Holiday Bowl NFL Prospects: Baylor Vs. UCLA
The Holiday Bowl in 2012 consist of to high power offensive team the Baylor Bears and the UCLA Bruins. Each team has some high draft prospects to keep your outlook on.
Baylor might not have the glare it may have had last season with Robert Griffin III but don’t underestimate the Baylor offense this season either. They are a very effective offense and can wear down any defense unit. Led by quarterback Nick Florence, who has quite impressively stepped into Robert Griffin III's enormous shoes, the Bears have the nation's third-best passing attack. Couple that with a seriously underrated run game, bolstered by Lache Seastrunk, who averaged more than 130 yards rushing per game since becoming the starter.
It's funny in fact as good as the Bears are on offense, they're that bad on the other side of the ball. Baylor ranks among the worst defenses in all of college football, the Bears have won their seven games this season by scoring more than their opponents not by stopping them.
But the Bruins offense also is quite potent as well led by quarterback Brett Hundley and a running back Johnathan Franklin. This season the Bruins won the PAC12 South conference only to find themselves losing to Sandford in the PAC12 title, who’s headed to the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Understanding both teams can score is one thing but knowing UCLA clearly has the better defense on the field on Thursday is another, especially their dangerous pass-rush led by Anthony Barr, who leads the nation in sacks and getting to the quarterback. Also Baylor may actually struggle against the Bruins secondary that already faced top wide receivers in the nation like Marquis Lee of USC and Oregon State's Markus Wheaton.
Expect a high scoring affair of two potent offenses with the edge to UCLA specifically if they can prevent big plays from happening and other long-distance threats Baylor may have up their sleeves, they will stand a pretty good chance in this one. Baylor's weapons on offense are awesome, but the Bruins are intimidating as well.
Here are the potential NFL draft picks to keep an eye on during this BIG12 vs. Pac12 battle.
Terrance Williams, WR
Williams has elite long speed and at 6’2″ / 205 he brings a physical presence to the field. He hasn’t polished in some areas of his game as other potential receivers in the 2013 NFL Draft, but physical capabilities may make him one of the top receivers selected in this year's draft.
Williams has broken the school’s single season all purpose yards record and consistently wins vertically among the better defense backs in the college game. The Baylor senior receiver has 22 catches longer than 25 yards this season. Plus 14 of those grabs have gone for over 40 yards. He is better at taking the top off of the coverages and beating his man vertically. Where he may lack is in his route running ability, but again he has continually shown his ability to go up and get targets and he has excellent straight line speed to look out for.
In the game he will face two of UCLA draftable corners Sheldon Price and Aaron Hester.
Nick Florence, QB
Florence is no Robert Griffin III by any means but he is resourceful and a good passer he deserves a shot on an NFL team and he might just get one come draft day.
Recently he was selected Honorable Mention All-Big 12 Conference (Media selection) for the 2012 college football season. Florence leads the nation with an average of 387.7 yards per game of total offense. He's completed 276 of 451 passes for 4,121 yards and 31 touchdowns. Florence needs only 174 passing yards in the Holiday Bowl to break Griffin III's school record for passing yards in a single season, and his 31 touchdowns are second-most in a season in school history, six shy of RG3's record for the Bears.
Ivory Wade, OL
This season after two years at right tackle Wade made the switch to center blocking for one of the most potent offenses in college football. He does well in zone blocking and continues to show great blocking fundamentals and good intelligence of the game. Wade recently has been selected Honorable Mention All-Big 12 Conference (Coaches selection) for the 2012 college football season.
Other Baylor prospects projected in the later rounds or as rookie free agents
Darryl Stonum, WR Lanear Sampson, WR Jerod Monk, TE
Datone Jones, DE
NFL scouts already raved about Jones potential and his performance this season. He has the size, speed and upside teams love. The scouts are intrigued by his brilliance he has continued to show this season.
Jones offers nice frame and solid burst off the ball that allows him to press from the edge and penetrate from the interior, becoming a tremendous at the next level.
In his last game in the loss against Stanford he had two tackles for a loss, including a sack. Jones displayed the bust off the snap strength to shed off the blocks. He's very versatile and will make one NFL team proud they selected him. Jones is expected to be drafted as early as the second round.
Jonathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Franklin, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior from Los Angeles, has incredible potential and was earlier in the season considered a Heisman Trophy Cannidate. He also was a a finalist for the Doak Walker Award.
Earlier this season against Arizona he overtook Gaston Green, rushing record who gained 3,731 yards from 1984-87. Franklin moved into the top spot on the school’s rushing list with a 37-yard touchdown run on his third carry of the game, raising his career rushing total to 3,758 yards. Since then he was able to add to that and currently has 4,369 yards.
No shame in saying Franklin has really impressed in his senior season, and a team that can use a back in the NFL should not hesitate to grab him adding this type of talent on the offensive side of the ball can help any team.
The amazement maybe in his stats but in reality there is nothing spectacular about him. But Franklin has a nice blend of skills that NFL teams desire in a running-back balance, power, speed, hands, elusiveness. Look for him to be selected sometime early in the third round of the draft. After the Holiday Bowl everyone one will get another glace to see him in action in the Senior Bowl.
Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA
After being utilized in a H-back role during the 2011 season and not doing too great, Fauria is now lining up as a receiving tight end. Despite his lean frame, Fauria can really go up and get the football at the catch point according to scouts.
Earlier in the season ESPN NFL Draft Anaylist Mel Kiper listed him as one of the top tight-end prospects in this year's draft class. Because Fauria has the ability to create a match-up problem particularly in the Red-Zone.
Fauria completed the season with 41 receptions for 578 yards and 11 touchdowns for Jim Mora’s offense as he emerged as one of the best Red-Zone weapons for the Bruins.
He has continued to enhance his blocking skills, but in the NFL he must effectively improve more. He is projected as a second or third rounder in April come draft day.
Other UCLA prospects projected in the later rounds or as rookie free agents
Jeff Baca, G Jeff Locke, P Aaron Hester, CB Sheldon Price, CB