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January 1st early bowl games schedule, draft prospects for 49ers fans to watch

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We highlight and profile the 2018 NFL draft-eligible prospects for the Outback Bowl, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, and the Citrus Bowl on Monday, January 1st.

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Notre Dame
Quenton Nelson
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Happy New Years 49er Faithful! We continue our college football bowl coverage breakdown highlighting and profiling a few notable draft-eligible prospects you should pay attention to for the three early college bowl games of the New Years’ day. My fellow Niners Nation compadre, Alex Gregory (LI49er), will cover the final two College Football Playoff Semifinals bowl games later today. All in all, we will be highlighting potential 49ers prospects that will help people build a list of names to know when we get into the offseason.

In this morning’s bowl action we take a look at Michigan vs. South Carolina match-up, No. 12 UCF vs. No. 7 Auburn match-up, and No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU match-up. For today, we specifically focus on areas of positional needs for the 49ers, which include: center, guard, edge, wide receiver, and the outside linebacker positions. So, sit back, put your scouting hat on, and let's get things started with today's action.

* = indicates junior status

Outback Bowl

Michigan Wolverines vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

Conference Affiliations: Big Ten vs. SEC
Location: Tampa, FL | Raymond James Stadium
Game time: 9:00 AM PT
Channel: ESPN 2
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: Jostens ring; Fossil watch; $125 Best Buy gift card; Outback Steakhouse gift card; hat.

Michigan's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
C Mason Cole, No. 52, 6’5” - 305 lbs., 5.14 40 - (2nd-3rd)

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State
Mason Cole
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

C Mason Cole is a technically sound center prospect that brings tremendous toughness and versatility to his game. A true leader and team player (willing to play all over the OL), Cole showcases impressive athleticism with excellent foot agility easily capable of snapping the football and firing off the ball moving laterally smoothly. He displays great change of direction fluidity and is solid blocking in space reaching the second level with quickness and power.

Cole shows great ability to read defenses and has tremendous football instincts (high football IQ). He is stout at the point of attack and displays excellent ability to anchor the pocket, setting and maintaining the base of the pocket allowing the quarterback to step up in the pocket away from the trash. Brings versatility capable of playing all offensive linemen positions. Currently plays left tackle for the Wolverines.

Other Wolverines to keep an eye on:
RB Ty Isaac, No. 32, 6’3” - 228 lbs., 4.57 40 - (6th)
FB Khalid Hill, No. 80, 6’2” - 263 lbs., 4.88 40 - (5th)
FB Henry Poggi, No. 19, 6’4” - 266 lbs., 4.94 40 - (7th-UDFA)
C Patrick Kugler, No. 57, 6’5” - 302 lbs., 5.18 40 - (7th-UDFA)
DE Chase Winovich, No. 15, 6’3” - 245 lbs., 4.82 40 - (6th)
DT Maurice Hurst Jr., No. 73, 6’2” - 282 lbs., 4.93 40 - (1st)
DT Bryan Mone, No. 90, 6’4” - 320 lbs., 5.27 40 - (7th-UDFA)
OLB Mike McCray, No. 9, 6’4” - 240 lbs., 4.82 40 - (3rd)

South Carolina's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
OLB Skai Moore, No. 10, 6’2” - 220 lbs., 4.67 40 - (4th)

Kentucky v South Carolina
Skai Moore
Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages

OLB Skai Moore is an extremely explosive linebacker that plays with impressive athleticism and instincts, as well as being a reliable tackler hitting with power behind his pads (good power through his hips). However, it’s Moore’s impressive coverage and range skills that makes him extremely dangerous, but he also possesses decent bulk-ability (albeit will need to add more weight to his slender frame) to take on the run too. He will jolt larger blockers separating with his active hands, quickness, and athleticism bursting to make the tackle hitting with explosion.

Overall, Moore is a dynamic athlete with excellent range (impressive sideline-to-sideline ability covering a lot of ground with excellent speed), agility, quickness, balance, flexibility, change of direction skills (very fluid), strength, physicality, and burst. He is good as a run and chase linebacker displaying excellent instincts and speed easily reading run keys and has the play speed (straight-line speed with a burst) to track down the football with impressive closing speed. Moreover, he’s one of the top end coverage linebackers with tremendous ball skills (14 career interceptions) and has an innate ability to make a lot of plays with his eyes (impressive awareness with a great burst in zone - ideal zone defender - with excellent eyes reading the quarterback). Missed 2016 season with a herniated disc, so medical is a concern going forward.

