2018 NFL Draft Watch: Grambling's Martez Carter, other unheralded prospects shine in early bowl games

By Thomas Lott 17 December 2017 142
2018 NFL Draft Watch: Grambling's Martez Carter, other unheralded prospects shine in early bowl games

Each week during this year's college football regular season we will highlight some of the top draft-eligible performers from around the country.

For those of us who love the NFL Draft, this is the best part of the season. We all know the big names that will be taken high. We know the Sam Darnolds and the Saquon Barkleys, and if we even pay a little bit more attention, the Connor Williamses.

But the bowl season marks the time when players who have all of the skills but none of the national attention get the spotlight. It's where players can shine as T.Y. Hilton once did. The Colts' star receiver was a relative unknown before he burst onto the national scene for Florida International in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl in 2011.

Saturday, several players showed off who may not be on the average person's radar and it all started with a matchup between Grambling and North Carolina A&T. It all started with Tarik Cohen's successor and gave us not only a running back to watch for the draft this season, but a quarterback many people forgot about when he left Ole Miss.

Grambling fell to NC A&T 21-14, but the nation was introduced to Martez Carter. The senior had trouble throughout the game against one of the nation's best rush defenses, but it was what he did beyond running the ball that really showed off his skills.

Carter showed a willingness to get involved in the passing game with both a 29-yard touchdown catch and a crushing block on a blitzing linebacker toward the end of the half, and he showed an ability to make waves in the return game as he always seemed one step away from breaking it on the kickoff.

The senior isn't tall at 5-9, but he is stout at 205 with a low center of gravity which makes him really tough to take down. Carter is rated by some pundits higher than even Alabama's Bo Scarbrough and is a name to watch come draft day.

Grambling quarterback Devante Kincade also made waves in this one, and we will have more on him below.

Here are some of Saturday's top NFL Draft-eligible players

Tyre Brady, WR, Marshall — Brady is big (6-3, 208 pounds), strong, and productive (56 catches, 777 yards, 7 touchdowns) and was a huge part of the Thundering Herd's 31-28 win over Colorado State Saturday. Brady had six catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. He can fight off smaller corners and has some breakaway speed as well as he showed on his 76-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Evan Colorito, LB, Colorado State — The son of former Broncos nose tackle Anthony Colorito, the 6-4, 229 pound senior had a sack in the Rams' loss to Marshall. He has the bloodlines and some size to possibly see consideration as either a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent. He would need to put on some weight to make an impact at the next level, though.

Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State — A former big-time recruit by SEC schools, Gallup went to Butler Community College for his first two years before transferring to Colorado State for his final two. He has been incredibly productive in his time there with 170 catches for 2,617 yards and 21 touchdowns entering Saturday's game, and was a Biletnikoff Award finalist as a result this season. Gallup is a long strider who is not the fastest guy in the world, but always seems to get separation. He also has great hands as was shown with a one-handed, fourth-quarter catch.

Justice Hansen, QB, Arkansas State — Gallup's quarterback at Butler had a heck of a season himself at Arkansas State throwing for 3,630 yards and 34 touchdowns during the regular season. He has good size at 6-4 and is listed at 207, but he looks thicker. Hansen often looks lazy throwing the ball, but it is very catchable and more often than not on target. He could do with some more oomph on his ball which would require him getting his big lower half into his passes, but he has one more year of eligibility so he has time to hone his craft if he decides to come back for one more year.

Devante Kincade, QB, Grambling — Kincade is a former four-star quarterback who committed to Ole Miss and eventually made his way to Grambling. He is undersized at 6-1, 190 pounds and he has trouble throwing to his left, but one simple stutter step that set up the Tigers' first touchdown more than showed he has the skills for the next level. Now what kind of spot he winds up taking remains to be seen, but he is more than skilled enough to play in the NFL.

Chase Litton, QB, Marshall — Litton is huge at 6-6, 232 pounds and has massive arm strength. He's got exactly what the NFL wants in a pocket passer. However, he tends to throw off his back foot and can both sail passes, and take a surprising amount off when he doesn't set his feet. When he drives through his throws he can make both the deep passes and the tight ones over the middle with authority. It's just a matter of technique when it comes to him.

Damion Willis, WR, Troy — How on earth Willis had just 31 catches and 485 yards coming into Troy's win over North Texas Saturday is beyond me, but he has height and length at 6-4, 194 pounds, leaping ability and good hands. He finished with 11 catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns against the Mean Green and made it look easy. The fact that he had just one catch for 11 yards against Troy's best opponent in LSU raises some red flags as those were likely the only NFL-caliber corners he faced this season, but he certainly showed the skills necessary to succeed in the NFL.

Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State — Riley Ferguson's favorite target at Coffeyville Community College reminds some of a poor-man's A.J. Green with a lanky build at 6-3 and both an ability to separate and make tough catches on contested passes. He caught 10 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown in Boise State's win over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl and showed off why he'll have the attention of many evaluators as the draft gets closer.

One for the future: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon — Herbert is just a sophomore, but he already has scouts talking about his NFL potential. He has prototypical size for a QB at 6-6, 225 pounds. He has a big arm, good mobility and a willingness to bounce back after a tough start, and he had a very tough start Saturday. The Ducks turned the ball over four times in the first half, two on the shoulders of Herbert and one taken back for a pick-six. But he had a very good second half, finishing the day 26-of-36 passing for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Herbert made one throw in the first half from the left hash on an out to the right that made several scouts drool and wonder if he will decide to come out after his junior season next year. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Thomas Lott

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