Season’s Greetings 49er Faithful! We continue our college football bowl coverage breakdown highlighting and profiling a few notable draft-eligible prospects you should pay attention to. This will help people build a list of names to know when we get into the offseason. For today's bowl action we take a look at Army vs. North Texas match-up, No. 24 Temple vs. Wake Forest match-up, Minnesota vs. Washington State match-up, and Boise State vs. Baylor match-up. Before we get things started, I have listed the top five draft-eligible players both on the offensive and the defensive sides of the ball playing in today's match-ups. So, sit back, put your scouting hat on, and let's get things started with today's action.
Top 5 Players on Offense
*QB Luke Falk, No. 4, 6'4" - 216 lbs., 4.87 40 - (2nd) - Washington State
*RB Jeremy McNichols, No. 13, 5'9" - 212 lbs., 4.55 40 - (2nd-3rd) - Boise State
OT Dion Dawkins, No. 66, 6'5" - 320 lbs., 5.27 40 - (3rd) - Temple
C Kyle Fuller, No. 55, 6'4" - 310 lbs., 5.29 40 - (5th) - Baylor
*WR K.D. Cannon, No. 9, 5'11" - 180 lbs., 4.38 40 - (5th) - Baylor
Top 5 Players on Defense
DE/OLB Haason Reddick, No. 58, 6'1" - 230 lbs., 4.54 40 - (4th-5th) - Temple
ILB Marquel Lee, No. 8, 6'3" - 242 lbs., 4.76 40 - (6th) - Wake Forest
CB Jalen Myrick, No. 5, 5'10" - 205 lbs., 4.47 40 - (6th) - Minnesota
CB Brad Watson, No. 25, 6'0" - 200 lbs., 4.52 40 - (6th) - Wake Forest
SS Orion Stewart, No. 28, 6'1" - 205 lbs., 4.58 40 - (6th) - Baylor
* = indicates junior status
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl
Army Black Knights vs. North Texas Mean Green
Conference Affiliations: Independent vs. Conference USA
Location: Dallas, TX | Cotton Bowl Stadium at Fair Park
Game time: 9:00 AM PT
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: Gift suite; Amazon Echo Dot; football.
Army's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
ILB Andrew King, No. 11, 6'0" - 246 lbs., 4.83 40 - (7th-UDFA)
ILB Andrew King is a physical and disciplined box inside linebacker with good bulk ability and strength to take on runs at the point of attack maintaining sound leverage separating with hands and making tackles hitting with explosion. The former high school wrestler (also played lacrosse) and weight room junkie displays excellent strength, power, foot speed, agility, and balance shooting gaps attacking downhill with great closing speed. King displays solid instincts (high football IQ) reading run keys and has the play speed to track down and eliminate ball carriers. A tremendous leader of the team (served as platoon leader and honor officer), King boasts a superior work ethic, a team first attitude, and a relentless and unstoppable motor. Likely to stay committed to military aspirations determined to attend law school after a tour of infantry duty following his graduation; however, he will have options if the NFL comes knocking on his door. Will need to be a special teams standout in order to garnish a roster spot with the 49ers.
North Texas' draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
P Eric Keena, No. 84, 6'2" - 175 lbs., - (UDFA)
P Eric Keena is one of the top punters in the nation averaging 43.8 yards per punt on 69 attempts, and has a season long of 68 yards. Moreover, he has placed 20 punts inside the opponent's 20 yard-line and has 21 punts of 50-plus yards. Keena also is a force on kickoffs with 32 touchbacks on 54 kickoffs. After drafting Bradley Pinion in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft, it is obvious the 49ers are in no need of a punter; however, if they do bring in a "camp leg" to compete in the 90-man roster, Keena has the skill-set and productivity to help sharpen the iron. Plus, other than Keena, there are likely no other prospects from North Texas that will make an NFL roster, so someone needs to take this spot - punters are people too.
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
No. 24 Temple Owls vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Conference Affiliations: American Athletic vs. ACC
Location: Annapolis, MD | Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
Game time: 12:30 PM PT
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: $300 Microsoft gift card; Under Armour backpack and beanie; headphones.
Temple's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
OT Dion Dawkins, No. 66, 6'5" - 320 lbs., 5.27 40 - (3rd)
OT Dion Dawkins is a thick tackle prospect with great arm length, size, power, and athleticism. He showcases impressive quickness, athleticism, technique (inconsistent), explosion, balance, solid and fierce punch at the point of attack, and great footwork. A very smooth athlete, Dawkins handles the edge against speed quite well with impressive lateral agility adjusting to movement and using his impactful hands to stifle defenders. He flashes a good anchor, but has a tendency to lose on leverage with high pad level; moreover, he has inconsistent hand technique (very powerful hands with flashes of a jarring punch) at times allowing defenders to reach inside his chest. Dawkins also has a tendency to be a waist bender lunging forward unable to maintain balance while driving defenders. Nevertheless, Dawkins is a tough powerful mauler at left tackle (has experience at right tackle too) excelling in the run game showcasing the toughness and foot speed to drive defenders away (uses angles well) finishing blocks all the way to the whistle. He's a quality offensive lineman prospect with great feet that will need to be coached up with better technique to match his powerful and athletic long and wide frame. Dawkins will immediately fill the swing tackle position for the 49ers giving competition to Zane Beadles and John Theus, and would eventually become the heir apparent to Joe Staley.
