HoustonProFootball.com presents the second half of its look at this season’s bowl games. This week, we feature the New Year’s Day…err…New Year’s Day through January 4th bowls. Our focus is on the players in whom the Texans may have interest early in the 2004 draft, and those who may have impact which players are available to the Texans. Not every bowl has been listed, so check your local listings for more information, nor is every potentially draftable prospect in each game included.
Underclassmen are indicated with an asterisk (*). They must formally declare themselves eligible for the draft by January 15. Each player’s uniform number is also listed to help you spot him quickly.
Thursday, January 1
Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. Florida (10:00 a.m., ESPN)
Iowa OT Robert Gallery (#78) may be the best offensive tackle in this or last year’s draft. Florida TE Ben Troupe (#84) leads the Gators in receptions and has the speed to stretch a defense. OG Shannon Snell (#75) and massive OT Max Starks (#77) anchor the left side of the Florida line, although Starks has also played right guard. CB Keiwan Ratliff (#1) has picked off nine passes this season and shows big-play ability on defense and punt returns.
Gator Bowl: West Virginia vs. Maryland (11:30 a.m., NBC)
Maryland DT Randy Starks (#57) has an ideal combination of size, speed, and strength.
Capital One Bowl: Purdue vs. Georgia (Noon, ABC)
Purdue FS Stuart Schweigert (#9) is a ballhawk with 17 career interceptions. Georgia WR Fred Gibson* (#82) has been slowed by injuries but is a tall go-to receiver with enough athletic ability to also play for the Bulldog basketball team. TE Ben Watson (#89) is a capable blocker who is also a receiving threat. DE David Pollack* (#47) may not have the measurables to fit either as an end or outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but he is a major headache for opposing blockers.
Rose Bowl: Southern Cal vs. Michigan (3:30 p.m., ABC)
USC DE Kenchi Udeze* (#94) has 13.5 sacks this season and a knack for separating the football from the ballcarrier. Michigan RB Chris Perry (#23) is a productive north-south runner. WR Braylon Edwards* (#1), the son of former Oiler RB Stan Edwards, is a fluid athlete who can high jump 6’11”. OT Tony Pape (#77) may have to move from the left side to the right in the NFL, but is a physical blocker with a mean streak. CB Marlin Jackson* (#3) has had some off-the-field problems but is extremely talented and may also be able to play safety.
Orange Bowl: Miami vs. Florida State (7:30 p.m., ABC)
Miami TE Kellen Winslow* (#81) is in a class by himself as a receiving tight end when he stays under control. OG Vernon Carey (#60) plays hard and may also be able to be a right tackle at the NFL level. DT Vince Wilfork* (#75) has the quickness and bulk to be a disruptive force in the middle. LB D.J. Williams (#17) can run and hit and would probably be best inside in the 3-4 but may also be able to play outside. ILB Jonathan Vilma (#51) is not the most impressive athlete on the field, but he plays with great instincts and fundamentals. FS Sean Taylor* (#26) may be the rare safety who merits being drafted near the top of the first round. CB Antrel Rolle* (#6) made a name for himself with his performance against Larry Fitzgerald. Florida State RB Greg Jones (#6) is a workhorse who can pound a defense into submission. DT Darnell Dockett (#45) has 17 tackles for loss despite drawing extra attention from opposing blockers. OLB Michael Boulware (#58) and Kendyll Pope (#9) fly around the field but lack the bulk typically found in 3-4 outside linebackers.
Friday, January 2
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi (1:00 p.m., Fox)
Oklahoma State WR Rashaun Woods (#82) lacks the great physical tools of some of the other receivers in this draft, but he runs precise routes and rarely misses a ball thrown his way. Ole Miss QB Eli Manning (#10) has the skill and poise to pick a defense apart, even in the face of an intense pass rush.
Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. Ohio State (7:00 p.m., ABC)
Kansas State C Nick Leckey (#53), who played left guard last year, may be the best interior offensive lineman in the draft. Ohio State WR Michael Jenkins (#12) is a possession receiver who comes up big in clutch situations. DE Will Smith (#93) is a speed rusher who may be able to become a 3-4 outside linebacker. CB Chris Gamble* (#7) is not the most polished corner around, but his raw tools are without question.
Saturday, January 3
Humanitarian Bowl:Georgia Tech vs. Tulsa (11:00 a.m., ESPN)
Georgia Tech OT Nat Dorsey* (#70) showed his potential when, as a true freshman, he shut down Julius Peppers.
Sunday, January 4
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. LSU (7:00 p.m., ABC)
Oklahoma DT Tommie Harris* (#97) should vie for one of the top spots in the draft based on his athletic ability alone. OLB Teddy Lehman (#11) runs well and might move inside in a 3-4. FS Brandon Everage (#7) is very physical but needs to put has had some run-ins with the law. CB Derrick Strait (#2) may be a better all-around corner than his former teammate, Titan first-rounder Andre Woolfolk. LSU WR Michael Clayton* (#14) is capable of dominating either on offense or in the secondary. OG Stephen Peterman (#72), a former tight end and defensive lineman, is very consistent. DT Chad Lavalais (#93) has improved his stock significantly as a senior. DEs Marquise Hill* (#94) and Marcus Spears* (#84) have the size and speed to wreak havoc behind the line.
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