Bowl Watch: Saturday

Like on New Year's Day, there are five games on tap today but this is not a parade of elite prospects. Among the prospects to watch today are the best offensive tackle, two stud pass rushers and even a big-time punter and the No. 1 kicker. draft insider Chris Steuber is breaking down the top prospects in each of the bowl games. Five games include three players ranked among Steuber's top 50 senior prospects: Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung (No. 5), Mississippi defensive end Greg Hardy (No. 27), Florida State defensive end George Selvie (No. 39).

International Bowl

TV: ESPN 2, noon (Eastern).

Senior prospects to watch: South Florida — George Selvie (6-4, 242; No. 5 senior defensive end); Nate Allen (6-2, 200; No. 6 safety. Northern Illinois — None.

Noteworthy: South Florida's Matt Grothe (6-0, 200; No. 22 quarterback) suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the season. Freshman B.J. Daniels has thrown for 1,766 yards, rushed for 798 yards and accumulated 21 total touchdowns. Selvie and (junior) Jason Pierre-Paul combined for nine sacks and 24 tackles for losses. Selvie posted 14.5 sacks in 2007 but just 5.5 last year and 3.5 this year. NIU junior running back Chad Spann rushed for 19 touchdowns, including two apiece against Wisconsin and Purdue.

Steuber's take: Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul are two of the best defensive ends in the country. They both could play outside linebacker in a 3-4. They're the top guys in this game. Selvie has strong hands and outstanding technique. He has to get a little stronger but he's explosive off the line and could be used as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 or a defensive end in a 4-3. He's had a couple of down years. He hasn't really ever been good against the run but he still gets a lot of tackles for loss. He set the record for most tackles for loss in NCAA history. He gets double-teamed a lot. If you see him come off the edge, you see him get chipped a lot. I think a lot of people are down on him but if he gets into the right system — I think he's a 3-4 outside linebacker. Nate Allen is an intelligent defender who's always in position to make a play. He has great size, quickness and possesses outstanding instincts that make him a threat to create turnovers. He's a sound tackler and does a nice job in run defense, but he doesn't always take correct angles in coverage and gets beat over the top. He has sideline-to-sideline range and will be attractive to teams that need a playmaking free safety. Bowl

TV: ESPN, 2 p.m. (Eastern).

Senior prospects to watch: South Carolina — Eric Norwood (6-1, 252; No. 5 outside linebacker); Darian Stewart (5-11, 216; No. 15 safety). Connecticut — Lindsey Witten (6-5, 258; No. 15 defensive end).

Eric Norwood
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Noteworthy: The Huskies, of course, are playing for slain cornerback Jasper Howard. They lost their first three games after his death but have won three straight. Running backs Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon combined for almost 2,200 yards with 27 touchdowns. Dixon (6-1, 202) is's 16th-ranked senior back. Norwood, a finalist for the Butkus Award, is South Carolina's first first-team All-American since 1984. He had seven sacks and 13 tackles for losses.

Steuber's take: Norwood is the top guy in this game. He is short in stature, but plays much larger than his listed size, and has been one of the most dominant pass rushers in the SEC over the last two seasons. An explosive rush end that possesses a quick first step and a desire to succeed, Norwood is ferocious off the edge and makes a lot of plays in the backfield. He's a hard worker that plays with good pad level and achieves leverage with his quickness. He takes advantage of a bigger opposition with his speed and deceptive strength. He uses his hands well and demonstrates excellent balance and body control. As disruptive as Norwood can be, his size remains his biggest flaw. He tends to get caught up in the mix and doesn't consistently shed blocks. He plays overly aggressive at times and doesn't always position himself correctly to make a play. Witten and Dixon are mid- to late-round prospects that have been productive, but are limited in certain areas. Witten had 11.5 sacks this year and has a solid frame, but he has to get stronger and develop more of a repetoire as a pass rusher. He struggles with his technique and relies too much on his speed. He's a bit of a tweener and could be viewed as an OLB at the next level. Dixon has great size and is a hard runner, but he's not a burner and doesn't possess breakaway speed. He could be a solid situational runner at the next level.

Cotton Bowl

TV: Fox, 2 p.m. (Eastern).

Senior prospects to watch: Oklahoma State — Russell Okung (6-5, 300; No. 1 offensive tackle); Zac Robinson (6-3, 205; No. 8 quarterback); Perrish Cox (6-1, 185; No. 11 cornerback). Mississippi — Greg Hardy (6-5, 275; No. 3 defensive end); John Jerry (6-6, 335; No. 5 guard); Dexter McCluster (5-9, 170; No. 13 receiver); Joshua Shene (5-9, 170; No. 5 kicker).

Noteworthy: Dez Bryant (6-2, 210) is's No. 1-ranked senior receiver but was suspended by the NCAA after lying about a meeting with Deion Sanders. "He's a big playmaker but played only three games. When he's on the field, he's outstanding. He's like a Chad Ochocinco kind of player," Steuber said. Not only will the Cowboys not have Bryant, but they won't have Cox, who was suspended for missing curfew. Okung dominated matchups last year against Brian Orakpo and this year against the nation's leading sacker, Von Miller of Texas A&M. Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead isn't coming out and has had a rough season, but if he improves next year, he could be an early selection. McCluster does it all for the Rebels, rushing for 985 yards and six touchdowns and catching 39 passes for three more scores. Hardy has five sacks, giving him 26.5 for his career. Shene made 52-of-60 field goals with a long of 52 as the four-year kicker.

