2017 NFL Draft: Miami Beach Bowl Preview – Central Michigan vs. Tulsa


The 2016 Miami Beach Bowl is a clash of two worlds of football. On one bench, representing the MAC, is Central Michigan. Central Michigan plays with an old-school, under-center, downhill style on offense and an equally as throwback of a defense. They are a school that appears to be stuck in some sort of football time warp.

By: Derrik Klassen

Tulsa, on the other hand, is ready to spread defenses and air it out. Their spread offense can be deadly versus defenses who can’t keep up athletically. Granted, Tulsa’s defense is porous, making Tulsa an honorary BIG12 team.

Neither team has premier NFL talent, but there is future NFL depth and role players in this game. Both quarterbacks will receive some attention, as will a handful of each team’s skill players.

Tulsa Golden Hurricanes

James Flanders, RB, Tulsa, 5’10”, 203 pounds, #20
Flanders is a compact downhill runner. His vision and creativity is lacking, but when the offensive line grants him direction, Flanders can do some damage. His strong legs and determination as a runner are admirable. At the second level, Flanders has enough wiggle at his size to be functional and, on occasion, force missed tackles. Flanders could be a UDFA option for teams who needs a downhill runner.

Dane Evans, QB, Tulsa 6’1”, 210 pounds, #9
To this point, Evans has been lost in what is largely seen as a boring senior quarterback class. Evans is fearless. Though his arm is not spectacular and his frame is not ideal, Evans is not afraid to attempt any throw, nor is he scared of defenders in the pocket. Evans handles the pressures of the position well and understands situational football. Evans has a lot of baseline traits to play the position, but his arm will hold him back from being a top quality prospect.

Keevan Lucas, WR, Tulsa, 5’10”, 195 pounds, #2
Lucas is a slippery slot receiver. He does not possess elite speed down the hashes, but he can move well enough to create separation on unsuspecting defensive backs. On shorter, more concise routes, Lucas can run loose routes and not do a good enough job of creating the illusion of a different route. Lucas largely relies on his quickness and ability to find the ball.

Central Michigan Chippewas

Cooper Rush, QB, Central Michigan, 6’3”, 230 pounds, #10
Rush is one of the most experienced players in college football. Now in his senior season, Rush has thrown 1,600 passes over his four seasons. Rush wins with his strong attitude in the pocket and accuracy in the short-to-intermediate area. It’s rare to see Rush make an exceptional, game-changing play, but he often makes enough simple throws over the course of a game to keep the offense churning.

Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan, 6’4”, 240 pounds, #83 (Junior)
Central Michigan’s offense doesn’t feature a player like Conklin, but he still finds ways to make plays. Conklin is a tight end who does his best work at the intermediate level of the field where he can beat linebackers in space. He has enough speed to work deep crossers and down the seam, but he also posses enough strength to be functional down low. His catching ability is not exceptional, but he does a fine job of finding and corralling the ball. He’s an interesting option after the top level tight ends in this class.

Tony Annese, S, Central Michigan, 6’1”, 205 pounds, #18
Annese had a slow start to the season and missed some time with injury, but he finished the year well. As a downhill tackler and deep-half safety, Annese did his part to keep the Chippewas’ secondary intact. However, Annese should not be sought after for Cover 3 heavy schemes. Annese is does not have the athleticism to cover that much ground as a centerfield player, though he could make it work as a “rat in the hole” or deep-half safety.

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