NFL Draft Prospects: Texas Bowl

The Texas Bowl showcased two up-and-coming football programs in the Syracuse Orange and Minnesota Gophers. Both teams are led by young quarterbacks who have shown they can play and play well at the collegiate level. The Gophers played a combination of a sophomore and true freshman quarterback throughout the season, a competition that will be a good one to watch going into next year. While the Syrcuse Orange were led by sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt who started every game but two this season. Hunt is a dual-threat quarterback who now has a so-so year under him in which he went through a lot of learning experiences.

As far as NFL draft prospects go there were only a couple players to watch, with both playing well and one really impressing.

Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Hageman is a load of a man in the trenches standing at 6'6" and 311 pounds. Hageman put on ten pounds of muscle from his junior to senior season. He is thought of as a high pick in the upcoming NFL draft and showed plenty reasons during this game to solidify that fact.

What I liked:

Superior upper body strength.

Deadly swim move, good bullrush.

Showed a lot of burst and power out of his stance, making a couple hard-hits in the offensive backfield.

Multiple times looked like a man playing amongst boys. This comparison is probably way too bold but he wears his number 99 already, he looks like a taller Warren Sapp to me. Really not enough to say about this guy, has all the tools to become a stellar push-rushing DT in the NFL.

What I didn't like:

This is probably nit-picking here but there were enough occasions where the play would run away from him and he would quit too soon and have no chance to make play when it came back his way.

Saw a lot of double teams and wasn't able to really beat any of them.

Stock Report: Up

Showed incredible power and technique with multiple plays in the backfield, whether it was tackle for loss or quarterback hurries, Hageman had an effect on every play that he was on the field.

Draft Day Projection: 1st-2nd

Possesses skills and athletic ability that any NFL team would welcome to their defensive front.

Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse

Jerome Smith is a junior who is foregoing his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. Smith is more of a power back who doesn't have top end speed but has plenty of strength.

What I liked:

Deceptive shiftiness, able to make people miss before running another tackler over.

Great lower body strength and keeps legs going forward. Showed this twice on a four-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and again on a nine-yard run in the third quarter as he ran through two tacklers and dragged the third one for a few yards for the first down. Neither play was he brought to the ground, he stayed up in the end-zone and then stayed up as he went out of bounds on the second run.

Not afraid to run into contact, and wins when he initiates first contact.

What I didn't like:

The lack of speed could keep him from being a featured back in the NFL.

Takes a couple steps to get to full speed.

Stock Report: Up

Smith showed us more of what we already knew he was but also showed off some elusiveness that some may not have seen from him before.

Draft Day Projection: 6th-7th round

His current projection is either 7th round or undrafted. After seeing his game in the Texas Bowl and faith in NFL teams being able to find a niche for him, think Mike Tolbert.

Other Notes

Terell Hunt for Syracuse looks like a promising dual threat quarterback who could continue to build the Syracuse football program going into his junior season.

More NFL Draft; Bowl Coverage

NFL Draft: Bowl Coverage Guide

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