NFL Draft Watch Outback Bowl

2021 NFL Draft Watch: Outback 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 NFL Draft Guide, which is set to release shortly after the combine. In today’s column, we will be taking a look at the Outback Bowl featuring the Ole Miss Rebels and Indiana Hoosiers.

Ole Miss vs #11 Indiana

Lane Kiffin’s return to the SEC has certainly had quite a few ups and downs this season. Ole Miss had no problem putting up points in 2020, ranking second with 40.7 points per game, but their defense struggled mightily, allowing the most points per game in the conference at 40.3.

At the end of the day, the Rebels sit at 4-5 and have a chance to finish with a non-loosing season for the first time since 2017. To accomplish that feat, the players below will need to have big games.

Interior offensive lineman Ben Brown will be one of the biggest names to keep an eye on for Ole Miss. Brown has the versatility to play either guard or center and would be a good fit for an offense that uses a zone-heavy rushing attack, with his ability to wall off defenders and create rushing lanes.

However, he struggles to generate movement as a run blocker and has heavy feet in pass protection, putting Brown in the sixth round to the priority free agent category.

Holding down the edge for the Rebels is offensive tackle Royce Newman. Jim Nagy, Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, tweeted out some high praise for the big man recently, stating that Newman stands out athletically on tape, can play all five OL spots and could match Tristan Wirfs with a 36-inch vertical jump.

Hopefully, that athleticism will help Newman improve as a pass protector because he struggled in that area this season and will likely go undrafted.

Sticking with the theme of priority free agent prospects, edge defender Sam Williams is another one from Ole Miss. The best way to describe Williams’ game is to say he just does not move the needle much. He is a solid player who does what he is asked to do as a pass rusher and run defender, but he does not jump off the film with any elite traits.

Wide receiver Elijah Moore and tight end Kenny Yeboah have declared for the draft and will not be playing in the bowl game, but both will likely come off the board in the fourth or fifth round.

As for the Hoosiers, they have been one of the best stories in college football this season. In September, they were unranked and were going to be playing in the spring. Now, Indiana is just outside the top 10 and only have a seven-point blemish against Ohio State on their record.

Not having quarterback Michael Penix Jr. will certainly hurt for the bowl game, but the Hoosiers should have enough talent to overcome that adversity.

Wideout Whop Philyor is a late-round prospect with strong hands and good body control. However, he struggles to create separation and does not show enough traits to suggest that will be any different at the next level. Unless that changes soon, Philyor will likely be a special teamer to start his NFL career.

Also out wide is Ty Fryfogle, who has good size at 6’2″ and 214 pounds and is averaging over 20 yards per catch this season. An impressive combine performance will help him move up draft boards, but Fryfogle projects as a late-round guy right now.

There are not many players who make Bruce Feldman’s freaks list twice, but Marcelino Ball’s 405-pound bench, 365-pound power clean, and 22.74 mph top speed was good enough to make the cut. Ball has the speed and strength to play in the NFL, but his instincts in coverage do not match his physical abilities.

The athletic freak will likely get drafted in the sixth or seventh round unless a team falls in love with him at the combine and is willing to be patient and develop him. Unfortunately, Ball tore his ACL and has not played all season.