NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah is covering bowl games live every day this week. Here are some of his thoughts on the top players from Tuesday's Chick-fil-A Bowl between Texas A&M and Duke.
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
Once again, Manziel embraced the big stage and put on a show. He threw for 382 yards and rushed for 73 yards. He accounted for five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing). He showed the ability to make every throw from the pocket -- he drove the ball on fade-stops, uncorked several accurate deep balls and showed timing/touch on deep crossers. I mentioned early in the day that he was the best quarterback I've ever graded when it comes to escaping a free pass rusher. He pulled several Houdini escape acts against Duke, wheeling out of the pocket, stepping through tackles and side-stepping several defenders in tight quarters.
Manziel is a very unique talent. Aside from his arm talent and playmaking skills, he is a rare competitor, and his toughness is outstanding. If he does elect to enter the draft, it will be fascinating to see how early he will be selected. I asked one NFL personnel executive about Manziel during halftime. He had an interesting take: "I just hope he doesn't land in our division."
Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews
Matthews was very impressive tonight. He has outstanding size, foot quickness and flexibility. In pass protection, he is an easy knee-bender, plays with balance and has the base to anchor versus power rushers. In the run game, he isn't a mauler but he plays with outstanding technique. He is quick off the ball and he does a nice job of reworking his hands and feet to stay in position. He is athletic enough to adjust at the second level and he stays off the ground. He is an easy top 10 pick.
Texas A&M WR Mike Evans
The redshirt sophomore finished the game with four catches for 72 yards, but he was held out of the end zone, had one drop and two 15-yard penalties. He isn't explosive in his release, but he can build speed down the field.
Texas A&M OT Cedric Ogbuehi
Ogbuehi caught my eye at last year's Cotton Bowl. He was playing guard last season, and his combination of size and athleticism was easy to spot. With the departure of Luke Joeckel, he has slid outside to right tackle this season.
He had a very good game in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. In the run game, he had several dominating run blocks when he latched on, drove his feet and took the defender 10-15 yards down the field. In pass protection, he has excellent foot quickness, but he could improve his punch. Ogbuehi is late to shoot his hands at times and exposes his chest. That can be improved. He has all of the tools to be a successful starting OT at the next level.
Duke WR Jamison Crowder
Before the game, two Duke coaches told me to focus on Crowder. He didn't disappoint.
An undersized junior pass catcher, Crowder (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) caught 12 balls for 163 yards and a touchdown. He lined up both outside and in the slot, and Texas A&M struggled to cover him throughout the game. He showed an explosive burst off the line of scrimmage, out of his breaks and after the catch. He ran by the entire secondary for 59-yard score in the first half, and he repeatedly created separation on intermediate routes. Crowder has very strong hands and I love the way he attacks the ball. He has the skillset to be an excellent slot wideout at the next level.
Duke QB Anthony Boone
Boone threw two costly interceptions late in the game, but he made several impressive throws in this contest. He showed a deft touch on the deep touchdown to Crowder, and he also displayed patience and poise on several key third downs. He is a very mobile quarterback, and I love the way he fights for extra yardage. Duke's offense should be very explosive next season with both Boone and Crowder in the fold.