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NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Preview

An early showcase of NFL Draft prospects

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the first stops on the long road to the NFL Draft is the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The game, in its 11th year, will be Saturday, January 28th, at 6pm ET on the NFL Network, pitting the American Team vs. the National Team. While it may not feature the biggest names from college football, there have been notable alumni like Darnell Mooney, Kelvin Beachum, and L’Jarius Snead. Maybe Washington can get lucky and find another player like 2018 MVP Troy Apke!

Here are a few players that will be playing in the game that I’ll keep an eye on because they might be able to help the Washington Commanders.

Holton Ahlers, QB, East Carolina - American Team

Put me down as a person who thinks Sam Howell should start next season, but if I were going to pick a QB from the group playing in this game, it’d be Ahlers. Statistically, he was one of the leading passers in the nation: top ten in yards, 28 TDs to only 5 INTs, 67% completion percentage. If he goes undrafted, I’d consider signing him and seeing if he can make the practice squad.

Chris Smith, RB, UL-Lafayette - American Team

Smith is here for one reason: kick returns. While he doesn’t have elite traits, he looks like he reads blocks well and bursts through holes to give himself a chance for impactful returns.

C.J. Johnson, WR, East Carolina - American Team

Johnson caught my eye Week 5 of the season and I think he’s the best WR prospect in this game. Washington doesn’t need wideout, but if Johnson is somehow around on Day 3, I'd take him to serve as depth this year and replace Curtis Samuel after that.

Johnny Lumpkin, TE, UL-Lafayette - American Team

If we can’t get Darnell Washington from Georgia, why not get his doppelganger. Lumpkin is 6’5”, 273 lbs, and athletic enough to contribute in the passing game. I want to see how well he blocks. At that size, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Jovaughn Gwyn, OG, South Carolina - National Team

A good lineman who has started 34 consecutive games for the Gamecocks. He is considered one of the strongest players on the team and was a team captain this past season despite being small for the position at 6’2”, 301 lbs. He is good at pulling and locating defenders in space. I’ll be looking to see how he does in pass protection.

Sidy Sow, OG, Eastern Michigan - American Team

Canadian Sidy Sow is a big man at nearly 6’5” and 329 lbs and with that size comes a lot of power. He easily moves players in the run game and is hard to move as a pass blocker. He has a tendency to waistbend, but coaching should correct that. With the last name Sow, could he play for any other team?

Tashawn Manning, OG, Kentucky - American Team

You wouldn’t guess it looking at tape, but Manning converted from DT to OG at Auburn before transferring to Kentucky. He has good size at 6’3”, 330 lbs, and does a good job of mirroring and anchoring defenders in the pass game. Looking forward to seeing how he performs in the run game.

Brandon Kipper, OT, Oregon State - American Team

A transfer from Hawaii with a wrestling background, Kipper has good size for the position at a shade under 6’6” and 326 lbs. His best trait is his use of leverage to control defenders. I’m looking to see if he has enough athleticism to remain at OT at the next level.

DJ Scaife, Jr., OG, Miami - National Team

One of the better pass protectors in this game, Scaife, Jr. has a solid anchor and excels at getting his hands on blockers and locking out his arms to keep them from getting into his body. I’d like to see him improve as a run blocker. He sometimes stops moving his feet on contact, generating very little push.

Cory Durden, DT, NC State - American Team

He’s not Daron Payne, but Cory Durden has flashed as an interior pass rusher. His biggest issue is consistency, but he could be valuable depth along the defensive line.

Mikel Jones, LB, Syracuse - American Team

Jones is an athletic linebacker who put up very good stats, but whose play could be refined. While he’s been coming downhill more often than dropping into coverage, he had four interceptions two seasons ago. If Washington would like a speedy linebacker to serve as depth and develop if they are unsure about Jamin Davis long-term, Jones should be in the running.

Isaiah Bolden, CB, Jackson State - National Team

Bolden could provide help in two areas. He was a quality cover corner for the Bulldogs despite not having any picks in his career. He also is a solid kickoff and punt returner, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns in 2021.

C.J. Coldon, CB, Oklahoma - American Team

Coldon snagged four picks at Oklahoma playing what looks like primarily zone coverage. At just under 5’11”, can he survive on the outside? Does he have enough man coverage ability if pressed to do it?

Jason Taylor II, S, Oklahoma State - National Team

If the team is thinking of moving on from Bobby McCain or providing depth behind him, I like Taylor to fill his role. Taylor has good range from the middle of the field and excellent hands. I’ll be watching to see if he has the movement skills to drop down and play nickel.

Macon Clark, S, Tulane - National Team

Macon Clark is physical. Even though he plays aggressively around the line of scrimmage, he can also drop back in coverage. If we plan to play more three safety looks next year, having good depth at that position is essential. Plus, Jeremy Reaves is a free agent this season and Kam Curl and Bobby McCain will be free agents next year. Safety could quickly go from a strength to a weakness for the Commanders.

Quindell Johnson, S, Memphis - American Team

If you are interested in a coverage safety, Johnson fits the bill. He had four interceptions this season using instincts to jump passes or by reading the QB's eyes. I’d like to see if he can be a more physical tackler and if he has man coverage skills.

A full list of players in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl game can be found here. What do you think of these players and are there any players you’re looking forward to seeing in the game?