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Ten prospects from early bowl games for Los Angeles Rams to consider in 2020 NFL Draft

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

USC OT Austin Jackson
USC OT Austin Jackson
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, Dec. 21

Central Michigan Chippewas (8-5) v. San Diego State Aztecs (9-3)

New Mexico Bowl
Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
2pm ET/11am PT, ESPN

Liberty Flames (7-5) v. Georgia Southern Eagles (7-5)

FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl
Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL
2:30pm ET/11:30am PT, CBS Sports Network

SMU Mustangs (10-2) v. Florida Atlantic Owls (10-3)

Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, FL
3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT, ABC

FIU Panthers (6-6) v. Arkansas State Red Wolves (7-5)

Camellia Bowl
Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL
5:30pm ET/2:30pm PT, ESPN

#19 Boise State Broncos (12-1) v. Washington Huskies (7-5)

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT, ABC

#20 Appalachian St. Mountaineers (12-1) v. UAB Blazers (9-4)

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
9pm ET/6pm PT, ESPN

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

No, not the holiday season. Bowl season!

Two weeks from today, we get the 2019 College Football Playoffs as the #1 LSU Tigers takes on the #4 Oklahoma Sooners and the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes play the #3 Clemson Tigers. Before then? Eighteen bowls of season-ending joy and another two on that Saturday before the CFP.

Now I’m not suggesting you tune into the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl next Saturday to watch SMU Mustangs hit the road to take on the Florida Atlantic Owls in FAU’s stadium. That’s asking too much even if letting college teams host a bowl in their own stadium isn’t...but alas.

There are however plenty of NFL prospects in action over the next two weeks making their final game action auditions for the 2020 NFL Draft. A quick reminder of the Los Angeles Rams’ current draft order:

LA Rams’ 2020 NFL Draft order with comp pick projections

Rd # Rd# Pick
Rd # Rd# Pick
2 TBD TBD Rams pick
3 TBD TBD Rams pick
3 (c) TBD TBD Rams pick (projected)
4 TBD TBD Rams pick
6 TBD TBD Rams pick
7 TBD TBD Rams pick

The first-round pick was part of the package for CB Jalen Ramsey while the fifth-rounder is the final payment for EDGE Dante Fowler, Jr. As of right now, the Rams are only projected to pick up that third-round compensatory pick.

So here are ten (ok 12, but stick with me) prospects in early bowl action that might be relevant to the Rams this offseason:

Charlotte 49ers EDGE Alex Highsmith

Charlotte 49ers (7-5) v. Buffalo Bulls (7-5)

Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, Dec. 20
Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, The Bahamas
2pm ET/11am PT, ESPN

College football in the Bahamas in December. It’s a beautiful thing.

Highsmith is a late riser who exploded in Conference USA play this year with nine sacks in his last six games and 14 sacks overall, good for second-highest in college football. Good matchup here too going up against Buffalo OT Evin Ksiezarczyk who made the All-MAC First Team this year. Highsmith would project as a Samson Ebukam type.

Liberty Flames WR Antonio Gandy-Golden

Liberty Flames (7-5) v. Georgia Southern Eagles (7-5)

FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl, Dec. 21
Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL
2:30pm ET/11:30am PT, CBS Sports Network

AGG is a solid prospect as a big-frame, physical wideout, but Imma be real with you. The attraction here is Liberty football.

An evangelical Christian university that just made the FBS level in 2018 that overseen by first-year Head Coach Hugh Freeze he of holier-than-thou finger pointing that didn’t point to his phone calls to hookers that led to his ouster at Ole Miss Rebels who coached the first game of the year from a hospital bed and gave us the best image of the 2019 college season as it was just beginning:

What I’m saying is if you don’t enjoy that last paragraph, you don’t enjoy college football and I’m not sure we can be friends.

Washington OT Trey Adams

Washington Huskies (7-5) v. #19 Boise State Broncos (12-1)

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT, ESPN

It feels like Adams has been at UW for a decade.

Long the left tackle for the Chris Petersen era protecting QB Jake Browning and opening things up for RB Myles Gaskin, Adams has had to deal with a variety of injuries as his former teammates moved on to the NFL. After two injury-plagued seasons, Adams was able to get through 2019 healthy and looked the part of a top prospect all year making his second All-Pac-12 first team. The medical check at the combine will be crucial. If he comes out clean without any lingering issues, he could potentially go into the first round. If not, I could see him dropping as far as the third especially because he doesn’t offer much position viability.

