, let’s look at the individuals who bolstered their draft candidacy the most with their performances. This isn’t necessarily the highest-graded players (you can find that list here), but those with lingering question marks that exceeded expectations. For the guys on this list that aren’t seniors, this was their last opportunity to put things on tape for NFL scouts as they won’t be eligible for the various pre-draft games.
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss WR
The junior had a bit of a lackluster season by his lofty standards after a gruesome leg injury ended his 2014 campaign. That’s why capping it off with a three-touchdown performance in the bowl game was so important. It was his second-highest graded game of the season at +2.9 overall and showed off his elite ability to catch balls in traffic. It’s the type of game that could convince a team in the top 10 to take a chance on him.
Anthony Zettel, PSU DT
After finishing the 2014 season as our fifth-ranked defensive tackle, this is the player we thought we’d see all year. Yet heading into the bowl game Zettel was our 52nd-ranked DT with games against Ohio State and Michigan State where he disappeared completely. With questions about how he’d fare against top-level competition, Zettel dominated a talented Georgia offensive line. He collected a sack plus three additional hurries and made two stops in the run game earning his highest grade of the season (+8.7). There are still question marks lingering about why he was only able to notch two total stops against the three best offensive lines he played during the season, but his performance will help to ease some of those.
Bronson Kaufusi, BYU DE
If Kaufusi wasn’t getting draft hype before, his utter domination of the Utah offensive line should turn some heads. He had a sack, two hits, three hurries and eight stops in the run game in only 59 snaps. Kaufusi is a bit of an odd projection as a 6-7, 280 pound defensive end, but this game will go a long way in showing he can hold up just fine against the run. His +13.0 grade was the highest of any defensive lineman in the bowls. He finishes the season as our third-highest graded 3-4 defensive end.
Jack Conklin, Michigan State LT
Say whatever you want about Jack Conklin’s ankle stiffness or knee bend, the junior left tackle gets the job done and he did it again against a handful of future NFL players for Alabama. His team may have gotten dominated, but don’t blame Conklin. In 48 pass blocking snaps he allowed one single pressure. That includes nine clean snaps against Bama outside linebacker Tim Williams, the most efficient pass rusher in the FBS this year. Conklin will once again finish the year as our highest graded left tackle.
Scooby Wright III, Arizona LB
It seems that every year we see players with lingering injury concerns fall like a rock in the draft. Scooby was in danger of being that guy after a knee injury sidelined him for all but 89 snaps this season. With only the bowl game to show that he could still play at a high level, Wright put on a show. The junior was all over the field, notching 10 stops against the run, the most of any linebacker in the bowl games. He also flashed his pass rushing chops with two sacks, a hit and four hurries. After earning the second-highest grade of any linebacker last season, scouts will have to decide if his insane production can translate to the next level.