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An NFL fan's guide to key draft prospects to watch in the bowl games

Posted Dec 15, 2017

Bowl season gets under way on Saturday, so get to know some of the players who will be on draft radars over the next few months.

Players to watch in the first wave of bowls

Bowl season begins Saturday, and with college all-star games and the NFL Combine lurking just around the corner, it's never too early to get a look at some prospects that will be worth discussing over the next few months as the Broncos prepare for a draft that will be crucial to their hopes of ensuring a quick turnaround from a losing season.

During the three-week bowl/college postseason, we'll preview each game with an eye on the draft, focusing on prospects of note who are seniors or who have already declared their intentions to turn pro in advance of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Jordan Chunn, Troy

R L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL

Troy (10-2) vs. North Texas (9-4)

Time: 11 a.m. MST
Site: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
TV: ESPN

Troy RB Jordan Chunn: The 6-foot-1, 235-pound back hopes to use the bowl game and his invitation to the East-West Shrine Game to bounce back from a disappointing senior season that included two games missed due to injury. Chunn's best work this season came in the Trojans' upset of LSU, when he shredded the Tigers for 191 yards.

North Texas CB Eric Jenkins: The Mean Green's strength is in its secondary, and Jenkins and safety Kishawn McClain are the standouts who should end up in NFL camps next year. At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Jenkins will go under the radar because of his size, but his quick reaction and sound tackling skills ensured that he broke up seven passes and picked off two others. He'll be looking for a big game as he returns to his hometown for his college finale.

Mike White, Western Kentucky

AUTONATION CURE BOWL

Western Kentucky (6-6) vs. Georgia State (6-5)

Time: 12:30 p.m. MST
Site: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
TV: CBS Sports Network

Western Kentucky QB Mike White: With his Senior Bowl invitation already in hand, the Hilltoppers' productive quarterback will try to finish his college career with a flourish. White's numbers were down from last year, part of which can be attributed to the scheme change that followed former head coach Jeff Brohm's departure for Purdue.

Georgia State CB Chandon Sullivan: The first Senior Bowl selection in the history of GSU's program and the only Sun Belt Conference player currently ticketed for Mobile, Sullivan is the school's all-time leader in interceptions and passes defensed. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound cornerback is smart and tenacious, has experience in man coverage and allowed just two touchdowns as a senior, according to Pro Football Focus.

Cedrick Wilson

LAS VEGAS BOWL

No. 25 Boise State (10-3) vs. Oregon (7-5)

Time: 1:30 p.m. MST
Site: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
TV: ABC

Oregon OT Tyrell Crosby: The 6-foot-5, 320-pound left tackle is Senior Bowl-bound. A humble, charitable young man off the field, Crosby plays with tenacity and nastiness on it. He helped the Ducks return to the postseason after a 2016 season that saw them go 4-8 due in no small part to the foot injury that sidelined him for much of the year.

Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson: Wilson will play in next month's Shrine Game after closing his college career with a flourish, posting three consecutive 100-yard games to conclude the regular season. The explosive Wilson has posted at least one catch of 20 or more yards in 14 of his last 15 games dating back to last year.

NOTE: Oregon RB Royce Freeman, who would have been on this list, has opted to skip this game, although he has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl next month. The 5-foot-11, 231-pound back shapes up as a potential Day 2 pick after posing his third 1,000-yard season in four years with the Ducks. Freeman is also an effective pass catcher, accumulating 814 yards on 79 receptions over his career.

Michael Gallup

GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL

Marshall (7-5) vs. Colorado State (7-5)

Time: 2:30 p.m. MST
Site: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
TV: ESPN

CSU C Jake Bennett: A Bear Creek H.S. product, Bennett will play in the East-West Shrine Game and hopes to become the next CSU offensive lineman to make it to the NFL. Saturday will mark Bennett's 41st consecutive start. He'll also get one more chance to play with QB Nick Stevens, who will join Bennett at the Shrine Game next month.

CSU WR Michael Gallup: The Senior Bowl-bound consensus All-American is not only one of the most productive wide receivers in college football, but also one of the toughest, racking up yardage after contact and in traffic as he posted a 94-catch, 1,345-yard season this year.

Marshall TE Ryan Yurachek: The only senior starter on the up-and-coming Herd's offense, the 239-pounder was a solid red-zone weapon, catching nine touchdown passes this year.

Ja'Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State

RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL

Middle Tennessee (6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-4)

Time: 6 p.m. MST
Site: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
TV: ESPN

Arkansas State TE Blake Mack: The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Mack earned an East-West Shrine Game invitation after a senior campaign in which he posted career highs in receptions (46) and touchdowns (7).

Arkansas State OLB Ja'Von Rolland-Jones: One of the most underrated edge rushers in this year's draft class, Rolland-Jones will play in next month's East-West Shrine Game after finishing this season with 14 sacks. He posted double-digit sack totals in each of his four seasons with the Red Wolves. His prodigious sack totals aren't simply a result of his competition; over his career he had at least one sack in games against USC, Missouri and Auburn.

Middle Tennessee QB Brent Stockstill: After missing six games due to injury, Stockstill returned Nov. 4 against UTEP and picked the Blue Raiders off the ground to ensure they were bowl-bound, throwing 10 touchdown passes against three interceptions as Middle Tennessee won three of its last four games after a 3-5 start that included a 2-4 record without him. Still, his completion percentage and passer rating were down from his previous two seasons as a starting quarterback.