New Year's Day bowl breakdown

Scout.com draft analyst Chris Steuber goes deep inside Friday's bowl games to preview the upcoming NFL talent. Five games feature 10 players in Steuber's top 50 draft prospects.

Scout.com draft analyst Chris Steuber is breaking down the top prospects in each of the bowl games. Five games include 10 players ranked among Steuber's top 50 senior prospects: Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes (No. 12), Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick (No. 17), LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell (No. 21), Northwestern Corey Wootton (No. 22), Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (No. 23), Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson (No. 28), Cincinnati receiver Mardy Gilyard (No. 29), West Virginia offensive tackle Selvish Capers (No. 34), LSU offensive tackle Ciron Black (No. 41), Auburn outside linebacker Antonio Coleman (No. 44).

Outback Bowl

TV: ESPN, 11 a.m. (Eastern).

Senior prospects to watch: Auburn — Antonio Coleman (6-1, 260; No. 4 outside linebacker); Ben Tate (5-11, 217; No. 8 running back). Northwestern — Corey Wootton (6-6, 275; No. 2 defensive end).


Corey Wootton
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Noteworthy: The Wildcats are playing in their first January bowl since 1997 and haven't won a bowl game since 1949. Northwestern's Mike Kafka (6-3, 220; No. 16 quarterback) finished second in the Big Ten with 2,898 passing yards and is an athletic runner. Wootton has 19.5 sacks in his career, including four this year, while Coleman has 23.5 sacks for his career, including nine this year. Tate ran for 1,254 yards and caught 20 passes.

Steuber's take: I love Cory Wootton the defensive end. He's big-time to me. He got hurt last year in the bowl game and I don't think he ever fully recovered. His size, what he can do from off the edge is kind of special. Assuming he's back into shape and 100 percent healthy, he can be really, really good. He's a guy the scouts really, really like. He could move into first-round consideration.

Antonio Coleman is probably Auburn's big guy as far as their impact players and is probably a second-rounder. He is a solid pass rusher who translates as an outside linebacker at the next level. Coleman has good size, but lacks the height that teams like to see from a defensive end. He's quick off the line, but has to improve his speed and hand placement off the edge. He's been productive during his career at defensive end and could be used as a end at the next level in a rotation. Tate is a versatile runner that not only plays physical but can excel as a finesse player. He has great size, good vision and is surprisingly shifty in the open field. He's a patient runner who waits for his blocks to develop and is able to find open running lanes. He's tough to bring down in the open field, and delivers a punishing straight arm as he fights for tough yards. Walter McFadden (6-0, 186; four interceptions) is an OK corner. He's not one of the premier guys in the draft. Probably a late-round consideration.

Capital One Bowl

TV: ABC, 1 p.m. (Eastern).


Brandon LaFell
Dave Martin/Getty Images
Senior prospects to watch: LSU — Brandon LaFell (6-3, 206; Scout.com's No. 4 senior receiver); Ciron Black (6-5, 322; No. 4 offensive tackle); Charles Scott (6-0, 234; No. 4 running back); Rahim Alem (6-3, 263; No. 12 defensive end); Perry Riley (6-2, 245; No. 13 outside linebacker); Chris Hawkins (6-1, 182; No. 16 cornerback); Richard Dickson (6-3, 240; No. 1 fullback). Penn State — Sean Lee (6-2, 236; No. 2 middle linebacker); DT Jared Odrick (6-5, 291; No. 4 defensive tackle).

Noteworthy: Penn State tight end Mickey Shuler (6-4, 249; No. 16 tight end) is the son of the former NFL standout tight end by the same name. He caught 11 passes this season. Darryl Clark (6-2, 223), Scout.com's 15th-ranked quarterback, threw for 2,787 yards, ran for 191 and piled up 30 total touchdowns to be named the Big Ten's co-MVP. Odrick, the Big Ten's defensive player of the year, will be coveted as a 4-3 defensive tackle and 3-4 end because of his height and skill (six sacks, 10 tackles for losses). Need a fullback? Then Dickson is your man as he follows in the footsteps of the Packers' Quinn Johnson. Whether Dickson will be leading the way for Scott is questionable — Scott broke his collarbone last month and missed the last three games.

