For Team Kai, head coach Brian Billick was asked about what the opportunity meant for the players participating in the event stating, “A great chance for them to highlight their abilities and have some fun.” His defensive coordinator Wade Phillips elaborated on what type of players that NFL scouts will be sure to seek out adding, “The guys who are great competitors, hard workers, players who practiced hard, those are the kind of guys who are going to get noticed.”
It was a tremendous learning experience for the Hula Bowl players to be around a coaching staff with 239 combined years of NFL experience. For the majority of these prospects, they will need to scrap and claw their way onto a 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent come August. Team Aina head coach Mike Smith expressed his desire to help these players achieve their goal of reaching the next level.
“The guys have had a great week of practice, it’s been very important for them,” Smith said during the broadcast on CBS Sports Network. “They’re going to take advantage of the opportunity they have. These guys are hungry, it’s a group of guys who worked their tails off.”
While there were numerous standouts throughout the week of practice, the following players capped off their performance with a strong showing in the Hula Bowl game. Here are several prospects worth noting as the NFL Draft process continues. Don’t be surprised to see a handful of players called up to one of the ‘The Big 3’ games on the all-star circuit, or even hear their name called during the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas.
PLAYER KEY = NAME | Position | School | Height | Weight | Hand | Arm | Wingspan
COLE KELLEY | QB | Southeastern Louisiana | 6066 | 248 | 0938 | 3358 | 8078
A tall slinger who began his career at Arkansas, Kelley demonstrated impressive arm strength and made a positive impression upon the coaching staff with his competitiveness during the week of practice. He acknowledged how appreciative he was of the opportunity. “Coach Billick has been great, we’re so blessed to have him,” Kelley stated. “I’m learning a lot in a short period of time, we’re really thankful.” A traditional pocket passer, he did a nice job of reading through his progressions but tended to lack the confidence to let it rip downfield and oftentimes checked it down, even in third and long situations. The Walter Payton Award Winner finished his FCS collegiate career with over 7,000 passing yards and 59 touchdown passes in 29 games, so scouts will be sure to do their due diligence.
One of the most impressive players of the week and arguably the top prospect at the Hula Bowl game, Pacheco reminded NFL scouts about his combination of speed, quickness and strength. A powerful runner who shows excellent patience, the New Jersey native sets up his blocks well and is the definition of a thoroughbred back. During a steady, workmanlike campaign in Piscataway, Pacheco rushed for at least 500 yards in each of his four seasons, totaling 2,442 career rushing yards and 18 touchdowns in 44 games. In fact, earlier this year, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano informed NFL Draft Bible that Pacheco is the toughest running back that he has ever coached. Those are some strong words, sure to catch scouts’ attention. Pacheco will set off to Las Vegas for the East-West Shrine Bowl at the end of the month and is a candidate to hear his name called in the mid-late rounds.
The UNLV all-time leading rusher made the most of his touches, showcasing his vision and explosiveness. Williams possesses top-tier change of direction with his ability to plant and pivot. A powerful, compact runner who is hard to locate behind the line of scrimmage, his elusiveness in the open field and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield could make him an intriguing change of pace or third down back at the next level. For his Rebels career, Williams finished with nearly 5,000 all-purpose yards, including 4,196 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns on 800 carries. While UNLV struggled with offensive line woes this past season, the Fresno native showed his toughness and durability.
TYLER JOHNSON | DE | Arizona State | 6030 | 281 | 1058 | 3400 | 8058
As NFL scouts continue to figure out where to fit Johnson at the next level, he was sure to remind them of his pass-rush ability throughout the week. Johnson flashed great speed and quickness coming off the edge, while bringing an intense demeanor during practices. Some teams view Johnson as a potential five-technique prospect but his skill-set to come off the edge is what might nudge teams towards keeping him as a traditional defensive end. In 39 career games for the Sun Devils, Johnson accumulated 25.5 tackles for loss, including 15.5 sacks. Unfortunately, a myriad of injuries has somewhat dampened the chances of him being selected come April but there will be enough intrigue for Johnson to be in demand as a priority free agent following the draft.
TAYLER HAWKINS | CB | San Diego State | 5117 | 198 | 0900 | 3128 | 7300
Earning Team Kai Defensive MVP honors was the big, physical Hawkins, who provided one of the top plays of the game with his 44-yard pick six interception return. If we didn’t know any better, the California native appeared to have foreshadowed his heroics during an in-game interview. “A lot of people making plays,” Hawkins elaborated before his game-changing play. “It’s pretty easy when you’re playing with good players. I’m just kind of getting my lungs and my legs back. I caught COVID a couple of weeks ago, but I’m ready now.” With great anticipation and instincts, Hawkins came more than ready and was one of the biggest winners from the Hula Bowl week. He may have even positioned himself to hear his name called on Day Three of the NFL Draft. CBS Sports Network analyst Ron Jaworski also pointed out that, “he can cover people and he will smash you too!”
