2014 NFL Draft Bowl Previews: Hawaii Bowl – Oregon State vs. Boise State

Brandin CooksThe Bryan Harsin era begins in Boise as the Broncos take on the Oregon State Beavers in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.  While Oregon State fields the bigger-name prospects, Boise State may be the more balanced team. 

There is also a handful of underclassmen in this game who could make the early jump to the NFL.

(JR) Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State, (#7), 5’10 185
It is always a pleasure to see a player live up to lofty expectations.  It’s safe to say Cooks exceeded expectations after winning the Biletnikoff award while proving to scouts that he is much more than just a slot receiver at the next level.  His size and style of play is reminiscent of Carolina’s Steve Smith coming out, except Cooks is a much more polished product.  He’s a jack-of-all-trades who is likely to have a field day against an average Boise State coverage unit.   

(JR) Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State, (#95), 6’3 260
A violent edge-setter, Crichton is an ideal 43 left defensive end prospect but he’s also strong enough to line up at the 3-technique if needed.  Crichton isn’t a flashy athlete but he shows enough flexibility to win the leverage battle and has polished up some secondary moves to follow up his signature initial punch.  He’s adapted well to the additional focus he’s received from opponents in ’13 which speaks to his development.     

Rashaad Reynolds, CB, Oregon State, (#16), 5’10 189
Reynolds earned a Shrine Game invite after a solid career matching up against high quality current and future NFL receivers (including his teammate, Cooks, in practice).  Reynolds has average size for the position but plays faster than his timed speed, showing the ability to run with faster receivers downfield when his technique is on point.  He flashes outstanding ball skills. Reynolds also provides versatility as a returner. 

Charles Leno, OT, Boise State, (#78), 6’3 295
Another Shrine invitee, Leno is an intriguing sleeper prospect with a lot to gain by matching up against Crichton in this game.  He is a tight end convert who looks the part of a pro left tackle with long arms and plus athleticism.  With nimble feet, he’s able to punch and mirror athletic edge rushers and plays with the balance to reset against inside out moves.  He could strengthen up below the waist but he’s already shown improvement in the technical parts of the position.  He is one of the high ceiling players in the draft.

(JR) Demarcus Lawrence, DE Boise State, (#8), 6’3 245
Lawrence is an explosive athlete who is still learning to corral all of his ability into becoming a complete player.  He’s a bit of a one-trick pony from the 5-technique, which is where he is most disruptive.  He has an outstanding first step and closes in a glimpse but he’s too much of a liability against the run to warrant anything more than a 3rd Day grade.  He could really improve his draft stock by returning for another year and becoming stronger as an inline defender.

Other Players to Watch
(JR) Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State, (#4), 6’5 215
After a Heisman-like start to the season, Mannion cooled down the stretch and is unlikely to declare.  Still, he put together some really impressive film that should make him one of the more talked about QB prospects of the 2015 draft.  A pocket-passing prototype, ESPN broadcasters once reported that Johnny Manziel had been studying Mannion film himself.

Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe, DT, Boise State, (#43), 6’3 300
Tjong-a-Tjoe lacks ideal athleticism but has an above average anchor and is relentless in pursuit.  While he’s not a mauler, he excels at occupying doubles but could do a better job of using his hands to shed.

Matt Paradis, OC, Boise State, (#65), 6’3 290
Paradis is a consistent player who projects best in a zone blocking system at the next level.  A UDFA developmental-type, he doesn’t move a lot of guys but he has good feet and is adept at engaging 2nd level targets.

Gabe Linehan, TE, Boise State, (#87), 6’4 241
The tight end position is somewhat of an afterthought in Boise’s passing game but Linehan has shown the chops as a blocker to be considered a solid “cog” in some offensive packages.