Scouting The Music City And Armed Forces Bowls
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.
Last year's Music City Bowl featured a couple of draft afterthoughts who would go on to play significant roles as NFL rookies. NC State quarterback Mike Glennon threw for 383 yards in the Nashville-based bowl, and Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy led all rushers with 107 yards.
This year's game features another couple of potential Day 2 prospects who could make a splash next season.
Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB
You don't evaluate a prospect, for better or worse, on one game film. But if you were to watch Attaochu in the regular season finale against Georgia, you'd see everything you need to know about his game. Attaochu showed a great motor, chasing and catching running backs upfield. And he showed a variety of ways he can get to the quarterback, which is his most alluring quality. On the first of his four sacks, he crossed the tackle's face, penetrated through the B gap, bullrushed the back and finished, all without breaking stride.
At the next level, his quickness will give him his greatest pass rush opportunities. It won't be his strength, which remains a question. He can be stood up by bigger tackles and has trouble disengaging once locked up by a blocker.
The switch to defensive end was a successful experiment, and he flourished in the second half of the season. Still, at 6-foot-3, 242 pounds, he seems undersized to play the position in the NFL. He is a near prototype for an outside backer in a 3-4 scheme, and he has the athleticism to be an every-down contributor, not just as a pass rush specialist.
Jemea Thomas, DB
Talk about an active defender, Thomas had nearly twice as many unassisted tackles (62) as anyone on the Yellow Jackets defense. With eight pass breakups this year and nine career interceptions, Thomas has a track record of making plays around the ball. He's played in 54 career games, seeing significant time both at corner and at safety, and he has the versatility to play pretty much anywhere in the secondary. Thomas has sub-4.5 speed and decent size (5-10, 195), and his effectiveness as a tackler makes him a potential fit for a variety of coverage schemes.
Donte Moncrief, WR
Moncrief is in a tough spot. If he declares after his junior season, he'll be joining a pool of wide receiver prospects as deep as any position in the draft. He's a borderline top-10 receiver prospect and likely wouldn't go in the first two rounds. But if he returns to school, he's likely to see his role in the Ole Miss offense continue to diminish with the development of LaQuon Treadwell. It's not like Moncrief needs to prove anything else at the college level. He's already nearing the school records in every receiving category, and he already boasts the kind of build (6-3, 226) scouts are looking for. Moncrief lacks the elite speed to be a No. 1 receiver at the next level, but he could develop into a reliable Z receiver and red zone target.
Cody Prewitt, S
I suspect Prewitt will return to Oxford, where he could be part of what could become a truly special defense at Ole Miss. But if he capitalizes on what he's achieved as a junior, Prewitt will be one of the top six free safeties in a draft a bit lean at both safety positions. He's got NFL size (6-2, 220) and can play the pass (6 INTs) as well as he does the run (team-high 70 tackles). Prewitt went from off-the-radar to first-team All-American, and scouts took notice of one of the most complete safety prospects potentially available.
ARMED FORCES BOWL
Fifty years ago, Navy played for a national championship, losing to Texas in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day, 1964.
In that game 50 years ago, Navy's quarterback was Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach -- the last player from a service academy to take home college football's highest individual honor.
Five decades removed from Staubach and the heyday of Navy football, no current Midshipmen are likely to garner much attention from NFL scouts. Only five players from Navy have been drafted since Staubach went in the 10th round of the 1964 draft, and none since the selection of tight end Kevin Hickman in 1995 (not counting Mike Wahle, who was taken in the 1998 supplemental draft).
Middle Tennessee State has fared far better in recent drafts, having produced seven draft picks since Navy's most recent selection. No Blue Raiders are likely to be drafted in 2014; their best prospect is sophomore linebacker, T.T. Barber, who enters the bowl game with 112 tackles.
If scouts are considering anyone on the MTSU roster, it's likely massive guard Josh Walker (6-5, 323). He didn't allow a sack in either 2011 or 2012, and twice has been the Raiders' most improved lineman in strength training, which suggests a coachable prospect with the ethic to put in the work. If he doesn't get drafted, that's a trait that will make him an intriguing UFA.