NFL Draft Prospects: Fiesta Bowl Recap

Baylor was the heavy favorite, but Central Florida pulled a stunning 52-42 upset. There were several NFL draft prospects on display, but UCF quarterback Blake Bortles got most of the attention leading up to the game.

Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Bortles was the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also picked up 272 yards and six scores on the ground.

What I liked:

Bortles put up a great stat line: 20-31, 301 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions, 93 yards rushing on eight carries and a rushing touchdown.

Bortles showed good ability when running and throws a pretty deep ball. He calls out audibles and blocking assignments at the line. That is huge at the next level. He seems comfortable throwing on the run. Bortles has good arm strength and can put zip on the ball when needed.

What I didn’t like:

Bortles’ stat line is deceptive: He didn’t throw the ball as well as it seems. Two of his touchdown passes were simple swing/screen passes that the receiver turned into a touchdown. Bortles missed some easy throws during the game. He made a bad throw on his first pick and a terrible decision on the second. He struggled under pressure, as he backpedaled too much when facing a rush. His progression isn’t bad, but it still needs improvement.

Stock Report: Down

Bortles did a lot of things well, but he still needs to improve in a few key areas. I don’t think he is ready to start in the NFL, but he is close. Another year at UCF would do wonders for him.

Projected Range: First Round

Bortles is turning pro and he should be a high-first round pick. I don’t think his true value is that high, but quarterbacks tend to go higher than they should. He has ideal size and mobility, but needs work on some of the little things that make-or-break quarterbacks. There are conflicting reports on the grade he received from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Right now, I view Bortles as a second-round prospect. I think Bortles could have used another year at UCF.

Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor

Richardson was a Walter Camp first-team All-American this year. The 6-foot-5, 340-pound offensive guard played left tackle as a sophomore, but is a natural fit as a guard.

What I liked:

Richardson makes good use of his hands when blocking. He is a mauler when run-blocking. He is solid on pulls and does a good job of sealing.

What I didn’t like:

Richardson seems to move his feet a little slowly, especially when facing stunts. He is more polished at run blocking than he is pass blocking.

Stock Report: Neutral

Richardson didn’t affect his stock one way or the other with his performance.

Projected Range: Late First Round/Early Day 2

I don’t see Richardson getting past the middle of the second round, unless something goes terrible wrong leading up to the draft. He is a mountain of a man who is best at run blocking. I think he is ready to start at guard right away.

Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor

Seastrunk started at Oregon, before transferring to Baylor and becoming a first-team All-Big 12 conference selection this year. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound running back picked up 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns on 158 yards.

What I liked:

Seastrunk looked incredibly shifty and quick. He is great at making guys miss and making something out of nothing. He picked up 117 yards and two scores on 17 carries against UCF. He showed great burst and speed.

What I didn’t like:

Seastrunk offers little in pass protection and pass catching, two essential aspects for the NFL. He failed to catch a single pass all season for Baylor and struggled in pass protection against UCF. He is a little loose with the ball when running at times. He runs too east-west sometimes.

Stock Report: Neutral

I really liked what I saw out of Seastrunk, but he needs to work on a few key areas to become a full-time NFL back.

Projected Range: Day 2

If Seastrunk decides to come out, I think he’ll be a Day 2 pick. While he struggles in the passing game, he has that special game-breaking ability that few running backs have. He has a little bit of LeSean McCoy in him.

Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor

Dixon has been a full-time starter since his sophomore year. The 6-foot, 205-pound safety recorded 81 tackles, one pick, six pass breakups and seven passes defended this year. Dixon played a linebacker-safety hybrid role before moving to safety for his senior year.

What I liked:

Dixon is at his best in run support. He is a big hitter who isn’t afraid lay out for a hit. Dixon led the Bears with 11 tackles against UCF.

What I didn’t like:

Dixon looked raw in coverage. There were a few times where he went for the big hit and missed the tackle because he failed to properly wrap up. He had a missed tackle when he tried to arm tackle Bortles. He had a terrible play on a Storm Johnson touchdown run. He took a bad angle, over-ran the play, and whiffed on Johnson.

Stock Report: Down

Dixon has talent, but he needs a lot of polish to be ready for the next level. He has a chance to rebound at the Senior Bowl.

Projected Range: Day 3

I wouldn’t be surprised if Dixon was drafted on Day 2, but I don’t think he is ready to start right away. If he goes to a team that can improve some of his problem areas, I think he can be a solid in-the-box strong safety.

Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor

Reese was a second-team All-Big 12 conference selection this year. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound wide receiver caught 38 passes for 867 yards and eight touchdowns in just nine games.

What I liked:

Reese caught only five passes for 43 yards, but he was quarterback Bryce Petty’s first target on many plays. He had a great catch on a low pass early in the game. Reese is fast and uses his speed to get open. He played the game with a large brace, due to a wrist injury he suffered earlier in the year.

What I didn’t like:

Reese isn’t a great route runner. He looks skinner than the 170 pounds he is listed at. His legs in particular are skinny. I worry about his ability to hold up at the next level.

Stock Report: Neutral

Reese didn’t do anything to move his stock in one direction.

Projected Range: Late Day 3

I don’t see Reese being anything more than a vertical threat at the next level. He can fly, but he is a one-trick pony. He is too small to split out wide and go over the middle. He doesn’t run routes well enough to be a true slot receiver.

More NFL Draft Coverage:

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