Steuber's take: Brandon LaFell is probably the top prospect in this game. LaFell is a big-play threat who possesses a great combination of size and speed. He's quick off the line, physical with the defender and sells his routes nicely. He's a smooth receiver that makes everything look effortless and has the athleticism to adjust to any ball thrown his way. He runs well laterally, doesn't shy away from contact over the middle and has deceptive deep speed. He catches the ball cleanly with his hands, but tends to lose concentration and will drop catchable passes. He's tough to bring down after the catch, breaks tackles and is elusive in the open field. He's an outstanding blocker downfield and takes pride in doing the little things that help his team win. Ciron Black probably will be a left tackle but may be a right tackle if he doesn't check out well. He's a big guy so it will be interesting to see where he's playing at the next level. His footwork needs a lot more development as far as playing left tackle. He's more of a mauler so he could play right tackle. He's probably a second-rounder. I think some of the teams like some of the other guys who are coming out. Anthony Davis (Rutgers) has declared and Bryan Bulaga (Iowa) we're still waiting on. I think some of the underclassmen are going to move up and drop guys like Black down a little more. Hawkins is a very good athlete and a smart defender that could be a mid-round gem. He has good size, quickness and plays physical. He displays good instincts and is aware of his surroundings. He's a playmaker, but lacks burst and recovery speed to be one of the elite corners in the nation. But in the right defensive system, Hawkins could develop into a quality No. 2 corner. Scott is a strong runner who has featured-back potential. He's a bulldozer between the tackles and has deceptive quickness on the edge. He lacks elite open-field speed, but possesses an explosive first step. He's a north-south runner and doesn't run with a lot of shiftiness. He takes on heavy hits and keeps his feet moving to pick up extra yards. He wasn't utilized much in the passing game during his career, but has the ability and talent to be an effective option out of the backfield. He's physical, but has to improve his blocking technique.

It's a down year for Penn State, though they still have great linebackers there. Sean Lee is an instinctive defender who plays with a high motor. He's an outstanding tackler and demonstrates solid technique. He plays well at the line of scrimmage, shows toughness and is able to utilize his athleticism to make plays in the backfield. He possesses quick feet and awareness, but he has to improve in pass defense. Lee can play all three linebacker positions, but translates best as an outside linebacker. Odrick is a productive defender who plays with a high motor. He has great size and possesses the versatility to play inside or outside, depending on the defense he ends up in at the next level. He's quick off the snap, initiates contact, uses his hands well and disengages from blockers with his sound technique. He's a playmaker and a threat to make plays in the backfield. He holds his own against double teams and allows others around him to be successful. He's rapidly rising up draft boards.

Gator Bowl

TV: 1 p.m., CBS (Eastern).


Selvish Capers
West Virginia athletics
Senior prospects to watch: West Virginia — Selvish Capers (6-5, 298; No. 6 offensive tackle). Florida State — Patrick Robinson (5-11, 182; No. 1 senior cornerback); Dekoda Watson (6-2, 220); No. 6 outside linebacker); Myron Rolle (6-2, 216; No. 13 safety).

Noteworthy: This will be Bobby Bowden's final game after 44 years as a head coach. West Virginia junior running back Noel Devine is undecided on his future. The 5-foot-8, 176-pounder has averaged 6.4 yards per carry in his career with back-to-back seasons of almost 1,300 yards. He has 10 career carries of 50-plus yards. You may recall Rolle as the Florida State standout who skipped the draft last year because he earned a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford. He's ready to begin his NFL career.

Steuber's take: You've got to like Selvish Capers if you need an offensive tackle. He's an athletic kid who can play left tackle. The biggest thing about Selvish is he has to get a little stronger. If he gets a little stronger and works on his feet a little bit more, he's going to be a good player. Jarrett Brown (6-4, 223; No. 18 quarterback) is more of a developmental kind of quarterback who should be a mid-round selection. If Devine declares for the draft, he'll be a mid-third-round draft pick. At his size, he'll never be a featured back, but he's so explosive that he will cause fits for defensive coordinators. I don't think there's much more for Devine to prove at West Virginia; he is what he is – a scat back. If he decides to stay in school for his senior year, I don't think it matters if he runs for 2,000 yards; no team in the NFL will draft him in the first round. And they may even have some reservations about drafting him in the second round. As good as Steve Slaton was at West Virginia — and he's bigger than Devine — he was a third-round pick when he left school after his junior year.

Florida State's Patrick Robinson is a great cornerback. Great cover corner has had a lot of injuries during his career. He had a sophomore year with eight interceptions. What he can do, probably better than any corner in the country, is really stick with wide receives. It doesn't matter if they're big, they're small, they're fast, they're slow — whatever it is, he just blankets them. He's always in position to make a big-time play. He just doesn't have the ball skills that you want out of a corner. He really dropped from his sophomore year and it seems like his hands have declined. I don't know what it is, but he's not getting the interceptions that he once had. He doesn't get challenged too often but every time that he does get challenged, he does make a play on the ball or he's in position to make a play.

Rose Bowl

TV: ABC, 4:30 p.m. (Eastern).


