The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl kicks off next Saturday. The 8th annual event will begin at 4 pm (CST) and be shown on FS1. The event is generally considered number three in the pecking order of the All-Star Game circuit. 18 players who participated in this game last year were drafted.
So, there are going to be good players showing off their skills to NFL scouts and the draft community. Here is a look at ten of those players that I will be keeping an eye on.
AMERICAN/QB/JuJuan Lawson/Rhode Island/6'0/203
Lawson is an intriguing name to be a late-round developmental QB. He is undersized but that doesn’t seem to matter nowadays. Lawson has a big accurate arm. He can move the pocket well and make plays with his feet. Lawson transferred from New Mexico where they never throw the ball. He improved his accuracy from ’17 to ’18. Lawson missed a handful of games this year with a knee injury.
Another transfer on this list, McMillian came to Colorado from Virginia Tech. He has some explosion to his game. McMillian burst onto the scene as a true freshman with over 1000 yards. He regressed over the next two seasons. Perhaps not fitting into the offensive changes with the Hokies. He returned to form with the Buffaloes in 2018 with another 1K year.
Ubosi was originally committed to play in the Shrine Game before opting to play out west. The former JUCO player was boom-or-bust in terms of production this season. Ubosi especially went boom against Northern Illinois. In the Blazers bowl win, he caught seven balls for 227 yards and three scores. Ubosi has the size and speed he just needs the polish.
NATIONAL/WR/Emmanuel Butler/Northern Arizona/6'4/220
Butler was a mid-round prospect a year ago before a shoulder injury cost him the 2017 season. As a sophomore and junior, Butler caught 133 passes for 2211 yards and 24 scores. This year for the Lumberjacks he finished with 35-676 and seven scores. Butler is another big and long WR that is rough around the edges.
It is rare to see an NAIA player make an NFL impact but Brandon Dillon could be that guy. He has prototype NFL size. In my limited viewings, I saw decent speed and some open field elusiveness. His numbers got better each season. Dillon finished 2018 with 35 catches for 603 yards and five scores. Level of competition is a real concern of course. That is why NFLPA week will be huge for him.
JGW has the size an NFL team will crave. However, the body of work is limited to one season. But what a season he had. JGW 29 solo tackles, 15.5 TFL, and 9.5 sacks for the Blazers. Consistency will be the key trait he needs to show going forward.
Sanders is a nasty player. An unselfish nasty player. In the day where everyone is looking for the next pass rushing interior lineman like Aaron Donald, the NFL stills need those run pluggers. Sanders is that guy. He was first-team All-Sun Belt and received an 82.9 grade from PFF as a run defender. Will he be a high draft pick? Probably not. Will he make an NFL roster? I wouldn’t bet against it.
Takitaki is a tackling machine for the Cougars. He won’t be as highly drafted as Fred Warner but he is skilled. Takitaki had 75 solo tackles in 2018 and for sacks. How is his pass defense? That is the question that he will need to answer to boost his draft stock.
Brown has consistently been one of the MAC’s best cover men over the last couple of seasons. He has excellent ball skills. Brown has six career picks and 21 passes defensed.
Battle is the forgotten player in an excellent LSU secondary. Battle has tremendous size and ball skills. It wouldn’t surprise me if he added about 15-20 pounds to become a hybrid safety-linebacker.
DEEP FRIED DRAFT
2019 NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL
TEN PLAYERS TO WATCH