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NFL Draft Watch Camellia Bowl

2021 NFL Draft Watch: Camellia Bowl

As a part of Expand The Boxscore’s NFL Draft coverage, we will be highlighting the draft prospects from each school for every bowl game. The players featured below will also be included in our Draft Guide, which is set to release shortly after the combine. In today’s column, we will be taking a look at the New Mexico Bowl, featuring the Buffalo Bulls and Marshall Thundering Herd.

Buffalo vs. Marshall

The list of notable Buffalo alumni that have gone on to the NFL is rather short, and there is really only a couple of notable names – former Green Bay Packers running back James Starks and current Chicago Bears edge defender Khalil Mack. This year is different as the Bulls have a handful of draft prospects.

A few weeks ago running back Jaret Patterson made a name for himself with a 400-yard, eight-touchdown performance against Kent State. Patterson is an elusive, scheme-versatile back with quick feet but must improve as a pass protector. He does not necessarily dominate at one particular trait compared to other players at the position in this draft class, making him more of an early Day 3 guy.

Creating room for Patterson is offensive lineman Kayode Awosika, a potential late-round pick. Awosika is a powerful blocker who can move defensive lineman to create rushing lanes. He has been a tackle at Buffalo but will likely slide inside to guard at the next level.

Shifting the focus to the defensive side of the ball, edge defender Taylor Riggins is a player to keep an eye on. With active hands and a non-stop motor, Riggins is a relentless pass rusher who can also drop into coverage, making him a good fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker on Sundays.

However, he struggles to move laterally and defeat reach blocks against the run, pushing him down into the priority free agent category.

An injury has kept Riggins off the field all year so it is unlikely he will suit up tonight, but he certainly deserves a mention.

On the other end is potential fourth- or fifth-round pick Malcolm Koonce. As a pass rusher, he has some long arms and solid bend to win with a club-rip move but needs to develop a counter off of that. Koonce has a high motor which helps him make plays in pursuit against the run, but he needs to add some strength to be able to hold down the edge.

Back in the day, Marshall had some absolute ballers like Randy Moss, Chad Pennington, and Byron Leftwich, but it has been a while since the Thundering Herd had some notable NFL Draft picks. In fact, from 2016 to 2019 they had zero players selected in the draft, and Aaron Dobson in 2013 was the last time the Thundering Herd had anyone get drafted before Day 3.

Unfortunately, this year could be more of the same in that realm as they have one prospect, and he opted out of their bowl game.

Marshall’s lone NFL Draft prospect is Josh Ball, a potential fourth-rounder. The offensive tackle has been highly productive in pass production and wins with his feet, but he has some technical flaws with his punch and is slow to recognize counter moves. As a run blocker, Ball thrives at riding the defensive lineman’s momentum and washing them out of the play.

However, he has a passive playing style that causes him to lose at the point of attack against aggressive defenders.