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2012 NFL Draft: Independence Bowl Prospects

The more notable events of the NCAA football bowl season ramp up tonight with the Independence Bowl, featuring the SEC-bound Missouri Tigers and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Mizzou is a five-point favorite to win the game, but the real winners are the rabid NFL draft watchers who have a game filled with prospects that could impact the 2012 NFL Draft.

The two most prominent prospects in tonight's game are a pair of UNC defensive standouts. Defensive end Quinton Coples is one of the more well-known 4-3 defensive end prospects in the draft. He lacks the same skill set, especially the speed, that made his former teammate and the Rams' first round pick in 2011, Robert Quinn, a top pick. Coples can lineup on the inside thanks to his ability to overpower linemen.

Draft goodness after the jump.

Check out the scouting report on Coples from Mocking the Draft. Coples could be on the Rams radar as a replacement for James Hall, but another defensive lineman seems like a stretch in the first round given the Rams other priorities. However, as the New York Giants have shown the league, you can never have too many pass rushers. Coples would only be an option if the Rams end up trading down.

Linebacker Zach Brown is the a defensive player from UNC that could be a nice fit in St. Louis. Brown profiles as more of an outside linebacker in a 4-3 than a 3-4. He would give the Rams the speed at that position they've lacked for a few years. He can also play in coverage well. Check out more on Brown here.

UNC wide receiver Dwight Jones is a prospect we've talked about many times on this site. Keeping with the UNC tradition, Jones has raised some questions with his off-field activities. Nevertheless, he could still introduce his "sexxxy casual" style to the buttoned down Midwest. Here's more on Jones from a mock draft we looked at recently that had the Rams picking him in the second round.

Other players of note for 2012 NFL Draft purposes:

  • Donte Paige-Moss, DE, UNC - An outside pass rusher in a school that seems to have become a factory for them, he's quick with a good bull rush. Looks like a 4-3 DE. More on him here. He's a junior.
  • Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri - Yes, I'm putting a tight end on here because I expect the Rams to have only Lance Kendricks and a never healthy Michael Hoomanawanui on the roster next year...and that's it. A potential second-round pick, I don't know that he'd get considerations over other players. He's more like Aaron Hernandez than Lance Kendricks, and isn't much of a blocker. He can catch the ball.
  • Dominique Hamilton, DT, Missouri - A red shirt senior, Hamilton has long arms and the strength to be a gap plugger in the NFL. Our own 3k has him as a late-round pick on his list. Here's a scouting report on him.

For those of you who aren't, be sure to hit us up on Facebook as well, where we talk even more about the draft, the Rams, etc. We're also talking draft constantly on Twitter @TurfShowTimes.