NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
To the casual fan the Military Bowl probably doesn’t pique your interest, I mean how many people look forward to watching San Jose State and Bowling Green play football. However, for NFL personnel and NFL draft fans the game showcases a handful of draft eligible prospects who will get their last chance to impress scouts as a college football player.
Included in those prospects is one defensive tackle who I believe will be on the Patriots radar in April.
#91 Chris Jones, DT, Bowling Green (6’1/293) – For a team that will be in the market for defensive tackles, specifically versatile ones, who can push the pocket a DT like Chris Jones will be watched closely by the Patriots and other NFL teams. Jones is the most dominant interior rusher in the country over the last two seasons totaling 12.5 sacks, 19.0 tackles for a loss and 41 total tackles in 2012.
Bowling Green moves Jones all over the line and plays him in both 3 and 4 man fronts. He uses his hands pretty well and loves to use a quick swim move off the snap. Jones reminds me a lot of former Patriots DT Mike Wright, both are limited with what they can do athletically but work extremely hard and have a good motors.
Not only was he productive on the field, but has outstanding character and was team captain. By putting up such dominating numbers while dealing with constant double teams Jones was named the MAC defensive player of the year award. This is the type of prospect that generally interests Bill Belichick and I would assume he is on the radar this year.
#43 Travis Johnson, DE/OLB, San Jose State (6’3/244) – The WAC’s all-time leader in sacks and the reigning WAC defensive player of the year, Johnson is a player who could add to the Patriots pass rush make over. At only 244 lbs. Johnson likely has to move to OLB or a hybrid role in the NFL. Johnson has shown consistent development over the course of his career culminating with a 12.0 sack season.
In the two games I have watched this season I have been impressed with Johnson’s hand use and nose for the ball. He isn’t an explosive of natural pass rusher and struggled to change direction fluidly. I think Johnson has a future in the NFL as a situational player and core special teamer. Johnson’s resume is impressive an 3 time All-Academic WAC selction and team captain.
#82 Ryan Otten, TE, San Jose State (6’6/245) (#3 Ranked Tight End)- When your an athletic TE who can stretch the field and create a mismatch vs. opposing linebackers the Patriots will likely be interested. Otten has been a consistent big play threat for San Jose State this season averaging 16 yards per reception and showing reliable hands.
While the Patriots are obviously set at their starting tight end position, they have struggled to find reliable depth at the position, and with injuries hitting both Gronkowski and Hernandez this year depth at TE might be a target area. Otten isn’t real physical and struggles as a blocker, he is a movable TE who can line up in different spots. His combination of size, speed and hands could shoot him up draft boards in April. Otten is also invited to the Senior Bowl signaling that he is one of the top rated TE among NFL scouts.
Other Top Prospects to Watch:
#10 David Fales, QB, San Jose State (Jr.) (6’3/220)
#76 David Quessenberry, OT, San Jose State (6’6/295)
#2 De’leon Eskridge, RB, San Jose State (5’11/215)
#5 Dwayne Woods, LB, Bowling Green (5’11/225)