Noel Devine

Prospects to watch in the Champs Sports Bowl

* The most well-known prospect in this game is West Virginia running back Noel Devine. He’s an explosive athlete, but probably isn’t anything more than a kick returner/3rd-string running back at the next level. His stock has also been hurt by a foot injury which has slowed him for much of this season. He probably won’t come off the board until the 6th or 7th round and may struggle to make a roster if he can’t win a job on special teams.

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Darvin Adams #89 of the Auburn Tigers scores a touchdown as he gets tackled by Robert Sands #2 of the West Virginia Mountaineers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Safeties with Robert Sands' size and athleticism don't come around often

* The top prospect in the game is actually West Virginia safety Robert Sands. He is a gifted athlete with rare size for the position (6’5″, 220 lbs). He’s primarily played free safety at West Virginia, but is probably better suited to play strong safety or even outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL. He’s only a junior but definitely could make the jump this season.

* Another player in West Virginia’s secondary to keep an eye on is cornerback Brandon Hogan. Personally I think Hogan is extremely overrated. He’s had some off-field issues and has been inconsistent throughout his career. However, he clearly has the athleticism and raw talent necessary to play at the next level. If he reaches his full potential he could be a starter, but I wouldn’t draft him until the 5th or 6th round.

* On the offensive side of the ball for the Mountaineers, keep an eye on wide receiver Jock Sanders. Like Devine, he is undersized and will be limited in his ability to make an impact at the next level. However, he does have big-play ability and could contribute on special teams.

* The player to watch for N.C. State is inside linebacker Nate Irving, who may end up being their only player drafted this April. He doesn’t have elite speed, but has been tremendously productive for the Wolfpack. He should be a mid-round pick and is definitely one of the more intriguing sleepers at his position. He’s the type of guy who has the instincts to potential excel at the next level despite limited physical tools.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft Comments Off