Scouting The New Mexico 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.
The New Mexico Bowl will kick off the most wonderful time of the year: the college bowl season. In one of the weaker games as far as draft prospects go, Colorado State faces Washington State in Albuquerque. The Rams and Cougars start the countdown to the draft, with NFL prospects showing all they've got in their last games before the Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game, Pro Day workouts and the NFL Combine.
Weston Richburg, C
Richburg has started an astonishing 49 career games at center for the Rams, an accomplishment which can't be overlooked. He's 6-foot-4, 300 pounds and moves as well as a center can. In 2012, Richburg led an offensive line which was the only one in the entire FBS to produce a 3,000-yard passer and a 1,500-yard rusher. He's consistent in his pass protection, as well as a run blocker. Richburg can even pull off the line for certain run plays and looks to impress in the Senior Bowl. He has the body of an NFL interior lineman and could be drafted as early as the 3rd round.
Shaquil Barrett, OLB
Barrett is one of the most underrated linebacker prospects going into this draft, even after being named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. He's a 6-2, 250 senior with good speed and great instincts. He finished the regular season with 20.5 tackles for loss, a Mountain West record and good for third in the country. He also finished third in the nation with 12 sacks. Barrett is versatile as an outside linebacker with the ability to defend passes as well as rush with quickness and power. He is NFL starting linebacker material and could drop to the 4th round of the draft but he will bring a lot of value to a team.
Crockett Gillmore, TE
Gillmore is a 6-6, 255-pound tight end who finished this season with 43 catches, 533 yds., and 2 TDs. He is excellent when the ball's in his hands, able to make defenders miss and break plays down the field with his speed and size. His blocking needs work and he will have to improve in order to start in the NFL, but his playmaking ability can't be ignored. He has good hands and should be selected on the last day of the draft. Gillmore has accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game.
Deone Bucannon, SS
Bucannon has 14 interceptions in his four years with the Cougars. He's a big, hard-hitting safety who's most similar to Ed Reed or Eric Berry. He may have to adjust his game a bit so he doesn't get fined each game for hitting an offensive player above the neck, or below the knees, or too hard, but who knows what a clean hit is anymore? Bucannon is one of the best tackling safeties in the draft; he's had more than 80 tackles in each season, more than 100 tackles twice. I expect him to be one of the first safeties taken in the draft, most likely in the 3rd round.
Vince Mayle, WR
Mayle has only played one season of college football after committing to basketball but has shown great athleticism for his size (6-3, 240) and the ability to turn small plays into huge plays. He finished the regular season with 40 catches, 501 yds., and 6 TDs. He could be used as a fullback, especially since he played running back in high school. He has average speed but breaks tackles and runs with good vision. He has pretty good hands and it will be interesting to see how he will be utilized in the NFL. Expect him to go late in the draft, if at all.
Damante Horton, CB
Horton has nine career picks, four which he returned for TDs, in 41 career games. He is a cover corner with great speed and good hands. He isn't a great tackler; rather, he plays the ball well. His tendency to poorly read coverages has hindered him during his career but with the right coaching, he has the raw talent to be a nickel back in the NFL. If there is a run on defensive backs in the draft, which there usually is, Horton could go in the later rounds.