2016 NFL Draft: New Mexico Bowl Scouting Preview – Arizona vs. New Mexico


Having its first winning record in seven seasons, the Lobos return to the New Mexico Bowl for the first time since 2007. Behind a rushing attack that ranks eighth in the country, New Mexico put together a string of shocking victories in November over Boise State, Utah State and Air Force.

By: Christian Page

With preseason rankings placing the Lobos to finish last in the Mountain division, expectations were exceeded as the Lobos now rank second in their division with a chance to put a bow on top to their amazing final run with a win over a Pac-12 opponent in a border war battle.

The once 16th ranked Wildcats witnessed the injury bug this season accompanied by a handful of underperformance to just break even between wins and losses. The silver lining heading into this underwhelming matchup, no disrespect to New Mexico, is welcoming back all-star linebacker Scooby Wright being held out of play with a foot injury he suffered after returning from a MCL tear in Week One. The Wildcats also return one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the Pac-12, as sophomore Anu Solomon will make his first start since being diagnosed with a concussion earlier this season. With essentially this season already being lost, the Wildcats look to foreshadow to a promising 2016 season with the return of a couple of stars.

Next level talent doesn’t highlight this game, but the list provided will help guide you with some notable names concerning the 2016 NFL Draft.

Game Details: Dec. 19, 2 p.m. EST on ESPN // Albuquerque, NM // University Stadium



#33 Scooby Wright, ILB – 6’1” – 246 (JR)
Having spectacular freshman and sophomore seasons, Scooby Wright’s coming out party was set to occur in his junior campaign in Tucson before the string of injuries took place. Only playing and starting two games this season, Wright’s status to stay to school for another season looks promising but is still unclear. Pre-injury, Wright dominated the Pac-12 with impressive instincts and his big play and big hitting mentality. With a slimmer lower build, Wright struggles to anchor resulting in some awkward missed tackles. He showcases his ability in pursuit bouncing off weaker blockers with a handful of disengagement moves chasing down the ball carrier. Wright is not expected to be back to his All-America form in this game, but is still enough as a threat to game plan against for the Lobo offense.

#8 Reggie Gilbert, DE – 6’3” – 262
Entering the season as the highest coveted senior prospect on the Wildcat roster, Gilbert has yet to slip on that ranking. Gilbert gains most of his credit in his excellent ability as a run defender carrying enough upper body strength to bully his way at gaining an advantage off the edge. To point out a weakness, Gilbert is not effective at rushing the passer, which is a letdown with his versatility across the line being used as a 5-tech and 7-tech defensive end with also looks from interior alignments. Gilbert is slow off the snap and it shows as the opposing linemen are first to make the contact limiting his chance of hurrying the quarterback. His body control is somewhat flawed as a pass rushing end prospect lacking the appropriate flexibility to bend the edge accompanied by heavy feet creating an immediate uphill battle. His progression from 2014 to 2015 hasn’t improved substantially but is still viewed as a late round draft choice if utilized as a 4-3 end product or a standup outside linebacker project.

#1 Cayleb Jones, WR – 6’3” – 215 (JR)
The Texas transfer has used the healthy quarterback platform to help punch a ticket to the NFL. With NFL family backgrounds, Jones is a well-known prospect even without his ability as a receiver. Jones possesses a nice frame with appropriate height and length to make the impact at the next level. Jones is crisp as a route runner creating his advantage with initial quickness off the snap and fluidity in cuts. He possesses natural hands catching the ball cleanly and is effective after the catch with strength and vision as a ball carrier to gain the extra yardage. Jones’ long arms can be assets when used to attack the ball, but he lacks to do that more than often. Being the leading receiver on the team with just an average of four catches a game questions Jones’ ability to disengage man coverage to get open, but having the more reliable Solomon throwing his way in the postseason could make for more targets.

#77 Lene Maiava, OT – 6’5” – 305
Shuffling around on the Wildcat offensive line, Maiava has finally found his fit at right tackle yet his future in the NFL would be best suited at guard. Maiava’s specialty is being a grinder in the run game with good strength for the position being unmovable at times during run plays. Maintaining the edge on passing downs is when his major weakness is noted not being able to pick up on speed rushers struggling to face up with defenders to create an advantage. Struggling in pass protection, Maiava is a fine run blocker with good technique and the ability to show adequate quickness on the seldom times when asked to pull. Currently seen as a fringe prospect, Maiava looks to capitalize off this game and the NFLPA Bowl in January.

Other Wildcats, seniors to keep an eye on:
#61 Cayman Bundage, OG – 6’2” – 218
#11 William Parks, S – 6’1” – 194
#4 David Richards, WR – 6’4” – 213
#55 Jeff Worthy, DT – 6’2” – 287

New Mexico

#6 Jhurell Pressley, RB – 5’10” – 200
Pressley’s home run ability (11 rushes of 20 plus yards in 2015) has created looks from NFL scouts ravishing in his speed and adequate bulk for the position. The Lobos operate in a pistol offense and Pressley has been utilized more as a perimeter run threat than a between the tackles runner. His patience and vision is questionable on film bouncing runs to the outside too quickly and too often when the plays are not designed that way. In a weak running back class, Pressley is still on the outside looking in on being drafted but a solid postseason performance versus a quality Pac-12 opponent could boost an already impressive resume.

#51 Eden Mahina, C – 6’4” – 310
Carrying a nice frame, Mahina transitioned to center this season from left guard and has done a fine job executing perfectly in the pistol offensive scheme. His explosion and play strength is noticeable on film barreling over matchups with intensity and a bit of a mean streak. The interior lineman has been a key component in the rushing attack for the Lobos opening holes for the backs and being a productive pass protector up the middle. Mahina received honorable mention honors this season on the Mountain West All-Conference team and looks to build on that in working to make it to the next level.

#3 Cranston Jones, CB – 5’8” – 175
If a little longer and thicker, Jones could be viewed as a more highly regarded prospect out of the Mountain West. Jones showcases his excellent ball skills and straight-line speed as a cover corner. His instinctive style of play does not go unnoticed as the reactive corner seems to have developed a high IQ for the game making smart plays in both run and pass plays. His matchup versus the bulkier and taller Jones of Arizona should ask for a feisty matchup with two high caliber players of their respected conferences.


Other Lobos, seniors to keep an eye on:
#79 Blake Oldenkamp, LG (6’4” – 310)
#76 Dillon Romine, RT (6’6” – 295)
#24 Carlos Wiggins, WR/KR/PR (5’8” – 166)

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