The 2022 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 Hula Bowl, the Tropical 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, played 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, four players from the Mountain West are 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.
Note: John Ojukwu is listed for both the NFLPA Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game. Sometimes players play in both games, and other times only one. He will be featured in that bowl preview, although he may be playing in the game Saturday.
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Schedule:
Saturday, January 28
- 4pm MT
- NFL Network
TE Kyle Patterson (Air Force)
Provided by Mike
Kyle was a heralded recruit for Air Force, as he once held an offer from Alabama. Although he was not featured much in the passing game (since the Falcons aren’t known for passing), he was a reliable target when called upon, collecting 317 yards and 2 TDs on 18 receptions, good for 17,7 yards per attempt. His carrying skill was his blocking ability, as Patterson was an exceptional blocker in the Falcon's ground attack. This week in practices and the game, he will need to demonstrate to scouts and coaches 1) he can be a consistent presence in the passing game with his best days as a receiver ahead of him 2) that his blocking abilities can measure up against any level of competition 3) that he is healthy, as injuries limited him to just nine games over the past two years.
DL Scott Matlock (Boise State)
Provided by Aiden
The pride of Homedale, Idaho, has done everything right during his career at Boise State. Development and consistent work ethic allowed Matlock to blossom last year, forcing opposing offenses to commit extra attention to him in 2022. With this, his statistical impact dropped, but he was still a menace on the defensive line. Matlock led the entire Bronco defense in QB hurries with seven as he managed to stay healthy, only missing one of Boise State’s 14 games. To increase his draft stock at the NFLPA Bowl, Matlock needs to show that he can infiltrate the backfield against some talented offensive lineman and not just against the bottom-feeders of the Mountain West.
DE George Tarlas (Boise State)
Provided by Aiden
The Greek transfer from Weber State was off to a fast start this year, leading the Broncos in total sacks as he zigged and zagged into the backfield. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to a hip injury that sidelined him from the end of October onward. Despite only playing seven games, he still finished third on the team in total sacks with four. Tarlas showed explosiveness on the edge at both Weber State and Boise State, not to mention that he is still young in terms of football experience. That’s the reason Boise State didn’t offer him a scholarship out of high school. For scouts, it is imperative to show that he is making progress on his injury rehabilitation and that this blip on the radar shouldn’t serve as a red flag. When 100%, Tarlas can be a menace, but he just needs time and instruction to realize his full potential.
DE David Perales (Fresno State)
Provided by Matt R
An absolute monster on the defensive side of the ball, he amassed 11.5 sacks this year, good enough for 3rd in the nation. Despite suffering a knee injury that kept him out of the MW Title Game and most of the Wyoming game, he came in during the bowl game to force another sack. Perales might not be seen as some sort of elite defensive talent, but he’d definitely make some team very happy if they draft him. He strikes me similarly to Mykal Walker, where he might not be the most heralded draft selection, but makes his presence known, and becomes an important asset to a team. I think a strong bowl performance could get Perales onto Day 2 of the draft, but somewhere in the Round 4-5 range seems more likely at this stage.