- Steve Muench, Scouts Inc.
A total of eight players from the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas matchup between Boise State and Utah could hear their names called in this year's draft. Some made the most of their appearance on the national stage and made a positive impression, while other didn't play as well as they would have hoped.
It should come as little surprise that Boise's prospects stole the show, but here's a look at how all eight prospects fared and where they stand in terms of the NFL draft.
WR Titus Young (Scouts Inc. Grade: 70)
Young caught six passes for 64 yards, carried the ball three times for nine yards and returned one kickoff for 14 yards. He didn't have his best game statistically and I would have liked to have seen him keep both feet in bounds on what could have been a 12-yard touchdown catch late in the first half.
However, there are some positives that scouts can take from this game. Young flashed his burst and ability to make defenders miss after the catch. He sustained a block on Utah CB Brandon Burton to helped spring RB Doug Martin for an 84-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and while he clearly grabbed Burton's jersey it's not a hold unless there is a flag on the ground at the end of the play.
And perhaps most importantly, Young showed he can hold his own working a highly-rated cornerback prospect in Burton. He has worked his way into the third-round conversation.
OG/OT Nate Potter* (Grade: 59)
Potter flashes a strong punch and the burst to win the initial battle but he could sustain his blocks longer. He doesn't always lock on with his hands or roll his hips after the initial contact. As a pass blocker, he sets too high and plays with a narrow base so power moves give him problems.
Though he lines up at tackle now, Potter projects as a guard at the next level and he'll need to sink his hips better to hold up against interior bull rushers. He entered the season with a fringe second round grade but his deficiencies have shown up over the course of the year and he is now a mid-rounder.
WR Austin Pettis (Grade: 48)
Pettis caught 12 passes for a total of 147 yards and a touchdown, including a pass he threw that was deflected back to him. He is a better football player than athlete and makes the most of his natural ability. There's a lot to like about his release and ability to get into his route quickly, and when splitting Burton and the safety on his touchdown catch Pettis showed the ability to locate seams in zone looks. His hands are arguably his greatest strength but he's got to do a better of protecting the football after the catch.
DC Brandyn Thompson (Grade: 35)
Thompson recovered a fumble and showed good awareness when the ball popped out. He is also willing to step up in run support but failed to wrap up and got run over by RB Matt Asiata in the second quarter. Thompson was also flagged for pass interference late in the third quarter, but it was a tough call because Thompson was in excellent position. He ran with the receiver and tracked the ball well. However, he appeared to block the right arm of the receiver with his left arm. Thompson looks like a late-rounder at best.
DE Ryan Winterswyk (Grade: 31)
Winterswyk recorded two tackles for loss and played through the whistle. He is also a tenacious pass rusher who flashed the ability to drive the tackle back into the quarterback. However, he doesn't have the burst or closing speed to consistently turn the corner at the NFL level and he can take too long to locate the ball as a run defender. A fringe prospect heading into the pre-draft process.
CB Brandon Burton (Grade: 80)
Burton recorded four tackles but he did not have a strong showing overall. On the plus side, he read QB Kellen Moore and did an excellent job of jumping up when he faced the line of scrimmage. On the down side, Burton wasn't as effective when he had to turn and run. He didn't get his head around in time to locate the ball and was almost beaten by Young for a 12-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
In addition, Pettis slipped press coverage and beat Burton to the inside on a slant route in the third quarter. While he is not afraid to step up in run support Burton doesn't always wrap up and he regularly took too long to get off blocks. He had worked his way into our top 32 earlier this season but Burton looks like a second-rounder at this point.
LG Caleb Schlauderaff (Grade: 50)
Schlauderaff plays too high and doesn't explode out of his stance. He got driven back and into RB Eddie Wide on one play. He plays with an edge and flashed a strong punch in pass protection but he did not show great lateral mobility and appeared vulnerable to double moves. Getting flagged for holding doesn't help, either. A mid-to-late round prospect.
C Zane Taylor (Grade: 46)
Taylor did not have a strong game. He got adequate hand placement and flashed the ability to turn defenders but he leaned into defenders instead of driving them off the ball. He got caught lunging in pass protection and got beaten for a sack in the second quarter. Finally, Taylor also got flagged for holding and his penalty nullified a touchdown catch. Carries a late-round grade.
472dTodd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl