Scouting The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
By Ken Scudero
As part of Football.com's coverage of all 35 bowl games, we will provide a draft prospect-primer, so you know whom to watch during every postseason game.
Buffalo and San Diego State will square off in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on December 21st at Bronco Stadium. It will be the second bowl game in Buffalo football history, and it is the fourth consecutive postseason game for San Diego State. In addition to a few decent prospects on both sides, Buffalo has a linebacker who could be a top-10 draft pick.
Khalil Mack, OLB
Mack is one of the top defensive prospects available in the 2014 NFL Draft. He will be an excellent fit for a team which runs a 3-4 defense as he dominates when rushing from the outside. He has impressive speed for a 6-foot-3, 248-pound linebacker, and he won the 2013 Jack Lambert award, presented annually by The Touchdown Club of Columbus to college football's top linebacker. He finished this season with 19 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 TDs and 5 forced fumbles. Mack is right up there in the rankings with Anthony Barr and Jadeveon Clowney, and he is sure to be selected with one of the first 15 picks in the draft next year.
Alex Neutz, WR
In a four-year career with Buffalo, Neutz has caught 192 balls for 3,017 yards and 30 TDs. He's 6-3, 205, and very athletic --check out his Hail Mary catch against Kent State this past season. Neutz won't blow people away with his speed, but he's quick in his routes and his cuts. He's a reliable receiver with sure hands and NFL teams always find a spot on their rosters for athletes like that. Neutz has a shot to be picked late in the draft, and depending on his bowl performance and Pro Day workout, he could open some more eyes.
Branden Oliver, RB
Oliver is short (5-8) but very wide and strong at 208 pounds. He is Buffalo's all-time leading rusher, finishing this season with 1,421 yards on 5 yards per carry. He ran for 15 TDs this year and 33 in his four-year career. Scouts will look past Oliver for his size, especially since he isn't as blazing fast as other runners are at his size. Don't get me wrong -- he has above-average speed, and he has shown he can run well against a great defense. Against Georgia in 2012, Oliver rushed for 111 yards and a TD. Believe it or not, Oliver is a great blocker and scouts will pick up on that when watching his tape. If he isn't drafted in the 7th round, look for him to sign as a free agent and compete for a backup spot.
SAN DIEGO STATE
Bryce Quigley, OT
Quigley was a tight end in his first two seasons at San Diego State, then converted to left tackle and started 13 games in 2012. He was named honorable mention All-Mountain West last season, and in 2013, he was selected second team All-Mountain West. He's everything you want in an interior lineman in regard to size (6-5, 300). He has put on weight since converting from tight end but he hasn't lost his athleticism. He moved well in a variety of protection schemes, has blocked for more than 2,200 rushing yards this season and more than 3,100 passing yards. Quigley should be drafted between rounds 5 and 7.
Nat Berhe, S
Berhe is a 5-10, 200-pound strong safety with great vision and instincts. He has recorded 94 tackles in back-to-back seasons and was just named to the All-Mountain West first team. He has five career interceptions and is decent in coverage, but his strength relies on his ability to read run and play action and anticipate where the play is going. He is sure to be a third safety on an NFL team within the next couple years, and his value lies in finding a defensive scheme that often blitzes defensive backs. Berhe is a top-10 safety and should go late in the draft.
Adam Muema, RB
Muema is a junior back who hasn't decided to declare for the draft yet. I believe it is in his best interest to return to San Diego State for his senior season, but if he does come out after the bowl game, there is some draft value. He has decent size (5-10, 205) and hits the hole well straight up the middle. He has sub-4.5 speed and finished the 2013 regular season with 1,015 rushing yards and 12 TDs. He had a better sophomore season in 2012 (1,458 yards, 16 TDs, 6.2 ypc). He provides good protection for a quarterback and is excellent for draws and screens. With his speed and strength, he could be taken in the later rounds if he chooses to enter the 2014 draft, but I think if he stays one more year, he could go higher in 2015.