The Bowl season is always one of my favorite times of the year for scouting. The biggest reason is simply time management. With only a few games a day or week to scout, I have time to catch up on some of the film that I'd glossed over earlier.
The same applies to NFL scouts. With many home for the holidays, they're easier to get on the phone and exchange notes.
It is during this time that I'm usually able to pinpoint a few prospects across the country that are viewed as legitimate 2nd or 3rd round prospects by scouts but are perhaps not getting the media attention you'd expect for players with such high grades.
Here are five players that are earning these high grades but aren't yet generating a buzz in the mainstream media.
Learn these seniors' and juniors' names now. You'll be hearing them a lot more often soon.
WR Tandon Doss, Indiana: I listed the five prospects alphabetically, but it is appropriate that Doss leads off the list. With the likes of A.J. Green, Justin Blackmon, Julio Jones and so many other top underclassmen receivers generating all of the attention there are a host of talented wideouts not getting enough hype. At the top of that list in my opinion is the Hoosiers' Doss, a 6-3, 200 pound junior who quietly led the Big Ten with 175.8 all-purpose yards per game. How disrespected is Doss? The Big Ten media only recognized him as a Second Team all-conference player. The league's coaches, on the other hand, made him a First Team choice.
RB Jamie Harper, Clemson: With NFL teams increasingly moving towards a committee of running backs, big backs are finding more opportunities to run and catch rather than just be relegated to blocking duties. Running and catching is precisely what the 5-11, 235 pound junior does well. Scouts on hand for Harper's 197 all-purpose yards in the win over Florida State left gushing about his power, quick feet and soft hands...
CB Curtis Marsh, Utah State: Marsh might just be the hottest senior defensive prospect in the country right now. Switching from running back to cornerback only two years ago, Marsh has shown rare agility and straight-line speed for a man of his size (6-1, 200). The Senior Bowl has noticed, reportedly inviting Marsh to the game.
CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville: Patrick wasn't on my original list (BYU OT Matt Reynolds was), but his standout performance last night in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl matchup against Southern Miss only confirmed what I'd seen on tape earlier in the year . Patrick was beaten for a TD early, but I love the competitiveness he showed throughout the rest of the game, forcing a fumble, blocking a kick, providing lockdown coverage and coming up aggressively in run support. The four-letter network that covered the game last night rank Patrick 35th among cornerbacks. NFLDraftScout.com ranks him 6th (among seniors).
DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple: Wilkerson has received some attention this year, but not nearly enough. The past two seasons Wilkerson, a junior, has averaged 65 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. If Wilkerson had enjoyed this production in the SEC or Big 12 rather than the MAC, he'd not only be considered a first round pick, he'd be in the top 20. As more scouts break down his tape, don't be surprised if he ends up there.
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