We're back with a look at NFL Draft prospects for the two late bowl games. These notes come courtesy of Trevor Woods. Enjoy!
Valero Alamo Bowl Texas Longhorns (8-4) vs. Oregon State Beavers (9-3)
Remember the Alamo Bowl! This should be another good game between a couple powerhouse conferences.
The best prospect in this bowl is probably free safety Kenny Vaccaro from Texas, who has over 100 tackles this season, he's a hard hitter with good size at 6-1. Vaccaro is projected to be drafted in the middle of the first round, so it's unlikely the 49ers snatch him, depending on if Dashon Goldson re-signs, safety could be a need however. Vaccaro is versatile as well as good, he has been on the Longhorns special teams unit and has provided stellar play there as well. Vaccaro is a sound tackler who provides good run defense along with good pass coverage, when assigned to man coverage he is able to stay with his man and has the ability and instincts to jump routes for interceptions. He is NFL ready and will help a defense immediately.
It's highly likely the 49ers go in another direction next season for a kick and punt returner, and receiver Marquise Goodwin could fit the bill. Goodwin not only is a football player, but competed in the 2012 Olympics for long jump, finishing 10th. Marquise has speed and has an average on kickoff returns of 25.3 yards this season, not too shabby, he also has a kick return touchdown in his career and has 44 kick return attempts to his credit, he is seasoned in this facet of the game. While he still has some work to do as a receiver, some team will pick him up in the late rounds as a diamond in the rough, he's worth keeping an eye on if you're watching the game.
The Beavers have some good talent also to look at. Senior cornerback Jordan Poyer is the most notable of the bunch. Poyer was selected to the Walter Camp All-American Team, after a great season in which he hauled in 7 interceptions, a pick machine would be nice to have on the 49ers. Poyer is another corner with good intangibles as well as instincts, along with that he has some dashing speed.
Coach Harbaugh and Oregon State coach Mike Reilly have a good friendship, and I'd have to think that Harbaugh and Reilly will be discussing Poyer at some point before the combine. Poyer returned punts in his career also, that never hurts a players draft stock. Jordan is a smart player and one who gives it his all, he has a feistiness about him that is similar to Cortland Finnegan's, just less annoying. Another thing we know, Baalke, Harbaugh, and the rest of the coaching staff want smart players, and Poyer certainly is that. Off the field he has some growing up to do, he was arrested in May after a bar fight, but as we have seen with other 49ers players signed (Perrish Cox, Aldon Smith, Braylon Edwards), Harbaugh believes that they can stop the off field issues and aren't afraid to take a chance on a player like that. If his draft stock is hurt by his arrest, that is good news for the 49ers, that means they are more likely to get him.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl- TCU Horned Frogs (7-5) VS. Michigan State Spartans (6-6)
This bowl has some players that are intriguing and may turn out to be fine NFL players. The match up is an intriguing one, along with that there are some players on both teams that could fill some depth on the 49ers roster.
Michigan State Defensive end William Gholston. Gholston is a junior but many NFL scouts are high on him and he could very well be heading to the big show a year early. He is a very large man, 6-7 and 278 pounds. Besides his size and frame, which coaches, GM's, and scouts love, Gholston possesses some skills that any of them would love too. He is a powerful brute and is stronger than most college offensive lineman.
One similarity to Aldon Smith (who was a defensive end in college) is he has very strong hands, even if he just gets a hand on an ankle or shoe lace, you're going down. He needs to be polished and with the right team he could turn out to be a fine player who will continue to do what he has been doing, putting consistent pressure on the quarterback. It isn't just strength he possesses, his football IQ is solid, he has a good bull rush, as well as spin move.
The main thing Gholston will have to work on is over pursuing, there have been times where he was too aggressive and didn't contain the outside and let some big runs transpire. Depending on how far he falls (projected late 1st round), I could see the Niners snatching him if they deem him the best player available, depth on the defensive line is something that will be addressed in the draft.
With some play by Carlos Rogers this season as well as Tramaine Brock's up and down performances, cornerback is another area where the 49ers will be looking to add depth. Spartans senior cornerback Johnny Adams would fit the mold of a corner the Niners would be looking for. A three time All Big Ten selection, Adams play is solid in almost every area. Adams is best when playing tight man coverage, he has good speed and instincts to stay with the receiver, and good awareness to where and when the ball is coming his way, he's a ball hawk who has 11 interceptions in his college career.
Man coverage isn't the only thing he can do well, he is smart enough to play zone and knows his assignment. Adams also has been used as a blitzer quite a bit in his college career, and he gets in there fast, the 49ers like players who have many dimensions, and Adams certainly does have many. He is projected as a mid round pick, and whoever gets him may find themselves a nice addition. Adams is questionable to play in the bowl, if he doesn't you can check him out in the Senior Bowl.
Another player worth watching in this game is Michigan States kicker Dan Conroy, who is 3-3 from 50+ yards this season. With Akers kicking woes this season, it wouldn't be a shock to see a new kicker at Candlestick next season.
TCU has a playmaker as well, receiver Josh Boyce. Boyce is a very physical receiver, if you try to press him, good luck, you're going to get thrown out of the way and burnt down the field. Boyce also possesses good hands, and if the coverage is tight he has shown that he can catch the ball. Whether he has the separation skills to make it in the NFL is to be determined, but he's an intriguing prospect, and as we have seen this year, you can never have enough good receivers on a team, injuries are bound to happen. His biggest game this year was a monster of a game against West Virginia, helping them win in overtime, with 180 yards and two scores.