Scouting The Valero Alamo Bowl
By Bill Lund
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 Alamo Bowl will be the last game for longtime Texas head coach Mack Brown. And will bring to a close a bit of a disappointing first season for Oregon's head coach, Mark Helfrich, considering the Ducks were a BCS championship contender much of the season.
The Longhorns feature one of the best pass rushers in college football in Jackson Jeffcoat. He along with the Longhorns defense must contend with the Ducks backfield of quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De’Anthony Thomas, a duo among the fastest in football.
The game will feature some good NFL talent for both squads in what will be one of the most intriguing matchups of the early bowl season.
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE
The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year had his best season since coming to Texas. Jeffcoat comes from an NFL pedigree; his father, Jim Jeffcoat, was a first-round pick and a pass rushing terror for the Dallas Cowboys for 12 seasons. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Jeffcoat has an explosive first step along with an array of pass rush moves. In the run game, he can set the edge but at times he can get stuck on blocks. His forte is getting after the quarterback, and he has the type of ability that can alter an offense’s protections, something that may help him rise to first round status.
Mike Davis, WR
Davis has established himself as one of the top receivers in Longhorns history. He shows good speed and downfield ability. Davis’ innate ability to see a ball’s flight and contort to make the catch is what distinguishes him from other wideouts. He is a hands catcher, who can make moves in the open field for additional yardage. Davis doesn’t have elite measurables, but as a mid-round prospect, he can be a good No. 2 WR in the NFL.
Byndom has been an All-Big 12 performer in a pass-happy conference. He has good speed and the build that scouts prefer (6-foot, 180). He shows the agility and coordination to adjust to routes, but does need to work on transitioning his feet on shorter throws. Byndom could fit the roll of a nickel corner with his ability to cover and blitz, and he could go as his as Day Two.
Trey Hopkins, G
The versatile Hopkins started 35 of his 43 games for the Longhorns. He started at right tackle in 2011, then moved to left guard in 2012, a position which has fit his athletic abilities better. A strong run blocker, Hopkins powers defenders off the line. He also has the athleticism to pull and get out into space. Hopkins is most likely a mid-round pick, which would make him the first offensive lineman drafted for the Longhorns since 2008.
Donald Hawkins, OT
Hawkins has good size for an NFL tackle. He shows nimble feet with good lateral agility in pass pro. Hawkins moves well in space engaging second level defenders. Hawkins does play high and doesn’t have great knee bend. His narrow base makes it easy for defenders to get him off balance. He is at best a late round selection.
De’Anthony Thomas, RB
Though much of his 2013 season has been hampered by injury, Thomas remains a multi-faceted weapon for the Ducks. Whether it was working at running back or wide receiver, his speed creates explosive potential whenever he touches the ball. At 5-9, 176, Thomas doesn’t possess the size scouts prefer for a back. But his playmaking ability cannot be denied. His ability to accelerate off the cut and separate from tacklers makes him elite. Thomas can be equally as deadly in the return game, making quick decisions to take kicks vertical with speed. Even with first-round abilities, Thomas’s draft positioning will be determined by whether NFL teams feel they can creatively utilize his unique and elite skill set.
Josh Huff, WR
Huff has been another big weapon in the Ducks arsenal and was the team's best receiver in 2013. He has good speed to separate but needs work coming in and out of breaks. Huff shows the ability to extend and be a hands catcher. Huff may be better suited to work in the slot where he can utilize his strength as a runner and blocker. Huff will be a mid- to late-round selection in the 2014 draft.
Taylor Hart, DL
Hart (6-6, 287) is a big, athletic defensive lineman. He displays good quickness and speed and has the power to extend arms against offensive linemen. Oregon utilizes Hart across the defensive front and his stance is unique, to say the least. It is important to remember he is being coached to use this unconventional stance. His movement skills and ability to squeeze blockers will transition to the next level. His first step will be the subject of his combine/pro day results. Hart is a bit under the radar, but he has the ability to rise up draft boards from his mid-round projections.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB
Ekpre-Olomu has yet to declare, but the junior cornerback has been considered one of the top three players at his position for the 2014 draft. Ekpre-Olomu has the speed, athletic ability and instincts scouts love. His biggest red flag is his lack of ideal size. At only 5-10, 185, Ekpre-Olomu doesn’t have the height teams want in a top flight corner, and his value may be reduced if teams see him only as a slot corner or nickelback.
Boseko Lokombo, OLB
Boseko is a highly athletic player who has the length, strength and versatility to follow in the footsteps of former Ducks linebacker, Kiko Alonso. Lokombo is effective as blitzer and in coverage, and he shows he can take on blocks. Lokombo may be the most underrated Ducks prospect, but he has the tools to be a Day 2 pick.