2014 NFL Draft Bowl Preview: Military Bowl – Maryland vs. Marshall

Marcus WhitfieldAfter a three-game losing streak in ACC play that coincided with star receiver Stefon Diggs going down for the season and quarterback C.J. Brown missing two games, Maryland bounced back to win two of their final three games and secure a bowl berth for the first time since 2010, when they also paid the Military Bowl a visit with a 51-20 victory over Conference USA representative East Carolina.

On the other hand, Marshall’s bowl status was never in doubt as the Thundering Herd went 9-4 including seven wins by four scores or more. They were humbled by a Rice team with a good amount of NFL talent in the Conference USA Championship game and come into the Military Bowl looking to avoid a second consecutive loss.

This game lacks star power as far as prospects are concerned and although Diggs isn’t draft eligible as a true sophomore, he certainly would have been the player with the brightest future in this matchup. Both Maryland and Marshall do have a few players who could get a look late in the draft or in free agency.

Marcus Whitfield, OLB, Maryland (#41), 6’3, 250
The only draftable senior on our rankings and a 7th round prospect at that, Whitfield flashes talent and speed on the field but is inconsistent and disappears at times. A weak side linebacker who runs well sideline to sideline, Whitfield also shows the ability to make plays up the field and leads the Terrapins in tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (9). Whitfield gets solid depth on his coverage drops and while he doesn’t stand out in one particular area, he could provide solid special teams production and depth at the NFL level.

James Rouse, DE, Marshall (#11), 6’5, 268
A tall, lanky athlete, Rouse shows surprising power rush moves thanks to good extension and uses his length well to create leverage. He is especially effective lined up in gaps, as offensive linemen have a tough time squaring up his slender frame in motion. Rouse quickly penetrates the backfield and led the Marshall defense with 12 tackles for loss. He won’t hold up very well against the run at the NFL level but shows enough quickness and functional power to get a training camp look for a team in need of depth in their defensive line rotation.

(JR) Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall (#12), 6’0, 188
Cato isn’t very well known nationally but his production on the field speaks for itself with 42 total touchdowns (36 passing, 6 rushing) on the season. The straw that stirs the Marshall offense, Cato is an intriguing dual threat prospect with height limitations similar to Seneca Wallace. Cato keeps his eyes down the field when he escapes the pocket, throws well on the run and has good arm strength and a deft touch. His accuracy is inconsistent, particularly on longer throws and his ball tends to float the further down the field he throws it. Cato’s field awareness is impressive and another solid season at Marshall could put in the late round or priority free agent discussion for the 2015 draft.

Other Players to Watch
C.J. Brown, QB, Maryland (#16), 6’3, 210
(JR) Tommy Shuler, WR, Marshall (#1), 5’7, 190
Gator Hoskins, TE, Marshall (#26), 6’2, 244