Jaguars Bowl Guide, Part II

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The draft is five months away, but you can do a little scouting over the next few weeks by watching some of the 35 bowl games. It's a good chance to see some of the players the Jaguars may be interested in drafting, whether in the first round or later rounds.

The Jaguars' biggest needs are quarterback, pass rusher, interior offensive line, defensive line, outside linebacker, running back and receiver. Each Friday until the bowl season ends, I'll give you a list of the games you should watch that involve teams with players at those positions in which the Jaguars could be interested.

Some will be possible first-round targets. Others will be mid- or late-round targets.

One caveat: There are a lot of draft-eligible underclassmen who have yet to declare whether they will return to school. Until they do, they will be included in this list. They'll be marked with an asterisk (*).


New Era Pinstripe Bowl (noon, ESPN)

Rutgers vs. Notre Dame

Why to watch: Notre Dame has several linemen worth watching. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt* has the versatility to play multiple spots while tackle Louis Nix III is an athletic player who holds up to double teams and can clog the run. He'd be a good fit in Jacksonville but won't be around in the second round. Irish offensive tackle Zack Martin is a later-round pick but some believe he's headed inside. Mel Kiper Jr. tabs guard Chris Watt as a second-day pick, which probably would be too high for the Jaguars.

Belk Bowl (3:20 p.m., ESPN)

Cincinnati vs. North Carolina

Why to watch: It's looking more and more like the Jaguars will bring tight end Marcedes Lewis back, but they'll likely target one in the later rounds of the draft and North Carolina's Eric Ebron is a possibility. His blocking needs work and he's more of a Jimmy Graham-type tight end. Tar Heels offensive tackle James Hurst is a later-round pick. Defensive end Kareem Martin doesn't fit the leo profile the Jaguars want in a pass rusher but he's worth watching. A name to watch in the later rounds: North Carolina center Russell Bodine*. He has been a starter since his redshirt freshman season and the Jaguars obviously need a replacement for Brad Meester.

Russell Athletic Bowl (6:45 p.m., ESPN)

Miami vs. Louisville

Why to watch: It's your last chance to see Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater*, who could very well still be on the board when the Jaguars draft. He's the most NFL-ready of all the quarterbacks in the draft and should be the first one taken. Miami's Stephen Morris is a player the Jaguars could take in the later rounds if they want to draft two QBs. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is familiar with Morris from his time at Miami. Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith is Kiper's top-ranked senior at the position and seems to fit the leo profile the Jaguars want.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (10:15 p.m., ESPN)

Michigan vs. Kansas State

Why to watch: Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is Kiper's No. 2 senior at the position and Kiper likes the fact that Lewan has a bit of a temper. Always good for an offensive lineman to have a touch of nastiness.


Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (3:15 p.m., ESPN)

Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech

Why to watch: The Jaguars need a big, physical receiver and Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief* fits that description. He's 6-3 and 215 pounds. He caught 53 passes for 825 yards this season, which is an impressive 15.5 yards per catch. He's a player the Jaguars could get in the later rounds, too. Georgia Tech outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu is a good pass rusher but struggles in coverage.

Valero Alamo Bowl (6:45 p.m., ESPN)

Oregon vs. Texas

Why to watch: If the Jaguars want to add speed to their backfield then Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas* is a good player to target. He's more physical than he's given credit for and he's a nightmare to tackle once he gets in the open field. Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat may be a target, too. He doesn't have great speed but is quick off the ball and has good power.

National University Holiday Bowl (10:15 p.m., ESPN)

Arizona State vs. Texas Tech

Why to watch: ASU's Marion Grice is Kiper's No. 3 senior running back but describes him as someone who won't run through contact, so he may not be high on the Jaguars' board. Sun Devils defensive tackle Will Sutton has good quickness and speed but isn't that big (6-0, 284) and outside linebacker Carl Bradford* is a late-round guy to watch.


