I’ll be helping out the organizers write for the front page occasionally for some draft coverage. Bear with me while I fully adjust, and I’ll do my best to make things interesting and thoughtful for you all.
This upcoming Saturday, Carson, California will be hosting the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Game. The game kicks off at 1:15 p.m. PT, and will air on FOX Sport 1. Mike Martz and Jim Zorn will be the coaches in a game that provides a chance for little known products to get further on the radar of NFL scouts.
It’s an amazing opportunity for players to potentially get some name recognition, as well as get hands on coaching from former legendary NFL coaches. Nearly 200 scouts are generally in attendance so some unknown players get their chance to make a splash in order to get noticed.
While the list of prospects are typically late day three, or priority free agent players, you never quite know when you’ll find diamonds in the rough. Some relatively known players that have emerged from this bowl game include Trevoyne Boykin, Marquette King, and Chris Conley. The 49ers have also displayed their own interest in some of the talent that comes through here by acquiring a couple players for themselves last year in wide receiver Bryce Treggs and cornerback Prince Charles Iworah.
For those out there are trying to complete their seven-round mock drafts, or if you’re just hungry for more football, this might be a fun game to watch. To that end, I’ve put together a watch list of five players on each side of the ball to watch on Saturday. I’ve also tried to construct that list based on the 49ers needs, as well as potential success in making the team.
- Hardy Nickerson, ILB, Illinois - I’m sure some of us recall talking about him last year. He was with the Cal Bears, and transferred to Illinois for one season last year. He’s a tackling machine who has a tendency to show up big in the important games.
- Chase Allen, LB, Southern Illinois - His versatility is what makes him so intriguing. He has experience at both linebacker positions, and he excels on special teams.
- Lorenzo Jerome, DB, St. Francis (PA) - This guy is a stud. He’s a highly ranked free safety at the next level who’s projected to go as high as the fourth round. He’s definitely one to keep your eye on.
- Joshua Thornton, CB/PR, Southern Utah - I like his positional versatility in being able to play as a returner. We need more options there and hopefully stability as well. What I really like is that he’s projected to run about a 4.35 for his 40 time. It’ll be worth watching his 3 cone speed as well.
- Tre’veon Johnson, ILB, Weber State - He has experience playing running back and safety before settling in as an ILB. I have a predisposition to ILBs that have played running back. After hearing Bowman mention that his experience as a RB helped him understand and diagnose against the run game, I’ve always had that in my mind when looking at incoming ILBs. He’s also been the team captain for 2 years and leads his team in sacks and solo tackles.
- Jamir Tillman, WR, Navy - Big target at 6’4 and 212 poundage. He is a mean blocker, has broken nearly every record a receiver can at Navy and has a few OBJ catches on his resume.
- Lance Lenoir, WR, Western Illinois - playmaker as well, broke all kinds of school records. What I find I really like is that he’s played every game. The only way you can help your team is by being on that field, Bruce Ellington re-affirmed that notion to many of us.
- Jay Guillermo, OC, Clemson - On the off-chance we do end up with Watson as our QB, why not let him work with the same center as he’s used to. He’s a solid player, but I really like that he came up big time and rated as an 88 against Alabama of all teams. He’s clearly doing something very right.
- Corey Levin, OG/OT, Tennessee-Chattanooga - he’s played all over the line, and Zane Beadles reconfirmed how important that kind of versatility is. Solid all around player with many merits and accolades to his name.
- Jake Siminoch, OG/OT, Utah State - I clearly have a preference for scheme/positional versatility. What Jake brings to the table is a mauler, he has a very high amount of knockdowns on a game to game basis. I think when we get a new coach, he dissects the roster, and after all is said and done, we will likely go back to a power scheme on the line. All of our starters outside of Beadles are better suited for it and then Tiller could come and compete as well. Siminoch would be good depth.
If even one of these players makes the team, I would be shocked beyond words, but also completely thrilled. This Saturday should be a fun watch.