2016 NFL Draft: Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Scouting Preview– Cincinnati vs. San Diego State


With its fourth consecutive bowl appearance, Cincinnati looks to gain a .500 record with a win over the soaring Aztecs of San Diego State.

By: Christian Page

Cincinnati has dealt with some weird situations at quarterback this season and Gunner Kiel didn’t even make the trip to Hawaii, though still noted here as a draftable junior prospect. The Aztecs have faced a couple of injuries to some quality playmakers toward the end of the season but still put together a phenomenal season with an increase of three wins from 2014 with an unblemished conference record currently sporting a nine game win streak.

A thriving Mountain West program and an American Athletic team that surfaced below the higher preseason expectations boast some notable draft prospects in the 14th Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and here’s a brief breakdown on some to take note on.

Game Details: Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN // Honolulu, HI // Aloha Stadium

Cincinnati (7-5; 4-4)

#11 Gunner Kiel, QB – 6’4” – 208 (Jr.) *will not play

Gunner Kiel’s college football career has been a strange one to say the least. Kiel will not make the trip to Hawaii for the bowl game because of personal matters. As for his draft stock, Kiel is still an attractive prospect with many things to like but would be smart to stick around for one more season. Kiel’s size, mobility and arm strength are his best and most attractive attributes while having the ability to operate in many different offensive schemes. Kiel was benched for underperforming in the late part of the season with poor decision-making and inability to anticipate and contemplate the correct reads to maintain a healthy rhythm in the game.

#2 Mekale McKay, WR – 6’6” – 195

McKay displays himself as a long framed big play receiver with a great combination of size and speed. His large catch radius is impressive and his ability to high point the football and snag balls out of the air is equally impressive serving as a big target for the quarterback. His production is not too attractive in 2015, but sharing the load with five fellow senior receivers the love has to be spread around every now and then.

#78 Parker Ehinger, OT – 6’7” – 318

The back and forth conversation on where Ehinger is best suited on the offensive line playing guard and tackle in his career for the Bearcats has been a popular topic concerning the talented prospect. Ehinger is a great pass protector packing a punch with good upper body strength to control oncoming pass rushers demanding them to take longer routes to get to the quarterback. He has incredible power driving his match up backward to take them out of the play. He doesn’t possess any elite skills but is a well put together prospect viewed as a mid-to-late draft selection at this time. Ehinger accepted an invite to participate in the Shrine Game earlier in December.

Other Bearcats, seniors to keep an eye on:
#15 Chris Moore, WR – 6’1” – 190
#74 Justin Morris, RT – 6’5” – 295
#92 Silverberry Mouhon, DE – 6’4” – 252
#23 Hosey Williams, RB – 5’9” – 199


San Diego State (10-3; 8-0)

#17 Maxwell Smith, QB – 6’5” – 235

His production is thin compared to other prospects in the draft, but Smith’s efficiency as a passer is an attractive attribute to have. Having a knack to protect the football, he is aware of his surroundings and is not subject to make the big mistakes not forcing too many risky throws as he is almost too safe at times. Smith is not a flashy prospect at any means but the effective and efficient quarterback takes on the game manager role in a primary rushing offense. The former Kentucky player has made a name for himself in San Diego and is hopeful to play his final game in Hawaii as he is nursing a knee injury that occurred in the regular season finale.

#72 Darrell Greene, RG – 6’4” – 315

Having been suspended this season, Greene has made an impactful comeback picking up where he has left off. His mauler mentality and his impact blocking ability has gained attention throughout the conference. Greene is a good athlete at the position with good control and movement for a man of his size pulling well looking light on his feet. If Greene could have stayed away from hiccups outside of football he had the potential and talent to be mentioned as a late round selection but that is unlikely now.

#71 Pearce Slater, RT – 6’7” – 335

The first team All-MWC player put together a fine season at right tackle for the Aztecs as he dropped 20 pounds in the offseason in order to be lighter on his feet and more effective on the outside. Being 6’7” and 335 pounds, Slater has desirable measurables for a left tackle at the next level nonetheless for a right tackle with his potential. Slater is not a flawed prospect but is not a great athlete for the position as he does not provide the appropriate footwork needed lacking in quickness and positioning more times than not. A transition to offensive guard would be best for Slater and his wide and large frame would be fun to develop in the interior.

#99 Jon Sanchez, DE – 6’2” – 260

A big physical versatile defensive lineman, Sanchez displays good upper body strength with good speed and ability to rush the passer from the either the exterior or interior. Sanchez isn’t a dominant defender in the conference but is a grinder and gets everything out of every play. Switching between a 5-tech defensive end and a 2-tech tackle, Sanchez is a versatile prospect that can impact a game across the defensive line.

#92 Christian Heyward, NT – 6’3” – 300

Heyward will not play in this game because of an ACL and MCL tear but mentioning him as a draft prospect is vital here. Heyward, a transfer from USC, excelled at his nose guard position for the Aztecs with his exceptional upper body strength using it to control opponents at the point of attack. Looking over my notes when covering some of his gamse, I jotted down that when he wants it, he’s got it. Wishing to see him play in this game receiving one last look, Heyward could be a late round snag that could make a team very happy in the future.


Other Aztecs, seniors to keep an eye on:
#46 Dakota Gordon, FB – 5’10” – 235
#19 Donnel Pumphrey, RB – 5’9” – 170 (Jr.)
#7 JJ Whittaker, CB – 5’10” – 180


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