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2019 College Bowl Preview: Citrus and Outback Bowls
Photo Credit: Jeff Blake/USA Today

NFL Draft

2019 College Bowl Preview: Citrus and Outback Bowls

New Year’s Day gets off to a hot start with some outstanding college football bowl games to begin 2020. Both of these early New Year’s bowl games feature prestigious programs loaded with NFL talent. The Citrus Bowl features the Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan Wolverines. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Auburn Tigers will battle in the Outback Bowl. Both games kick-off at 1 pm ET.

Citrus Bowl: Alabama vs Michigan

Alabama Crimson Tide

Going into this season, the Alabama Crimson Tide were once again the talk of college football — and for good reason.

I could feasibly see around 15 Crimson Tide players being selected in April’s draft, starting with their top wide receiver, Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy is such a nuanced route runner that it appears as if he is gliding through his breaks. The uber-athletic Jeudy can get open against any defensive back using just his feet, but he also boasts 4.4 speed and should thrive as a downfield threat at the next level. The wildcard here is his quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. After suffering a debilitating hip injury late in the season, Tagovailoa will be behind the eight-ball during the pre-draft process, and it is still unclear if he will ultimately end up declaring. Tackles Jedrick Willis and Alex Leatherwood are pro-ready players that will serve as pillars on their respective offensive lines for years to come.

Shifting to the defensive side of the ball, as you might expect, there is no shortage of talent. Cornerback Trevon Diggs is a hulking presence on the perimeter (6’2, 207) with solid ball skills, a willingness to play the run, and the moxie you like to see from your top cover man. He is a plug-and-play Day 1 starter. Xavier McKinney is one of three safeties, along with Shyheim Carter and Jared Mayden, that will hear their names called on draft weekend. McKinney, known for his coverage prowess, is perfectly built for the new age NFL. His calling card may be his versatility — he played some nickel corner during his Crimson Tide career — and outstanding ball skills. McKinney is one of my favorite defenders in the draft.

-Andrew DiCecco, PFN NFL Draft analyst

Michigan Wolverines

Entering the season with national title expectations, the Michigan Wolverines had a disappointing season in 2019. The best prospects are surprisingly in the receiver room, despite the passing offense being under-whelming for the majority of the season. Quarterback Shea Patterson has some nice qualities, but his accuracy down the field has been atrocious – a true tragedy considering the strength of this team lies in the offensive line and wide receiver.

On defense, the talent is headlined by edge defender Joshua Uche and Linebacker/Safety Josh Metellus. Uche led the team with 8.5 sacks. He possesses really impressive physical abilities. However, you would like to see some better production from someone of his skill-set. Metellus is a safety/dime-backer hybrid. He’s an excellent tackler who’s not afraid to come down and let someone know they got hit.

-Matt Valdovinos, PFN NFL Draft analyst

Citrus Bowl Prospects (via Andrew and Matt)

Rnd Full Name Pos # School
1st Jerry Jeudy WR 4 Alabama
1st Henry Ruggs WR 11 Alabama
1st Trevon Diggs CB 7 Alabama
1st Tua Tagovailoa QB 13 Alabama
1st Jedrick Willis OT 74 Alabama
1st-2nd Raekwon Davis DT 99 Alabama
1st-2nd Alex Leatherwood OT 70 Alabama
1st-2nd Xavier McKinney S 15 Alabama
2nd Donovan Peoples-Jones WR 9 Michigan
2nd DeVonta Smith WR 6 Alabama
2nd Terrell Lewis EDGE 24 Alabama
3rd Ben Bredeson iOL 74 Michigan
3rd Najee Harris RB 22 Alabama
3rd Josh Uche EDGE 6 Michigan
3rd Anfernee Jennings EDGE 33 Alabama
4th Josh Metellus LB/Saf 14 Michigan
4th Nico Collins WR 4 Michigan
4th Shyheim Carter S 5 Alabama
4th Jared Mayden S 21 Alabama
4th Tarik Black WR 7 Michigan
5th Jon Runyan OT 75 Michigan
5th Cesar Ruiz iOL 51 Michigan
5th Brian Robinson RB 24 Alabama
6th Lavert Hill CB 24 Michigan

Outback Bowl: Minnesota vs Auburn

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Coach PJ Fleck led the Minnesota Golden Gophers to one of their most successful seasons in years in 2019. The Gophers possess an explosive offense that is complemented by a defense that flies around the field. Flying around the field in the back-end is safety Antione Winfield Jr., who many believe should have won the Jim Thorpe award for the nation’s best defensive back. He pairs with pass rusher Carter Coughlin to create a dynamic one-two punch on the front-7 and defensive backfield.

On offense, the Gophers are led by WR duo Tyler Johnson, who will be drafted this year, and Rashod Bateman, who has a case for WR1 next year. The Gophers also have a dynamic rushing offense led by senior running back Rodney Smith.

-Matt Valdovinos, PFN NFL Draft analyst

Auburn Tigers

The Auburn Tigers have a multitude of players that figure to entice NFL evaluators. Blue-chip talent Derrick Brown leads the way — and the burly defensive tackle has the skill set to provide an immediate return of investment. Whether he’s holding the point of attack against the run or collapsing the pocket, Brown is a disruptive presence on the interior. Remarkably athletic for someone his size (6’5, 318), Brown demonstrates an explosive burst off the ball, efficient hand usage, and unparalleled strength.

Prince Tega Wanogho is an athletic tackle that is fairly raw. While his technique needs refining, he has shown flashes of dominance throughout his career. Jack Driscoll ended up at Auburn in 2018 as a grad transfer from UMass. He started all 24 games at right tackle over the past two seasons and will have an opportunity to showcase his talents at the East-West Shrine Bowl in January.

Defensive end Marlon Davidson is another raw talent that hasn’t gotten enough recognition. The three-year starter has 17 career sacks to his name, including a career-high 7.5 in 2019. Inconsistent production is the concern here. Javaris Davis highlights a trio of defensive backs, including Daniel Thomas and Jeremiah Dinson, that are worthy of being selected on draft weekend. Davis is a quick-twitched, smaller cornerback who is best suited for the nickel role at the next level. Davis and Dinson will have opportunities to boost their draft stocks with a strong week at the East-West Shrine Bowl.

-Andrew DiCecco, PFN NFL Draft analyst

Outback Bowl Prospects (via Matt and Andrew)

Rnd Full Name Pos # School
1st Derrick Brown DT 5 Auburn
2nd Prince Tega Wanogho OT 76 Auburn
2nd  Antoine Winfield Jr. Saf 11 Minnesota
4th Marquel Harrell OG 77 Auburn
4th Carter Coughlin DE 45 Minnesota
4th Marlon Davidson DE 3 Auburn
5th Javaris Davis CB 13 Auburn
6th Nick Coe DL 91 Auburn
6th Rodney Smith RB 1 Minnesota
7th Jack Driscoll OT 71 Auburn
FA Daniel Thomas DB 24 Auburn
FA Jeremiah Dinson DB 20 Auburn

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