2010 Draft prospects in BCS games

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The college football bowl season is a nice way for players to end their careers as a collegian. It also marks the last chance to make a mark on NFL scouts in a traditional game setting. Here's a look at the best pro prospects playing in the four BCS bowl games. (The BCS title game, Texas-Alabama, will be examined next week. For non-BCS games, click here. )

Cameron Heyward*/DL/Ohio State: The son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward is well regarded in the scouting community, as was his father, a former first-round pick himself. Heyward is a physically gifted prospect with potential at several positions on the defensive line. The feeling in Columbus at this time is Heyward will return for his senior season. Grade: Mid-First Round

Chimdi Chekwa*/CB/Ohio State: The Buckeyes have a history of putting talented cornerbacks into the NFL and scouts say Chekwa is next in line. He's a well sized prospect that's displayed steady progress on the field and offers a large amount of upside to his game. Late-First Round

Kurt Coleman/S/Ohio State: Coleman is one of the most complete yet underrated defensive backs in the nation. He's a safety with terrific cover skills and possesses a nose for the ball in run defense. Coleman does not possess classic safety size yet his game is comparable to Ed Reed, the All Pro safety of the Baltimore Ravens. Second Round

Ed Dickson/TE/Oregon: Dickson, one of the Ducks' most reliable pass catchers, has averaged 13.1 yards on 42 receptions while adding six scores this season. He's a downfield threat that consistently creates mismatches in the opponents secondary. Dickson's blocking skills are minimal yet he'd be a perfect fit as a move tight end in the NFL. The athletic prospect offers a great deal of upside potential for the future. Second Round

Thaddeus Gibson*/OLB/Ohio State: Gibson's game really took off this season as the junior led the Buckeyes in tackles for loss with eleven besides registering 41 tackles. He's a passionate defender who makes plays sideline-to-sideline. According to sources in Columbus, Gibson is seriously considering entering the NFL draft at this point. Second Round

Spencer Paysinger*/OLB/Oregon: Paysinger has been a steady defender for Oregon since breaking into the starting lineup as a sophomore. He's a smallish linebacker who plays big and fast. Third Round

Joe Haden*/CB/Florida: The Gators shutdown cover man has been rightly hailed as the top cornerback in the nation. He must be at his best in the Sugar Bowl as not only is Haden facing the Bearcats potent passing game but also Mardy Gilyard, one of the best downfield threats in the nation. Haden is expected to enter the draft and a good performance could vault him into the top dozen picks next April. Mid-First Round

Brandon Spikes/LB/Florida: Spikes will be tested throughout the night as pass coverage is not his forté and the Bearcats offense is predicated on throwing the ball. Florida will surely use their fiery defender as a pass rusher out of a three point stance throughout the night. The ability to stay on the field for three downs in the Sugar Bowl will enhance Spikes' stock. Mid-First Round

Maurkice Pouncey*/C/Florida: Pouncey has the opportunity to showcase his skills on the national stage and once again prove he's the best center in the nation. He should easily handle the Bearcats smallish defensive front line but scouts will closely inspect Pouncey's ability to get out in space and block in motion, taking on Cincinnati's quick linebackers. Late-First Round

Mardy Gilyard/WR/Cincinnati: Gilyard has proven himself to be a legitimate game breaker at receiver and as a return specialist. He consistently alters the momentum of games and is a threat to score any time the ball is in his hands. The Sugar Bowl will be a great test for Gilyard as Florida's secondary will be the toughest he's faced all season. Late-First Round

Carlos Dunlap*/DL/Florida: Dunlap returns to the field after a DUI charge resulted in a one-game suspension for the SEC title contest. He has all the skills necessary to be an impact defensive player, yet only occasionally plays to his level of ability. Dunlap could have a big game against the Bearcats offensive line, which is limited athletically, if he applies himself for 60 minutes. Late-First Round

Tim Tebow/QB/Florida: Tebow disappointed himself in the SEC title game and for the most part, disappointed scouts as a senior. He's a college quarterback for the ages yet did not make the strides scouts hoped he would as a passer in 2009. Cincinnati's talented secondary will give Tebow an opportunity point the ship in the right direction as he moves towards the combine. Second Round

Jermaine Cunningham/DE-OLB/Florida: Cunningham is a smallish college end who makes up for his size by playing hard for 60 minutes. He's fast off the edge and constantly causes problems for opposing signal-callers. NFL teams are looking at Cunningham as a potential rush linebacker and good workouts prior to April will push his draft grade further north. Third Round

