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Published: Dec. 19, 2016 at 11:09 a.m.

Top 10 prospects playing in Dec. 19-24 bowl games

Sure, there aren't many big-name prospects playing in bowl games leading up to Christmas Day, but that doesn't mean that NFL scouts won't be checking out the action.

Typically, there are 9 or 10 players drafted out of the "Group of Five" conferences each year. You'll see a few players that are next in that line this weekend, including two or three potential top-100 picks (and future NFL starters). Here are my top 10 prospects to check out this week. All times listed are Eastern.

10 Photos Total

  • <b>Game:</b> Boca Raton Bowl (vs. Memphis), Dec. 20, 7 p.m., ESPN<br>
Stuck on the second tier of the depth chart at Louisville, Brown moved on as a graduate transfer to WKU. The Miami native destroyed Conference USA opponents in 2016, racking up 123 tackle (12.5 for loss) in an all-conference effort. He's a stocky Sam or Mike 'backer who is agile enough to handle coverage duties in addition to holding the edge vs. the run. 10

    Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

    10. Keith Brown, LB, Western Kentucky

    Game: Boca Raton Bowl (vs. Memphis), Dec. 20, 7 p.m., ESPN
    Stuck on the second tier of the depth chart at Louisville, Brown moved on as a graduate transfer to WKU. The Miami native destroyed Conference USA opponents in 2016, racking up 123 tackle (12.5 for loss) in an all-conference effort. He's a stocky Sam or Mike 'backer who is agile enough to handle coverage duties in addition to holding the edge vs. the run.

  • <b>Game:</b> Miami Beach Bowl (vs. Tulsa), Dec. 19, 2:30 p.m., ESPN<br>
Rush is the prototypical late-round quarterback: Smart, tough, accurate but lacking an NFL arm. Arm strength can increase with pro strength and conditioning, however, so a team should take a shot on his talents. He's a natural leader and is willing to run for yardage to move his team down the field. This matchup also includes Tulsa passer Dane Evans, another potential draftee -- it should be fun to watch these two seniors finishing off their careers on the same field. 9

    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    9. Cooper Rush, QB, Central Michigan

    Game: Miami Beach Bowl (vs. Tulsa), Dec. 19, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
    Rush is the prototypical late-round quarterback: Smart, tough, accurate but lacking an NFL arm. Arm strength can increase with pro strength and conditioning, however, so a team should take a shot on his talents. He's a natural leader and is willing to run for yardage to move his team down the field. This matchup also includes Tulsa passer Dane Evans, another potential draftee -- it should be fun to watch these two seniors finishing off their careers on the same field.

  • <b>Game:</b> Poinsettia Bowl (vs. Wyoming), Dec. 21, 9 p.m., ESPN<br>
I wouldn't consider Williams exceptional in any one category, but he has enough of each trait an NFL back should possess to be an intriguing prospect. The two-time 1,000-yard rusher will take the ball 30 times a game if he can, bulling through the line and then galloping for big gains if the offensive line provides the lane. Williams can also spin off tackles to keep the ball in motion. Durability has been a concern, though, as he's missed several games over the past two years with knee and ankle injuries. 8

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    8. Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU

    Game: Poinsettia Bowl (vs. Wyoming), Dec. 21, 9 p.m., ESPN
    I wouldn't consider Williams exceptional in any one category, but he has enough of each trait an NFL back should possess to be an intriguing prospect. The two-time 1,000-yard rusher will take the ball 30 times a game if he can, bulling through the line and then galloping for big gains if the offensive line provides the lane. Williams can also spin off tackles to keep the ball in motion. Durability has been a concern, though, as he's missed several games over the past two years with knee and ankle injuries.

  • <b>Game:</b> Dollar General Bowl (vs. Troy), Dec. 23, 8 p.m., ESPN<br>
Basham has added significant strength during his time in Ohio, where he's accumulated 28.5 sacks in his career (ranking seventh among all current players). He was a Freshman All-American, using his speed to rack up 7.5 sacks. As a senior, however, his strength has become an equally effective weapon both as a rusher and vs. the run. His bowl outing, postseason workouts, and all-star game performance will play significant roles in determining his final grade. 7

    Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

    7. Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio

    Game: Dollar General Bowl (vs. Troy), Dec. 23, 8 p.m., ESPN
    Basham has added significant strength during his time in Ohio, where he's accumulated 28.5 sacks in his career (ranking seventh among all current players). He was a Freshman All-American, using his speed to rack up 7.5 sacks. As a senior, however, his strength has become an equally effective weapon both as a rusher and vs. the run. His bowl outing, postseason workouts, and all-star game performance will play significant roles in determining his final grade.

  • <b>Game:</b> Poinsettia Bowl (vs. BYU), Dec. 21,  9 p.m., ESPN<br>
Hill is an interesting back in that he runs angry when needed, but also shows great patience when following a lead blocker. While he's not the biggest or fastest ball carrier, nobody in the country shows more determination in their running. He'll stiff-arm defenders, run through their shoulder-tackle attempts, and eventually find the end zone (his 21 touchdowns rank fourth nationally). In short, he'll be one of those backs that racks up big yards in the NFL and people will wonder, "where did he come from?" 6

    Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports

    6. Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming

    Game: Poinsettia Bowl (vs. BYU), Dec. 21, 9 p.m., ESPN
    Hill is an interesting back in that he runs angry when needed, but also shows great patience when following a lead blocker. While he's not the biggest or fastest ball carrier, nobody in the country shows more determination in their running. He'll stiff-arm defenders, run through their shoulder-tackle attempts, and eventually find the end zone (his 21 touchdowns rank fourth nationally). In short, he'll be one of those backs that racks up big yards in the NFL and people will wonder, "where did he come from?"