Hyundai Sun Bowl (2 p.m., CBS)

UCLA vs. Virginia Tech

Why to watch: There are two quarterbacks to watch, starting with UCLA's Brett Hundley*. He has a big arm and shows good pocket awareness to go along with the ability to make plays on the run. He could be a first-round pick if he decides to leave school a year early. Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas has the size and arm strength that makes NFL teams drool, but his production and decisions don't match those measurables. UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo* is a later-round draft pick. He is a bit older after doing a two-year mission. Virginia Tech defensive end James Gayle has battled inconsistency issues, especially with his fundamentals, but he has been a solid pass rusher. UCLA's Anthony Barr, however, has been a good pass rusher and has the potential to develop into a consistent double-figure sack guy. He's a first-round pick, though, so unless the Jaguars decide to go defense with that first pick he's probably out of reach.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (4 p.m., ESPN)

Rice vs. Mississippi State

Why to watch: It's hard to watch a game just for an offensive lineman, but that would be the case here to see MSU guard Gabe Jackson. He's a beefy 6-3, 333 pounds with good hands and impressive quickness for someone that size.

Chick-fil-A Bowl (8 p.m., ESPN)

Duke vs. Texas A&M

Why to watch: Gotta see Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel* one more time. He was the player ESPN's Todd McShay mocked to the Jaguars with the No. 4 overall pick. The biggest question about Manziel is whether he can handle the pounding at the NFL level, but there's also concern about whether he can be comfortable staying in the pocket instead of running around and creating havoc, which is when he's at his best. Aggies receiver Mike Evans has great size (6-4, 220 pounds) but has average speed. But he seems to make every catch. The Jaguars need a big, physical receiver. Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews isn't someone the Jaguars will target because he'll go high in the first round and they've already got their left tackle (Luke Joeckel).


Outback Bowl (1 p.m., ESPN)

Iowa vs. LSU

Why to watch: LSU, as usual, has a slew of talented NFL prospects. The ones Jaguars fans should watch are running back Jeremy Hill, receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.*, offensive tackle La'el Collins and defensive tackle Ego Ferguson*. The 235-pound Hill is a physical runner. Think MoJo with better size. Beckham has decent size and good hands. Collins is a converted guard who made a seamless transition. Ferguson has been a run-plugger. Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is a solid blocker who can help at the point of attack.

Capital One Bowl (1 p.m., ABC)

Wisconsin vs. South Carolina

Why to watch: Remember what Jadeveon Clowney* did in last year's bowl game? It was the hit that cemented his stardom. He still could potentially be the No. 1 overall pick, but there are some mock drafts in which he's available when the Jaguars pick. Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis is productive with average speed and hands but is a tough competitor and a physical player and blocker. Tight end Jacob Pedersen (6-4, 230) needs to add bulk to be a more effective blocker at the NFL level but he's a solid receiver who never averaged less than 11.9 yards per catch in any season in his career.

Rose Bowl game presented by Vizio (5 p.m., ESPN)

Michigan State vs. Stanford

Why to watch: Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney, who ran for 1,618 yards and 20 TDs this season, is a 220-pound bruiser who doesn't get enough credit for his speed. His fullback, Ryan Hewitt, also is worth a look because Jaguars fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou's contract expires next week. David Yankey* has started the last two years at left tackle but projects as a guard in the NFL. Outside linebacker Trent Murphy has improved his pass-rush skills and is still able to hold up against the run.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (8:30 p.m., ESPN)

UCF vs. Baylor

Why to watch: UCF quarterback Blake Bortles* is an intriguing prospect, sort of a thicker and shorter Colin Kaepernick. Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk* is a home-run threat but Kiper says he doesn't always get the yardage that's right in front of him. Receiver Tevin Reese is a big-play machine but the concern is his size (5-10, 168). Offensive tackle Cyril Richardson, who is a dominant run blocker, projects as a guard in the NFL.

Allstate Suger Bowl

Oklahoma vs. Alabama

Why to watch: Bama quarterback A.J. McCarron may be a player the Jaguars look at in the second round if they decide to go defense in the first. Huge offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio* (6-5, 310) is a road grader as a run blocker but is nimble in pass protection as well. OU's Trey Millard is Kiper's top-ranked senior fullback.