Before the two NFL playoff games today, there is a bowl on. While it doesn't feature good teams, football is never a bad thing to watch now is it? Ole Miss squares off against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the BBVA Compass Bowl (formerly the PapaJohns.com Bowl). Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Woods49ers and I'll be happy to talk football with Niners Nation!
BBVA Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Ole Miss Rebels - 10:00 a.m. - ESPN
The prestigious Compass Bowl (sarcasm), features two 6-6 teams. This season. Pittsburgh lost by 3 in overtime to Notre Dame and beat two ranked teams, Virginia Tech and Rutgers. Ole Miss didn't beat one ranked opponent. Both teams have a resume that is mediocre at best, and the prospects in this game are mediocre at best as well. Last season zero Pittsburgh players were drafted and just one Ole Miss Player was selected.
The 2013 NFL draft will only have one player from this game drafted in the first five rounds. Beyond that, everyone else is going to be a 7th round pick or an undrafted free agent.
The player with the most potential is Pitt RB Ray Graham. Graham had a solid senior year in which he rushed for 1,042 yards with 11 touchdowns. Graham is a running back with good hands, hauling in 36 receptions this season with three touchdowns. Pitt produced dual threat Philadelphia Eagles RB Lesean McCoy, and while Graham isn't as fast as "Shady", he has shown talent this season. Against Notre Dame, arguably the best defense in the nation, Graham had his most impressive game this season. Graham rushed for 178 yards and had six receptions for 50 yards against the Fighting Irish. A torn ACL last season and his 5-9 192 pound frame have some skeptical of making a good impact in the NFL. A team will likely invest in Graham in the 4th or 5th round. Graham has shown he can hit the hole well with good burst and acceleration, but also needs to work on being more patient and letting lanes develop.
The rest of the players will be lucky to be drafted, but at the very least some will become undrafted free agents who get signed.
Pittsburgh WR Mike Shanahan: No relation to the coach of the Redskins, but he is a name scouts might remember because he and Coach Shanahan share the same name. He isn't a fast receiver at all (4.67 40 yard dash), so his best bet would be converting to tight end in the NFL. While Shanahan has tight end height at 6-4, his weight of 225 pounds is a major drawback for NFL scouts, he'll have to bulk up to be considered a serious option as a TE. I feel he's too slow and doesn't weigh enough to be a WR or TE in the NFL, but it would be no surprise if someone brings him in as a UFA. Shanahan could use a good showing in the bowl to make teams take note of him.
Pittsburgh QB Tino Sunseri: Sunseri has yet to receive any love from scouts but his stats would indicate a team could become interested in him if he does well in this bowl and his pro day. Sunseri has been good all year, accurate and managing games great. Pitt's shortcomings this season don't rest on his shoulders. Sunseri has a 19:2 touchdown to interception ratio, along with completing 66.5% of his passes. Look for a team to draft him in the final round or sign him as a UFA. Harbaugh likes quarterbacks who are smart decision makers, Sunseri showed this season he might be one. At the beginning of camp there could be four or five quarterbacks, and it would not be shocking if Sunseri was one of them.
Ole Miss really has no one to mention, but one player I am interested in is TE Jamal Mosley. Mosley has just 15 receptions on the season, 3 of those are touchdowns however. Mosley is a good blocking tight end who could develop into an NFL player. If you're basing a tight end's worth on receptions, think about this, in Garret Celek's college career he had only 14 receptions and 3 touchdowns. Mosley might get lucky after the draft and get picked up.
I don't think the 49ers will be looking into any of these players seriously, but it's up to the players in the Compass Bowl to change the Niners mind.