The Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl features some very intriguing prospects. Fresno State’s Derek Carr will be looking to continue his stellar season by finishing off his career with a big win against USC. The Trojans are hoping to get a big performance for potential top-10 pick Marqise Lee. Jon Dove breaks down this dynamic game.
Marqise Lee/WR/USC: Marqise Lee battled some injuries this season that limited his overall production but that doesn’t mean he’s any less of a prospect. This is an explosive athlete who plays with a high motor and plenty of savvy. Lee excels at running clean routes and finding the openings in a defense. A team looking for a reliable target with big-play potential should look no further than Lee. His performance at the combine will have an impact on where he lands, but either way somebody will be getting an NFL-ready receiver. Early Round 1
George Uko/DT/USC: George Uko is a highly athletic defensive tackle who excels at working his way into the backfield. He uses his burst off the line and quick hands to penetrate the pocket. Uko also has the awareness to locate the football and make plays away from his frame. While he isn’t a great two-gap player, Uko plays with leverage and uses his hands to hold at the point of attack. He’s a hard worker which helps him work through double teams and play the run. His upside comes from his quickness and ability to wreak havoc in the backfield, but Uko is more than passable in run support. Consistency is the one issue keeping Uko out of the first round mix. There are games where he just doesn’t show the same type of impact. He needs to find a way to play at the same level every week. Round 2
Derek Carr/QB/Fresno State: Derek Carr is enjoying a tremendous year where he has improved as a decision maker and showed the ability to win games. He features the arm strength, size and athleticism needed to excel at the next level. His ability to show improvement each year is also important to note. Carr is a savvy quarterback who is comfortable going through his progressions and moving defenders with his eyes. However, he needs to focus on improving his foot work. Too often he’ll throw off his back foot and not square himself towards his target. He has also developed an alarming tell where he leans back prior to throwing a deep ball. NFL safeties will quickly pick up on and exploit this awkward motion. Overall, Carr is a good prospect with the potential to develop into a long-term starter in the NFL. His combination of natural skills, willingness to improve and solid decision making all point to that fact. Round 2
Aundrey Walker/G/USC: Aundrey Walker is one of the more underrated offensive line prospects in this draft. He’s a fluid athlete who has experience playing both guard and tackle. Even though he has shown a ton of upside at guard, Walker is absolutely fluid enough to play left tackle at the next level. He’s able to generate a good push in the run game because of his inside hand placement, use of leverage and quickness off the ball. Walker also shows a nasty streak and willingness to play to the whistle. His performance against Notre Dame (Louis Nix III) showed his potential to dominate. In pass protection, Walker keeps his head on a swivel and shows good change of direction. It appears that USC moved him inside to guard to improve the overall play of the offensive line not because Walker was a liability at left tackle. Round 2
Xavier Grimble/TE/USC: USC has not properly used the talented Xavier Grimble enough this season. This is a tight end prospect who features a huge catch radius, solid athleticism and strong hands. Grimble has a knack for finding soft spots in the defense and plucking the ball at its highest point. He’ll need to improve his overall blocking in order to become a more rounded player, but he shows enough effort in this area. The way NFL teams utilize pass catching tight ends leads me to believe that Grimble will have a much more productive NFL career than his college stats would suggest. 3rd Round
Davante Adams/WR/Fresno State: Despite a highly productive season, Davante Adams doesn’t have a lot of skills that scream NFL talent. He’s a smaller target who lacks the elite quickness needed to overcome his limited size. His inability to consistently generate separation will make it hard for him to earn playing time. Fresno State doesn’t ask Adams to run a sophisticated route tree which results in a lot of his catches coming on drag routes or wide receiver screens. 6th Round