Posted: Mon December 31, 2012 1:46PM; Updated: Tue January 1, 2013 1:56PM
Tony Pauline
Tony Pauline>INSIDE THE NFL

NFL Draft prospects to watch in bowl games: Part 3

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Matt Barkley
Matt Barkley won't be able to improve his slipping draft stock in the Sun Bowl, which he'll miss due to an injured shoulder.
AP

Breaking down the players to watch in the season's first batch of bowl games, as well as a projection as to where they'll be drafted.

COMPLETE BOWL SCHEDULE | DRAFT ORDER | EARLY ENTRANTS

Mortgage Music City Bowl: North Carolina State vs Vanderbilt

Mike Glennon/QB/North Carolina State: Glennon's physical skills are the talk of the draft world and many have predicted the senior will be a first-round selection. He possesses the arm strength to start at the next level, but throws with inconsistent mechanics and makes questionable decisions. Glennon is a solid quarterback prospect who needs work before he'll be NFL ready. 2nd/3rd Round

Jordan Matthews/WR/Vanderbilt: The Vanderbilt junior turned in a career campaign and now ranks as a legitimate second-day draft choice. Matthews is well-sized with reliable hands and has a nose for the big play. He's the go-to receiver opponents cannot contain and projects as a third wideout at the next level. 3rd Round

David Amerson/CB/North Carolina State: Amerson's play slumped this season after a productive sophomore campaign which included 13 interceptions. He was consistently victimized by opposing passers, giving up long gainers which resulted in touchdowns. Amerson is expected to enter the draft and moves towards April with a declining grade. 3rd Round

Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech vs USC

Matt Barkley/QB/USC: Barkley chose to forgo last April's draft in anticipation of a national title run with the Trojans and a Heisman Trophy campaign for himself. Neither came to fruition, and Barkley has watched his draft stock plummet. He showed a lack of poise and poor decision-making on the field this season. The shoulder injury he sustained in the loss to UCLA, which is expected to keep him out of the Sun Bowl, adds another red flag to his resume. 1st Round

Robert Woods/WR/USC: Woods took a back seat to super sophomore Marqise Lee this season and his production significantly slid. The junior offers reliable hands, runs effective pass routes and occasionally turns in the big play. He's a solid prospect with potential as a No. 2 wideout at the next level. 2nd Round

T.J. McDonald/S/USC: McDonald is the third Trojan moving toward the draft with a declining grade. He's a forceful defender at the top of his game and a safety who stops the run or effectively patrols centerfield in coverage. McDonald looked slow to react at times last season but scouts are enticed by his size and the skill he formerly displayed. 2nd Round

Jeremiah Attaochu/LB/Georgia Tech: The junior linebacker has proven himself to be a forceful defender the pass two seasons. He's effective stuffing the run or making plays behind the line of scrimmage. Attaochu is a menace in the box but needs to polish his skills in coverage to complete his game. 4th Round

Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs Tulsa

A.J. Klein/LB/Iowa State: Klein has been a tackling machine the past three seasons at Iowa State and a linebacker who plays hard for 60 minutes. He combines outstanding instincts and toughness, quickly finding the ball handler then selling out to make plays. He offers a complete game and will be an asset on special teams at the next level. 5th/6th Round

Willie Carter/FB/Tulsa: Carter is an accomplished pass catcher with a combined 109 receptions the past two seasons. He offers next-level size (6-foot-2 and 230 pounds) as well as speed (4.6 seconds) and has shown the ability to carry the ball in short-yardage situations. Carter projects as a West Coast fullback for the NFL. 7th Round

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Clemson vs LSU

Barkevious Mingo/DE-OLB/LSU: The Tigers star prospect entered his junior season with high expectations, but failed to produce on the field. Mingo previously displayed himself to be a forceful defender who altered the momentum of games with big plays. In 2012 he disappeared for stretches at a time which has scouts concerned. He's gone from a top-five selection to a mid-first-round choice, but the talent is available for Mingo to be a big-time NFL player. 1st Round

Sam Montgomery/DE/LSU: Montgomery is another junior defender who performed below expectations last season. Ordinarily he's impossible to stop, but Montgomery displayed little consistency on the field in 2012. He offers large upside, but his play last season coupled with character questions have raised red flags. 1st Round

Bennie Logan/DT/LSU: Logan is the third LSU defensive lineman who did not consistently play to his level of ability this year. He's an explosive interior defender with the ability to stuff the run or rush the passer. Like his fellow teammates, Logan possesses the natural ability to start on the NFL level. 1st Round