Russell Okung
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Steuber's take: Russell Okung is a guy you'd love to have. He's going to be a top-five, top-six pick in the draft. He's an outstanding left tackle. As far as positioning and ability to keep defenders at bay, he shields defenders very, very well. He protects that left side. He does a lot of things well. He has good feet, nimble, moves well side to side. He's a good run blocker — he could improve a little more in run blocking — but as far as pass protecting, he's the best in the nation. Zac Robinson is an athletic signal caller who can beat you with his arm and his legs. He has prototypical size but doesn't possess elite arm strength. He has to work the fundamentals and improve his mechanics and accuracy. He sets up nicely in the pocket and does a good job of eluding the rush. But he has a tendency to force the issue when he's outside of the pocket and turns the ball over. He does have good awareness and reads a defense well, but he has his ups-and-downs; accuracy remains his biggest issue. He's a solid developmental, late-round quarterback that could become a decent backup at the next level. For Mississippi, Hardy plays defensive end/outside linebacker. He's a stat machine when healthy but the biggest concern is his durability. When he's on the field, he's outstanding. He's probably a second-round selection as a good hybrid (outside linebacker/defensive end). McCluster is an excellent receiver. He does everything for that offense. He's their big-play guy. He's kind of like a Johnnie Knox/DeSean Jackson kind of player. Very small, very slender, but when he has the ball in his hands, he can make offense happen. He's very dynamic."

Liberty Bowl

TV: ESPN, 5:30 p.m. (Eastern).

Senior prospects to watch: Arkansas — Mitch Petrus (6-4, 305; No. 8 guard); Malcolm Sheppard (6-3, 277; No. 13 defensive tackle); Michael Smith (5-7, 173; No. 14 running back). East Carolina — Van Eskridge (6-0, 200; No. 8 safety); C.J. Wilson (6-4, 275; No. 8 defensive end); Jay Ross (6-2, 305; No. 16 defensive tackle); Matt Dodge (6-2, 220; No. 2 punter).

Noteworthy: ESU junior Dwayne Harris returned three kickoffs for touchdowns this season. Need a punter? Dodge ranked second in the nation with a 45.8-yard average, with 21 of his 62 kicks going at least 50 yards. Plus, he handled kickoffs. The Razorbacks' top prospect is redshirt sophomore quarterback Ryan Mallett. The Michigan transfer threw for 3,422 yards and 29 touchdowns to be a finalist for the Manning Award. He's not expected to declare for the draft. The Hogs will need a big game from Mallett since their defense lost two of their three top tacklers (linebacker Wendel Davis and safety Matt Harris) to suspensions.

Steuber's take: Wilson is East Carolina's top prospect. He has great size and a quick first step. He's fast off the edge, plays with good pad level and is a terror in the backfield. He's forceful up field and uses his hands to his advantage. He has to improve his arsenal of moves and learn to not always rush to the outside; he has the strength to rush inside. After a breakout junior season in which he recorded 70 tackles, 18.5 for a loss and 10.5 sacks, Wilson was flying up draft boards entering the season but wasn't as productive this season (5.5 sacks, 10.5 TFLs). Eskridge is a playmaker (six interceptions) and is a mid-round prospect. For Arkansas, Smith is a pretty good playmaker. Petrus could probably play inside or outside. He's one of the top guards. He was hurt all of last season, came back this year and had a strong year. He's a good prospect; probably a third- or fourth-round pick. Teams like his feet, so maybe he could move out to offensive tackle. Sheppard is a good interior presence; more of a 4-3 defensive tackle.

Alamo Bowl

TV: ESPN, 9 p.m. (Eastern).

Greg Jones
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Senior prospects to watch: Michigan State — Brett Swenson (5-8, 185; No. 1 kicker). Texas Tech — Brandon Carter (6-6, 356; No. 6 guard); Shawn Byrnes (6-3, 317; No. 11 center).

Noteworthy: The Red Raiders move on with interim coach Ruffin McNeill after the abrupt firing of Mike Leach. It's no better on the other sideline, with 11 Spartans suspended for their role in a dormitory brawl on Nov. 22. The Red Raiders ranked second in the nation with 4,568 passing yards and averaged 36.7 points per game. The Spartans, on the other hand, gave up at least 33 points in five games. Michigan State junior linebacker Greg Jones, the Big Ten's defensive player of the year, piled up a whopping 141 tackles and nine sacks. He has not declared for the draft. Swenson is the best kicker prospect. He has made 70-of-89 for his career, including 18-of-20 this year, with a long of 52. Tech senior defensive end Brandon Sharpe (6-3, 254) had a school-record 15 sacks.

Steuber's take: In the mold of former Florida State great and current Detroit Lions linebacker Ernie Sims, the 6-foot-1, 224-pound Jones is an undersized but explosive defender who has an outstanding all-around game. He's fast to the line, quickly changes direction and uses his athleticism to force the action. He has great instincts, gets off blocks better than expected and is a sure tackler. He moves well laterally and plays sideline-to-sideline. He's good in coverage and gets depth on his drops. He's always around the ball and makes an impact every time he's on the field. Brandon Sharpe is an interesting player. He's undersized, not explosive, but has been extremely productive this season. He's not in my rankings and probably could be, but he's likely to be a late round — undrafted free agent type. A team may take a shot on him, because of the year that he had, but when he gets to the Combine and tests out, they will view him as a tweener. He's similar to former Houston DE Phillip Hunt, who was outstanding in college, but couldn't stick around in the pros.

To see Chris Steuber's draft rankings, click here.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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