Bowl games provide NFL scouts with one more opportunity to gauge prospects before the workouts and hype building of the "draft season." While talent evaluators are obviously hoping for strong performances from every prospect, equally important to posting impressive statistics are some of the little things -- like which prospects have worked hard to maintain their conditioning during the long layover and who is already looking ahead to the break from the rigors of football.
Notre Dame senior left tackle Zack Martin heads off the list of players who clearly entered the bowl season feeling as if they had something still left to prove. Considering that Martin started his school record 52nd career game in Notre Dame's Pinstripe Bowl win over Rutgers, he didn't have to prove anything to scouts. Demonstrating impressive upper body strength and underrated athleticism to lock down the edge against the Scarlet Knights, he may have helped reassured scouts that he'll be able to remain outside at left tackle in the NFL, despite a body type that suggests his pro future lies inside at guard.
In the Louisville Cardinals' impressive victory over the Miami Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl, it was hard not to get distracted by Teddy Bridgewater's brilliance. Former quarterback Marcus Smith was nearly as impressive on the defensive side of the ball for the Cardinals, however, demonstrating the fluidity and power to intrigue scouts working for 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, alike. The All-American showed off the traits to earn a significantly higher grade than the 5th round projection NFLDraftScout.com currently has for him -- if he continues his impressive final campaign with an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl.
Others who helped their cause were Kansas State wideout Tyler Lockette and Colorado State running back Kapri Bibbs, a redshirt sophomore running back who used his record-breaking first season with the Rams to catapult himself into the NFL draft mix.
The news wasn't as positive for Miami quarterback Stephen Morris, whose inability to move the Hurricanes offense has his stock falling. Other disappointing performances were turned in by Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr and North Carolina senior offensive tackle James Hurst, who, unfortunately, suffered a broken leg in UNC's Belk Bowl victory.