DeAndre Hopkins/WR/Clemson: Hopkins stepped up his game in 2012 and as a result has risen up draft boards. The junior proved to be reliable and also showed a nose for the end zone. His game is polished and Hopkins offers the tools to be a second wideout at the next level. 2nd Round

Andre Ellington/RB/Clemson: Ellington was the perfect ball carrier for Clemson's high powered offense. He's an intelligent back who runs with both vision and toughness. Ellington also lends a hand as a receiver out of the backfield. He lacks the size NFL teams desire for a feature running back but will find a niche as a change of pace player. 2nd Round

Eric Reid/S/LSU: Reid has been a consistent centerfielder for LSU the past two seasons. He's a forceful run defender who effectively covers receivers between the numbers. Reid has the substance and style to get consideration as a zone safety at the next level. 3rd Round

Gator Bowl: Mississippi State vs Northwestern

Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree
Georgia's Jarvis Jones (left) and Alec Ogletree both project as first-round picks.
USA Today Sports

Johnathan Banks/CB/Mississippi State: Banks has been a productive cornerback for the Bulldogs since 2010 and offers a nice combination of size and smarts. He possesses the strength to play in man coverage as well as the instincts to line up in a zone system. Banks moves towards Aprils as the draft's top-rated senior cornerback. 2nd Round

Gabe Jackson/G/Mississippi State: Jackson is a behemoth blocker who has displayed progress in his game the past three seasons. He mauls defenders on the line of scrimmage and moves well for a 315-pound lineman. Jackson comes with a large upside and should only improve with experience. 3rd Round

Josh Boyd/DT/Mississippi State: Boyd is an explosive lineman who displays the ability to stop the run or make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He struggled in 2012 after Fletcher Cox left MSU for the NFL, possesses a nice combination of quickness and movement skills. 4th/5th Round

David Nwabuisi/OLB/Northwestern: Nwabuisi has lined up at both middle and outside linebacker the past two seasons and displays versatility to his game. He possesses a nose for the football and stands out in pursuit. He'll be an asset at the next level as a backup linebacker and special teams player. 7th Round

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Purdue vs Oklahoma State

Kawann Short/DT/Purdue: Short opted to forgo last April's draft and return for his senior campaign yet never elevated his game in 2012. He's a monstrous interior lineman that's impossible to stop when running on all cylinders. Short disappeared for stretches this season and scouts feel he should've been more dominant. 2nd Round

Joseph Randle/RB/Oklahoma State: Randle showed the ability to carry the load for a second straight season as the Cowboys feature ball carrier. He's an explosive back who quickly gets through the running lanes then beats defenders into the open field. Randle is also effective as a pass catcher out of the backfield and projects as a situational ball handler for the next level. 3rd Round

Josh Johnson/CB/Purdue: Johnson is an underrated cover corner with solid ball skills. He effectively lines up in man coverage and sticks to receivers everywhere on the field. He has the uncanny ability to defend deep passes, reading receivers eyes then tracking the ball down the field. Johnson offers potential as a dime back/special teams player in the NFL. 6th Round

Outback Bowl: Michigan vs South Carolina

Taylor Lewan/T/Michigan: Lewan is a tremendous tackle prospect who combines size, athleticism and fundamentals to dominate opponents. He's a solid pass protector who also possesses the ability to get out front and block on the move. The junior is expected to forgo his senior season and will be an early selection in April's draft. 1st Round

Denard Robinson/WR-RB-RS/Michigan: Starting at quarterback for the Wolverines since his sophomore season Robinson is expected to transition to a new position in the NFL. He's an electrifying player with the ability to make defenders miss and pick up big chunks of yardage carrying the ball. Robinson also displayed pass catching skill last season as he totaled 10 receptions, 7 which resulted in touchdowns. He's a terrific athlete who should quickly adjust to a new position at the next level. 2nd/3rd Round

D.J. Swearinger/S/South Carolina: The Gamecock defensive back is a complete safety who has fallen under the radar screen. He's quick up the field in run defense and has the ball skills necessary to play over the slot receiver. Swearinger possesses next level size as well as starting potential. 3rd Round

Capital One Bowl: Georgia vs Nebraska

Jarvis Jones/OLB/Georgia: There's not much left to say about Jones, who proved himself to be one of college football's most dominant players in 2012. He's always been a ferocious pass rusher yet Jones completed his game this season. He displayed himself as a fearsome run defender and also made plays in pass coverage. Examinations on the neck injury Jones suffered early in his college career will largely dictate how early he is selected in the draft. 1st Round