Off field concerns will need to be addressed. Dawkins (and fellow teammate DE/OLB Haason Reddick) were suspended from team for three months during Spring 2016 for an off-campus fight resulting in a 21-year-old man suffering a fractured orbital bone after allegedly being kicked and hit by Dawkins and several other team members. Dawkins was facing felony aggravated assault, conspiracy chargers, and related misdemeanor charges; however, Dawkins maintained his innocence (allegedly misidentified) and was reinstated to the team and avoided trial by agreeing to be placed in a diversionary program, Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.
Other Owls to keep an eye on: DE/OLB Haason Reddick, No. 58 - (4th-5th); RB Jahad Thomas, No. 5 - (6th-7th); and DE Praise Martin-Oguike, No. 50 - (7th-UDFA).
Wake Forest's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
ILB Marquel Lee, No. 8, 6'3" - 242 lbs., 4.76 40 - (6th)
ILB Marquel Lee is a thumper in the box linebacker that excels in attacking downhill. Lee displays a great combination of bulk-ability, strength, speed, and athleticism, as well as showcasing great instincts reading run keys with the play speed to track down the ball inside and outside of the box. Shows solid ability taking on the run at the point of attack separating with explosive hands, athleticism, and decent leverage. A very strong reliable tackler that hits with explosion, and displays great burst and agility to knife through gaps and off the edge creating havoc in the backfield. With the 49ers scrapping the bottom of the barrel to field inside linebackers, Lee provides much needed sound tackling skills and depth at the position.
Other Demon Deacons to keep an eye on: CB Brad Watson, No. 25 - (6th); DT Josh Banks, No. 40 - (7th-UDFA); and OLB Thomas Brown, No. 26 - (7th-UDFA).
National Funding Holiday Bowl
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Washington State Cougars
Conference Affiliations: Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Location: San Diego, CA | Qualcomm Stadium
Game time: 4:00 PM PT
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era cap.
Minnesota's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
QB Mitch Leidner, No. 7, 6'3" - 230 lbs., 4.95 40 - (7th)
QB Mitch Leidner has had some hype entering the season with "first-round" potential being slung around quickly resulting in numerous fans mouth's to agape, but I am not on that hype-train. Leidner definitely possesses the prototypical size and bulk for the position, with impressive athleticism - can do damage with his legs - and has decent arm strength. There are flashes of premier talent and he definitely has raw physical tools that can be molded with solid coaching, but a lot of inconsistency in his game with a 56.4% average passing percentage and a 35-32 touchdown to interception ratio throughout his collegiate career. With Colin Kaepernick likely voiding his contract at the end of the season and no other quarterbacks under contract going into 2017, Leidner would be a raw prospect that has potential (with a lot of solid coaching) to be a backup.
Other Golden Gophers to keep an eye on: CB Jalen Myrick, No. 5 - (6th); OT Jonah Pirsig, No. 79 - (7th); WR Drew Wolitarsky, No. 82 - (7th-UDFA); and SS Damarius Travis, No. 7 - (7th-UDFA).
Washington State's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
*QB Luke Falk, No. 4, 6'4" - 216 lbs., 4.87 40 - (2nd)
*QB Luke Falk is a former walk-on prospect that has quickly become one of the most accurate passers in college football. The lanky Falk thrives in the quarterback friendly "Air Raid" offense boasting a strong arm capable of making all NFL throws and navigates well around the pocket with tremendous poise and good decision making. Although he dominates operating in a clean pocket (a luxury in the NFL), I love the subtle steps he uses to maneuver and climb constantly keeping his eyes down the field reading progressions across all parts of the field (not a one-read QB) with no pause in the pocket displaying great awareness, pocket presence, and feel. Falk has a compact release with a nice snap of the wrist getting the ball out quick with tremendous pinpoint accuracy (accuracy is one of his best assets) and a quality zip on the ball with good ball placement. Needs more consistency with his downfield game lacking the necessary velocity on deep throws putting too much air under the ball allowing defenses to adjust and cleanly attack the football. Not a true dual threat, but does have decent mobility to escape. Operating exclusively from the shotgun, Falk will need to learn to operate under center at the next level. Although coming from a high producing college offense inflating eye popping numbers, Falk possesses enough traits and intangibles that will project success at the next level, and with his workman-like intensive film study routine always eager to improve his game, he possess the necessary capacity to improve, which will bode well for his success at the next level. With Colin Kaepernick likely voiding his contract at the end of the season and no other quarterbacks under contract going into 2017, Falk has the elite accuracy Chip Kelly looks for in his quarterbacks and could be a great fit leading the 49ers out of the depths of despair.
