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NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Primer

Mohamed Ibrahim

Mohamed Ibrahim

att Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

11th Annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Where: The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA

Practices: Monday, 1/23 - Thursday 1/26

Game: Saturday January 28, 2023 at 6PM EST

Broadcast: NFL Network

Former Tennessee Titans colleagues, HC Jeff Fisher and Hall of Fame RB Eddie George, helm the American and National teams in the 11th NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Traditionally the showcase has served as a springboard for UDFA/Day 3 prospects who are looking to improve their chances of being selected and potentially receive a secondary-invite to the Shrine and/or Senior Bowl based on their performance over the week. While the NFLPA Bowl doesn’t have quite the name recognition of it’s peers, it is a vital event for student athletes that are currently on the margins of the professional ranks. Notable alumni include current Jacksonville standout WR/KR Jamal Agnew, Chicago Bears WR Darnell Mooney, Raiders S Duron Harmon, Seattle TE Will Dissly and Kansas City WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling . Amazingly, the National roster has won this event 9-of-10 times, with the lone American victory coming in a 10-7 slog between victorious former Indy HC Chuck Pagano and former Vikings HC Mike Tice.

Louisville QB Malik Cunningham (6'1/190) entered fall camp with some steam after rushing for an FBS leading 20 touchdowns and 1,031 rushing yards that propelled his pristine 91.5 PFF Offensive grade in 2021. However this year he battled injury and took a step back in his passing development, posting a 62.5 passing grade (82.7 in 2021) with a 7-to-9 big time throw-to-turnover worthy play ratio and a 21% pressure-to-sack rate. He needs to show out in order to change the perception that he is more of a solo-threat than a dual-threat quarterback…Veteran QB Adrian Martinez also had a down year following his transfer to Kansas State, starting nine games for the Big-12 Champion Kansas State Wildcats but getting passed over by backup QB Will Howard after being hobbled by injury...East Carolina QB Holton Ahlers has a quirky delivery but is a rare five-year starter who is coming off an excellent senior season where he completed 67% of his passes for 3,699 passing yards, a 28-to-5 TD/INT ratio, while also recording the fourth highest PFF under pressure passing grade when in the country…James Madison QB Todd Centeio is a Colorado State transfer who helped JMU achieve bowl-eligibility in their first year as an FBS program. Much like Ahlers, he’s a small-school QB who showed an uncanny ability to deliver under fire as his 66.3 PFF pressure grade ranked 9th-best nationally with a 9-to-3 TD/INT ratio.

Skill position players i’ll be keeping an eye on include Penn State WR Mitchell Tinsley, who served as the Nittany Lions’ primary outside receiver this year. He previously played with WKU QB Bailey Zappe in 2021, catching 87-of-124 passes for 1,402 yards and 14 scores…Titus Swen, RB, Wyoming (5/11/206) elevated his profile in 2021 when he strong-armed the starting running back job from Shrine Bowl invitee Xazavian Valladay, who transferred to ASU in the offseason. His elite 3.92 yards after contact average from 2020-21 dropped to 3.2 YAC as Swen was eventually dismissed from the team by HC Craig Bohl…Ole Miss WR Malik Heath (6'3/215) made the unusual decision to transfer from Mississippi’s cross-state rival, Miss State, to become a Rebel. It proved to be a prescient decision, as Heath recorded career highs by reeling in 60-of-87 passes for a 69% catch rate, 971 yards, 16.2 YPC and five touchdowns, to go with a solid 2.56 yards per route average and 115.1 passer rating when targeted. I’m interested to see how well Heath can move at his imposing size, especially in a class with relatively few high-end “big wideouts”...Kansas State WR Malik Knowles (6'3/200) is another intriguing outside wide receiver who dodged 14 tackles on 38 receptions and managed to post 2.13 yards per route despite poor QB play from Adrian Martinez.

Defensive Players of Interest

Interior Defensive Line:

Corey Durden, NC State -

Eli Huggins, Kansas State -

Scott Matlock, Boise State -


Randy Charlton, Mississippi State -

John Waggoner, Iowa -

Thomas Rush, Minnesota -

Mitchell Agude, Miami -


Micah Baskerville, LSU -

Mikel Jones, Syracuse -


Keidron Smith, Kentucky -

Jaylin Williams, Indiana -

Jalen Green, Mississippi State -


Quindell Johnson, Memphis -