'Twas the night before the night before New Years and all though the country... Teams were still playing football.
ESPN has bowl games to watch all day long, so let's get right to it.
Birmingham Bowl -- Memphis vs. Auburn (12:00)
The Birmingham Bowl may just feature the top quarterback prospect in the 2015 draft in Memphis' Paxton Lynch. He is an athletic QB, but at 6 foot, 6 inches, 230 pounds, he has plenty of size and a strong arm to go with touch as a passer. He will have to prove that he can compete at a high level against quality opponents, and if the junior chooses to come out early, he will also have to convince teams that he can command an NFL offense at the next level. If he can, he will be in competition with Cal's Jared Goff, who is coming off an Aaron Rodgers-esque performance against Air Force yesterday, to be the first quarterback off the board in April.
Auburn's best prospects are on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Montravious Adams is a long and slightly undersized tackle at 6-3, 296lbs, but would fit well as a 3-technique in a four-man front. Behind him is linebacker Cassanova McKinzy. McKinzy is primarily an inside linebacker, but he has played weak and strong outside linebacker, as well edge rusher. In fact, he leads the team with 20 QB hurries. He has an "old-school" build for a linebacker at 6-2, 250lbs, but is an athletic defender with great range. He seems to lack discipline and consistency, however, and can lose track of where the play is going. He has a high upside if a team can teach him to play with discipline and control.
Belk Bowl -- NC State vs. Mississippi State (3:30pm)
The player most scouts want to see in this game is Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott is a big, athletic quarterback at 6-2, 230lbs. Prescott has the ability to gash defenses with his legs, but he is also developing quickly as a passer, showing the ability to read defenses and manipulate DB's with his eyes. He is often compared to Tim Tebow as a runner and leader, but his passing ability very well could leave Tebow's in the dust.
His primary target, De'Runnya Wilson, is an intriguing prospect for scouts. At 6-4, 215lbs, great leaping ability, and a natural "hands" catcher, Wilson has an enormous catch radius. He also shows a rare ability to get off the line of scrimmage and create separation out of his routes for a big receiver. He doesn't appear to have much long speed, and might compare to Alshon Jeffery at the next level.
Finally, on the defensive side, is DT Chris Jones. At 6-5, 305 pounds, the former basketball player presents intriguing upside to scouts, but teams will likely need to polish his technique so he can use his athletic tools. He finished the 2015 season with 31 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 4 passes defensed.
Music City Bowl -- Texas A&M vs. Louisville (7:00pm)
Texas A&M's best prospects are still a year or two away from draft eligibility -- Their pass rushing duo is a joy to watch -- but they might just extend their streak of offensive tackles drafted in the first round. Germain Ifedi is different from previous TAMU offensive tackles who depended more on agility, technique, and finesse. Ifedi, instead is a 6-5, 330 pound mauler of a tackle. He uses his strength, long arms, and good angles to wall off defenders and can be a bull in the run game. Ifedi is practicing at both left and right tackle, but he might be best on the right side or perhaps even sliding inside to guard.
On the Louisville side of things, keep an eye on defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. Rankins is Louisville's best pass rusher, and at 6-1, 303, is a natural 3-technique. He has the power to rush the interior through the A or B gaps, but also the agility for stunts and twists with defensive ends or linebackers. Rankins is also a great run defender, showing a very high motor and active hands to work through blockers.
Holiday Bowl -- USC vs. Wisconsin (10:30pm)
Having already announced his intentions to declare for the NFL draft, linebacker Su'a Cravens is the player to watch in this game, and it is difficult not to.
Cravens may be listed as a linebacker -- and hits like one -- but at 6-1, 225 he has the build and athleticism of a strong safety. Cravens is at his best attacking down hill as a run defender, but he also shows good fluidity and instincts in coverage. Cravens is a playmaker, pure and simple. In his three years at USC, he has 34 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, 9 interceptions, and 16 passes defensed.