Other Gamecocks to keep an eye on:
C Alan Knott, No. 70, 6’4” - 290 lbs., 5.04 40 - (7th-UDFA)
DE Dante Sawyer, No. 95, 6’3” - 265 lbs., 4.89 40 - (7th-UDFA)
DT Taylor Stallworth, No. 90, 6’3” - 308 lbs., - (UDFA)
OLB Bryson Allen-Williams, No. 4, 6’0” - 229 lbs., 4.72 40 - (UDFA)
CB Jamarcus King, No. 7, 6’1” - 186 lbs., - (6th)
CB Chris Lammons, No. 3, 5’9” - 188 lbs., 4.48 40 - (7th-UDFA)

Chic-fil-A Peach Bowl

No. 12 UCF Knights vs. No. 7 Auburn Tigers

Conference Affiliations: AAC vs. SEC
Location: Atlanta, GA | Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Game time: 9:30 AM PT
Channel: ESPN
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: $300 Vanilla Visa gift card by InComm; Ultimate Ears Wonderboom bluetooth speaker; Fossil watch; football.

UCF's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
OLB Shaquem Griffin, No. 18, 6'2" - 229 lbs., 4.62 40 - (6th-7th)

South Florida vs Central Florida
Shaquem Griffin
Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images

OLB Shaquem Griffin is the twin brother to current Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback Shaquill Griffin. One intriguing aspect about Shaquem is that he consistently plays at a high level of football with just one hand. At the age of four, Shaquem had his left hand amputated due to a rare condition before birth. Nevertheless, missing a hand has not deterred Shaquem whatsoever. He’s a determined strong work ethic athlete with a chip on his shoulder constantly proving doubters wrong.

Griffin is an excellent athlete with great first-step explosion coming off the edge, and displays pass rush ability with nice bend, agility, athleticism, speed, and the skill set to make plays. He shows fluidity in space and excellent movement skills (short area quickness), bestows good length (long arms), and great range as a high-motored linebacker playing sideline-to-sideline with tremendous instincts and awareness. He shows great coverage skills with nice hip flexibility and ball skills, and is a great blitzer wreaking havoc in the backfield. Displays a high football IQ, good quickness and burst, along with sound technique and physical play to make plays on a consistent level.

Other Knights to keep an eye on:
DT Tony Guerad, No. 93, 6'3" - 305 lbs., - (UDFA)
DT Jamiyus Pittman, No. 5, 6'1" - 319 lbs., - (6th-7th)
ILB Chequan Burkett, No. 2, 6'3" - 230 lbs., 4.85 40 - (UDFA)

Auburn's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
OG/OT Braden Smith, No. 71, 6’6” - 303 lbs., 4.95 40 - (2nd-3rd)

Arkansas State v Auburn
Braden Smith
Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

OG/OT Braden Smith is a chiseled - workout warrior - prospect with freakish athleticism and strength for his size. The former high school track and field athlete can squat 565 pounds, bench press 495 pounds, has a 33-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot-9-inch broad jump, and can run a 4.95 40-yard dash at 6-foot-6-inch, 303 pounds. The tapered build Smith possesses makes him look like an agile tackle in a zone-blocking scheme; however, he is projected to kick it inside to offensive guard at the next level and I project as one of the top scheme fit guards in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

Along with his height, length, and agility, Smith also displays incredible strength, explosiveness, mobility, impressive footwork, speed, great technique, tremendous awareness, and balance. He is quick in reaching the second level with great hip flexibility and smoothness to block in space utilizing sound technique, power, and footwork opening spaces with effective angles. Moreover, when he pulls he showcases his impressive speed and awareness in quickly finding targets and eliminating them. He shows an excellent base when anchoring and solid technique utilizing his very long arms in pass protection with great power and balance at the point of attack. He has a high football IQ to go along with his impressive leadership qualities. Brings versatility to kick it outside and play tackle or as an end of line blocking tight end.

Other Tigers to keep an eye on:
OG/OT Darius James, No. 78, 6’4” - 320 lbs., 5.28 40 - (6th)
C/OG Austin Golson, No. 73, 6’5” - 314 lbs., 5.23 40 - (7th-UDFA)
OLB Tre’ Williams, No. 30, 6’2” - 240 lbs., 4.79 40 - (7th)
*CB Carlton Davis, No. 6, 6’1” - 203 lbs., 4.52 40 - (1st)
SS Tray Matthews, No. 28, 6’1” - 207 lbs., 4.58 40 - (6th)
FS Stephen Roberts, No. 14, 5’11” - 183 lbs., 4.50 40 - (UDFA)
K Daniel Carlson, No. 38, 6’4” - 218 lbs., 4.96 40 - (5th)
LS Ike Powell, No. 69, 6’3” - 264 lbs., 5.17 40 - (7th-UDFA)

Citrus Bowl

No. 14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. No. 17 LSU Tigers

Conference Affiliations: Independent vs. SEC
Location: Orlando, FL | Camping World Stadium
Game time: 10:00 AM PT
Channel: ABC
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Bowl gift swag: $400 Best Buy player shopping trip; Timely Watch Co. watch.

Notre Dame's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
*OG Quenton Nelson, No. 56, 6’5” - 329 lbs., 5.23 40 - (1st)

OG Quenton Nelson returned to the Irish foregoing the opportunity to enter the 2017 NFL Draft after receiving a second-round grade from the NFL's Advisory Board. One of the top draft-eligible offensive guards, Nelson is an athletically gifted mauler prospect with great length (long arms) and agility playing with a nasty and savvy mentality you like seeing in a guard prospect. Plus, he's very well coached by Harry Hiestand. A plug and play prospect that will easily give a team at least 10 years of high production.

