NFLPA Collegiate Bowl: Quick Hits

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

NCAA Football: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the things that stuck out to us from the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.  Plenty more posts coming soon.

Most Intriguing Player?  — Right now Rice TE Luke Willson is projected as a late pick or priorty free agent, but I think he has the potential to go higher based on what he showed in Carson, CA.  At about 6’5″ and 250 pounds, he’s extremely athletic.  He’s already been drafted by the CFL’s Argos and he played baseball last spring with the Blue Jays.  Wilson is the type of player who could help a team as a traditional Tight End or even as an F-Back type for more Coryell style offenses since he’s both powerful enough to run block well but also athletic enough to catch passes.  Wilson might be a player to keep a close eye on during the draft process.

Carving Out a New Role? — Alabama State QB Greg Jenkins struggled some from under center, but had a great game for the American team by converting to wide receiver and showing how athletic a player he could be.  Scouts might work him out more as a wide receiver in coming days, but for a player who never played much receiver to catch three passes for 40 yards was nice to see.

The Big Jump? — Orwin Smith is a running back out of the Georgia Tech triple-option offense and one of the lowest rated guys according to CBS Sports because of it.  No matter what, Smith is a player who plays out of such an unconventional offense in college that a game like this was a leap for him.  Smith said he’d never played in the pro style offense so the whole experience was new for him and you could see him catching on even as he played the game.  Smith played well showing patience and quickness and as he learns the pro offense more, he might surprise some NFL scouts.  Expect more attention to draw to Smith over the coming months as he becomes more familiar with the pro game.

A PR Boost? — Kansas QB Dayne Crist ended up winning the game’s MVP and drove the National team to their first two scores of the game.  Crist is a well known collegiate player because of his move from Notre Dame to Kansas to follow Charlie Weis there but he had a rough college career, dealing with injuries, and not having the type senior campaign he’d have liked.  But at 6’4″ 239, Crist is a big powerful player and he has above average arm strength and at that size he can take or give a hit.  Where Crist needs to get better is his anticipation on plays and that was on display some during his touchdown throw. While it’s hard to know where he’ll be drafted, he should get some more interviews and invites out of his game Saturday.

Someone Needs An Invite — Jordan Rodgers is going to be an interesting phenomenon as the draft approaches.  He might not pass the conventional 36/60 rule for drafting quarterbacks by GM standards, but it’s fair to say there’s mitigating factors.  Rodgers only played two seasons in the SEC at Vandy after playing JuCo football at Butte like his big brother Aaron did.   As a senior he led the Commodores to their only nine win season since 1915 and beat Tennessee, Ole Miss, Kentucky and Auburn along the way … not bad for the only private school of the SEC.   Talking briefly with Rodgers after the game, he’s yet to receive an invite to the Combine but he showed all week why he’d be a great NFL player and leader and hopefully his play and the spotlight that ESPN put on him will help him get some recognition before late April arrives.