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Rams bowl season preview: Players to watch from every college bowl game

Which players should be on the Rams radar this bowl season?

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl season is upon us. With over 40 games to played over the next month, there will be plenty to watch in preparation for the NFL Draft. With the Los Angeles Rams all but out of playoff contention, they’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on these games.

From the college football playoff to the Citrus Bowl, I took a look at every college bowl game this season and listed players that might make sense for the Rams. This list could change with players opting to stay in school or not to play in the game at all. However, this is a good starting point to get us ready for draft season.

College Football Playoff

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU

  • CB DJ Turner (Michigan)
  • OT Ryan Hayes (Michigan)
  • CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (TCU)
  • OG Steve Avila (TCU)
  • RB Blake Corum (Michigan)
  • C Olusegun Oluwatimi (Michigan)

The Rams need a cornerback opposite of Jalen Ramsey and both DJ Turner and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson are players to watch in that aspect. Turner brings good length to the position, but needs to improve his open-field tackling. Hodges-Tomlinson fits the Darious Williams mold as a smaller cornerback, but is a competitive players and brings good ball skills.

No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4. Ohio St.

  • S Christopher Smith (Georgia)
  • C Sedrick Van Pran (Georgia)
  • OT Broderick Jones (Georgia)
  • OT Dawned Jones (Ohio St.)
  • EDGE Zach Harrison (Ohio St.)
  • C Luke Wypler (Ohio St.

All eyes should be on Sedrick Van Pran in this game. While Van Pran is a little bigger than the Rams have typically gone at center, that’s exactly what they need. They need to add size and power up front. Despite being bigger, he moves well in space and has no problem getting to the second level. There will be plenty of NFL talent in this game, but Van Pran is the primary one of note.

Rest of New Year’s Six

Clemson vs. Tennessee

  • OT Darnell Wright (Tennessee)
  • EDGE KJ Henry (Clemson)
  • DL Tyler Davis (Clemson)
  • EDGE Byron Young (Tennessee)
  • WR Cedrick Tillman (Tennessee)

Darnell Wright will be the primary player to watch in this game. He has experience at both left and right tackle and could move inside to guard if needed. The Rams could see Wright as a Noteboom replacement. Cedrick Tillman is a long shot, but if the Rams want a physical wide receiver to replace Allen Robinson, Tillman wouldn’t be a surprise with how the Rams value playmakers.

Kansas State vs. Alabama

  • S Jordan Battle (Alabama)
  • EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Kansas State)
  • OG Cooper Beebe (Kansas State)
  • OT Tyler Steen (Alabama)

Alabama may have the pedigree, but the Kansas State prospects might be the ones to watch. Felix Anudike-Uzomah is a serious threat off of the edge. He had 43 pressures this season as the Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Cooper Beebe has been the 10th-highest rated guard according to PFF this season and has allowed just six pressures.

USC vs. Tulane

  • OL Andrew Vorhees (USC)
  • DL Tuli Tuipulotu (USC)
  • LB Dorian Williams (Tulane)
  • C Sincere Haynesworth (Tulane)

USC is clearly the better team, but there will be some offensive line talent in this game. Vorhees projects more as a guard, but brings tackle/guard versatility. He may not be considered a starter, but could be a decent swing tackle. Haynesworth is someone people won’t be familiar with. He’s an undersized center for Tulane, but has shown the ability to anchor an offensive line. Haynesworth will have a good test against USC.

Penn State vs. Utah

  • CB Clark Phillips III (Utah)
  • S Ji’Ayir Brown (Penn State)
  • OL Sataoa Laumea (Utah)
  • TE Dalton Kincaid (Utah)

The secondary prospects will be the players to watch in this game. The Rams like smaller cornerbacks that play bigger than their size and Clark Phillips fits that bill to go along with good ball skills. If the Rams are looking to replace Taylor Rapp, Ji’Ayir Brown is a box safety they could look at selecting.

The Remaining Bowls

Miami (OH) vs. UAB - Dec. 16

  • RB DeWayne McBride (UAB)

The NFL talent in the Bahamas Bowl will be limited. One player to keep an eye on will be DeWayne McBride. He’s the fifth-highest graded running back this season according to Pro Football Focus and has the second most yards after contact. He’s 5’11 and 215-lbs and someone who could carry the load at the next level.

