The 2012-2013 College Football regular season has come to a close, and the best teams in the NCAA are preparing for their respective bowl games. With the Buffalo Bills suffering what will most likely be another under achieving season under head coach Chan Gailey, fan optimism lies in the NFL Draft, where the team has actually been pretty successful in recent years.
Let’s take a look at some players that General Manager Buddy Nix and his staff will most likely be evaluating during bowl season this year.
Music City Bowl: N.C. State Vs. Vanderbilt, 12/31 12:00 p.m.
QB Mike Glennon, N.C. State
Mike Glennon is a name that has been gaining popularity across the web as one of the risers in the 2013 NFL Draft. Standing at 6’6“ and weighing 232 pounds, Glennon surely passes the “eye test,” as he easily can view the field over defensive lineman, and rarely has passes batted away. He has a relatively strong arm, but is extremely immobile in the pocket, noted by his 33 sacks this year. To me, Glennon is a project quarterback that will definitely need to sit for a year or two in order to develop but he does have a lot of potential. This season, he completed 57.7% of his 511 attempts for 3,648 yards, throwing 30 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. One positive for him entering the draft is that he played in a Pro-Style offense at N.C. State, which could push him up boards due to the abundance of spread offenses emerging in college football.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse Vs. West Virginia 12/29 3:15 p.m.
QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib hasn’t really been talked about in many draft discussions, but he is a guy who could raise some eyebrows during the offseason scouting process. Leading an untalented Syracuse Orange team to a surprising 7-5 record, Nassib is a three year starter that has improved each year in yardage, completion percentage and touchdown passes while limiting sacks and interceptions. This year, Nassib has completed 63.2% of his passes for 3,619 yards, throwing 24 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Geno Smith enters the offseason as not only the highest ranked quarterback in college football, but also one of the top overall prospects. One of the most accurate passers in college footbal, Smith completed an astounding 71% of his passes this past season for 4,004 yards, with a remarkable touchdown-to-interception ratio of 40:6. Emerging as a starter in his sophomore year, Smith has put up gaudy passing numbers, throwing for over 11,000 yards, 96 touchdowns and just 21 interceptions. He has two talented wide receivers in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, but Smith has great arm strength, and even better pocket presence and awareness.
WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Tavon Austin is one of the most explosive players in college football, and is Geno Smith’s favorite receiving target. Austin has racked up 100+ receptions in each of the past two seasons, and is a threat to run the ball as well. He is lightning quick, and can burn defenders with ease. This year, he has 110 catches, 1,259 yards, and 12 touchdowns. He should be available in the second round as a prototypical slot receiver that will definitely stretch the field in Chan Gailey’s offense.
Capital One Bowl: Nebraska Vs. Georgia, 1/1 1:00 p.m.
ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Alec Ogletree is often overshadowed on the Georgia Bulldogs’ defense by fellow linebacker Jarvis Jones, but Ogletree is a highly productive player that will be most effective as a 4-3 weakside outside linebacker that could eventually replace Nick Barnett. A converted safety, Ogletree has great coverage ability, and is a sound tackler. He plays the run well and plays sideline to sideline against slot receivers and tight ends. Character may be a bit of a concern as he was suspended by the team for the first four games of the year. However, despite the missed time, he still managed to rack up 99 tackles, two sacks, and an interception as a junior in 2012.
SS Shawn Williams, Georgia
Shawn Williams is one of the headliners of this year’s safety class in the 2013 NFL Draft. A three year starter at the strong safety position, Williams has been a great tackler, especially against the run, and is a punishing defender. He has pretty god ball skills, as noted by his four interceptions in his junior year, but his best traits are playing the run. Williams also has great size to go with his reported 4.55 40-yard dash speed, as the defensive back is listed at 6’1“, 217 lbs. He would be an excellent complement to free safety Jairus Byrd, if he is re-signed.
Rose Bowl: Stanford Vs. Wisconsin, 1/1 5:00 p.m.
OLB Chase Thomas, Stanford
While Chase Thomas is a solid pass rushing linebacker in the Stanford Cardinal 3-4 defense, I project him to a solid strong side linebacker in a 4-3 front. He is a really instinctive linebacker, but still has work to do in pass coverage. He will be a really effective player against the run in the NFL.
Sugar Bowl: Florida Vs. Louisville, 1/2 8:30 p.m.
SS Matt Elam, Florida
Another headliner in this season’s safety class, Florida Gators’ safety Matt Elam is one of the more productive, big-hitting defensive backs in college football. As a junior, Elam racked up 65 tackles, intercepting four passes while breaking up five, and forcing a fumble. He is a devestating hitter, and leads a talented Florida defense in solo tackles. He is the most versatile defensive back in the NCAA, playing both free and strong safety, and also as a nickel corner. The Bills need help at strong safety with George Wilson aging, and could use Elam here as a high second round pick.
Fiesta Bowl: Oregon Vs. Kansas State, 1/3 8:30 p.m.
DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Assuming that the Bills let go of Chris Kelsay and/or Mark Anderson following the season, the Bills will be in the market for another pass rusher opposite Mario Williams. Kyle Moore is an impending free agent, and in the National Football League, you can never have enough pass rushers. Dion Jordan will be a situational pass rusher at the next level, and he has great size, listed at 6‘7“, 241 pounds, but needs to work on his run support. He can play with his hand in the dirt or standing up as an outside linebacker in a hybrid defense, and is extremely productive against the pass, having recorded 121 tackles, 29 of which for a loss, 14.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles.
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma Vs. Texas A&M, 1/4 8:00p.m.
QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Landry Jones’ name has been circulating throughout draft discussions since last year when he decided to stay for his senior year with the Sooners. Coming from a spread scheme, Jones has a lot of work to do to make a successful jump to the NFL. His accuracy is average at best, throwing 122 touchdowns and 51 interceptions in his four years of playing time. He took over for former first round pick Sam Bradford, who suffered a season ending shoulder injury in 2009. Buddy Nix said he wants a quarterback for the future that he can develop under Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Jones is definitely a developmental project that could flourish with a couple seasons of mentoring.
BCS National Championship Game: Notre Dame Vs. Alabama, 1/7 8:30 p.m.
MLB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s middle linebacker, Manti Te’o is the most complete and probably the safest player in the 2013 NFL Draft at this point. Te’o is a leader and doesn’t really have any flaws in his game to this point. In his impressive career, he has racked up 421 tackles, 32 tackles for a loss, and 7.5 sacks. This season he recorded seven interceptions. He is a true three-down linebacker, able to play the run and the pass equally well. At 6‘2“, 255 pounds, he isn’t a physical speciman a la Patrick Willis, but he is extremely instinctive and projects well to any defensive scheme in the NFL. The Bills really need an upgrade over Kelvin Sheppard in the middle of the defense, and if they are in a position to grab Te’o it’s hard to see them passing up the opportunity.
CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Bills selected Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina with the No. 10 overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, but really need another solid corner opposite him, with Leodis McKelvin entering free agency and Aaron Williams’ ineffectiveness. Dee Milliner is the top cornerback in college football. In 2011, Milliner got a ton of experience as teams looked to him to avoid fellow corner Dre Kirkpatrick, a first round pick in last year’s draft. In three years, Millner has 133 tackles and six interceptions. He has very good range and ball skills, and does a great job in breaking up passes.