The 2019 college football season is over, but over the next few weeks, post-season bowls will be occurring. Mountain West alums are taking part in the Tropical Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game, and the Senior Bowl. This post will focus on the Tropical Bowl.
These events are used primarily as camps with a game at the end. Invited players get officially measured and weighed upon checking in. Then, there are a few days of practices with NFL coaches. The practice time for players is really at the heart of these events.
This is due to the number of time players and coaches can spend together observing play and honing their craft collaboratively. It gives the players a chance to be looked at by coaches who know the NFL game. What better way to know where and how to improve than to hear it from the source. Receiving this feedback can give the players an edge as they head into their training for the NFL combine or their respective Pro-day.
Finally, and somewhat related, this gives players a chance to stand out. If a player was overshadowed on his team by other talented individuals, wasn’t featured in his offense, or in the case of those in this article, playing in a Group of 5 conference, they have the opportunity to open the eyes of the coaches with their play and jump onto the radar before draft time. While the combine and pro-days are also good opportunities for this, the more chances of coaches seeing one play and compete, the better position they put themselves in.
Eight players from the Mountain West are participating in the Tropical Bowl this year, with four on each of the teams. Below we will provide a brief description of each player and what kind of showing they need to improve their draft stock. Also, if you want to learn more about the purpose and history of the Tropical Bowl, as well the person behind it all, check out our interview with Michael Quartey from August.
Tropical Bowl Schedule:
January 10, 2020 (Friday)
- Players report and check-in,
- Players get official measurements
January 11, 2020 (Saturday)
- Team meetings
- Scouts and players can have direct contact for meetings
January 12, 2020 (Sunday) (all times are Eastern)
- 9:00am – 10:00am Pre Game Warm Up/ Walk Through
- 10:00am- 12:30pm The Tropical Bowl Game (at SPEC Martin Stadium DeLand, FL)
Note: The weaknesses or questions described about each player below aren’t necessarily the views of the contributors or site, but rather what could be questions or concerns NFL scouts or talent-elevators or the media have about them, which are still worth discussing as they can have ramifications.
QB Jaylon Henderson (Boise State)
Henderson emerged late in the season as a reliable quarterback who kept defenses honest with his ability to operate outside of the pocket. Henderson does not have the arm strength or accuracy to stick around in the NFL, but he could be an intriguing quarterback in the CFL or XFL. Henderson has shown that he can run a complex offense, will that be enough? I’m not so sure.
LB Gabriel Sewell (Nevada)
Nevada linebacker Gabriel Sewell has been a main staple of the Wolf Pack defense for the last few seasons. The three-year starter totaled 282 career tackles, including 21.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks in his career with Nevada. He led the team with 92 total tackles, along with 7.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.0 sacks in his junior season.
Sewell did a great job as a MIKE linebacker, quickly filling gaps with a nose for the football in Nevada’s 3-3-5 defense over the last few seasons. The 6-foot, 245-pound Samoan linebacker had a down season -- totaling a career-low 54 tackles and 5.5 tackles-for-loss in his senior campaign -- still earning All-MWC Honorable Mention honoree. Sewell needs to demonstrate the ability to even be quicker at the next level, also showing he can defend the pass game. The do-it-all linebacker did a superb job in whatever he was asked to do during his tenure at Nevada, but with the lack of recognition, Sewell needs to strengthen his strengths and shore up his weaknesses to get an opportunity at the professional level.
LB Gabriel McCoy (UNLV)
McCoy is a 6-foot-2 linebacker that play both in the second level and on the defensive line. He can rush the passer and can be plugged in anywhere on the field. In his junior year he made a transition from a traditional linebacker to a hybrid pass rusher. Tony Sanchez praised McCoy’s versatility and said this past season that McCoy is one of those players you want on the field at all times. The coaches also praised McCoy’s leadership, as he was named a captain for his senior season.
Statistically, his senior season was not his best. He finished eight on the team with 32 total tackles. A drop off from last year when he had 46, and 80 in his sophomore year. He did miss the opening game of the season, but the Rebels did add some good players on defense, like Rayshad Jackson. McCoy head the team his junior year with 13.5 tackles for loss. His versatility, and ability to be plugged into multiple sports could give him a look from some professional teams, maybe even an NFL team.
Your Turn: What do you think each of these players needs to do show this weekend? Which do you see as legitimate draft prospects at this time? Let us know in the comment section.