UTSA vs. Troy - Dec. 16

  • WR Zakhari Franklin (UTSA)
  • S Rashad Wisdom (UTSA)
  • C Ahofitu Maka (UTSA)

This is another game with not a lot of high-level talent. These players will likely get selected late or go completely undrafted. Wisdom could be a player to watch though at safety. He’s someone who’s made plays on the UTSA defense. He’s likely a special teams player in the NFL, but someone to keep an eye on.

Louisville vs. Cincinnati - Dec. 17

  • CB Kei’Trel Clark (Louisville)
  • DT Malik Vann (Cincinnati)
  • LB Ivan Pace Jr. (Cincinnati)

The Bearcats lost a lot of their defensive talent last year, however, there will still be guys to keep an eye on in the Fenway Bowl. One of those players is Kei’Trel Clark. Clark has good ball production which is something that the Rams like. If David Long leaves, Clark could take his spot as an inside-outside nickel cornerback.

Washington State vs. Fresno State - Dec. 17

  • QB Cameron Ward (Washington State)
  • LB Daiyan Henley (Washington State)
  • QB Jake Haener (Fresno State)
  • OC Bula Schmidt (Fresno State)

The two players that I’m watching in this game as a Rams fan will be the quarterbacks. Cameron Ward is similar to Bryce Perkins, but probably has a higher ceiling. At his size, few players can do what Ward can do with the football. He’s simply an exciting player to watch. Haener is more of a pocket passer on the other hand, but has lit up college football this season. He’ll be a high-upside player on day 3 that the Rams could take.

Southern Miss vs. Rice - Dec. 17

  • TE Gavin Reinwald (Rice)
  • DB Gabe Taylor (Rice)
  • EDGE Ikenna Enechukwu (Rice)

The talent level in this game will be scarce. Gabe Taylor is the brother of Sean Taylor and may not even declare for the NFL Draft. Reinwald was a tight end transfer from Cal. If there’s one game to skip, it might be this one.

BYU vs. SMU - Dec. 17

  • WR Rashee Rice (SMU)
  • OT Blake Freeland (BYU)
  • QB Jaren Hall (BYU)

If the Rams are looking at a tackle, Blake Freeland is a name to watch. The athleticism and raw tools are there for Freeland, but he will take some developing and coaching to hit his ceiling. At 6’8, he’s likely strictly a tackle. While the Rams like versatility, Freeland could be worth investing in to put at left tackle.

North Texas vs. Boise State - Dec. 17

  • S JL Skinner (Boise State)
  • OC Manase Mose (North Texas)

If the Rams want to add an elite safety to their defense, JL Skinner may be the way to go. He possesses elite size for the position and is very good in run support due to that physical presence. He needs to add some discipline in his game, but Skinner has potential to be very good at the next level.

UConn vs. Marshall - Dec. 19

  • CB Micah Abraham (Marshall)
  • LB Jackson Mitchell (UConn)

There won’t be a lot of high-end NFL talent in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. However, two names to keep an eye on will be Micah Abraham and Jackson Mitchell. Both players likely have special teams upside.

San Jose State vs. Eastern Michigan - Dec. 20

  • EDGE Viliami Fehoko (San Jose State)
  • OG Sidy Sow (Eastern Michigan)

Villami Fehoko’s 59 pressures this season rank third nationally according to Pro Football Focus. He also has been credited with 12 sacks with is tied for second. The Rams have gone for late-round edge players the last two years. Fehoko is a name to keep an eye on this draft season.

Toledo vs. Liberty - Dec. 20

  • EDGE Durrell Johnson (Liberty)

This is a game to skip. There are no current top-500 projected prospects for the 2023 NFL draft participating in this game. Durrell Johnson has the most tackles for loss this season and will be the one player to watch.

South Alabama vs. Western Kentucky - Dec. 21

  • CB Darrell Luter Jr. (South Alabama)
  • DT Brodric Martin (WKU)

It’s at this point where we come to the conclusion that there are way too many bowl games. The Rams have drafted out of South Alabama before when they selected Gerald Everett. Luter Jr. possesses the ball production that the Rams look for and he will be at the Senior Bowl. He’ll certainly be someone to watch in this game.

Air Force vs. Baylor - Dec. 21

  • DT Siaki Ika (Baylor)
  • S Al Walcott (Baylor)
  • C Jacob Gall (Baylor)

Most of the talent in this game will come from the Baylor side. Siaki Ika is a dominant force on the defensive line who could take over for Greg Gaines or A’Shawn Robinson. The LSU transfer is very good at eating double-teams do to his size and is a presence that teams will want in the trenches. Al Walcott is a safety to keep an eye on as well.