Alec Ogletree/LB/Georgia: Ogletree is more polished compared to Jones and a true three down linebacker. The junior is a terrific athlete who quickly moves sideline-to-sideline defending the run or covering the pass. Ogletree's ability to play several linebacker spots only enhances his next level value. 1st Round

Johnathan Jenkins/DT/Georgia: Jenkins, recently declared academically ineligible for the Capital One Bowl, is a massive space eater on the inside. He's impossible to move off the point of attack and flashes the ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage or outside the box. Scouts question Jenkins intensity on the field and recent academic issues will result in further red flags being raised. 1st Round

Shawn Williams/S/Georgia: Williams has been a productive two year starter for Georgia and offers a nice combination of athleticism and football smarts. He's well liked in the scouting community as Williams rarely makes mental errors and consistently produces on game day. He offers starting possibilities for a two-deep zone system in the NFL. 2nd Round

Daimion Stafford/S/Nebraska: Stafford made an immediate impact at Nebraska after arriving from Chaffey College in 2011. He's a consistent safety with the size and speed to be a three down defender at the next level. Stafford has been a solid run defender for the Cornhuskers but needs to just step up his game in pass coverage. 4th Round

Rose Bowl: Stanford vs Wisconsin

Zach Ertz/TE/Stanford: Ertz was Stanford's number two tight end in 2011, playing behind Coly Fleener, the 33rd pick in last April's draft. Once he took hold of the starting job this season Ertz proved to be a more complete tight end compared to his former teammate. He's a dominant blocker everywhere on the field and at the same time a natural pass catcher who makes plays in the secondary. The junior will be the first tight end selected if he enters April's draft. 1st Round

Montee Ball/RB/Wisconsin: Ball opted to return to Wisconsin for his senior year despite receiving first round consideration for the 2011 draft. His game last season was inconsistent as Ball played like an all-world running back at times yet also looked rather ordinary on a number of occasions. He offers the skill and ability to be a feature ball carrier at the next level if he consistently plays at a high level. 2nd Round

Stepfan Taylor/RB/Stanford: Taylor, unlike Ball, exceeded expectations and moves towards the draft with rising stock. He's a compact ball carrier with the strength to grind it out on the inside as well as the quickness to make defenders miss. Taylor also does the little things extremely well and is highly considered in scouting circles. 2nd Round

Travis Frederick/OL/Wisconsin: Frederick settled down after a shaky start to the season and showed his dominance as the year closed out. He's a strong, mauling lineman with the ability to control defenders on the line of scrimmage or annihilate linebackers on the move. Frederick's ability to line up at guard or center makes him even more attractive to franchises around the league. 2nd/3rd Round

Orange Bowl: Florida State vs Northern Illinois

Bjoern Werner/DE/Florida State: Werner was a menacing pass rusher the past two seasons and a defender who consistently disrupted the oppositions game plan. He plays with great balance, athleticism and offers a versatile game. The junior is best suited to line up in a four man front at the next level and is expected to be a top ten selection in April. 1st Round

Xavier Rhodes/CB/Florida State: Rhodes has shut down opponents since his freshman season with the Seminoles and is a cornerback with terrific size and speed. He covers receivers anywhere on the field and displays an aggressive nature to his game. Rhodes is expected to enter the draft and should compete for a starting job in the NFL come September. 2nd Round

Everett Dawkins/DT/Florida State: The Seminoles have a long history of placing talented defensive tackles into the NFL and Dawkins is the next in line. He beats opponents off the snap of the ball then easily moves around the field, rushing the passer or running down ball handlers in pursuit. He'll be a fine addition to an NFL squad as a three technique lineman. 3rd Round

E.J. Manuel/QB/Florida State: Manuel is a great athlete with an NFL arm but a quarterback prospect who needs a lot of work. He flashes the ability to deliver strikes down the field but all too often throws passes which are way off the mark. He offers incredible potential yet must improve his passing fundamentals before he'll be ready to play at the next level. 3rd/4th Round

Dechane Durante/S/Northern Illinois: The redshirt sophomore is a star in the making in the middle of the Huskies talented secondary. He's a complete defensive back who makes plays in every direction of the field against the run and pass. Slowed by a leg injury six games into the 2012 season, Durante made his way back on the field at seasons end and is expected to be ready for the Orange Bowl. 3rd/4th Round

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