Monday's rendition of the St. Petersburg Bowl has a weird feel to it. Mississippi State may not be atop the SEC, but the Bulldogs are still capable of at least hanging with any team in the country. Miami of Ohio is 6-6, one of those bubble-teams that made a bowl game by virtue of their final win of the year. Given the above, the RedHawks probably aren't capable of hanging with Dan Mullen's group.
It's an unfortunate must-win situation for Mullen.
It shouldn't be a surprise that the only NFL prospect playing in the St. Petersburg bowl hails from Mississippi State. Mullen has a history of sending players to the next level, while Miami of Ohio's biggest pro name is and might always be Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Without further ado, let's check out the lone NFL prospect playing in Monday's St. Petersburg Bowl.
Fred Ross, WR, Mississippi State
Ross isn't going to fly off the board early, but he's been more than solid during his tenure at Mississippi State. In 2014 with Dak Prescott at the helm, he broke 1,000 yards as a pass catcher, and sure, Prescott's departure hindered the Bulldogs passing offense, but Ross found a way to produce once again. The Mississippi State wide receiver finished the season with 873 yards and 12 touchdowns.
There isn't a single trait that separates Ross from the pack, but he's reliable with a proven ability to make plays. The Bulldogs' wideout is a projected 6th round NFL Draft pick.
At the start of the year, Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com wrote a piece titled Mississippi State's Fred Ross Might be SEC's best receiver. It's certainly debatable, but Brugler's breakdown was interesting. This is a guy who studies future NFL players for a living.
"Ross will lose focus at times and rely on his body to finish grabs, but his body control and length allow him to be consistent finishing throws away from his frame." Brugler said. "He works back to the ball well and understands how to manipulate space in his routes to turn catches downfield and weave through the defense. Ross won't consistently shake square tackle attempts, but he runs with balance to breeze through arm tackles and generate YAC production."
Clearly there are some flaws, which is probably the reason Ross is so low on most draft boards. He still has the potential to become a late-round steal.