Tony Pike/QB/Cincinnati: Pike was zipping up draft boards faster than any senior signal-caller in the nation before getting hit by the injury bug. He has the physical and mental tools to start in the NFL and must show some durability if he's to meet his potential. He will be challenged like never before against Florida's outstanding secondary. Third Round

Aaron Hernandez*/TE/Florida: Hernandez has been the favorite target of Tim Tebow this season and has elevated himself into one of the better pass catching tight ends in the nation. He projects as a move tight end in the NFL and the belief is Hernandez will enter the 2010 draft. Third Round

Jerry Hughes/DE-OLB/TCU: Hughes has been the anchor for one of the nation's better defenses the past two years. He's an athletic pass rusher that also effectively plays in space. Boise State's propensity to mix things up on offense will mentally test Hughes and give NFL scouts a measuring stick on whether or not he can handle the responsibilities of being a fulltime linebacker at the next level. Late-First Round

Kyle Wilson/CB/Boise State: Wilson upped his game this season and rarely had opposing quarterbacks throwing in his direction. He also continues to show he's a dangerous punt returner. His battle against Jimmy Young of the Horned Frogs will be one scouts keep an eye on. Third Round

Daryl Washington/LB/TCU: Washington does not get the press or adulation of his teammate yet the senior is a legitimate NFL prospect. He's fierce, instinctive and makes plays sideline-to-sideline. In many ways Washington is one of the biggest sleepers at the linebacker position available in April's draft. Third Round

Nate Potter*/OL/Boise State: The Broncos have placed some talented offensive linemen in the league recently, most notably Ryan Clady and Daryn Colledge. Potter, who's just a red-shirt sophomore, is next in line. He's been a starter since his freshman campaign and is a tackle prospect to get excited about. Potter could make himself nationally known in the Fiesta Bowl if he contains Jerry Hughes. Second/Third Round

Titus Young*/WR/Boise State: Young is in the midst of a tremendous campaign after suspension kept him on the sidelines for most of the 2008 season. His 71 receptions for 969 receiving yards leads Boise State's high powered offense. Young also breaks games open returning kicks, and has brought two back for scores this season. There's talk he will enter the draft after this game and Young possesses the necessary skills to be a productive third receiver in the NFL. Third Round

Jonathan Dwyer*/RB/Georgia Tech: Dwyer burst on the scene as a freshman and has commanded the running attack for the Jackets the past three years. He's a powerful north/south runner who, at times, seems out of place in Paul Johnson's offense, which often moves east/west. The Hawkeyes defense is adept at stopping the run, which will be a challenge for Dwyer, who is expected to enter the draft. Mid-First Round

Demaryius Thomas*/WR/Georgia Tech: Thomas draws comparisons to former Georgia Tech star Calvin Johnson as he's a big, dominant receiver who takes over games. He's not graded as high as Johnson by NFL decision-makers yet is still well regarded in scouting circles. Iowa may have a tough time slowing down Thomas, who is also expected to enter the draft. Mid-First round

Bryan Bulaga*/T/Iowa: Bulaga started off the year hot, meeting the expectations of NFL scouts, before struggling late in the campaign. He's a large athlete that excels as a pass protector and run blocker. Several scouts feel Bulaga would be best inside at guard and may not be able to handle the left tackle position in the NFL. He could quell that criticism today by shutting down Derrick Morgan of Tech, one of the nation's best pass rushers. Late-First round

Derrick Morgan*/DE-OLB/Georgia Tech: Morgan leads the ACC in sacks (12) and rates second in tackles for loss (18). He's a fierce pass rusher with the ability to pursue then catch ball handlers from the backside. Morgan is projected by many to the outside linebacker position and is expected to enter the draft. His match-up against Bulaga is one NFL scouts are looking forward to. Late-First Round

Morgan Burnett*/S/Georgia Tech: Burnett, the leader of the Yellow Jackets secondary, is a hard-hitting safety who intimidates ball carriers. He's quick up the field in run defense while also displaying effective ball skills in coverage. Burnett has the tools necessary to start in the NFL yet needs a little more development to his game. Second Round

Amari Spievey*/CB/Iowa: Spievey has risen to the occasion for Iowa throughout the season since transferring from junior college. He's a well-sized cornerback who compares favorably to a pair of former Iowa corners, Bradley Fletcher and Charles Godfrey, both third-round picks in the NFL draft. His battle against Demaryius Thomas will be a measuring stick for Spievey. Third Round

AJ Edds/OLB/Iowa: Edds is the first senior of note in this game and a linebacker that's made a big move up draft boards the past four months. He's a stout run defender who shows a lot of force moving up the field. The ability to run sideline-to-sideline against Tech's option offense and beat ball handlers to the flanks will only improve Edds standing in the eyes of scouts. Third Round