Now that we've rung in the new year, it's time to enjoy the first weekend of 2010 with a nice set of bowl games. But first let me review what I saw over the last couple of days. I watched the Sun Bowl and Toby Gerhart looked good in a loss to the Oklahoma Sooners. His quick feet make his running deceptive and his size allows him to shed tackles. I'm still not a big fan of the large power backs because I feel that their bruising styles open them up to hits that cause injuries whereas the little guys are less exposed and tend to avoid injury causing hits rather than volunteer for them. Still, Gerhart will have an impact in the NFL and maybe it will be for the blue and gold. I watched the soggy Capital One bowl and Navarro Bowman proved why he should be a 1st round pick this year. Lee and Odrick both looked good and I wouldn't mind them bringing their games to the Q. I saw Florida dominate the Sugar Bowl and still like Spikes, Dunlap and Cunningham, but Cunningham is probably the the only one that the Bolts will have a chance to draft. Danario Alexander played dinged up in the Texas Bowl, but still had a big impact. If the Chargers are going to draft a WR, he might be the top one on their board. Now that we've covered the past here's what the future holds in terms of bowl matchups for this weekend:
International Bowl: South Florida vs Illinois
Papajohns.com Bowl: South Carolina vs Connecticut
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs Mississippi
Liberty Bowl: Arkansas vs East Carolina
Alamo Bowl: Michigan State vs Texas Tech
I'm going to focus mainly on players that will probably go in the 1st or 2nd round. I'm going to focus on positions that might interest the Chargers, which means lots of front seven players, offensive tackles and running backs. I might mix in other positions, but I'll give a reason if I do. I'm also just using all draft eligible players, which will include some Sophomores and Juniors who may end up staying in school. I probably won't mention a top of the draft guy, unless I really want to say something about him or I think there is a slim chance he could slip or we could trade up. Okay, on to the players:
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida, Senior - Based on draft projections Pierre-Paul probably will be gone by the time the Chargers pick, but you never know. He's a future 3-4 OLB with long arms and a big frame (6'5 263 lbs). He has above average top end speed and using it combined with an above average closing burst, some good pass rushing moves and leverage at the point of attack to get to the QB with regularity. He moves well laterally and can get back into coverage quickly. His weakness is in the run game where he struggles to get leverage, but he can use his long arms to tackle rushers as they go by so long as he isn't getting run over by a double team. Sure fire first rounder.
Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina, Senior - The Gamecocks top pro prospect looks to go somewhere in the 2nd round, but with some good workouts could push his way into the first. He's 6' 252 lbs and would be an ILB in the Charger's 3-4 defense. His main assets are speed and closing burst. He's a good tackler, but not a big hitter. He's also been known to lose gap discipline and be out of position from time to time. He's good in coverage though and is relentless as a pass rusher on blitzes. Gap discipline can be taught, so any team that drafts him in the first is counting on his great athleticism and ability to learn in order to turn him into a starter. He'd have good value when the Chargers pick at the end of the second round though.
Lindsey Witten, DE, Connecticut, Senior - This Husky is probably going to enter the NFL as some team's project. He'll get drafted in the middle rounds by a team that seen how he's been steadily bulking up and improving in his years at Connecticut. Those improvements paid off in his senior year as he reached double digit sack totals for the first time. If the Chargers want to give English some more time to prove he's worth starting, this could be a guy they draft as insurance.
Greg Hardy, DE, Mississippi, Senior - Hardy came into the years as one of the top defensive prospects in college football. He was projected as high as a top 5 pick at one. However, Hardy hurt his wrist early in the season and that only added to his durability and character concerns. He played through the injury, but eventually had surgery and now will make his return in the Cotton Bowl. His pass rushing ability is without question his best asset and he's one of the best at that in all the NCAA. He'll chase around OSU Senior QB Zac Robinson and cause trouble for LT Russell Okung who is a sure fire first round pick, but will be playing the game hurt. The scouting reports say that Hardy wouldn't be able to play OLB in the 3-4, but I'll just keep my eye on him anyway.
Dexter McCluster, RB, Mississippi, Senior - The closest thing college football has to the next Darren Sproles. His speed is excellent and he's a playmaker. The scouting reports say the usually about someone who is 5'7 and 163 lbs and project him as a scat back and 3rd down back and worry about his durability (he's missed a few games due to injuries over the last few years). He also has issues with ball security that back his uphill road to the NFL even steeper. Still, he's electric and he's tough to catch and will get drafted somewhere.
Michael Smith, RB, Arkansas, Senior - Everything I just said about McCluster can be applied to the 5'7 177 lb Smith as well. There are a couple of differences though as Smith has suffered more serious injuries than McCluster so his durability questions are bigger and while his top end speed is excellent as well he's not quite the playmaker McCluster is. He also can't push the pile as well as Sproles can, but McCluster can't really either. He's a late round prospect at best.
Blair White, WR, Michigan State, Senior - Since some out there think the Chargers might take a WR, I'll do a quick mention of this 6'2 206 lb Spartan since he meets the minimum as far as Charger WR size. He's a mid to late round prospect who has put together a nice senior season.