Ed Dickson
West Virginia athletics
Senior prospects to watch: OregonEdward Dickson (6-5, 243; No. 3 tight end); Walter Thurmond (6-0, 190; No. 8 cornerback). Ohio StateKurt Coleman (5-11, 188; No. 9 safety).

Noteworthy: LeGarrette Blount (6-2, 240), who ruined his senior season and his draft stock with the postgame incident at Boise State, is Scout.com's 12th-ranked senior running back. He rushed for 1,002 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior. In his place during a lengthy suspension, freshman LaMichael James rushed for 1,476 yards, averaged 6.9 yards per carry and scored 14 touchdowns. James will be tested by a Buckeyes defense that didn't allow a 100-yard rusher.

Steuber's take: Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor is their best prospect but he's a sophomore. For Oregon, their quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (a junior with 27 total touchdowns) is one of their top guys. We all know what happened LeGarrette Blount. Dickson is probably going to be a second-round pick. He is a versatile athlete who's played multiple positions. The versatility he possesses has allowed him to succeed as a tight end. He has great size, quickness and hands, not to mention the ability to be a threat inside and outside. He's raw at the position and has to work on his route running and blocking. He has great strength and tremendous upside; it may take sometime before he fulfills his potential. Thurmond, their corner, got hurt but if he's able to get back to where he was, he should probably be a third-round selection. He's a bigger corner. Him and (Jairus) Byrd were a good tandem at Oregon and we all know what Byrd's doing in the NFL (nine interceptions for Buffalo). He doesn't have the explosive speed that you want as a corner but he's very savvy and he positions himself well, is physical and has good ball skills.

Sugar Bowl

TV: Fox, 8:30 p.m. (Eastern).


Joe Haden
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Senior prospects to watch: Florida — Brandon Spikes (6-3, 258; No. 1 middle linebacker); Tim Tebow (6-3, 245; No. 4 quarterback); Jermaine Cunningham (6-3, 252; No. 10 defensive end). Cincinnati — Mardy Gilyard (6-1, 180; No. 5 wide receiver); Tony Pike (6-6, 210; No. 5 quarterback).

Noteworthy: Cincinnati is undefeated and feels like it should be playing for the national championship but is a 13-point underdog. The coaches, of course, are in the spotlight. Brian Kelly bolted to take over at Notre Dame; after this game, Urban Meyer will take an indefinite leave of absence to handle some health problems and may or may not coach the team next year. The Bearcats average 7.28 yards per play, good for second in the nation while the Gators rank fourth in defense and third against the pass. That defense gets a lift with the reinstatement of junior Carlos Dunlap, who was arrested for driving under the influence. The 6-foot-6 defensive end has seven sacks this year. The Gators have twin juniors starting on the offensive line: center Maurkice Pouncey and guard Mike Pouncey. They'll likely be first-day draft picks in 2011. Seniors Brandon James (Florida) and Gilyard are two of the best returners in the nation with five career return touchdowns apiece. James, though, needed surgery on his right foot.

Steuber's take: Joe Haden the (junior) cornerback is fabulous. He's the top corner in this draft and probably a top-12 pick. If you get Haden, he'll really solve a lot of problems in the secondary. Brandon Spikes is just a fabulous, steady, all-around linebacker. I really like him a lot. Some scouts are a little bit down — I think it had a little bit to do with the eye-gauging situation which I guess shows some character concerns. He's a great player. Tebow, obviously, the biggest question about Tim is how far along is he as a quarterback. Is he going to be able to help the team as a quarterback? I think he can. He has to be in the right situation. I would say he's more of a second-round guy. There could be a team that takes a chance on him in the first round, like Jacksonville. Carlos Dunlap is a big guy, about 6-6, 290. Again, character concerns with Dunlap with the DUI he had recently. I'm not sure he's going to come out. I've heard he doesn't think it's in his best interests to come back to Florida after that incident. If he does come out, he's a top-10 talent and I would find it hard to believe that he falls out of the first round. More of a top-20 kid. He could be the steal of the draft if he's able to get past his off-the-field incidents.

For Cincinnati, Tony Pike is outstanding. He reminds me of Matt Ryan as far as leadership. His size — he's kind of lanky. Durability is a big issue. He's had some injuries during his career. His ability on the field is obvious. He's a big-time leader and can make all the throws. Gilyard is a very fast, very slender kid. He's a speedster but he's not a physical receiver. He's more of a guy who's going to run a lot of ‘go' routes. He doesn't run many routes over the middle but he's a big-play receiver. Aaron Webster the safety is a big, tall kid (6-2, 211) and a playmaker (team-high four interception). He has a weird running style. If you watch him run when he makes an interception, it's very strange to watch him run because he high-leg-kicks when he runs. He's awkward looking but he's a good safety, makes plays and is physical.


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


Viking Update Top Stories