  • <b>Game:</b> Hawaii Bowl (vs. Hawaii), Dec. 24, 8 p.m., ESPN<br>
If you're looking for size or pure speed, James (5-foot-9, 171 pounds) isn't your guy. But I don't know if I've ever seen a receiver make more defenders miss in the open field. James' ability to cut on a dime and leave behind nine cents in change is amazing. In just two years with the Blue Raiders, the redshirt sophomore managed more than 200 receptions, 2,800 receiving yards and scored 19 times. NFL teams will love sticking him in the slot and using that durability and elusiveness for some magic -- and he'll get a shot as a punt returner. 5

    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    5. Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee

    Game: Hawaii Bowl (vs. Hawaii), Dec. 24, 8 p.m., ESPN
    If you're looking for size or pure speed, James (5-foot-9, 171 pounds) isn't your guy. But I don't know if I've ever seen a receiver make more defenders miss in the open field. James' ability to cut on a dime and leave behind nine cents in change is amazing. In just two years with the Blue Raiders, the redshirt sophomore managed more than 200 receptions, 2,800 receiving yards and scored 19 times. NFL teams will love sticking him in the slot and using that durability and elusiveness for some magic -- and he'll get a shot as a punt returner.

  • <b>Game:</b> Poinsettia Bowl (vs. BYU), Dec. 21, 9 p.m., ESPN<br>
NFL size? Check. NFL arm? Check. NFL athleticism? Check. Allen is checking off many of the boxes with NFL scouts as he improves through his junior year with the Cowboys. He need only prove to talent evaluators that he's willing to deliver under pressure and step up into the pocket to find targets downfield. BYU will make him feel heat, so if able to stand up to it, Allen might gain even more fans in the scouting community. 4

    Shannon Broderick/Associated Press

    4. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

    Game: Poinsettia Bowl (vs. BYU), Dec. 21, 9 p.m., ESPN
    NFL size? Check. NFL arm? Check. NFL athleticism? Check. Allen is checking off many of the boxes with NFL scouts as he improves through his junior year with the Cowboys. He need only prove to talent evaluators that he's willing to deliver under pressure and step up into the pocket to find targets downfield. BYU will make him feel heat, so if able to stand up to it, Allen might gain even more fans in the scouting community.

  • <b>Game:</b> Boca Raton Bowl (vs. Memphis), Dec. 20, 7 p.m., ESPN<br>
Taylor landed on scouts' radars in 2015 thanks to his hands and quickness. When he made nine catches for 121 yards against Alabama, however, NFL general managers took notice. A silky smooth vertical threat who is also a reliable pass-catcher, Taylor will be a solid mid-round choice with a chance to contribute as a No. 2 or 3 WR. 3

    Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports

    3. Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky

    Game: Boca Raton Bowl (vs. Memphis), Dec. 20, 7 p.m., ESPN
    Taylor landed on scouts' radars in 2015 thanks to his hands and quickness. When he made nine catches for 121 yards against Alabama, however, NFL general managers took notice. A silky smooth vertical threat who is also a reliable pass-catcher, Taylor will be a solid mid-round choice with a chance to contribute as a No. 2 or 3 WR.

  • <b>Game:</b> Boca Raton Bowl (vs. Memphis), Dec. 20, 7 p.m., ESPN<br>
The four-year starter at left tackle isn't a dominant force. However, his combination of athleticism, sturdiness and natural bend makes him a tough blocker to beat on the left side. Scouts will be watching him to see if he's indeed worthy of a top-100 grade. 2

    Hans Pennink/Associated Press

    2. Forrest Lamp, OT, Western Kentucky

    Game: Boca Raton Bowl (vs. Memphis), Dec. 20, 7 p.m., ESPN
    The four-year starter at left tackle isn't a dominant force. However, his combination of athleticism, sturdiness and natural bend makes him a tough blocker to beat on the left side. Scouts will be watching him to see if he's indeed worthy of a top-100 grade.

  • <b>Game:</b> Armed Forces Bowl (vs. Navy), Dec. 23, 3:30 p.m., ESPN<br>
You'll see the three-time first-team All-Conference USA safety all over the field on Friday night. Woods is a big hitter who can attack the backfield but also play deep, as he led the conference with five interceptions this season (giving him 14 career picks). He'll be starting sooner rather than later once he's in an NFL system. 1

    Parker Waters/Associated Press

    1. Xavier Woods, S, Louisiana Tech

    Game: Armed Forces Bowl (vs. Navy), Dec. 23, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
    You'll see the three-time first-team All-Conference USA safety all over the field on Friday night. Woods is a big hitter who can attack the backfield but also play deep, as he led the conference with five interceptions this season (giving him 14 career picks). He'll be starting sooner rather than later once he's in an NFL system.