2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl observations: Running backs shine, but an FCS safety was the MVP

Maybe a few of the players who were in the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl played the first of what will be several games at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

The Chargers will move into the stadium this fall, but on Jan. 21, the 27,000-seat venue played host to some future NFL players. It’s the sixth straight year StubHub Center has hosted the NFLPA Bowl, which began in 2012. After last year’s game was decided by a point and featured plenty of field goals, this year’s game was a blowout.

The National Team, coached by former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz, rolled to a 27-7 win over the American Team, led by former Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn.

So who helped themselves? If you ask Martz, it was East Carolina quarterback Philip Nelson. But the game’s MVP was Lorenzo Jerome, a 6-foot safety from FCS Saint Francis.

While Nelson and Jerome, along with running backs Tarik Cohen, Teriyon Gipson, Taquan Mizzell and T.J. Logan, boosted their draft stocks, others like quarterbacks Ryan Higgins, Sean Maguire and Mitch Leidner, and Houston defensive end Cameron Malveaux weren’t so fortunate.

OFFENSE

Kendrick Bourne, WR, Eastern Washington – What stood out about Bourne in Carson was his ability to block downfield. He was an FCS All-American after catching 79 passes for 1,201 yards and seven touchdowns last season. The 6-3, 190-pound Portland, Ore., native had 211 receptions for 3,130 yards and 27 scores during a productive career with the Eagles. He’s a very good route runner who can create separation. The three-time All-Big Sky selection didn’t have a catch with two targets in the NFLPA Bowl, but he showed he can do more than just catch. Aside from locking on defensive backs on run plays, Bourne also played well on special teams and recorded a tackle. He has high productivity to go with a solid all-around game and should land an invite to an NFL training camp.

Ben Braden, OG, Michigan – Braden is a big man at 6-6, 304 pounds, but moves extremely well. He is adept at pulling and quick on his feet. He started 25 straight games through 2014-15 and made 36 starts in college. He’s battle-tested and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season. He was considered a seventh-round prospect leading into the NFLPA Bowl, but should have bumped himself up a bit with a solid week in Carson.

Cethan Carter, TE, Nebraska – Carter had a productive week in Carson as an athletic tight end despite a muscular 6-4, 240-pound frame. He showed well enough at the NFLPA Bowl to get an invitation to the NFL Combine. Carter had some injuries at Nebraska, but finished his career with 59 catches for 744 yards and four touchdowns. He’s a good all-around tight end and plays well when in a three-point stance. Because he doesn’t have the ideal height for an NFL tight end, Carter should be an H-back at the next level and could come off the board in the sixth round.

N.C. A&T

North Carolina A&T running back Tarik Cohen

Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T – Known as the “Human Joystick,” the shifty Cohen left A&T as the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher with 5,619 yards and 56 touchdowns. He averaged 6.5 yards on 868 collegiate carries. Not bad for a guy who’s only 5-6, 178 pounds. But what Cohen does have is excellent speed and very quick feet. He can cut on a dime and then has the explosiveness to dart past defenders. He made defenders look silly with an 18-yard run late in the third quarter of the NFLPA Bowl. He was an FCS All-American and MEAC player of the year last season while running for a career-best 1,588 yards and 18 touchdowns, with an average yards-per-carry of 7.5. He also caught 37 passes for 339 yards and a score. Cohen has even returned kicks and punts, so think Darren Sproles, because that’s the type of skill set Cohen has.

Ethan Cooper, OG, Indiana University of Pa. – Cooper pulls well and is impressively athletic for someone who is 6-3, 325 pounds. Cooper was a D-II All-American last season and was a four-year starter, starting three games late in his freshman year. Cooper does a very good job of staying on his block and driving the defender. He uses his hands well and keeps his feet moving. He knows how to turn defenders and seal them off to create running lanes. He had a great week in Carson and earned an invite to the NFL Combine.

Andrew Eide, OL, BYU – After standing out at Southern Utah, Eide had an opportunity to transfer up to BYU for his final season. But this is probably where his football career ends. He was consistently beaten by speed rushers at the NFLPA Bowl, and didn’t particularly stand out in the ground game. He’s 6-5, but is under 300 pounds, which is undersize for an NFL lineman, especially at tackle. Eide has excellent length, but just not the skill set to be a dependable NFL lineman. Eide is a former basketball player and defensive player who had eight sacks in 2015 for Southern Utah. That versatility could get him some sniffs from teams that may think about moving him back to defense.