Louisiana vs. Houston - Dec. 23

  • S Gervarrius Owens (Houston)
  • DT Zi’Yon Hill (Louisiana)

Another game with limited NFL talent, but Gervarrius Owens will be someone to watch in this game. Owens is an extremely versatile player and can line up across multiple positions in the secondary. He’s already accepted an invite to the Shrine Bowl as well, making him a name to keep an eye on this draft season.

Wake Forest vs. Missouri - Dec. 23

  • CB Kris Abrams-Draine (Missouri)
  • G Loic Ngassam Nya (Wake Forest)
  • OT Javon Foster (Missouri)

Kris Abrams-Draine and Loic Ngassam Nya are two players I’ll be watching in this game. Abrams-Draine is new to the cornerback position, but has the physical tools and instincts to be successful. He also has inside-outside versatility. Ngassam Nya would be a depth piece at guard as he’s versatile and can play both sides. Like Abrams-Draine, he recently picked up the position as he didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school.

San Diego State vs. Middle Tennessee - Dec. 24

...and I say again, there are way too many college bowl games. Patrick McMorris would be someone to watch, but he’s returning to San Diego State in 2023. Go ahead and skip this one on Christmas Eve.

New Mexico State vs. Bowling Green - Dec. 24

  • DT Karl Brooks (Bowling Green)

With Gaines and Robinson becoming free agents, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rams try and draft a defensive linemen or two in the later rounds. Brooks may be more suited in a 4-3 defensive scheme, but with his arsenal of pass rush moves, he’s an intriguing prospect.

Georgia Southern vs. Buffalo - Dec. 27

  • OG Gabe Wallace (Buffalo)

This is another game that might be worth skipping. Gabe Wallace is one name worth watching. He brings guard/tackle versatility, but will likely be a development piece in the NFL.

Memphis vs. Utah State - Dec. 27

  • LB/S Zay Cullens (Memphis)

Throw this one in the “there are way too many college bowl games” category. Zay Cullens is a hybrid linebacker/safety that will likely go undrafted.

East Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina - Dec. 27

  • QB Grayson McCall (Coastal Carolina)
  • iOL Willie Lampkin (Coastal Carolina)
  • WR Sam Pinckney (Coastal Carolina)

If the Rams are looking at day 3 backup quarterback, Grayson McCall wouldn’t be a bad option. The competition hasn’t been good at Coastal Carolina, but he’s done nothing but produce.

Wisconsin vs. Oklahoma St. - Dec. 27

  • DT Keeanu Benton (Wisconsin)
  • EDGE Nick Herbig (Wisconsin)
  • OL Tyler Beach (Wisconsin)
  • iOL Joe Tippman (Wisconsin)

The Rams have targeted players on the offensive line from Wisconsin in the past and they could this season, especially if Joe Tippman declares. Tippman has really good size for the center position and is good while blocking in space. At edge Herbig is someone to watch as a threat off of the edge and has had a good 2022 season.

UCF vs. Duke - Dec. 28

  • LB Divaad Wilson (UCF)
  • OT Tylan Grable (UCF)

Tylan Grable could be a name to watch in this game. He’s very raw and more of a developmental tackle, but the physical attributes are there. Grable was an All-American at the FCS level before transferring to UCF. With his athleticism, he’s someone to watch.

Kansas vs. Arkansas - Dec. 28

  • LB Drew Sanders (Arkansas)
  • C Ricky Stromberg (Arkansas)
  • S Kenny Logan Jr. (Kansas)

The Rams don’t necessarily need a linebacker, but Drew Sanders does a little bit of everything. At Alabama he was used as an edge rusher, but this season he’s been a middle linebacker. A team could look to use Sanders in a Micah Parsons type role. Kenny Logan Jr. might be one of my favorite safety prospects in this class and will certainly be someone to keep an eye on throughout the draft process.

North Carolina vs. Oregon - Dec. 28

  • iDL Brandon Dorlus (Oregon)
  • QB Bo Nix (Oregon)
  • EDGE DJ Johnson (Oregon)
  • WR Josh Downs (UNC)

Dorlus and Johnson are the two primary names to watch here. However, Nix may not be a starter at the NFL level, but could be a quality backup. Josh Downs also brings some thing that the Rams like at the wide receiver position. If they look to make upgrades there, Downs might be an option.

Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss - Dec. 28

  • WR Jonathan Mingo (Ole Miss)
  • OL Nick Broeker (Ole Miss)t
  • DL Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech)
  • CB Deantre Prince (Ole Miss)

Denature Prince will be the player that I’ll be watching in this game. Prince has consistently improved over the last year and is someone who could be a very good second cornerback opposite of Jalen Ramsey. If the Rams want to rebuild the secondary, Prince would be a good place to start.