In addition to the big winners of Hula Bowl, there are numerous other NFL prospects worth monitoring over the next 10 weeks.
Illinois QB BRANDON PETERS (6042/227/1018/3168/7768) rebounded nicely after a pick-six interception and led Team Aina to a scoring drive on the very next series, which was capped off by a beautifully threaded deep cross pass. Peters demonstrated nice touch, while taking some shots downfield. He will participate in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on January 29th.
Sacred Heart RB JULIUS CHESTNUT (5111/224/0918/3100/7268) is a physical runner who proved to push the pile, consistently gaining positive yards, in addition to receiving some pass-catch opportunities out of the backfield. The Walter Payton Award finalist will also compete at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena.
Appalachian State WR JALEN VIRGIL (6001/211/1000/3228/7568) was one of the twitchiest players in Orlando this week and is expected to test extremely well at his pro day workout. His upside as an athlete and return man should warrant looks as a priority free agent.
Kansas State TE DANIEL IMATORBHEBHE (6031/241/0858/3400/8218) was targeted heavily throughout the game and possesses a big catch radius, with smooth route-running ability and dependable hands.
Youngstown State TE ANDREW OGLETREE (6053/256/0958/3300/8118) certainly saw his NFL Draft stock get a boost this week due to his size and athleticism, capping it off by earning Hula Bowl ‘Player of the Game’ honors.
Boston College OG BEN PETRULA (6047/318/1000/3378/8048) is a stout run mauler who showed excellent movement skills, capable of getting down the line on pull blocks and owns great position flexibility, as he can play all three interior positions along the offensive line.
Nebraska DT BEN STILLE (6037/296/0938/3248/7878) showed up in a big way making several plays and proving his worth as a run-stuffer. The wide-bodied Stille is aggressive and physical at the point of attack, in addition to being a fundamentally sound player.
Fresno State DE ARRON MOSBY (6025/245/0978/3168/7748) is a bit of a late bloomer who set career-highs in tackles for loss (15.5), sacks (six) and fumble recoveries (six) this past season. His pass-rush prowess was on full display with a sack of Nick Starkel during the third quarter, as Mosby is viewed as a potential 3-4 outside linebacker conversion type.
Illinois DE OWEN CARNEY (6031/265/0958/3358/8068) is a long, flexible 4-3 defensive end prospect who made several key plays early in the game, while flashing his ability to create havoc in the backfield with a huge sack.
Wake Forest LB LUKE MASTERSON (6014/232/0938/3118/7628) is a blue-collared, team captain, who possesses a true nose for the football. He starred in a rover role for the Demon Deacons and is viewed as a linebacker/strong safety hybrid prospect at the next level.
Texas A&M Commerce CB KADER KOHOU (5095/189/0958/3018/7418) is a small school prospect of note. He plays well in trail technique, fits the run well and is sufficient in tackling on screens. A playmaker with the ball in his hands, as evidenced by his return ability, Kohou missed out on an easy interception.
West Virginia SS ALONZO ADDAE (5103/189/0918/3000/6868) was flying around the field with his hair on fire, making tackles with great leverage, while holding his own in pass coverage against both running backs and tight ends.
Virginia SS JOEY BLOUNT (6004/192/0900/3158/7668) sealed the victory for Team Aina with an interception of hometown hero McKenzie Milton, with just under two minutes remaining in the game. A versatile defender capable of playing either safety spot, Blount finished his Cavaliers career with 309 tackles, including 19.5 tackles for loss and nine interceptions.
Western Kentucky P JOHN HAGGERTY (6044/220/0838/3148/7658) was clearly the top specialist in attendance. The Australian style punter is considered one of the premier special teams prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft and can also handle kickoff duties if needed.
*Be sure to bookmark the NFL Draft Bible 2022 All-Star Game Tracker Page, for the latest on location coverage across ‘The Big 3’ all-star games, including the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Bowl and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
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- Reese’s Senior Bowl – February 6th, 2022 (Mobile, AL)
- East-West Shrine Bowl – February 3rd, 2022 (Las Vegas, NV)
- NFLPA Collegiate Bowl – January 29th, 2022 (Pasadena, CA)
- Hula Bowl – January 15th, 2022 (Orlando, FL)
- SPIRAL Tropical Bowl – January 17th, 2022 (Orlando, FL)
- Cajun All-Star Bowl – February 12th, 2022 (Beaumont, TX)
- College Gridiron Showcase – January 8th, 2022 (Fort Worth, TX)