The 2015 college football regular season and post-season have come and gone, which means the NFL draft season is upon us; therefore, let the uncontrolled giddiness commence! In the next two weeks, three college football all-star games will help NFL talent evaluators, draft analysts, and couch GM's decipher the best of the best senior prospects in this years' draft class. For those selected few seniors, it's their last chance to play collegiate football competitively against quality talent, where iron sharpens iron in hopes of increasing a players' draft stock or create a memorable and lasting blip on an NFL teams' radar.
The first two college football all-star games in the slate are the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and East-West Shrine Game (both played on January 23rd). We are going to take a look at the rosters for both games, starting with the Collegiate Bowl. Players from both rosters will be coached under the tutelage of NFL guidance with Mike Holmgren coaching Team American and Mike Martz coaching Team National. Today, we take a look at a couple of standout players on the offensive side of the ball from each squad.
WR Jordan Williams-Lambert, No. 8, 6'3 - 225 lbs., 4.57 40 - Ball State (4th)
Season stats: 72 receptions, 920 yards, averaging 12.8 yards per reception, and 8 touchdowns.
Jordan Williams-Lambert is a physical big-bodied strong wide receiver prospect with an excellent combination of size, power, speed, and athleticism. Williams does not have elite speed to gain separation, but shows enough fluidity/suddenness in unison with physicality to create space. He displays the tenacity to win in a crowd with defenders draped all over him, extending his hands away from his body attacking the ball at its highest point with strong reliable hands. Williams has a knack of always coming out winning contested balls using his body position bestowing tremendous balance and strength to out-maneuver and out-muscle defenders with his physicalness and great ball skills. A smooth route runner, Williams needs to continue to improve upon his release, route running, and technique, but mainly he needs consistency. A very intelligent football player, Williams is an amazing talent who continuously wins 50-50 contested balls and is a huge threat in the redzone.
Round projection: 4th
OT Pearce Slater, No. 71, 6'7 - 335 lbs., 5.28 40 - San Diego State (6th)
Pearce Slater is a very large and strong right tackle prospect with great arm length, size, and power. Although Slater does not possess ideal foot speed, he has impressive lateral movement for his size. He shows a good anchor with fair athletic ability adjusting well to movement sliding laterally causing a labor intensive chore for defenders to get around him (allowed only four sacks in 259 drop backs). Slater has inconsistent hand technique (very powerful hands with flashes of a jarring punch) and tends to lunge forward unable to maintain balance while driving defenders. Nevertheless, Slater shows great power in the run game displaying the toughness needed finishing blocks (40 knock downs on the year). He's a quality OL prospect that will need to be coached up with better technique to match his powerful long and wide frame.
Round projection: 6th
Other Team American players of note:
RB Jacobi Green, No. 1, 5'9 - 192 lbs., 4.54 40 - Richmond (7th-UFA)
WR Mekale McKay, No. 2, 6'4 - 195 lbs., 4.46 40 - Cincinnati (7th)
WR Jaydon Mickens, No. 4, 5'10 - 174 lbs., 4.55 40 - Washington (7th)
WR Devin Lucien, No. 15, 6'1 - 200 lbs., 4.52 40 - Arizona State (7th-UFA)
TE Ben Braunecker, No. 48, 6'3 - 242 lbs., 4.73 40 - Harvard (6th)
OG Darrell Greene 72, 6'3 - 322 lbs., 5.38 40 - San Diego State (7th)
WR Michael Thomas, No. 88, 6'1 - 200 lbs., 4.52 40 - Southern Miss - (4th)
Season stats: 71 receptions, 1,391 yards, 19.6 yards per reception = highest mark of any FBS player with at least 65 receptions, 14 touchdowns.
Michael Thomas is the lesser known "Michael Thomas" in this years' draft class, but is a prospect on the rise and should be climbing up draft boards. Thomas is a fluid and smooth wide receiver with a slender frame and a solid combination of size, speed, quickness, and athleticism. An underrated prospect, Thomas is an athletic playmaker with great speed, agility, change of direction skills, explosion, balance, burst, and flexibility. He's a very smooth and crisp route runner with sound technique displaying good bend on breaks coming out quickly with great athleticism, quickness, and burst. A natural pass catcher with strong soft hands extending to make catches away from his body, Thomas is also great at tracking the ball over his shoulder, and excels at high pointing catches exploding through his vertical with tremendous body control (contortionist type traits reminiscent of Odell Beckham Jr.) and outstanding ball skills. A deep threat, Thomas possesses sound awareness keeping plays in bounds picking up positive yardage after the catch and showcases a fearless mentality sacrificing his body to make the reception.
Thomas succumbs to a few focus drops every now and then, will need to show more consistency in his technique, needs to improve on refinement on route running with sinking his hips in the chair before top of stem more consistently (tends to forecast routes and rounds routes), and will also need to improve as a blocker; however, his effort in blocking is zealous. Thomas also brings value on Special Teams in the return game.
Round projection: 4th
QB Trevone Boykin, No. 2, 6'1 - 208 lbs., 4.57 40 - TCU (6th-UFA)
Season stats: 256/395 with a 64.8 percent completion percentage, 3,574 yards, 31/10 touchdown to interception ratio, 123 rushes, 612 rushing yards, averaging 5 yards per carry, 9 rushing touchdowns.
Trevone Boykin is a terrific college quarterback and his game has been very impressive throughout the season, so much so earlier in the season he was in the conversation as a candidate for the prestigious Heisman Trophy award. The question is, does Boykin's quarterback skills translate to the next level. Many believe Boykin's best position is wide receiver, a la Ohio State's Braxton Miller. However, I see some traits that will make him an intriguing quarterback option at the next level. At 6'1" (possibly even under 6'0"), Boykin's size is not ideal for the position, but his tremendous athleticism, elusiveness, vision, quickness, change of directions skills, and speed brings a unique and added threat to the quarterback position. Boykin has a good arm, and even though he has an elongated delivery, some of his vertical passes over the top are breathtaking; however, accuracy, timing, and mechanics will need to improve and show more consistency. He is extremely productive, which is likely the results of TCU's potent offense; nevertheless, Boykin would likely be considered a project at the next level, but his size could be the determining factor.
Lastly, Boykin is also on the path to recovering his image, especially after his arrest a few weeks back in San Antonio for allegedly hitting a patrol officer following a fight at a night club in the Alamo Plaza area, resulting in a suspension from playing in the Alamo Bowl. A strong showing at the NFLPA, both talent wise and character wise, should bode well for Boykin's draft status.
Round projection: 6th-UFA
Other Team National players of note:
WR Alonzo Russell, No. 9, 6'4 - 205 lbs., 4.54 40 - Toledo (6th-7th)
WR Dom Williams, No. 80, 6'2 - 192 lbs., 4.53 40 - Washington State (7th)
WR Ricardo Louis, No. 5, 6'2 - 215 lbs., 4.47 40 - Auburn (7th-UFA)
TE Beau Sandland, No. 85, 6'4 - 258 lbs., 4.78 40 - Montana State (6th)
C Mike Matthews, No. 56, 6'2 - 290 lbs., 5.16 40 - Texas A&M (6th-7th)