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

Players the Rams should watch in every bowl game this College Bowl season.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Alabama at Kentucky Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams are still in playoff contention, but the NFL daft process is getting started with bowl games set to begin on Saturday. With over 40 games to played over the next month, there will be plenty to watch in preparation for the NFL Draft.

From the college football playoff to the Pop-Tarts 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

Rose Bowl - Michigan vs. Alabama (Jan. 1)

  • QB JJ McCarthy (Michigan)
  • DL Kris Jenkins (Michigan)
  • S Rod Moore (Michigan)
  • CB Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama)
  • OT JC Latham (Alabama)
  • EDGE Dallas Turner (Alabama)

There will be a lot of first and second-round talent in this game that kicks off the College Football Playoff. McCarthy is a potential option at quarterback if he drops to the back-half of the first-round. However, the two players that I’ll be closely watching are Kool-Aid McKinstry and JC Latham. Michigan has a really good pass rush which will be a good test of Latham. The Rams could use a top cornerback and McKinstry fits that bill.

Sugar Bowl - Washington vs. Texas (Jan. 1)

  • WR Rome Odunze (Washington)
  • QB Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)
  • EDGE Bralen Trice (Washington)
  • OT Troy Fautanu (Washington)
  • DL Byron Murphy II (Texas)
  • RB Jonathon Brooks (Texas)
  • WR Adonai Mitchell (Texas)

While the Rams don’t necessarily need a wide receiver, if Odunze or Mitchell are available when they are on the clock, it might be hard for Sean McVay to say no. Outside of those two, Bralen Trice is an edge player I liked last year and has had another good season. Troy Fautanu may be the left tackle that the Rams need.

Rest of New Year’s Six

Cotton Bowl - Missouri vs. Ohio State (Dec. 29)

  • CB Ennis Rakestraw Jr. (Missouri)
  • CB Kris Abrams-Draine (Missouri)
  • OT Javon Foster (Missouri)
  • EDGE JT Tuimolau (Ohio State
  • CB Denzel Burke (Ohio State)
  • OL Donovan Jackson (Ohio State)
  • EDGE Jack Sawyer (Ohio State)
  • RB TreVeyon Henderson (Ohio State)

In the case that these players don’t opt out of the Cotton Bowl and do end up declaring for the draft, this could be a loaded game. Ohio State should be Missouri, but there will be a lot of draft talent in this game. Ennis Rakestraw and Kris Abrams-Draine will be at the Senior Bowl and are both day-two cornerback prospects. If JT Tuimolau ends up declaring and does play, he will be an edge rusher option for the Rams at the end of the first round.

Peach Bowl - Ole Miss vs. Penn State (Dec. 30)

  • EDGE Cedric Johnson (Ole Miss)
  • LB Curtis Jacobs (Penn State)
  • EDGE Adisa Isaac (Penn State)

No Kalen King or Chop Robinson in this one as they have both already either shown signs that they’re opting out or have officially made the decision. Everybody else is likely a day three pick. Jacobs will be looking to raise his draft stock.

Orange Bowl - Florida State vs. Georgia (Dec. 30)

  • RB Trey Benson (FSU)
  • DL Braden Fiske (FSU)
  • OT Amarius Mims (Georgia)
  • iOL Sedrick Van Pran (Georgia)

No Jared Verse in this one and it also seems like Keon Coleman may be out as well. If the Rams decide to go with a running back on day-two of the draft, Benson would be a great complement to Kyren Williams. No word yet on Amarius Mims, but if he does play, it would not be surprising to see him as a left tackle target for the Rams in the first round. Mims did get injured in the SEC title game, so he may opt out. Van Pran is another potential offensive line target for the Rams. It’s hard to know who will be available for Georgia, but other names include Kamari Lassiter and Tykee Smith.

Fiesta Bowl - Oregon vs. Liberty (Jan. 1)

  • QB Bo Nix (Oregon)
  • DL Brandon Dorlus (Oregon)
  • iOL Jackson Powers-Johnson (Oregon)

There will be a lot of talk about whether or not the Rams should take Bo Nix if he is available at the end of the first-round. Nix has some good qualities and is coming off of a strong season. Powers-Johnson is one of the best centers in the draft. If he plays, he’ll certainly be someone to watch from a Rams perspective.

