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2024 NFL Draft watch: Players to watch Peach Bowl, Music City Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Arizona Bowl

Which players should Giants fans be watching in Saturday’s bowl games?

NCAA Football: Mid-American Conference Football Championship-Miami (OH) at Toledo Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning New York Giants fans! Happy Saturday and welcome to he heart of Bowl Season.

Today and Monday will feature the biggest bowl games of the year, and we should be in for a bunch of great games. We’ll have some of the top draft prospects in the nation on the field, as well as some under-the-radar prospects who could make some real noise at the NFL level.

There are players at almost every position who could help — or at least interest — the Giants today. So without further ado, let’s get to the games!

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: (10) Penn State vs. (11) Ole Miss

ESPN - noon

[Update: As commenters have mentioned, reports surfaced after this post was written that Fashanu is not playing due to injury and Harris is returning to school in 2024.]

Olu Fashanu (OT, Penn State)

The Penn State left tackle is the best prospect on the field in any game today, and might be the best prospect to play in a bowl game for any team this year.

We really don’t have to say much about Fashanu at this point: He has prototypical size and athleticism for his position, a patient technician, and he’s been a reliable pass protector and run blocker for Penn State. Fashanu has his warts, and we’ll have to get into them over the course of the draft process. However, he’s a lock for a Top 10 pick and could well be one of the first two non-quarterbacks selected.

Tre Harris (WR, Ole Miss)

Tre Harris is a transfer portal gem in a draft replete with them (more on that when we get to Florida State). He got his start at Louisiana Tech and emerged as a playmaker with a 10-touchdown season in 2022 before transferring to Ole Miss in 2023. Harris took to the SEC well, producing 8 touchdowns on just 47 receptions — while improving his yards per catch from 14.4 to 18.1.

This draft is well stocked with tall, long, and athletic receivers, and Harris is another in that mold, listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. He also has plenty of long speed to be a deep threat as well as surprisingly fluid movement skills for a longer receiver. Harris has is a solid route runner, with good body control, strong hands, and ball skills at the catch point. He needs to play with some more consistency, but he has the potential to be a gem in a stacked wide receiver class.

TransPerfect Music City Bowl: Maryland vs. Auburn

ABC - 2 p.m.

Beau Brade (S, Maryland)

Could the Giants go back to the well and draft another DB out of Maryland?

Beau Brade is one of the more versatile safeties in the country, sporting a big, dense frame at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, while also having surprising movement skills. Much like Tae Banks, Brade is a very physical and aggressive DB who seems to relish contact. He has a quick trigger, is willing to take on blocks from much larger players, and hits with authority. That aggression and physicality makes him a play maker, but it can also get him in trouble. The safety position has been devalued in the draft, and that could make a player like Brade a real value.

The Giants have so far declined to offer Xavier McKinney a contract extension, and he could be headed for free agency. Wink Martindale’s scheme demands a lot from the safety position, relying on them as coverage players to disguise post-snap rotations, in run defense, and frequently as blitzers.

Brade’s ability to play everything from deep coverage shells to pseudo-linebacker — in addition to his instincts and competitive toughness — could make him an intriguing fit.

Jaylin Simpson (DB, Auburn)

Sticking in the defensive secondary, we have a another DB who is also 6-foot-1, but has a very different physical profile.

Auburn has fallen on hard times lately, but they’ve been producing quality defensive backs. They’ll have another three drafted this year, including Jaylin Simpson.

Simpson is listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, but has emerged as a playmaker at corner and safety for the Auburn defense. The fifth-year senior has long limbs, solid athleticism, and a knack for making plays on the ball, which has improved over the last three seasons. Simpson was limited by a hamstring injury this year, but still managed to snag 4 picks (one returned for a touchdown) and surrendered a QB rating of just 27.5 when targeted. Some teams may shy away from Simpson thanks to his slight physique, but he could be a defensive weapon in the right situation.

Capital One Orange Bowl: (5) Florida State vs. (6) Georgia

ESPN - 4 p.m.

Braden Fiske (iDL, FSU)

No team has exploited the transfer portal as much or as well as Florida State has over the last couple years. EDGE Jared Verse, WR Keon Coleman, WR Johnny Wilson, and RB Trey Benson all got their starts at other schools before transferring and starring at FSU.

Each of those players has opted out of today’s game as well.

But Braden Fiske is playing — and he’s another transfer portal find for the Seminoles. Fiske started his college career as a red-shirt freshman at Western Michigan in 2018. He didn’t get on the field until 2019, and go better each year until he had a breakout 2022 campaign. Fiske notched 59 tackles, 12 for a loss, 6 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 passes defensed in 2022 before transferring to FSU. The leap in competition didn’t seem to bother him and he produced similar numbers this year for the Seminoles (43 tackles, 9.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks).

Fiske is a slightly undersized defensive lineman, listed at 6-foot-3, 295 pounds and will be a 24-year old rookie, and both could be marks against him in the draft. However, he’s also explosively powerful and has fantastic competitive toughness to play through the echo of the whistle. Fiske might slip a bit in the draft, but that could make him a fantastic value for a team that lets him shoot gaps and attack into the backfield.

Ladd McConkey (WR, Georgia)

A wide receiver named McConkey? Obviously Giants fans have to take an interest. Unfortunately, Ladd has no relation to Phil McConkey, but he is a good receiver in his own right.

Ladd profiles as something of an aberration in a draft class filled with tall, long, speedy wideouts. He’s a modestly-sized (6-foot, 185 pound) quicker-than-fast receiver who’s a route technician a with sticky hands and great competitive toughness. McConkey will almost certainly be overshadowed by more athletically exciting receivers, and he won’t be a fit for every scheme. However, we’ve seen players with similar profiles (such as Cooper Kupp, Amon-Ra St. Brown, or Puka Nacua) slip in the draft only to terrorize defenses very early in their careers.

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl: Wyoming vs. Toledo

CW Network - 4:30 p.m.

Easton Gibbs (LB, Wyoming)

Gibbs has been a “do-it-all” linebacker for Wyoming over the last couple years, and his versatile skill set should find a home at the NFL level. Just how versatile is Gibbs? I’ll let his stat line over the last three years do the talking:

316 total tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 7 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 9 passes defensed, an an interception.

Gibbs is an instinctive linebacker with a nose for the football who can navigate traffic around the line of scrimmage or drop into coverage. He has average-at-best size for a modern off-ball linebacker, listed at 6-foot-1, 230, but he’s a sound tackler who could find a home as a WILL with some schematic versatility.

Quinyon Mitchell (CB, Toledo)

Toledo’s star corner has quietly been one of the best cornerbacks in all of college football over the last two seasons. That’s particularly impressive considering how many excellent corners the college ranks have produced over the last couple years. Mitchell has great size at 6-foot, 200 pounds with long arms, quick feet, fluid hips, and elite speed.

Mitchell doesn’t quite have the freakish athletic traits sported by Sauce Gardner or Riq Woolen. However, his size, explosive athleticism, and ball skills (combined 6 int, 37 passes defensed in 2022 and 2023) should make him the next “WHO!?” corner to seemingly come from nowhere and rocket up draft boards.

* full disclosure: Even scouring the internet on Saturday morning, I still have no clue whether Mitchell is playing in this game. I’ve seen conflicting reports stating both that he’s opted out and that the head coach will be leaning on him. If Mitchell has indeed opted out, keep an eye on safety Maxen Hook.