Tonight marks the last BCS bowl before the 2013 BCS National Championship Game on Monday. There are three bowl games between now and Monday, but this is really the final appetizer before the main course of Notre Dame-Alabama. Tonight we have the Fiesta Bowl, featuring the Oregon Ducks and Kansas State Wildcats. These notes come courtesy of Trevor Woods (@Woods49ers).
Fiesta Bowl: Oregon Ducks vs. Kansas State Wildcats - 5:30 p.m. - ESPN
The Fiesta Bowl is deep in prospects for the upcoming draft. It'll be interesting to see if Oregon runs away with this one, or if Kansas State makes it competitive.
Kansas State QB Collin Klein was a Heisman finalist this season, but is receiving no love from NFL scouts, Klein will be a sixth to seventh round pick. I have a lot of reservations about Klein, as his mechanics are funky at times and not compact. There have also been times where he holds on to the ball too long. I'm not sure if Klein can adjust to the difference in speed in the NFL. He needs to work on going through his reads faster and slinging it. When he's having a good day, he can be a force to be reckoned with. He's shown flashes of a good arm that delivers the ball with some zip, but he's also shown he throws a wobbly Tim Tebow like ball (Klein is more accurate though, 66.2% completion percentage this season).
His athleticism is undeniable. He can run with the best of them and his 6-5 226 pound frame allows him to sustain some pretty brutal hits. If Klein is hanging around in the seventh round, the 49ers would consider taking a gamble on him. With the implementation of the "WildKap" and read options this season in the Niners offense, Klein would be a player that could run those packages effectively. How sold the 49ers are on Scott Tolzien next year as the #2 QB is unknown. Regardless of a 49ers landing for Klein, a QB will likely be added by the Niners to provide depth, and it never hurts that Coach Harbaugh loves grooming quarterbacks.
Kansas State WR Chris Harper is one of many receivers who will be picked up in the middle rounds of the draft. Harper had a good season and was the #1 wideout for the Wildcats, totaling 50 receptions, 786 yards, and 3 touchdowns. If Harper was on a team that passed more, his stats would be more eye opening, but Kansas States scheme isn't one that is "pass first". Harper's biggest game this season came when they were down big to Baylor. He had 11 receptions, for 123 yards, and a score. He has good hands and doesn't drop too many balls that come his way, making him a reliable target. At 6-1 228 lbs, he is a strong WR who has some good speed to go along with his size (4.46 40 yard dash). Harper will be one of many mid round receivers the 49ers will have their eyes on. Harper has a chance tonight and in the Senior Bowl to show what he is capable of heading into the NFL Draft season.
Take note of Wildcats CB Nigel Malone, who will be a late round pick. Malone transferred to Kansas State from junior college last season, and has 12 interceptions since he's been with Kansas State (5 this year, 7 last year). I feel he is better than his seventh round projection may indicate. Don't be surprised if he snags another interception tonight.
Oregon Ducks DE Dion Jordan is projected by some as a first round selection for the 49ers. The 49ers have found out how crucial it is to have good depth with the injury to Justin Smith, and Jordan would provide that while being groomed to be the eventual replacement for Smith. At 6-7, Jordan could become a freak of an end in the NFL. If put in the right situation, he could turn out to be one of the premier ends in all of the NFL. The only drawback about Jordan is he has to put on more weight, as he weighs just 243 pounds. As it stands right now, Jordan is a fine pass rusher who has good speed, but he will need to improve as a run defender and be able to set the edge at the next level. With some added weight I believe he can, and I'd absolutely love to see what the 49ers could do with a guy like this.
Ducks OT Kyle Long has some pedigree that immediately makes teams interested in him. When your brother is Rams DE Chris Long, and your father is Hall of Famer Howie Long, scouts are going to pay close attention to you. The 49ers have a good offensive line, but they will be looking to improve depth and have someone better than Leonard Davis to rely on in jumbo sets. Long is 6-7 and 312 pounds and has a whole lot of strength. Kyle brings the intensity his father showed and his brother now shows for the Rams. He's an animal. Some consider Long to be raw and his skills need to be fine tuned, but if he does, look for a future Pro Bowl player who never takes a play off. Look for Long to go in the mid 2nd or early 3rd round.
Other players worth noting from Oregon:
RB Kenjon Barner: Barner is projected as a 4th round pick and has shown blazing speed (4.39 40 yard dash), he is viewed as too small, but he will be a nice change of pace back in the NFL. Barner had a great season in which he rushed for 1,624 yards to go with 22 touchdowns.
ILB Kiko Alonso: Alonso is viewed as a 4-3 linebacker because he is a bit undersized. He had a nice season in which he had two interceptions, a forced fumble, and 8 tackles for a loss.