2016 NFL Draft: Independence Bowl Scouting Preview: Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech


For Frank Beamer’s final farewell to Blacksburg, his Hokies will take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes in the Independence Bowl.  Both teams barely made bowl eligibility at 6-6, but there are a decent array of prospects to be seen in this game.

By: Anthony Chiado

Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller, the younger brother of former Hokie and current Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller, leads the group of prospects, although he is only a junior and may not declare.  He will likely have the tough task of covering Tulsa’s star wide receiver Keyarris Garrett for much of the game.  There are also a few good front seven prospects on both sides of the matchup.  Tulsa sports senior DL/EDGE tweener Derrick Alexander, while Virginia Tech showcases EDGE rusher Dadi Nicolas and interior defensive lineman Luther Maddy.  Be sure to keep reading for an in-depth look at these players and others.


Keyarris Garrett, WR, #1
Senior wide receiver Keyarris Garrett burst onto the college football and NFL Draft scenes this year.  As Tulsa’s most dangerous offensive weapon, putting up 1,451 yards and 7 touchdowns on 88 receptions.  Garrett is a tall and lanky receiver (listed at 6’4” and 207 pounds on Tulsa’s website), who uses that to his advantage.  He is excellent at tracking and adjusting to the ball in the air.  Although he lacks the quickness and fluidity to be an excellent route runner, his exceptional footwork helps mitigate the issue.  Garrett isn’t naturally fast but his long legs allow him to build up decent straight line speed.  I think he compares favorably to a lankier Rueben Randle or a smaller Vincent Jackson.

Derrick Alexander, DE, #54
Alexander plays like a 5-technique with the body of a big EDGE rusher.  He’s a limited athlete who doesn’t quite have the lateral agility to win against offensive tackles on the edge.  If kicked inside, though, his agility could become somewhat of a strength.  Alexander’s thick and squatty build allows him to overpower offensive linemen who are both bigger and stronger.  He’s a possible day three prospect who could become the next in a new wave of undersized defensive line tweeners.


Virginia Tech

Dadi Nicolas, EDGE, #90
Nicolas had a lot of hype around the draft community coming out of the summer scouting period, but his disappointing Senior season has led to a fall in his draft stock.  It is partly due to his regressed skillset and partly due to Virginia Tech choosing to use him in a woefully poor way.  Even though he listed at only 6’3” and 223 pounds, much of his time playing 5-technique in Virginia Tech’s defense.  I could see his stock falling up many different ways by the time the draft rolls around.

Corey Marshall, DE, #96
Marshall, a 6’2” and 266 pounds defensive lineman from Virginia Tech, is very similar to his Tulsa opponent in Derrick Alexander.  Like Alexander, Marshall is built like an EDGE rusher but doesn’t have the athletic ability to be a fit there at the next level.  On the inside, Marshall can use his agility, technical footwork, quick hands to outmatch opposing blockers.  He could find a place on an NFL team as a late round pick or free agent.

Luther Maddy, IDL, #92
Maddy is a very interesting player.  If he didn’t suffer a season ending torn meniscus that ended his Junior season he may not have come into the season so under the radar.  Nevertheless, Maddy looks like he has returned form as an NFL prospect.  He’s a relentless player against the run and the pass, with violent hands.  He also plays extremely light on his feet for someone his size and has the fluid lower body to match.  Although his name isn’t widely known at the moment, he could end up working his way into the late Day 2 or early Day 3 conversation.

Kendall Fuller, CB, #11 (JR) (Not playing)
The young Hokies cornerback has gone from being viewed as one of the top players at his position over the summer and earlier in the year to somewhat of an afterthought.  Most of that is due to the fact that he missed most of his junior season with a torn meniscus but he has also seen a slight decline in his play from last season.  Fuller is still a highly intriguing prospect with loads of natural ability and room to refine his skills in coverage.  I would say he’s most likely to hear his name called during the second round on draft day, but the first is not out of the question.

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