Bowl Game NFL Draft Prospect Watch: Bridge Point Education Holiday Bowl

Harry How

The 2012 NFL season is drawing to a close and it looks like the New York Giants will miss the playoffs barring a number of losses by other team on Sunday. With the season ending in such a disappointing way there are bound to be some changes, and of course there will be a whole off-season of discussing NFL Draft prospects, but the next two weeks is essentially the last time to see these prospects live. Here's a viewing guide for the games today.

The big game today is the game tonight at 9:45 p.m. ET on ESPN when the UCLA Bruins will take on the Baylor Bears, but there are two games earlier in the day. Bowling Green takes on San Jose State in a game essentially devoid of NFL prospects in the Military Bowl. And then Duke and Cincinnati play in the Belk Bowl.

[2013 NFL Draft watch notes for Thursday's Bowl Games - SBNation.com]

Duke has two draftable prospects in quarterback Sean Renfree and wide receiver Conner Vernon. Vernon has a shot at moving into day two with a great pre-draft process, but looks like a later round pick. Cincinnati had a lot of big-time prospects last year, but this year their best prospect is tight end Travis Kelcie, who could go as high as round five. It wouldn’t surprise anyone, however, if he went undrafted.

Baylor vs. UCLA is a big ticket item so as Terrell Owens would say get your popcorn ready.

Robert Griffin III put up insane numbers in college but it wasn’t all because of just how good he was, it was also about his terrific wide receiver corps. Last year he saw one of his wide receivers selected in the first round (Kendall Wright), and another go in the second round in the supplemental draft (Josh Gordon) this year there is a potential first rounder in WR Terrance Williams. Williams is benefiting some from a down WR class, but it is definitely more about his size (he is 6-foot-2, 205 pounds) and can run fast. Williams is Baylor’s best pro prospect.

Baylor also has mammoth prospect Cyril Richardson on the offensive line, who looks like a round four prospect if he declares for the draft. Richardson is listed at 6-5, 335 pounds and he is reportedly a monster in the weight room. He has good enough mobility and will be intriguing to NFL teams.

Quarterback Nick Florence looks like a late day three prospect.

Wide receiver Daryl Stonum, Ccenter Ivory Wade and wide receiver Lanear Sampson are all undrafted free agent types or late-round picks.

UCLA Bruins

UCLA has a well-known running back prospect in Jonathan Franklin who has been a terrific college football player. Franklin is small, but fast and has carried a big workload while at UCLA. He is considered a second- or third-round pick on most boards provided he tests well in the pre-draft process.

UCLA has two players on defense who fit the label fans dread: “boom or bust prospect”. The first is Anthony Barr. Barr burst onto the scene this year with 20 tackles for loss and 13 sacks after playing running back for two years! Barr clearly found his niche on defense because he was not a productive offensive player. Barr is classic high-risk high reward. Barr has not had to show how he’d adjust to teams adjusting to him after studying him during the off-season. He does have terrific speed for a linebacker and is 6-4, 235 pounds—why was he a running back in the first place? Anyway, his amazing season could see him selected in the first round as a 3-4 outside linebacker or maybe someone hoping they found a Von Miller type SAM linebacker.

Datone Jones is a guy I pegged as the next Chandler Jones at the beginning of the college football season so when he gets drafted high in either the first or second round it would not come as a surprise. He was productive behind the line of scrimmage this year with 17.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. Jones is a true defensive end at 6-4, 275 pounds. He was a four-star recruit out of high school but was considered kind of a disappointment heading into this season. He finally finally put it all together, however, and is a nice defensive end prospect.

Tight end Joseph Faruia has had a disappointing season and there are definitely legitimate questions about his ability to block, but the 6-7, 255-pound ready-made-mismatch could impress in the pre-draft process and has a really wide range of where he could be drafted. He entered the season as a potential round one pick, but had a bad year and is considered closer to a round four pick now. Talent, however, generally trumps productivity so he still has a shot at being selected early.

Offensive guard Jeff Baca is likely to be drafted and punter, Jeff Locke could be selected.

This game features a number of intriguing potential high-round draft picks and is a game you should definitely keep an eye on if you can.

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