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Ask 5: Which prospect has most to gain from playing in bowl?


The big news in college football this week has centered around the decisions made by two star running backs. Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey created a lot of talk-show material when they announced their intentions to forego playing in a bowl game in order to focus on preparing for the upcoming draft.

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Personally, I don't have a problem with their decisions. Both guys have long, successful track records and much more to lose than to gain by playing in their bowl contests. However, this doesn't mean other players can't help their draft stock with a successful bowl-game performance. I reached out to 5 NFL executives to get their thoughts on which player could help himself the most with a strong bowl game. Here are their answers.

Executive 1: Washington DL Vita Vea
"Alabama's front seven is loaded and they receive all of the attention, but Washington has a couple studs in their front seven, too. If Vita Vea gets after the Bama O-line, he'll start to generate some serious buzz."

Executive 2: North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky
"Trubisky will have a lot of eyes on him when UNC plays Stanford (in the Dec. 30 Sun Bowl). There's a lot to like about his game and a big game here will start the hype machine."

Executive 3: Trubisky
"The North Carolina QB has the most to gain in bowl season. He needs to lead a big win. He lost both rivalry games this fall (N.C. State and Duke). Can he win and play big in a high-pressure game? We'll find out."

Executive 4: Trubisky
"The top two quarterbacks are (Notre Dame's DeShone) Kizer and Trubisky. Obviously, Notre Dame isn't playing in a bowl game so I'll go with Trubisky. He can create a little separation with a big performance."

Executive 5: Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
"Watson didn't have a great season, but he can gain some momentum if he has a great playoff run like he did last year."

Summary: That's three votes for Trubisky and one apiece for Vea and Watson.

Conclusion: Clearly, Trubisky is a player scouts will be monitoring closely during the bowl season. Coincidentally, he'll be playing in the Sun Bowl, the same game McCaffrey chose to sit out. I like Trubisky as a prospect, but I haven't done a full evaluation of him at this point. I'm anxious to see how he performs against a traditionally strong Stanford defense. I agree that Watson can really help himself with big a game against Ohio State (and in the national championship game should Clemson advance). There's so much to love about him -- size, arm talent, athleticism, intelligence and toughness. However, he needs to really lock in and improve his decision making.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.



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