Jake Eldrenkamp, OG, Washington – Eldrenkamp capped a very good week with an excellent showing in the game. The Pac-12 scholar athlete of the year, Eldrenkamp was also a first-team All-Pac 12 selection while helping the Huskies win the conference and get into the College Football Playoff. He’s 6-4, 301 pounds and is solid all-around as a run blocker and in pass protection. He moves well and understands blocking schemes. He’s an intelligent player who uses that football IQ to put himself in the right position more often than not.

New Mexico running back Teriyon Gipson

Teriyon Gipson, RB, New Mexico – Gipson keeps his legs churning and has decent hands out of the backfield. He ran for 1,269 yards and 13 touchdowns last season to cap his career with 3,148 yards and 32 scores. He added 42 receptions for 387 yards and two touchdowns. Gipson has a low center of gravity at 5-8, 182, and is patient while hiding behind his blockers. He led the American team in Carson with 54 rushing yards on eight carries and scored his team’s only touchdown, on a 13-yard pass in the fourth quarter. It was one of three receptions for 32 yards for Gipson, who also returned kicks. After carrying the load last season for the nation’s leading rushing team, Gipson has a future in the NFL.

Brady Gustafson, QB, Montana – Listed as 6-7, but actually 6-5 and some change, the 240-pound Gustafson looks the part of an NFL quarterback. That’s Cam Newton size with a Carson Wentz background. Because of his stature and size-15 feet, footwork has been a priority for Gustafson as he prepares for a possible NFL future. He didn’t get off to a good start in the NFLPA Bowl, stumbling backward on his first snap. In two years as a starter for the Grizzlies, Gustafson threw for 4,769 yards with 37 touchdowns and 17 interceptions while completing 62 percent of his passes. He played in just seven games as a junior because of an injury. His first career start came in the 2015 opener when he threw for 434 yards with three touchdowns and a pick to help the Grizzlies upset Wentz-led North Dakota State. If he can speed up his elongated delivery, Gustafson could play in the NFL. He has a strong arm and high football IQ. The gamble is that he could be the next Joe Flacco or Brock Osweiler.

Keon Hatcher, WR, Arkansas – Hatcher battled through injuries at Arkansas, but when healthy is an NFL-caliber receiver. He’s 6-1, 206 with a 40 time in the 4.5-second range and caught 130 passes in his career for 1,866 yards and 19 touchdowns. Hatcher missed most of 2015 because of a broken foot, but came back with 44 receptions for 743 yards and eight scores in 12 games as a senior. If he shows well at the combine, as he did at the NFLPA Bowl, and can show teams his injury concerns are behind him, he could move into the sixth round.

Louisiana Tech quarterback Ryan Higgins

Ryan Higgins, QB, Louisiana Tech – Higgins put up huge numbers for the Bulldogs in his lone season as a starter. The 6-2, 207-pound quarterback threw for 4,617 yards with 41 touchdowns and just eight interceptions while leading La. Tech to a 9-5 record and win over Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl. But he had a tough go of it in the NFLPA Bowl. Higgins fumbled his first snap, which was returned for a touchdown, and then was 3 of 6 for 24 yards and an interception. He had a DWI arrest last summer and had a litany of injuries during his college career. He’s a tough player and fierce competitor, but an NFL career is unlikely.

Nate Iese, TE, UCLA – Iese was another one of the standouts in Carson. A former defensive end, Iese is a very good athlete and was also a fullback at UCLA. That experience would make the 6-3, 242-pound California native a perfect fit as an H-back in the NFL. He was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection last season after posting a career-best 25 receptions for 400 yards and four touchdowns. Following his solid week in the NFLPA bowl, expect Iese to come off the board sometime on the third day of the draft with a very real shot at making an NFL roster.

Cameron Lee, OL, Illinois State – Lee started 25 games at both guard and tackle for the Redbirds and was an All-Missouri Valley Football Conference Honorable Mention selection. He stood out in Carson as a 6-4, 320-pound punishing run blocker. On one play in particular, he pancaked one player before heading downfield to make another block on an 11-yard run in the second quarter.

Lance Lenoir, WR, Western Illinois – Lenoir has decent size at 6 feet, 190 pounds and will fight for the ball. That competitiveness led to him becoming Western’s all-time leading receiver with 273 receptions for 3,796 yards and 28 touchdowns. While he has decent hands, he isn’t the fastest guy and might have a hard time creating separation in the NFL. If he can better develop as a route runner, he might have a spot at the next level.

Mitch Leidner, QB, Minnesota – Leidner struggled big-time rom his first series, when he fumbled his second snap. Leidner was just 3 of 12 for 38 yards and was sacked three times in the NFLPA Bowl. Leidner did come from a pro-style system at Minnesota, where he threw for 7,287 yards with 36 touchdowns and 32 interceptions. He was wildly inconsistent for the Gophers, tossing eight touchdowns and 12 picks last season. He’s 6-4 and 230 pounds and can make plays with his legs, but is not an accurate passer. Why or how he got an invitation to the NFL Combine ahead of Zach Terrell is a mystery.

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North Carolina running back T.J. Logan

T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina – Logan runs with power and is a finisher. He has good field awareness, but wasn’t very productive at UNC. He had 650 rushing yards and seven touchdowns while splitting time with Elijah Hood last season, but did average 5.4 yards per carry, which was also his career average. Logan ran for 2,165 yards and 19 scores while catching 76 passes for 663 yards and four touchdowns. Because of his athleticism and nimble feet, Logan should get a shot in the NFL.

Jamal Lyles, TE, Michigan State – Lyles had a very good week of practice, but didn’t do much in the game. He did play well on special teams, but did not record a catch. That’s nothing out of the norm for the 6-3, 257-pound tight end, who had just 30 career receptions for 410 yards and two touchdowns. What Lyles does best is run block, helping pave the way for a team that ran for 151 yards per game in 2015 after assisting Jeremy Langford to rush for over 1,500 yards in 2014. Lyles may not catch many passes, but his hands are adequate. He can etch out a pretty decent NFL career as a run blocker or H-back.

Sean Maguire, QB, Florida State – Maguire was underwhelming in the NFLPA Bowl, going 9 of 21 for 96 yards, though he did throw the touchdown pass to Gipson. Maguire does understand the position. He sees the field well and knows where his checkdowns are, but he isn’t very accurate. After throwing for 1,520 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions as a junior, Maguire was expected to be the starter in 2016, but an injury during fall camp sidelined him. He played in just three games as a senior, completing 8 of 12 passes for 64 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He does have good size at 6-3, 232, but it’s doubtful he becomes the next Brad Johnson.

Virginia running back Taquan Mizzell

Taquan Mizzell, RB, Virginia – Mizzell had a game-high 96 rushing yards in the NFLPA Bowl. He’s an explosive and elusive runner who ran for 940 yards and five scores last season. Mizzell is a patient runner with good vision and cuts well. He ran for 2,075 yards over his career, but added 195 career receptions for 1,560 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s the only player in ACC history with at least 1,500 rushing and 1,500 receiving yards.

Levon Myers, OT, Northern Illinois – Myers struggled in pass protection in the NFLPA Bowl, though he did realize when he was beaten and didn’t worsen things by holding. The 6-5, 307-pound Myers has good length and a nice, wide, strong body, with very good technique, but his feet are too slow to combat NFL pass rushers. He is a solid run blocker, but would be a liability at tackle in the NFL. He was a two-time All-MAC selection and did play well against Ohio State in 2015, but his best plays came when he was run blocking in zone schemes. If he can’t pass protect, though, it’s tough to see Myers on an NFL team.

Scout

East Carolina quarterback Philip Nelson

Philip Nelson, QB, East Carolina – Nelson certainly won the praise of Martz, who stated following the game that Nelson could be an NFL starter. He has some off-field issues that resulted in his college career starting in Minnesota before detouring to Rutgers and winding up at ECU. He was extremely inconsistent for the Pirates after completing just 50 percent of his passes in two seasons at Minnesota. He has a strong arm and did complete 68 percent of his passes for the Pirates for 2,621 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions, which almost always came at the worst possible times. To get Martz’s approval, Nelson capped a very solid week of practice by going 11 of 18 for 102 yards and an interception in the game. Nelson, who is 6-1, 216 pounds, also ran for 15 yards on four carries, including the game’s first score. Nelson moves well in the pocket, keeps his shoulders level and has a quick release. He was not invited to the combine, however, so will have to have another good outing at the ECU pro day.

Zach Pascal, WR, Old Dominion – Pascal has good hands, nice shiftiness an excellent size at 6-1, 216 pounds. He caught two passes for 30 yards in the NFLPA Bowl. Pascal’s quickness helped him catch 193 passes for 2,664 yards and 24 touchdowns for the Monarchs. He has added value as a returner, averaging nearly 23 yards per kick return over his college career. He was a three-year starter at ODU, but it’s tough to see a spot for him in the NFL. He just doesn’t go anything great that makes him stand out among a deep receiver class.

Michael Rector, WR, Stanford – Rector is 6-1, 190-pound former track athlete with excellent speed. He showed off that speed with a 22-yard end-around in the NFLPA Bowl. Rector can also return kicks, though he didn’t do much of that playing behind Christian McCaffrey. Rector had 104 career receptions for 1,681 yards and 15 touchdowns at Stanford. Rector could put on a show at the NFL Combine because of his athleticism.

Connecticut receiver Noel Thomas

Noel Thomas, WR, Connecticut – Thomas is a very good route runner with good speed. A Connecticut native, the 6-foot, 200-pound Thomas was very productive at UConn, leading the Huskies in receiving each of the last two years. He had 100 receptions for 1,179 yards, but just three touchdowns, last season to finish his career with 183 catches for 2,235 yards and 10 scores. A two-time All-American Athletic Conference selection, Thomas had a good week in Carson and could sneak into the bottom of the seventh round.

Lenard Tillery, RB, Southern – Tillery is passionate about football and it shows with his high game IQ. He has great feet and can cut on a dime, and plays with excellent awareness and vision. He’s an instinctive player who has incredible balance and runs hard. He also has pretty good hands as a receiver with 75 career receptions. Tillery ran for 1,665 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, his third straight year with at least 1,100 rushing yards. The 5-10, 200-pound Baton Rouge native is Southern’s all-time leading rusher. He finished his career with 4,856 yards and 48 total touchdowns.

Keith Towbridge, TE, Louisville – Towbridge won’t get drafted in April, but he does have some NFL attributes. He’s strong and a decent run blocker and solid route runner. What hurts him is low productivity with only two catches in four games last season, and 23 career receptions for 283 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also not very fast and has a history of injuries over the last two years. He has NFL size at 6-5, 265, but just not the athleticism needed for the next level.

Anthony Wales, RB, Western Kentucky – Wales has some wheels. The 5-10, 195-pound running back had a huge season with 1,621 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns while leading the Hilltoppers to an 11-win season. He also has 73 career receptions and added a 5-yard reception in the NFLPA bowl, to go with his two carries for 14 yards. Wales is a powerful runner with a low center of gravity and ran for 245 yards and three touchdowns in WKU’s 51-31 win over Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr.

Greg Ward Jr., QB, Houston – Ward had a good week of practice in Carson before a disappointing game. He tossed a pair of interceptions before leaving with an ankle injury. Ward’s stock took a hit, but he did show flashes of being able to play quarterback, dispelling the idea that he would have to move to receiver at the next level. He was nifty with his legs, though, scrambling for 28 yards on his first play from scrimmage. Ward went 27-5 as a starter at Houston, helping to rejuvenate the program. He threw for 8,705 yards with 52 touchdowns and 26 interceptions while rushing for another 2,375 yards and 39 scores. The 5-10, 174-pound Texas native is definitely not a top quarterback prospect and might not even get drafted, but neither did TCU’s Trevone Boykin, another college quarterback some thought needed a position change, before the Seahawks signed him as an undrafted rookie and he wound up making the 53-man roster.

Robert Wheelwright, WR, Wisconsin – Wheelwright has the ability to make big plays, something he did for the Badgers with 69 career catches for 890 yards and six scores. He has good size at 6-2, 208 pounds and decent 4.5 speed. While he isn’t a burner, Wheelwright does do a pretty good job of creating separation because he’s an adept route runner. Wheelwright certainly isn’t a flashy player and won’t be drafted, but he did enough at a big-time program like Wisconsin for some team to bring him into camp.

Dontre Wilson, WR, Ohio State – Wilson was one of the standouts for the National Team following an injury-plagued career in Columbus. He had just one catch for 4 yards in the game, but had an excellent week of practice and was cited specifically by his receivers coach, Torry Holt, as one of the best players in Carson. The 5-10, 187-pound Texas native had 77 career receptions for 925 yards and 10 scores, with half of those touchdowns coming last season. He won’t get drafted, but should get an opportunity in an NFL camp.

DEFENSE

Jamal Agnew, CB, San Diego – Agnew breaks well on the ball and has excellent timing. A four-year starter for the Toreros, Agnew was the team’s defensive MVP last season with 31 tackles, two interceptions, 13 passes defensed and a blocked kick. The 5-9, 190-pound San Diego native was credited with 48 pass breakups and 11 interceptions over his career. He showcased his superior ball skills in what was a productive week for him in Carson. Depending on what he runs, he might have done enough to get drafted.

Eli Ankou, DT, UCLA – Ankou played very well in Carson and will play professionally; it just might have to be up in Canada. The 6-2, 330-pound Canadian native had 92 career tackles, eight for loss, and 1 1/2 sacks at UCLA. He was not invited to the NFL combine, but is ranked third among CFL prospects. Ankou has a nice burst off the ball and is very strong, using power to collapse the pocket and get good penetration.

Eastern Washington defensive end Samson Ebukam

Samson Ebukam, DE, Eastern Washington – Ekubam has incredible get-off and is a tenacious pass rusher. He had two batted passes during the NFLPA Bowl, though he did get knocked on his rear because he left his feet on his first pass deflection. He also played well on special teams during the game, adding value as an FCS player. While the Nigerian-born Ebukam is 248 pounds, he’s just 6-1, which is not ideal for a pass rusher. But he has a great work ethic and was a first-team FCS All-American last season after collecting 9 1/2 sacks to go with 71 tackles, 15 for loss, an interception and two forced fumbles. He finished his college career with 24 sacks, but was surprisingly not invited to the combine.

Roderick Henderson, DT, Alabama State – Henderson is a wide load inside at 6-1, 350 pounds, and he plays like it. Henderson is strong and gets low to create leverage that allows him to beat double teams. Henderson was one of the more feared D-tackles in FCS, finishing his senior season with 12 1/2 tackles for loss and a sack, along with two blocked field goals to earn second-team All-SWAC honors. He had 6 1/2 TFLs and a sack in 2015 and should get an opportunity to invade NFL backfields.

Isaiah Irving, OLB, San Jose State – An alert player, Irving was a three-year starter for the Spartans. He had 22 1/2 tackles for loss, 11 last season, and 11 sacks, seven as a senior, during his time at San Jose State. At 6-3, 250 pounds, Irving has good size for an outside linebacker, and his speed with 40-time in the 4.8-second range is adequate, though not ideal. What he has to show scouts is his ability to not only penetrate the backfield but drop in coverage.

Saint Francis safety Lorenzo Jerome

Lorenzo Jerome, S, Saint Francis (Pa.) – Jerome had an incredible week in Carson and capped it with an MVP performance in the game. Though just 5-11, 185 pounds, Jerome can play. He has excellent ball skills and is extremely athletic. He was the first player in Northeast Conference history to be a four-time first-team all-conference selection. Jerome had 18 career interceptions, including six last season. But he was also a first-team all-conference return man and had four career returns for touchdowns. Jerome would be the first Saint Francis player in the NFL since 1952.

Tre’von Johnson, LB, Weber State – Johnson had a very good week in Carson, showing he can play downhill against the run and stick with running backs while in pass coverage. The 6-0, 231-pound Salt Lake City native was a first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection last season after recording 92 tackles, 12 1/2 for loss, 4 1/2 sacks and four passes defensed. He finished his career with 258 career tackles, 27 for loss, and nine sacks. Johnson can play special teams and could find a spot in an NFL training camp.

Ryan Lewis, DB, Pittsburgh – Lewis was actually Pitt’s second leading tackler last season with 79 stops from his corner position. He had eight pass breakups last season to go with two of his three career interceptions. The 5-11, 191-pound Seattle native is a tough competitor with decent speed, but if he gets drafted, it would probably be as one of the compensatory picks at the end of the seventh round.

Cameron Malveaux, DE, Houston – Malveaux has a good burst off the snap, but not great speed. He gets jammed up against the run, sometimes losing the ball carrier while failing to get off blocks. While making 37 starts, Malveaux tallied just 81 career tackles, 17 for loss and 3 1/2 sacks. You’d like to see more from a 6-6, 270-pound defensive end who played in 52 games. He has potential, but has to learn how to convert that burst to power and use his size and strength to get off blockers. There’s just no technique with Malveaux, so if an NFL team brings him into camp, the D-line coach would have to be extremely patient with him and teach him about leverage, hand placement, angles, etc.

Torry McTyer, CB, UNLV – McTyer is 5-11, 195, but plays bigger thanks to excellent ball skills. He reads routes well and has very good timing with his hands. McTyer was credited with 10 passes defensed in each of the last two seasons and had two of his three career interceptions last year. The Los Angeles native returned one of those picks for a touchdown. McTyer is very good at contesting the ball and had an excellent pass breakup on what was a well-thrown ball from Leidner to Lenoir.

Grover Stewart, DT, Albany State (Ga.) – Stewart has an excellent burst off the snap and that helps him collapse the pocket. He lived in the backfield at Albany State with 27 career sacks, including 7 1/2 as a senior, to go with 48 tackles for loss. That may have been against Division II competition, but Stewart had a very good week in Carson. The 6-5, 295-pound Georgia native then had three tackles in the NFLPA Bowl, two of them behind the line with a TFL and sack.

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Utah outside linebacker Pita Taumoepenu

Pita Taumoepenu, OLB, Utah – Though he doesn’t have great height at 6-1, the 242-pound Taumoepenu does have long arms and is a natural pass rusher with a great burst. Taumoepenu is a speed rusher and doesn’t have the strength to shed blockers, especially at the NFL level. But he’s still raw, growing up in Tonga playing rugby. He didn’t start football until his senior year of high school, but is a superior athlete and capped his senior season at Utah with 41 tackles, 12 for loss, nine sacks and three forced fumbles. He had a very good showing at the NFLPA Bowl with four tackles and a sack to earn an invitation to the NFL Combine. Taumoepenu might not get drafted, but the team that gets him can let him develop on the practice squad and might have a diamond in the rough.

Ahmad Thomas, S, Oklahoma – Thomas is a very good tackler, especially in the open field. He’s a big hitter, but will also wrap up. When the 6-0, 216-pound Thomas hits a ball carrier, he usually wins. Thomas had 149 career tackles, five for loss, with 2 1/2 sacks, four interceptions and seven passes defensed. Three of his four interceptions came in the 2015 season. He doesn’t have great ball skills, but would be ideal as a hybrid safety/linebacker. He finished his career with 39 consecutive starts for the Sooners and was a two-time all-Big 12 selection.

Josh Thornton, CB, Southern Utah – Thornton has good ball skills and receiver-type hands. He is projected as a late-round pick, but may have solidified himself as a draftable prospect with his good showing in the NFLPA Bowl. The 5-11, 188-pound Florida native has great speed. While he played in just games last season, Thornton had three interceptions.

Jeremy Tyler, S, West Virginia – Tyler is a solid tackler who plays well against the run. He had two of his three career interceptions last season. The 5-11, 207-pound Georgia native had just one year as a starter for the Mountaineers, but was a special teams ace in all four seasons. That, along with decent speed, could be enough for an NFL team to give him a shot.

Nick Usher, OLB, UTEP – Usher has excellent vision and is a big hitter. The Los Angeles native has good size at 6-3, 240 pounds and plenty of experience as a three-year starter. He recorded 24 1/2 tackles for loss and 12 sacks with three forced fumbles during his career. He also was credited with three pass breakups. Usher is an instinctive player and was a two-time All-CUSA honorable mention selection. Thought he was all over the field at the NFLPA Bowl, Usher likely won’t be drafted, but could get a camp invite.

Jeremiah Valoaga, DE, UNLV – Voloaga is another tenacious player who pursues the ball through the whistle. He has a good burst off the snap and, even when he can’t get to the quarterback, has good vision and enough athleticism to deflect passes at the line. Valoaga has excellent length at 6-6, 255 pounds, though you’d like to see his college production be higher with just 19 tackles for loss and 7 1/2 sacks over his career. He was redshirted for the 2014 season for academic reasons and had an ankle injury that limited him to six games in 2015. He’s an explosive player, but has to show more consistency to make it at the next level.

About Ron Clements

Wisconsin native, former Marine, Summa Cum Laude graduate of East Carolina University and a working sports journalist since 1999.