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Top 10 prospects playing in Friday's Bowl games

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Top 10 prospects playing in Friday's bowl games

Chad Reuter
Draft analyst 

Friday is the first BIG day of bowl season. It's a day where you want to just lay down on the couch and have nothing but a pizza, your favorite beverage and the remote control at the ready.

The five games include matchups like Georgia vs. TCU and Nebraska vs. Tennessee, though none of the players in those games cracked my list of the top 10 prospects to watch for the day. Two other matchups dominated this list, as El Paso and Miami will be the hot tickets. Without further ado, here are the top 10 prospects playing on Friday. All times listed are Eastern.


10. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan

Game: Orange Bowl (vs. Florida State), 8 p.m., ESPN
The 2016 season didn't start off so well for Lewis, as he missed the first three games with various injuries. Once on the field, however, the Wolverines and their opponents felt his presence. The All-American and Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year spent October and November in the hip pocket of receivers, intercepting two passes and breaking up 10 others. Though more slight than scouts prefer in a corner, Lewis has added weight and is as aggressive in man coverage as any 6-foot-plus defender.



9. Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Game: Orange Bowl (vs. Florida State), 8 p.m., ESPN
One of a few Michigan defenders that turned in an excellent senior season, Charlton's play in 2016 earned him first-team accolades. His 11 tackles for loss included 8.5 sacks. Against Ohio State, he showed the combination of power and agility to be a good NFL edge defender. It will be interesting to how Charlton, fellow senior Chris Wormley, and future star Rashan Gary fare against left tackle Roderick Johnson in this game.


8. Jake Butt, TE, Michigan

Game: Orange Bowl (vs. Florida State), 8 p.m., ESPN
No matter his surname, this guy's no joke. Butt will play in the league for a long time as a Jason Witten-like target for some lucky quarterback. Florida State linebackers and safeties will test his athleticism, but he has the frame to box them out in the red zone or separate on out routes to pick up first downs.


7. DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State

Game: Orange Bowl (vs. Michigan), 8 p.m., ESPN
Walker's matchup against Michigan right tackle Erik Magnuson is going to be a must-watch for NFL scouts. The senior is tied for the FBS lead with 15 sacks, as he consistently converts speed to power to win the edge. His hustle is second to none, so even if his first pass-rush move doesn't work, Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight had better not stay in the pocket for too long. Walker's ability to stuff running back De'Veon Smith at the line will impress scouts, as well.


6. Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

Game: Sun Bowl (vs. North Carolina), 2 p.m., CBS
Thomas is a prototypical NFL five-technique, with quickness and enough strength to play vs. guards and tackles at the next level. Thomas leads the team with 13 tackles for loss and seven sacks. North Carolina has a few pro-caliber linemen, including right tackle Jon Heck, so scouts will be watching those matchups throughout the Sun Bowl to see who wins.



5. Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

Game: Orange Bowl (vs. Michigan), 8 p.m., ESPN
It didn't take long for McFadden to show opposing quarterbacks what happens if you throw into his area. The true sophomore picked off Chad Kelly in the opener vs. Ole Miss, and repeated the feat seven more times in seven different games. McFadden is tied for the NCAA lead with eight picks. He attacks his man at the line with his length, just as he does the ball. Michigan has receivers with size and speed, so if McFadden looks fluid and keeps in-phase with those guys, scouts will continue to be impressed.



4. Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

Game: Orange Bowl (vs. Michigan), 8 p.m., ESPN
The Seminoles' left tackle won the ACC's Jacobs Blocking Trophy for the second straight year. He'll need to be on his game, though, against a Michigan defensive end group that's among the most talented in the country. One of the leanest of the top tackle prospects, Johnson will do himself a world of good if he's able to stand up to the bull rushers that Jim Harbaugh lines up against him.


3. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Game: Orange Bowl (vs. Michigan), 8 p.m., ESPN
Cook and the Seminoles must be patient in the run game against Michigan's strong front seven. The junior back has seen similar talent earlier in the year, with mixed results (169 yards vs. Clemson, 57 yards vs. Louisville). Usually, even if defenses stop Cook at first, he will eventually find a crease and exploit it for a big gain. Scouts will be looking for Cook to push the pile when Michigan's massive defensive line holds its ground. Showing power and ball security against a group of 11 that includes several NFL draft prospects would be a great feather in his cap.


2. Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

Game: Orange Bowl (vs. Florida State), 8 p.m., ESPN
The Wolverines need their star redshirt sophomore to make plays if they want to beat Florida state in the Orange Bowl. He'll often play around the line of scrimmage in his nickel role, looking for back Dalvin Cook or freshman quarterback Deondre Francois coming to the outside. Peppers' versatility will allow him to follow slot receivers and tight ends in the middle and blitz Francois off the corner, as well. The Seminoles' special teams units are certainly aware of the Heisman finalist's return acumen -- we'll see if he gets any opportunities.


1. Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Game: Sun Bowl (vs. Stanford), 2 p.m., CBS
Though in his first year as a starter, Trubisky has already earned high praise from NFL scouts with his skill set. The former top-rated dual-threat high school recruit possesses all of the traits you want in an NFL starter, including arm strength, mobility and accuracy. Many college quarterbacks have "area-code" accuracy -- they get the ball in the general area so their receiver can make a play. Trubisky's accuracy is more aptly described as "pinpoint." You know Stanford's defense will be ready for him, however, so every general manager interested in securing his services will pay attention to his ability to handle pressure and deliver in the clutch.

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