The Remaining Bowls

Myrtle Beach Bowl - Georgia Southern vs. Ohio (Dec. 16)

  • WR Sam Wiglusz (Ohio)

With 41 bowl games, we’re going to get a lot of “why does this bowl game exist?” That’s the case with this one. Feel free to skip this one, but Dane Brugler has mentioned Sam Wiglusz as a name to watch. Here’s what Brugler had to say,

“Working exclusively out of the slot, the senior is a speedy possession target who will get tryouts with NFL teams.”

New Orleans Bowl - Jacksonville State vs. Louisiana (Dec. 16)

  • OT Nathan Thomas (Louisiana)

The Rams will without a doubt be looking at offensive tackle in the upcoming draft. Nathan Thomas will be someone to watch in this game. He is currently PFF’s 170th rated prospect with a good run-blocking grade. Thomas did struggle at times against Minnesota and hasn’t finished the season as strong as he would have liked.

Cure Bowl - Miami (OH) vs. Appalachian State (Dec. 16)

  • DB Michael Dowell (Miami, OH)
  • EDGE Brian Ugwu (Miami, OH)

These early bowl games leave a lot to be desired, but it is a good opportunity to check in on some lower ranked prospects. These guys may not get drafted high, but are they players worth bringing in to training camp? Ugwu finished the season with eight sacks which ranked fourth in the MAC. Dowell is a versatile safety with some potential on special teams.

New Mexico Bowl - New Mexico State vs. Fresno State (Dec. 16)

We’ll take this opportunity to once again ask why there are 41 bowl games. Go ahead and skip this one.

LA Bowl - UCLA vs Boise State (Dec. 16)

  • EDGE Gabriel Murphy (UCLA)
  • LB Darius Muasau (UCLA)
  • RB George Holland (Boise State)

There will be no Laiatu Late in this game as he has opted to skip the bowl game. Given that he is one of the top edge rushers in the class, he would have been a good one to watch. Laiatu gets all the headlines, but Murphy is a player to watch in this game and may end up being a late day-2 or day-3 player. Murphy ranked ninth in the country this season with 55 pressures. He’ll have a chance to show-out in the bowl game.

Independence Bowl - Cal vs. Texas Tech (Dec. 16)

  • EDGE Steve Linton (Texas Tech)

Everything to watch in this game will be on the Texas Tech side of the ball and on defense. Steve Linton has earned an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl. Linton isn’t a top edge rusher by any means, but if there is someone to watch in this game, it is him. He only had 19 pressures this season, but PFF has him graded highly in the pass rush department. Linton is light, but is extremely quick and excels rushing inside.

Toastery Bowl - Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion (Dec. 18)

  • WR Malachi Corley (WKU)

Old Dominion’s Jason Henderson would be another name to watch here. However, the Monarch linebacker is injured and won’t be playing. While wide receiver may not be a high priority for the Rams, Corley is a fun player and a dynamic playmaker. Corley will be at the Senior Bowl.

Frisco Bowl - UTSA vs. Marshall (Dec. 19)

  • RB Rasheen Ali (Marshall)

There were rumors that Ali wouldn’t participate in the bowl game. However, he is making the trip to Frisco. He’s a one-cut runner who gets north and south very quickly. Ali will also be at the East-West Shrine Bowl.

Boca Raton Bowl - Syracuse vs. South Florida (Dec. 21)

  • LB Marlowe Wax (Syracuse)

The NFL talent pool for the 2024 draft is pretty thin which is somewhat surprising considering the players that Syracuse has produced recently. It’s a down year for the Orange, but Marlowe Wax has been a leader of that defense. Wax is a good run defender who could potentially find a role on special teams.

Gasparilla Bowl - UCF vs. Georgia Tech (Dec. 22)

If there’s a bowl game called the Gasparilla Bowl, it’s probably best just to get rid of it. We’ll skip this one.

Birmingham Bowl - Duke vs. Troy (Dec. 23)

  • DL DeWayne Carter (Duke)
  • EDGE Javon Solomon (Troy)

The player to watch here would have been Graham Barton, but he’s not expected to play in Duke’s bowl game. With that said, our focus will shift to the defensive side of the ball. DeWayne Carter brings versatility which the Rams value and also has some size which they currently lack. Carter will be in Mobile at the Senior Bowl.

Camellia Bowl - Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois (Dec. 23)

Unless you have some sort of stake in this one, feel free to skip.

Armed Forces Bowl - JMU vs. Air Force (Dec. 23)

Edge rusher Jalen Green from James Madison would have been a player to watch in this game, but he had season ending surgery.

