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Hawaii Bowl draft prospects to watch for 49ers fans

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We highlight and profile the 2018 NFL draft-eligible prospects for Sunday’s Hawaii Bowl.

NCAA Football: Las Vegas Bowl-Houston vs San Diego State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our Bowl Season and shift to the Hawaiian islands for the Hawaii Bowl which features the Fresno State Bulldogs of the Mountain West Conference against the Houston Cougars of the American Athletic Conference. Like the Bahamas Bowl, the Hawaii Bowl would certainly be another game I wouldn’t mind playing in if my team fell short of the College Football Playoff or New Years 6 Bowls! Both teams fell short of winning their conference championships. Fresno State lost to Boise State, while Houston took a step back after losing star players and head coach Tom Herman to the university of Texas.

NCAA Football: Mountain West Championship-Fresno State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Why You Should Watch

Offensive lineman, particularly centers who are draft eligible on both teams. The 49ers need to address their offensive line, and perhaps there are some late round prospects to be had playing tonight.

How They Got Here

Fresno State has taken positive steps with head coach Jed Tedford who led the program to an 8-4 record and a runner-up of the Mountain West Conference. Look for Tedford’s name to be discussed in future coaching cycles in the Power 5 conferences. Houston, as mentioned earlier, took a step back this season, finishing 7-4 under first year head coach Major Applewhite. However, it seems like coach Applewhite has things under control after so much turnover at Houston.

Interesting Note

The 2017 Hawaii Bowl marks the first ever meeting between the Fresno State Bulldogs and Houston Cougars.

NCAA Football: Navy at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction

A strong offensive attack from Fresno against a solid defense from Houston. I expect the game to be close, and more often than not, in these cases, defense prevails, and so I will pick the Cougars to win this game and earn coach Applewhite a bowl victory in his debut season.

The Pick: Houston

Hawaii Bowl game info

Teams: Fresno State (8-4) vs Houston (7-4)
Date: Sunday, Dec. 24 | Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Aloha Stadium -- Halawa, Hawaii
TV: ESPN

Top Draft Eligible Players To Watch

Aaron Mitchell - Center - Fresno State - 6’2” - 295 lbs. (7th-UDFA)
Will Noble - Center - Houston - 6’4” - 297 lbs.
Garrett Davis - Safety - Houston - 6’0” - 205 lbs.
Bela Otukolo - LB - Fresno State - 5’11” - 240 lbs.

Will Noble - Center - Houston

NCAA Football: Las Vegas Bowl-Houston vs San Diego State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Noble had a productive and effective season for the Cougars. He remained healthy and started all 11 regular season games. Houston has a strong running game, and he played a major role in the 1,930 yards and 24 touchdowns produced throughout the season. Was the member of an offensive line that didn’t give up a single sack in 5 games. Noble has not yet declared for the draft, and if he does, at the moment is a late round, day three prospect.

Garrett Davis - Safety - Houston

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It will be interesting to see how GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan approach the safety position this offseason. If adding depth to the safety position is on your mind, then Davis is someone to watch tonight. This season Davis recored 51 tackles and 4 interceptions in 11 games played this season. Davis seems to play at his best when the Moment is bright, and gets stronger the later the game goes. This is a strong trait of his. Like Noble, Davis is a day three prospect in the upcoming draft should he declare.

To those who celebrate, I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas!