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  • We asked evaluators from around the NFL: Which prospects helped themselves the most during bowl season?
By Kalyn Kahler
January 04, 2019

While most scouts have already submitted their player grades and evaluations, evaluators still monitor bowl games closely. With only the national title game left to be played, it’s time to take a look at the prospects who scouts said improved their draft stocks this bowl season.

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
When Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert decided to return to school for his senior season, Haskins became the best quarterback who could enter the 2019 draft. He reinforced that status leading the No. 6 Buckeyes to a 28-23 win over No. 9 Washington in the Rose Bowl. Haskins completed 25 of 37 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He became just the sixth quarterback in FBS history to throw 50 TD passes in a single season.

The clock is ticking toward the January 14 early-entry deadline. Haskins, a redshirt sophomore, seems to be in no rush to announce his intention. After the Rose Bowl win, he told the media he was “50/50” on his decision, and according to sources close to the family, Haskins has not yet made up his mind on whether he’ll go pro or return to school for his redshirt junior year. The consensus among scouts I’ve spoken to: They’d be shocked if Haskins returned to school.

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Jones threw for 423 yards—his first 400-yard game—five touchdowns and completed 73.2% of his throws in the Independence Bowl. He led seven-straight touchdown drives, turning a 27-14 second-quarter deficit into a 56-27 lead midway through the fourth quarter. But one scout pointed out that Jones’s passing yards were inflated by his receivers production after the catch (according to PFF, 243 of those 423 passing yards were yards after catch). One scout argued that Duke senior receiver T.J. Rahming (240 yards, 171 coming after the catch) upped his stock more than Jones did in the game. The 5' 10" Rahming might he solidified a spot in the late rounds. He can also return punts and is similar to another Blue Devil alum, Jamison Crowder, who Washington picked in the fourth round in 2015. But Jones was the game’s headliner, and the redshirt junior declared for the draft after the game.

KAHLER: How the First Picks of the NFL Draft Could Play Out

Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
Stidham threw for 373 yards and five touchdowns in Auburn’s 63-14 dismantling of Purdue in the Music City Bowl, earning game MVP honors. This season, Stidham struggled in difficult SEC matchups and his completion percentage dipped (66.5% in 2017, 60.7% this year). Stidham’s performance in the Music City Bowl reminded scouts of what they’d seen in him last season, though there’s an asterisk due to Purdue’s bottom-ranking FBS pass defense, which came into the game allowing 276.9 yards per game.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida
Though the Florida junior had already declared for the draft and is seen as one of the top safeties in the class, Gardner-Johnson played in the Peach Bowl and showed off his ball-hawking skills in No. 10 Florida’s 41-15 win over No. 8 Michigan. Gardner-Johnson intercepted two passes, returning one 30 yards for a touchdown. He was named the game’s defensive MVP.

Juan Thornhill, DB, Virginia
The senior defensive back recorded his sixth interception of the year in Virginia’s Belk Bowl shut out of South Carolina. Thornhill switched to cornerback from safety this season, and teams are intrigued by the versatility he’s shown in the secondary.

Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
The junior had his third 200-yard rushing game in the Aggies’ Gator Bowl win over NC State. In his final collegiate game, Williams rushed for 236 yards—putting him at 1,760 on the season, breaking A&M’s single-season record—and three TDs. He declared for the draft Thursday.

Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Allen racked up three sacks and blocked a field goal in No. 12 Kentucky’s win over No. 14 Penn State. After deciding to return to school last winter, Allen’s senior year went a long way toward helping his draft stock. He’s showed scouts more variety in his pass-rushing moves, and he’s become much better against the run. “You all record this,” Allen told reporters after the game. “If I don’t go No. 1, I don’t know who is.” While I doubt this performance launches him past presumptive No. 1 overall prospect Nick Bosa, Allen has done enough this season to land himself in the top ten.

• Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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