Idaho Potato Bowl - Georgia State vs. Utah State (Dec. 23)

  • LB Jontrey Hunter (Georgia State)

Hunter is an intriguing small school prospect. He will also participate in the Shrine Bowl, but he is a long, athletic linebacker who has experience in the star role. Hunter has good instincts and ball skills. The Georgia State linebackers will be a player to watch in this one and keep tabs on throughout the draft process.

68 Ventures Bowl - South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan (Dec. 23)

The 68 Ventures Bowl? Is that a sign to how many bowl games we’ll have next year?

Las Vegas Bowl - Utah vs. Northwestern (Dec. 23)

  • OT Sataoa Laumea (Utah)

Safety Cole Bishop would be a player to watch, but it doesn’t seem like he’s going to play. The same can be said about edge rusher Jonah Elliss. Laumea is still an intriguing player, however. He’s a right tackle with inside-outside versatility which is something that the Rams value.

Hawaii Bowl - Coastal Carolina vs. San Jose State (Dec. 23)

Coastal Carolina has produced some prospects over the last few years. However, this is not one of those years. If you’re not in Hawaii watching this one, feel free to skip.

Quick Lane Bowl - Bowling Green vs. Minnesota (Dec. 26)

  • S Tyler Nubin (Minnesota)

The Rams could use some safety help on the backend of the defense. Nubin is a playmaker for the Gophers and is currently projected as a early second-round pick. It’s hard to see the Rams taking a safety that high, but Nubin will still be a player to watch in this one.

First Responder Bowl - Texas State vs. Rice (Dec. 26)

There are better ways to honor our first responders than with a matchup between Texas State and Rice. On to the next!

Guaranteed Rate Bowl - Kansas vs. UNLV

  • iOL Dominick Puni (Kansas)
  • S Kenny Logan (Kansas)
  • RB Devin Neal (Kansas)

Kansas has put out some solid NFL talent recently and they have a few prospects to watch throughout the process this year as well. That starts with Puni who will also be at the Senior Bowl. Puni has versatility on the left side and is a mauler in the run game. Kenny Logan was someone that I liked last year and could be a late-round safety option.

Military Bowl - Tulane vs. Virginia Tech (Dec. 27)

  • QB Michael Pratt (Tulane)

Whenever Tulane has the ball on offense, there will be two guys to watch. Michael Pratt didn’t rise like some thought he would, but is still a day two quarterback option if the Rams look that direction. On the other side, Antwaun Powell-Ryland opted to return to school for the 2024 season. However, he’s a fun player at edge and someone to keep in mind for next year.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl - UNC vs. West Virginia (Dec. 27)

Cedric Gray isn’t playing in the bowl game for UNC and Kaimon Rucker seems to be leaning towards returning to the Tar Heels in 2024. For West Virginia, Zach Frazier suffered an injury in the final game of the season, but is a center name to watch throughout the process. It also doesn’t sound like Mountaineers safety Aubrey Burks will be playing in the bowl game either. This one had some potential, but we can skip this one.

Holiday Bowl - Louisville vs. USC (Dec. 27)

  • WR Jamari Thrash (Louisville)
  • DL Ashton Gillotte (Louisville)
  • S Calen Bullock (USC)
  • OT Jonah Monheim (USC)
  • WR Brenden Rice (USC)

There will be no Caleb Williams in this game. However, Jamari Thrash has been one of my favorite wide receivers to watch this year. From a Rams standpoint, Calen Bullock and Jonah Mannheim from USC are two players to watch closely. Monheim displays good feet at tackle and could be a mid-round option if the Rams wait in the draft. Bullock is another second-round safety.

Texas Bowl - Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M (Dec. 27)

  • EDGE Collin Oliver (Oklahoma St.)
  • DL McKinnley Jackson (Texas A&M)
  • iOL Layden Robinson

Egerrin Cooper is arguably the best linebacker in the draft, but he has opted to bypass the bowl game. Still, there are a few players to watch in this one. Layden Robinson will play in the bowl game and has also accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl. McKinnley Jackson is quick off the ball which is something that the Rams value on the defensive line.

Fenway Bowl - SMU vs. Boston College (Dec. 28)

  • iOL Christian Mahogany

Mahogany may end up being one of my favorite interior offensive line prospects when all is said and done. He isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty in the run game and get physical. There’s a good chance that the Rams are looking for some interior offensive line depth in the draft.