A force in the run game, Nelson displays light fluid feet, great explosion, and excels pulling and reaching the second level quickly. He has a nice pop at the point of attack with violent hands, and also displays the athletic ability to swing his hips blocking in space when reaching the second level and/or pulling effectively creating clear lanes and is excellent with combo blocks. Nelson showcases great lateral agility adjusting to movement and mirroring well in pass protection maintaining superb balance and outstanding awareness (exceptional high football IQ). Occasionally, will get pushed back and put on skates, but is quick to regather sinking hips rolling power regaining leverage to stonewall defenders with tremendous strength and power (workout warrior).

Other Fighting Irish to keep an eye on:
*RB Josh Adams, No. 33, 6’2” - 220 lbs., 4.48 40 - (3rd)
*WR Equanimeous St. Brown Jr., No. 6, 6’5” - 204 lbs., 4.54 40 - (3rd)
TE Durham Smythe, No. 80, 6055 - 256 lbs., 4.87 40 - (5th)
OT Mike McGlinchey, No. 68, 6’8” - 312 lbs., 5.27 40 - (1st)
OLB Greer Martini, No. 48, 6035 - 240 lbs., 4.82 40 - (7th-UDFA)
DE Jay Hayes, No. 93, 6035 - 281 lbs., - (7th-UDFA)
DE Andrew Trumbetti, No. 98, 6’4” - 252 lbs., 4.84 40 - (7th-UDFA)
DT Jerry Tillery, No. 99, 6065 - 308 lbs., 5.32 40 - (3rd)
ILB Nyles Morgan, No. 5, 6’1” - 238 lbs., 4.84 40 - (6th)
LB/SS Drue Tranquill, No. 23, 6’2” - 230 lbs., 4.64 40 - (5th)

LSU's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
*DE Arden Key, No. 49, 6’6” - 255 lbs., 4.73 40 - (1st-2nd)

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Florida
Arden Key
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

DE Arden Key is a dynamic playmaker bringing a perfect blend of size, length, fluidity, speed, agility, and athleticism. He is explosive with a terrific first-step flying off the edge with excellent flexibility, elite quickness, burst, bendability, great balance, and acceleration with insane closing speed. Key wins with pure athleticism easily changing directions beating opponents with elite athleticism and speed, but when he flashes technique in concert with his athleticism, he becomes a dominant force wreaking havoc all over the field.

One area of concern with Key is he left the LSU football program for roughly four months taking a leave of absence for “personal reasons”. Along with shoulder surgery in the offseason and bulking up to become more powerful in taking on front-side blocks, Key has been hampered this season trying to get back into game shape after missing eight months of football activity, as well as missing the last two games of the season with a knee injury. Nevertheless, when he’s on top of his game, Key is an elite talent with excellent physical traits and superior athleticism who plays the game with intense passion. Medicals will need to be addressed.

Key will not play in today’s bowl game (knee/finger - pinky surgery).

LSU's draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on:
WR D.J. Chark, No. 7, 6’2” - 187 lbs., 4.39 40 - (3rd)

LSU v Alabama
D.J. Chark
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As one of the top deep threats in college football, WR D.J. Chark is a large target big-play lanky receiver showcasing elite speed, nice body control, great ball skills, impressive leaping ability, strong hands, and the over the shoulder tracking awareness to be a dynamic vertical threat downfield. He displays amazing burst off the line of scrimmage and has the quick-twitch quickness and impressive speed to blow past defenders and quickly get on top of them in a hurry.

Chark shows grit attacking balls in the middle of the field and shows the capability to take a short pass and turn it into a big gain. Shows flashes to elevate and climb the ladder at its highest point to make the grab with strong hands. He utilizes his impressive speed and athleticism to separate from defenders and is a work in progress as a route runner, but showcases nice suddenness to break in and out of cuts creating separation with the ability to turn on burners and explode and separate. Will need to gain functional strength at the next level to counteract at the line of scrimmage when pressed. Brings added value in the return game.

Other Tigers to keep an eye on:
*RB Derrius Guice, No. 5, 5’11” - 212 lbs., 4.52 40 - (1st)
FB/TE John David Moore, No. 18, 6’4” - 241 lbs., 4.82 40 - (6th)
OT/OG K.J. Malone, No. 63, 6’4” - 303 lbs., 5.09 40 - (5th)
*C William Clapp, No. 64, 6’5” - 309 lbs., 5.26 40 - (3rd)
DT Christian LaCouture, No. 18, 6’5” - 301 lbs., 5.12 40 - (6th)
DT Greg Gilmore, No. 99, 6’5” - 308 lbs., 5.09 40 - (5th-6th)
*CB Kevin Toliver II, No. 2, 6’2” - 204 lbs., 4.52 40 - (2nd)

Player measurables courtesy of team pages. 40 times projected.