The 2021 college football season is over, but post-season bowls will be occurring over the next few weeks. Mountain West alums are taking part in the Tropical Bowl, the Hula Bowl, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl the East-West Shrine Game, and the Senior Bowl. This post will focus on the Collegiate 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 practice with NFL coaches. The practice time for players is really at the heart of these events.
This is due to the time players and coaches can spend together 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 understand 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.
This year, there are five players from the Mountain West is participating in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Below we will provide a brief description of each player and illustrate what kind of showing they need to improve their draft stock.
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Schedule (all times Pacific):
Saturday, January 29
- NFL Network
DT Jordan Jackson (Air Force)
Provided by NittanyFalcon
Jordan Jackson has been a full time starter on the defensive line for three years. Over his career he has tallied 133 tackles, 28.5 TFLs, and 14 sacks. At 6’5” tall, he has also batted down three passes and blocked two kicks. His contribution has gone well beyond the stat sheet, as he frequently commands attention from two blockers. Troy Calhoun has called this year’s defensive line a “generational” line for the Falcons in it’s ability to rush the passer, and Jackson has been the primary reason for those results. He has the size needed for the NFL, and he is versatile with his ability to play anything from nose guard to edge rusher. The Collegiate Bowl should be an excellent vehicle for him to demonstrate his talent when surrounded by other outstanding linemen. Draftscouts.com has him as the 26th rated DT in the draft and trending up.
DB Kekaula Kaniho (Boise State)
Provided by Zach
It is hard to see where Kaniho projects in the NFL. He doesn’t have elite speed and will probably need to play corner or be an undersized safety at the next level. He will need to be a reliable special teams player at the next level. He probably can’t do anything to get himself in the draft conversation, but he can convince scouts to give him a camp invite.
RB Ronnie Rivers (Fresno State)
Provided by Matt R
Ronnie has been the do-it-all running back at Fresno State since he arrived in 2017. He’s now the all-time leader in total and rushing touchdowns, and sits 3rd all-time in rushing yards just behind his dad and Robbie Rouse. He flashed skills as a runner and as a pass-catcher during his career, although he was slightly hampered by ankle injuries during his last two seasons in Fresno. While he doesn’t have the elite speed or size of other running backs, he has the ability to do everything asked on offense, and now has an NFL Combine invite to show off his skills to scouts at the next level.
DB DaRon Bland (Fresno State)
Provided by Matt R
Bland transferred to Fresno State from Sacramento State this year after being an all-Big Sky selection after the 2019 season. Bland was an immediate asset to the defense, providing a lockdown corner in a strong passing defense. He totaled 45 tackles during the season, to go along with 2 interceptions, a forced fumble against UCLA, and a sack in the season opener against UCONN. Had his best day of the year against San Jose State, with 7 tackles and 3 pass breakups during the rivalry blowout. He does have the size and skills to get a look at the next level, his performance in the NFLPA Bowl could really help his stock.
DE Arron Mosby (Fresno State)
Provided by Matt R
Mosby is easily the most versatile defensive player that Fresno State has seen in a long time. He began his career at safety, including a memorable pick-six against San Jose State in 2018. In 2019, he moved down to linebacker, becoming a force in the middle of the defense. For his final year in 2021, he made one more move, this time to defensive end. He showed how well the transition would go by forcing a strip sack in the first game against UCONN that he would return for the team’s first touchdown of the year. He compiled 40 tackles on the season to go with 6 sacks and 6 forced fumbles. Mosby projects a lot like Mykal Walker, where he can rush off the edge, or drop back into coverage as a strong LB.
RB Greg Bell (San Diego State)
Provided by Tyler
The fourth-ranked overall running back in the Mountain West had a monster year, especially at the beginning, as he rushed for 520 yards in his first 5 games scoring five total touchdowns. The 2018 Nebraska transfer rushed for over 1,000 rushing yards this season and was a successful piece of the SDSU offense that saw a record in wins for a season with 12. Bell also averaged 77.9 yards per game and scored 9 touchdowns on the year. In order to improve draft stock, Bell will have to show toughness through the line and work getting yards after contact. Speed is also a beneficial factor for Bell, so he should look to make big plays on the ground and keep up the yards per carry.
LB Segun Olubi (San Diego State)
Provided by Tyler
The 6’2 Southern California native was a big part of the brick wall defense that SDSU had all year. Olubi finished with 52 total tackles, 28 solo, and 24 assisted. He had one sack on the year that contributed to SDSU leading the Mountain West in sacks with 41 total. He also forced two fumbles on the campaign, defended a pass, and had at least one tackle in each game this season. In his biggest game, Olubi had 8 tackles, 4 of them solo against powerhouse Utah. In order to improve draft stock, Olubi will have to show quickness and prove that he can defend the pass just as well as the run. He was a part of one of the best defenses in the country in 2021, but he’ll need to display his individual attributes and be a leader on defense.
DB Trenton Thompson (San Diego State)
Provided by Tyler
One thing that stands out about Trenton Thompson this season was the fact that he had at least one tackle in each game, 43 total on the season. He finished with 3 interceptions, a team second-best. SDSU's defense led the Mountain West in interceptions with 17, two of them being returned for touchdowns. Thompson is a 6’2 hard-hitting safety who has the potential to be drafted high. He will have to prove he can fly around the field and also be a leader. The senior was one of the best DB’s on the SDSU defense that was ranked second overall in the Mountain West, so eyes will be on him.
Note: The weaknesses or questions describing 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.