The New Mexico Bowl features some very intriguing NFL prospects in what figures to be a high scoring matchup between two up-and-coming teams out west.
Both Colorado State and Washington State field a handful of NFL prospects who could conceivably see the field early in their pro careers based on what they’ve shown in their college film. For the bowl season opener, get to know these names.
Weston Richburg, OC, Colorado State, (#70), 6’4, 295
Richburg was quietly one of the best centers in the country this year. The team captain will make his 50th career start on Saturday and has already accepted an invite to the 2014 Senior Bowl. Richburg is a technician with nimble feet and above average athleticism to play in multiple schemes in the NFL. He is extremely versatile having played every position on the line with at least some success but his best fit will be at center or guard at the next level. He caught a lot of people’s attention after a really impressive showing against Alabama earlier this year.
Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State, (#20), 6’1, 198
You won’t find too many safeties more physical than Bucannon in the 2014 draft class. The 4-year starter is a rangy safety with plus ball skills and is a more than willing tackler in the box. His instincts and play recognition in coverage improved over the years and he’s become a much more reliable deep defender. He’s certainly battle tested from a high-octane conference with very little help in front of him. He could end up a fringe Day 2 prospect by May.
Shaquil Barrett, OLB, Colorado State, (#56), 6’2, 250
Barrett is another unheralded prospect that may be drafted higher than many expect. He is a similar hybrid OLB/DE type that his college position coach, Joey Porter, played in the NFL. Originally from Nebraska-Omaha, Barrett transferred to CSU when the school dropped its football program. He was immediately a productive leader on an improving defense and became one of the conference’s most fiery defenders. Barrett has experience from the two-point and with his hand in the dirt and can rush the passer from either. His best qualities are his explosiveness and his pursuit speed. He can also set the edge versus the run.
Other Players to Watch
Damante Horton, CB, Washington State, (#6), 5’10, 175
Horton has quietly been a solid playmaker in the Pac 12 throughout his career. He’s a similar prospect to Buffalo Bills cornerback, Nickell Robey, who went undrafted this April mainly due to his lack of size. Horton isn’t as scrappy Robey, but he’s built similarly and he also has that knack for getting his hands on the football.
John Fullington, OT, Washington State, (#77), 6’5, 290
Fullington is a 4-year starter with experience playing guard as well. Undersized for today’s NFL, Fullington will need to bulk up and prove he can anchor against power at the next level. He is a solid athlete who projects as a developmental prospect.
Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado State, (#10), 6’6, 255
A former defensive end, Gillmore converted to tight end before his sophomore season and has been productive for the Rams since. He has a great frame and generally shows soft hands but he isn’t a natural athlete and may be limited to subpackage plays in the NFL. He does provide some value as a blocker.