Pinstripe Bowl - Miami vs. Rutgers (Dec. 28)

  • S Kamren Kinchens (Miami)
  • CB Max Melton (Rutgers)

Kinchens led all ACC safeties with five interceptions this season. He’s seen as a borderline first-round pick right now and it’s unlikely that the Rams would take a safety that high. The Hurricanes do have some prospects who simply aren’t playing in the bowl game. Max Melton had three interceptions and six passes defended for Rutgers this season. It’s unsure if he’ll play in the bowl game, but he hasn’t officially decided yet.

Pop-Tarts Bowl - Kansas State vs. NC State (Dec. 28)

NC State linebacker Payton Wilson is expected to opt out of the bowl game. With that said, there is one player that I am ecstatic to watch and that is Cooper Beebe. Beebe will be my favorite interior offensive line prospect in this draft. He may start the process in the second-round, but it’s very possible that he ends up at the end of the first.

Alamo Bowl - Arizona vs. Oklahoma (Dec. 28)

Guyton hasn’t officially opted out of the bowl game, but he also didn’t practice tArizona tackle Jordan Morgan would have been a player to watch, but like many others, he has opted out. Tyler Guyton hasn’t officially opted out of the bowl game yet, but is expected to. Why are there 41 bowl games again?

Gator Bowl - Clemson vs. Kentucky (Dec. 29)

  • RB Ray Davis (Kentucky)
  • CB Andru Phillips (Kentucky)

Another game with more draft prospects not playing. Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Nate Wiggins, and Ruke Orhorhoro are not expected to play in the bowl game for Clemson. On the other side, the Wildcats will have Ray Davis and Andru Phillips. Davis is a smaller running back, but is good in the passing game. Phillips will be at the Senior Bowl.

Sun Bowl - Notre Dame vs. Oregon St. (Dec. 29)

  • OT Joshua Gray (Oregon State)
  • S Kitan Oladapo (Oregon State)

There will be no Marist Liufau, Joe Alt, Blake Fisher, or Audric Estimé for Notre Dame. Oregon State will not have DJ Uiagalelei, Taliese Fuaga or Anthony Gould. Joshua Gray hasn’t decided. This is very likely another skip between two power-5 programs. Oladipo will be at the Senior Bowl.

Liberty Bowl - Memphis vs. Iowa St. (Dec. 29)

  • RB Blake Watson (Memphis)
  • CB T.J. Tampa (Iowa State)

Tampa is a projected second-round cornerback with good size. He’s 6’1 with 32 3/8-inch arms and good ball skills. It’s very possible that he’s a riser during the draft process. Watson is a late day-three running back and may go undrafted.

Music City Bowl - Auburn vs. Maryland (Dec. 30)

  • CB Nehemiah Pritchett (Auburn)
  • S Jaylin Simpson (Auburn)
  • S Beau Brade (Maryland)

DJ James from Auburn is a day-two cornerback in this draft who has opted out. However, Pritchett will be at the Senior Bowl along with Jaylin Simpson. It’s undecided right now if they will play in the bowl game. Simpson is an insane athlete and could be a mid-round safety target.

Arizona Bowl - Toledo vs. Wyoming (Dec. 30)

  • CB Quinyon Mitchell (Toledo)

Quinyon Mitchell is a player to watch in this game. Despite being a small school prospect, he’s one of the best cornerbacks in the draft. He’s extremely fast with play-making ability. According to Pro Football Networks’ Ian Cummings,

“Mitchell has the physical foundation of a high-level playmaker, and he has the instincts of one too. Particularly in off-man and zone, he’s adept at recognizing routes and breaking early on passes, and at the catch point, he’s coordinated, authoritative, and exhaustive with his length.”

ReliaQuest Bowl - Wisconsin vs. LSU (Jan. 1)

  • QB Jayden Daniels (LSU)
  • DL Mekhi Wingo (LSU)

It doesn’t seem like Braelon Allen will play the bowl game for Wisconsin. On the other side, there isn’t word yet on LSU players. Daniels’ draft stock is sky high after the season that he’s had. There is still time for players to decide on what they want to do. If the Rams are looking to add depth to the defensive line, Wingo is a name to watch here.

Citrus Bowl - Iowa vs. Tennessee (Jan. 1)

  • QB Joe Milton II (Tennessee)
  • CB Kamal Hadden (Tennessee)
  • TE Luke Lachey (Iowa)

Milton is an interesting quarterback prospect. There’s no doubt that he has the arm and the tools to succeed. For him, it’s about adding consistency. A tough Iowa defense will be a good challenge. We’ve seen Iowa tight ends such as George Kittle and Sam LaPorta succeed in the NFL. Lachey could be the next in the line. No Cooper DeJean for the Hawkeyes which will be a big blow for their defense.