Who are the top 2013 NFL Draft prospects to watch in the third 2013 BCS bowl game between the Oregon Ducks and Kansas State Wildcats in the 2013 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl?
This marquee matchup should be one of the best games of the 2012-2013 bowl season. Each of these teams present extremely potent offenses and lost on the same weekend, opening the door for Nick Saban and Alabama to return to the BCS national championship game for the third time in four years.
Oregon’s only loss came against Stanford 17-14 in OT on Nov. 17, before Baylor beat up K-State 52-24 later that evening.
However, each of these teams had great success this season, each finishing 8-1 in conference play and 12-1 overall.
Thursday evening’s battle is also the only matchup between Top 5 teams aside from the BCS national championship.
Kansas State is in its 16th bowl in school history and 14th under coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats are in a BCS bowl for the second time after playing in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl.
Oregon is in its fourth consecutive BCS bowl under Chip Kelly after playing in the 2010 Rose Bowl, the 2011 BCS national championship game and winning last year’s Rose Bowl.
This game is constructed from Oregon’s speed vs. Kansas State’s power.
Oregon is known to play at an incredible pace like few teams in college football and the Quack Attack often score extremely fast with 44 of their 80 touchdown drives this season coming in two minutes or less, including 22 in 60 seconds or less.
Oregon uses its speed in the ground game heavily as Kenjon Barner is a threat to score every time he touches the football. The deadly duo of Barner, who chalked up 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns and multi-dimensional DeAnothony Thomas, who collected ,562 all-purposed yards and 16 TDs have caused non-stop havoc for opponents.
Dual-threat quarterback and Heisman finalist Collin Klein threw for 2,490 yards and added 890 more on the ground this season for Kansas State. He totaled 37 touchdowns in 2012. Running back John Hubert leads the team with 892 yards and 15 TDs.
The Wildcats’ trio of targets in the passing game has also been very dangerous. Chris Harper, Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson all went over the 500-yard mark this season in receiving yards, collecting 1, 952 and 11 TDs combined.
Kansas State and Oregon each bounced back from defeat to end the regular season on the winning end. The Ducks doubled their in-state rival’s score total in the Civil War to the tune of 48-24, while the Wildcats toppled Texas 42-24.
Now the stage is set as both teams collide Thursday night.
DE Dion Jordan
Chosen as a finalist for the Butkus award that is given to the top linebacker of the year this season, Dion Jordan racked up a total of 44 tackles with a whopping 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. Jordan missed a game earlier this year due to a shoulder injury but is now back to full health. He possesses a rare combination of size and athleticism for his position.
He’s big like a defensive lineman yet moves like a safety making him a headache for opposing offenses both in coverage in the open field and when going after the quarterback. He has the quickness that will allow him to match up well with tight ends in the NFL and an explosive first step to chase down ball carriers and get to the quarterback.
Jordan is projected to get selected late in the first round right now.
OT Kyle Long
He has the versatility to perform well at tackle and guard. Long was recently denied another year of eligibility by the NCAA so he will look for his name to be called on draft day. NFL scouts are impressed with his potential. Albeit he had limited starts due to injuries, he is expected to get selected somewhere in the middle of the second round.
RB Kenjon Barner
Kenjon Barner is one of the top running backs in this year’s draft class. In his last game against the Beavers, he rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. He has made big plays often for Oregon, especially between the tackles and he possesses excellent straight-line speed. He is projected to be picked some time in the third or fourth round.
ILB Kiko Alonso
Kiko Alonso is a versatile linebacker that has the ability to play on the outsider or inside. Alonso was placed on the outside in a four-man front and on the inside in a three-man front for Oregon.
Though he struggles with short movements and disengaging when facing screens and draws, the late fourth round to early fifth round prospect is excellent when it comes to setting edge with his aggressiveness.
Other Prospects Projected To Later Rounds Or Free Agents:
FS John Boyett
P Jackson Rice
OG Nick Cody
OLB Michael Clay
OLB Authur Brown
Authur Brown is a well-rounded linebacker for Kansas State. He snatched up a total of 91 tackles at the outside linebacker position for the Wildcats this season. Recently selected to play in the Senior Bowl, Brown provided stability to K-State’s defense and is expected to get selected in the second round in April.
WR Chris Harper
Harper is a thickly built former quarterback who has made a seamless transition to wide receiver. Funny thing about Harper — he was originally signed with Oregon, but never played for the Ducks. He transferred back to his home state two years ago and has developed into a nice wide out for the Wildcats.
While his season total of 786 yards and three TDs on 50 catches don’t seem eye-catching, stats never tell the whole story. He should be able to show he’s made many improvements, including his ability to separate with burst and not just with his frame leading up to draft day. Harper could become a very potent weapon against Oregon. He’s projected to go around the fourth or fifth round.
QB Collin Klein
Kansas State’s dual-threat quarterback can become very dangerous in the open field as a runner. In his two seasons as the starter for the Wildcats, he blew by tacklers and has rushed for over 2,000 yards. As mentioned in the introduction, he also passed for 2,490 yards this season.
However, this Heisman Trophy finalist is not your traditional dropback passer and doesn’t possess some of the same skills sets as other young stars in the NFL that aren’t considered traditional drop-back passers such as Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III.
Klein is currently projected to be selected somewhere between the fifth and seventh round.
Other Prospects Projected To Later Rounds Or Free Agents:
OLB Meshak Williams
C Nigel Malone
FB Braden Wilson
CB Allen Chapman
DT Vai Lutui
TE Travis Tannahill