With the Rams likely sending LT Andrew Whitworth into retirement, Adams would be a more suitable successor than any of the options currently on the roster.

Miami LB Shaquille Quarterman/EDGE Trevon Hill/EDGE Jonathan Garvin

Miami Hurricanes (6-6) v. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (9-3)

Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, Dec. 26
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
4pm ET/1pm PT, ESPN

Don’t make me choose. Just get a look at this trio from the U’s front seven. They’re all going to factor into NFL plans.

Pittsburgh DB Damar Hamlin

Pittsburgh Panthers (7-5) v. Eastern Michigan Eagles (6-6)

Quick Lane Bowl, Dec. 26
Ford Field, Detroit, MI
8pm ET/5pm PT, ESPN

Hamlin’s a really interesting prospect who doesn’t have an obvious position in the NFL. I could see a transition into the slot where he could be groomed as a successor for the Slot God, CB Nickell Robey-Coleman.

North Carolina DL Jason Strowbridge

North Carolina Tar Heels (6-6) v. Temple Owls (8-4)

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman, Dec. 27
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD
12pm ET/9am PT, ESPN

Strowbridge is a converted end, so he’s not going to have the size of a chunky, inside run stopper. Instead, he’s an athletic foil to those types who could be an interesting fit for the Rams next to a guy like Sebastian Joseph-Day who might have 30 pounds on Strowbridge.

Michigan St. ILB Joe Bachie

Michigan State Spartans (6-6) v. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-4)

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 27
Yankee Stadium, New York City, NY
3:20pm ET/12:20pm PT, ESPN

This one’s actually pretty stacked for NFL talent and not just for MSU as many NFL fans might assume.

I am singling out Bachie here as he’d fit the Rams’ need at the Mike. We have to see if the Rams re-sign ILB Cory Littleton to remain in the Mo role for Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme, but Bachie would be a nice addition next to him to fill the spot that has been manned by Bryce Hager, Troy Reeder and Travin Howard of late. Micah Kiser’s return would put him in the mix here too, but Bachie’s a natural for the position as a direct, physical run defender who lacks supreme athleticism to play the pass.

Texas A&M DT Justin Madubuike

Texas A&M Aggies (7-5) v. #25 Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-4)

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl, Dec. 27
NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
6:45pm ET/3:45pm PT, ESPN

What a rough season for A&M. They played the hardest schedule in the nation and lost to every top team they faced. Head Coach Jimbo Fisher is going to have to improve things next year.

He’ll have to do so without his star defensive tackle in Madubuike who has already declared...and announced he isn’t playing in this game. So no, you won’t get to see him in action here if you haven’t yet, but I’m sure his name will get brought up and perhaps a highlight package.

USC LT Austin Jackson

#22 USC Trojans (8-4) v. #16 Iowa Hawkeyes (9-3)

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, Dec. 27
SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA
8pm ET/5pm PT, Fox Sports 1

Is Jackson a first-round tackle with exceptional athleticism or a third-rounder who suffers against power rushers? That’s a question NFL teams are going to grapple with over the next four months. As a top recruit out of the Phoenix area in 2017 and earning the job at left tackle the next year, he’s been on Pac-12 radars for a while. This should be a good challenge for him to prove himself especially if we get him lined up against Iowa EDGE A.J. Epenesa who could go in the top half of the first round.

Penn St. EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos

#10 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2) v. #17 Memphis Tigers (12-1)

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Dec. 28
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
1pm ET/10am PT, ESPN

Not sure YGM is going to fall far enough to get onto the Rams’ radar, but I suppose it’s possible. If the Rams opt not to re-sign Fowler, Gross-Matos might be a replacement who could offer the power to hold the edge in run defense while providing enough pass rush skills to be an every down starter.

So no, not a ton of top teams over the next two weeks, but plenty of action with legitimate prospects all over the place. What games are you going to make sure you catch? Any prospects of interest prior to the playoffs and the subsequent major bowl games (plenty of scouting pieces at TST on those to come)?

It’s bowl season, friends. Enjoy!