Other Cougars to keep an eye on: WR Gabe Marks, No. 9 - (6th); OG Eduardo Middleton, No. 73 - (7th-UDFA); and FS Shalom Luani, No. 18 - (7th-UDFA).
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
Boise State Broncos vs. Baylor Bears
Conference Affiliations: Mountain West vs. Big 12
Location: Phoenix, AZ | Chase Field
Game time: 7:15 PM PT
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: Gift suite; Ogio Baja 70 backpack; Fossil watch; mixer bottle.
Boise State's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
*RB Jeremy McNichols, No. 13, 5'9" - 212 lbs., 4.55 40 - (2nd-3rd)
*RB Jeremy McNichols is a complete running back with good speed, explosion, quickness, vision, power, and strength. A very productive and successful college running back, McNichols runs with authority breaking tackles with determination and toughness, and the suddenness to be elusive in the open field. Although he does not have an elite explosive burst, he shows excellent patience and vision, impressive cuts making consecutive moves in a short area, and runs will solid balance and a great lean. He has fluid feet, very agile and good change of direction skills with great flexibility and tremendous balance. Shows good aggression in fighting and gaining extra yards maintaining leverage (low pad level) getting low and through the crack with a knack for running to daylight as a home run hitter. He is also a natural pass catcher with solid reliable hands, ball skills, body control, and a smooth route runner. Also brings value in the return game.
McNichols does not have elite speed, but as a complete running back he does everything well: running inside with solid power and agility, outside with good burst and enough speed, breaks tackles, causes defenders to miss with change of direction and suddenness, one of the top pass catchers out of the backfield, decent at pass protection, solid college production, and a playmaker posing a constant threat as a home run hitter. Would make an excellent pairing with Carlos Hyde as 1-2 punch rotational running back capable of playing all three downs.
Other Broncos to keep an eye on: WR Thomas Sperbeck, No. 82 - (7th-UDFA); OG Mario Yakoo, No. 66 - (7th-UDFA); OG Travis Averill, No. 73, - (7th-UDFA); OLB Ben Weaver, No. 51 - (7th-UDFA); and K Tyler Rausa, No. 49 - (7th-UDFA).
Baylor's draft-eligible prospects to keep an eye on:
C Kyle Fuller, No. 55, 6'4" - 310 lbs., 5.29 40 - (5th)
*WR K.D. Cannon, No. 9, 5'11" - 180 lbs., 4.38 40 - (5th)
C Kyle Fuller displays an excellent combination of size, (6'5" - 315 lbs.), strength, and athleticism. Fuller displays a powerful lower half with thick thighs and the bubble-butt generating immense power and strength, which Fuller displays mauling defenders off the ball with great force and dancing steps. Even though Fuller shows good flexibility, he plays a little high. Shows good athletic ability snapping and moving laterally with decent foot agility, but occasionally loses balance; nonetheless, he does a good job adjusting to movement. Displays a good anchor in the pocket setting a solid base. The 5th year senior has excellent football instincts and is a very smart and tough center prospect with the ability to work all interior offensive lineman positions. With Daniel Kilgore and Marcus Martin both entering their final contract year in 2017 and recently converted defensive tackle Alex Balducci still learning the position, Fuller brings solid depth at the position likely battling Martin for the backup and eventual replacement of Daniel Kilgore.
*WR K.D. Cannon is true to his namesake, because "cannon" truly represents how explosive he is on the field. An elite deep threat with blazing speed (gets to top speed in a flash) displaying excellent explosion, agility, and smoothness in his game, Cannon, the former high school star track athlete sports a lanky frame, a good ability to break in and out of his cuts with great suddenness and amazing burst exploding out of breaks separating from defenders. Cannon extends his arms to make the catch possessing solid reliable hands, good body control, and nice ball skill tracking the deep ball. He is an amazing athlete with elite speed (4.38 40) and has a recorded time in the 100-meter dash of 10.37 seconds. He will need to add functional strength for the next level and needs to give more effort when plays are not coming his way, has a tendency to be spectator during run plays. With Torrey Smith's lack of production in comparison to his contract numbers and trade rumors surrounding him during the trade deadline, there is a possibility the 49ers may be without a speedy deep threat going into 2017. Cannon is the type of wide receiver (takes top off coverages) that could fill the void if Torrey Smith is no longer a 49er.
Other Bears to keep an eye on: SS Orion Stewart, No. 28 - (6th); ILB Aiavion Edwards, No. 20 - (7th-UDFA); and CB Ryan Reid, No. 9 - (7th-UDFA).