Minnesota vs. Syracuse - Dec. 29

  • OT Matthew Bergeron (Syracuse)
  • OC John Michael Schmitz (Minnesota)
  • RB Sean Tucker (Syracuse)
  • CB Garrett Williams (Syracuse)
  • RB Mohamed Ibrahim (Minnesota)

This is going to be a game that Rams fans are going to want to mark on their calendars. Matthew Bergeron has a lot of potential at left tackle while John Michael Schmitz might be the best center in the country. Schmitz is the highest-graded center according to PFF this season and his run-blocking grade also ranks top of the country. If the Rams got Schmitz, it would go a long way in rebuilding their offensive line.

Oklahoma vs. Florida State - Dec. 29

  • WR Marvin Mims (Oklahoma)
  • OT Anton Harrison (Oklahoma)
  • DL Fabien Lovett (Florida St.)

Eric Gray and Jalen Redmond will not be participating in the bowl game. That leaves Marvin Mims and Fabien Lovett. I wouldn’t rule out wide receiver for the Rams. However, someone Lovett would be a good addition to the defensive line. Lovett is quick off the line and has a high motor, but his game needs refinement.

Texas vs. Washington - Dec. 29

  • EDGE Bralen Trice (Washington)
  • EDGE Zion Tupuola-Fetui (Washington)
  • OL Jaxson Kirkland (Washington)
  • RB Roschon Johnson (Texas)
  • DL Keondre Coburn (Texas)

The two players to watch in this game are going to be the pair of edge defenders from Washington, specifically Bralen Trice. The Rams are going to need to hope that Trice doesn’t soar into the first round, because it’s very possible. Trice would give the Rams a legitimate threat off of the edge opposite of Leonard Floyd.

Maryland vs. NC State - Dec. 30

  • CB Jakorian Bennett (Maryland)
  • OT Jaelyn Duncan (Maryland)
  • DL Cory Durden (NC State)

Jakorian Bennett is another cornerback to keep an eye on throughout the draft process. He’ll be participating in the Senior Bowl to kick off his road to the NFL Draft. Bennett had good ball production and displays good speed and position versatility. He’d be a good fit for the Rams defense.

Pittsburgh vs. UCLA - Dec. 30

  • RB Zach Charbonnet (UCLA)
  • LB SirVocea Dennis (Pitt)

LA fans will be familiar with Zach Charbonnet. If the Rams are looking to draft a running back and replace Cam Akers, it doesn’t get much better than Charbonnet.

Notre Dame vs. South Carolina - Dec. 30

  • S Brandon Joseph (Notre Dame)
  • iOL Jarrett Patterson (Notre Dame)
  • DL Zacch Pickens (South Carolina)

The player to watch in this game will be Jarrett Patterson. He’s one of the best interior offensive linemen in the country that will be available in the 2023 NFL Draft. He has size, mobility, and is just a very solid player. The Rams will like Patterson for his versatility as he can play all three spots.

Wyoming vs. Ohio - Dec. 30

The latest example of there being way too many bowl games. Feel free to skip this one!

Iowa vs. Kentucky - Dec. 31

  • EDGE Lukas Van Ness (Iowa)
  • CB Riley Moss (Iowa)
  • QB Will Levis (Kentucky)
  • OL Kenneth Horsey (Kentucky)
  • RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. (Kentucky)

The Kentucky prospects in this game will certainly be worth keeping an eye on simply because of the Liam Coen connection. If Coen returns, bringing in someone like Chris Rodriguez Jr. would make sense. He’ll be at the Senior Bowl as well which is somewhere the Rams have looked in the past.

Illinois vs. Mississippi St. - Jan. 2

  • CB Emmanuel Forbes (Miss. State)
  • CB Jalen Green (Miss. State)

Emmanuel Forbes finished with 14 career interceptions and owns the FBS record for pick-sixes. Forbes would be a great selection for the Rams if they’re looking to add playmakers to their secondary.

Purdue vs. LSU - Jan. 2

  • DL Jaquelin Roy (LSU)
  • S Jay Ward (LSU)
  • CB Mekhi Garner (LSU)
  • CB Cory Trice (Purdue)

We’ve finally made it to the last bowl game of the season. This will be a game to watch players in the secondary. Mekhi Garner would bring a physicality to the Rams that they don’t have outside of Jalen Ramsey.