Scouting The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
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.
Bowling Green is the champion of the MAC, and on December 18th, the Falcons will play Pittsburgh, who finished 6th in the Coastal Division of the ACC. Pitt will be the first ACC team to play in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, and the Panthers have two exciting draft prospects -- one on offense and one on defense. Bowling Green also has both an offensive and defensive prospect worthy of a draft selection next year.
Alex Bayer, TE
Bayer was a key part of Bowling Green's success this season, providing a big target for quarterback Matt Johnson. Bayer was the second on the team in both receptions (34) and receiving yards (536). He also added 3 TDs, giving him nine for his collegiate career. Bayer is a reliable receiver, and at 6-foot-4, 253 pounds, he makes the most of his body in run blocking and pass protection. In the NFL, he will be used primarily as a blocker but definitely has the ability to be utilized as a receiver. Look for him to be drafted in the later rounds.
Jerry Gates, SS
The 5-11, 213-pound safety has put together an impressive career at Bowling Green. Gates, who goes by the nickname "Boo Boo," was named second team All-MAC as a kick returner in 2011, first team All-MAC for his play at safety last season and was just named to the first team again following this season. He's compiled 218 total tackles, 7 interceptions and 3 TDs on defense, as well as two kickoff return touchdowns in his career. Gates is exceptional with the ball and is always looking to make a play. I can see Gates utilized more of a nickel back than a safety in the NFL and there is definitely 5th round value in him.
Aaron Donald, DT
Donald accomplished this season just about as much as a defensive player could. He won the ACC Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Outland Trophy, and was named a Walter Camp first team All-American. The 6-foot, 285-pound tackle is so quick and powerful and he seems to be in the backfield every single play. No one was able to block him this season, when he collected 26.5 TFL, 10 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. In his Pitt career, he's mde a tackle behind the line of scrimmage an astonishing 64 times. Donald is one of the best defensive prospects available and he is a top-10 draft pick. It will be interesting to see if he goes in the top 5.
Devin Street, WR
Street has had a consistent career at Pitt and stands as the all-time leader in catches (202) and third in receiving yards (2,901.) The 6-4, 195-pound receiver had a career-high 7 TDs this season along with 51 catches for 854 yards. He has long arms and good hands and is very athletic near the sidelines and end zone. He is a veteran route runner and is one of the most NFL-ready receivers available in the draft. Poor quarterback play at Pitt hindered Street from having an even more impressive career. He is one of the top 10 receivers available and should be selected in the 3rd or 4th round.