NFL Draft Watch New Mexico Bowl

2021 NFL Draft Watch: New Mexico 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 Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors and Houston Cougars.

Hawai’i vs Houston

After finishing last season with double-digit wins, a 4-4 record feels a little disappointing for Hawai’i. The silver lining is they have a chance to finish with a winning record for the third year in a row with a victory tonight. That is a solid accomplishment for a Group of Five team.

As for NFL Draft prospects, the Rainbow Warriors only have one, wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. He is a natural hands-catcher with a large catch radius, and he is a savvy route runner who understands when to cut his route short to bail the quarterback out of trouble. The problem is Bussey does not offer much after the catch and missed basically all of 2019 with a torn ACL, both of which are hindering his NFL Draft stock as an early Day 3 prospect.

It has been a rough go of it for Houston’s head coach Dana Holgorsen. Since taking over last year, he has a combined record of 7-12 after going 61-41 in eight seasons at West Virginia with only one losing season. However, the Cougars do have a couple of draft prospects that could help improve the program’s notoriety in the recruiting ranks. Granted, they both opted out of the bowl game…

Obviously Marquez Stevenson will not be playing tonight, but he does deserve to be mentioned in this column as he is a potential fourth- or fifth-round pick. Stevenson has the speed, change of direction, agility, and ball tracking to be a legitimate home run threat, both before and after the catch. He does have a habit of using his body instead of his hands to bring the ball in, which could be an issue at the next level.

As for Grant Stuard, he is a converted safety who thrives as a coverage linebacker. In today’s NFL, that is a coveted skill set that every team is looking for, especially since he can play special teams, too. At 6’1″ and 225 pounds, Stuard does not have the size a lot of general managers and scouts are looking for, and he might need to add some weight to hold up against the run.

He will likely be a seventh-rounder or priority free agent.