The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl may not be the biggest of the College All Star Games, and it doesn’t feature the biggest prospects, but it’s a cool game to watch. The game will kick off at 3:00 p.m. PT on ESPN2 while the Shrine Game is wrapping up on NFL Network.
The teams are coached by former NFL head coaches Herman Edwards and Dick Vermeil. The assistants of both teams are full of former coaches and players. I watched some of the practices this week and it was neat to see the head coaches and former greats like Issac Bruce, Kevin Mawae, Darrel Green, Art Monk, and others help these prospects out. The retired players don't have to be there. They are because they want to be, and they consider it a way of giving back. This is a game to watch and have some fun with and play scout. If you're bored around the house or at the bar, put it on. Football is never a bad thing to watch.
Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers is a player to watch. He's the little brother of Aaron, so by heredity and a decent year he's an intriguing late round guy. Is he going to be the second part of a great brother quarterback duo, like Eli or Peyton? Or is he going to be like Tim Hasselback, and not exactly light up the field like his bro Matt?
Louisville Center Mario Benavides will be a late round pick in the draft and he could help his stock in this game. Benavides had a fine senior season and had a great Sugar Bowl against Florida, showing he's strong, quick, and agile for an offensive lineman. If Benavides has a good game it could push his stock up to the fifth round.
Safety Jakar Hamilton out of Georgia has had a great week of practices, with the coaches noticing he has been all over the field. Hamilton hits hard and is a good run stopper, while his pass coverage is adequate but will have to improve.
Miami Hurricanes running back Mike James is one of the more sure-handed backs in this years draft class. James could turn into a good third down back in the NFL (Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, Darren Sproles) because of his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Nebraska TE Ben Cotton hasn't been much of a receiving threat in college, but he's a big-bodied brute (6-6 255 lbs). Cotton is already a solid blocking tight end and a good red zone target. I think he's better than Garrett Celek in both areas already, so take that for what it's worth.
Rutgers free safety Duron Harmon will need to have a good game to help his draft stock. Harmon has had a good week of practices in which analysts felt he was very physical and could at the very least be a good special teams player while he develops.
Virginia Tech Linebacker Bruce Taylor racked up 5.5 sacks this season and can play ILB or OLB, Taylor's diversity will make him an intriguing option in April. I feel Taylor would be best suited as a pass rushing 3-4 OLB. Taylor had a foot injury last season, but is fully recovered from that and looks to build from a solid season in this bowl to continue to make his stock rise.
Some of these players will get drafted, but most don't jump off the page quite yet. A lot of players from small schools will participate in this game because they are looking to make their presence known. So much is on the line for all of these players that it isn't just a game. Their future as a professional football player is at stake.