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2017 NFL Draft: Outback Bowl Preview, Led by a Pair of Standout Florida Cornerbacks

Even though both teams ended up into a New Years Six bowl game, the result didn’t quite reach the expectations for either team. Iowa, coming off a top 10 finish, quickly lost its aspirations after dropping games to North Dakota State and Northwestern early as it didn’t even sniff at a Big Ten title. Florida, again, made a run in the SEC East division taking advantage of weak play but got trounced by Alabama in the SEC Championship for the second season in a row.

By: Christian Page

As for NFL talent, Florida wins the battle on paper, but Iowa has a couple of defenders should be selected in the first two to three rounds. Here is a list of draft-eligible players to help guide you during the Out back Bowl.

Game Details: Jan, 2 // Noon p.m. EST // ABC // Tampa, FL // Raymond James Stadium

Florida (8-4, 6-2)

Jalen Tabor, CB, 6’0, 201, #31 (Jr.)
Thought to be the best defenders on the Gator defense, Tabor screams versatility when breaking down film. Tabor boasts crazy athleticism showing off his quickness and strength covering short intermediate routes in the slot or on the outside vertically. Tabor has the short area quickness and fluidity to stay on par with the speedier receivers. One area that the junior can work on is his overall tackling technique. He struggles to show consistency in making open field tackles in the wrong game and does tend to struggle shedding blocks on a consistent basis. A versatile threat in the defensive backfield, Tabor should be highly coveted by scouts.

Caleb Brantley, DT, 6’2, 297, #57 (Jr.)
A dominating penetrator in both elements of the game, Brantley has been virtually an unstoppable force up the middle. Brantley constantly takes away the interior run game being an excellent block shedder with solid upper body strength while also playing with outstanding contact balance. Brantley is a force up the middle showing excellent movement skills and athleticism from the inside. A true 3-tech defensive tackle, Brantley’s ability to control at the point of attack and playing with tremendous balance makes him one of the best interior defensive linemen prospects in this draft class.

Quincy Wilson, CB, 6’1, 213, #6 (Jr.)
Wilson plays tough at the line of scrimmage and then shows some of the best footwork I have seen since evaluating. Playing on his toes sounds like a cliché, but that’s how the junior cornerback plays resulting in quickness to play on multiple routes. Wilson has shown impressive ball skills this season as well even in just the limited amount of targets he receives. His combination of length and speed is a favorable pair and also his ability to create an island on the outside. Wilson has CB1 qualities.

Jarrad Davis, LB, 6’2, 240, #40
Davis has dealt with a frustrating ankle injury all season but looks to be close to 100 percent for the Outback Bowl. The Senior Bowl attendee shows off his elite awareness in the run game and good enough speed to make plays outside the tackles. I’m not overly impressed by Davis’ change of direction skills as I feel he is lacking in above average fluidity but he manages to consistently make plays in the backfield to prove me wrong. To the point of making plays outside the tackles, Davis does show consistent acceleration and takes proper angles but does show lack of execution with some easy missed tackles. A clean bill of health in the bowl game and in Mobile will only help Davis going forward.
Other players to watch
-Joey Ivie, DL, 6’3, 301, #91
-Daniel McMillian, OLB, 6’1, 223, #13
Iowa (8-4, 6-3)

Desmond King, CB, 5’11, 203, #14
King is one of the more productive cornerbacks in this talent-laden position group. The senior returned for another season just to show what he is capable of once more. King shows off excellent ball skills accompanied by ball awareness and quickness to stay on par with quicker receivers. He does show some stiffness when changing direction, but has enough acceleration to turn down a potential concern in that area. King will also carry the mold of being one of the more polished run defenders of his position showing promise as an open field tackler and block shedder. In the past two seasons, King has recorded 10 interceptions.

C.J. Beathard, QB, 6’2, 215, #16
Once viewed as a top 10 quarterback heading into the season, Beathard’s ranking has dipped plenty but a good performance versus a stout Florida defense should help rise his stock again. The senior plays with tremendous arm strength having the ability to make every throw on the field. I am most impressed with Beathard’s poise in the pocket when pressure throws things at him. He shows off impressive pocket movement while keeping his eyes downfield not giving up on the play. The generally good decision maker may not wow scouts with any one trait and that may be the biggest issue going forward.

Jaleel Johnson, DT, 6’4, 310, #67
Johnson gains most of his attention as an interior pass rusher as he has tallied 7.5 sacks this season. Playing with a non-stop motor and solid pad level, Johnson is a force up the middle in both phases of the game. Strange enough for a defensive tackle, Johnson needs to work on being a better penetrator in the run game needing to show more consistency in redirecting his matchup and being more effective initially off the snap. Johnson will be in Mobile for the Senior Bowl.

Other players to watch
-LeShun Daniels, RB, 6’0, 225, #29
-Faith Ekakitie, DE, 6’3, 290, #56