NFL scouts flooded Amon G. Carter Stadium last December for the Armed Forces Bowl. Sure, they were watching possible top overall pick Jared Goff play his final game for Cal, a 55-36 win over Air Force, but they were also evaluating other draft-worthy Golden Bears.
There isn't another elite quarterback in this year's matchup between Louisiana Tech and Navy, but there is another group of talented players looking to make one final good impression, including a junior receiver who could be playing his final collegiate game.
Here's a look at the top 2017 NFL Draft prospects in the Armed Forces Bowl, all of whom come from Louisiana Tech:
|1||Carlos Henderson||WR||Louisiana Tech|
|2||Xavier Woods||S||Louisiana Tech|
|3||Trent Taylor||WR||Louisiana Tech|
|4||Ryan Higgins||QB||Louisiana Tech|
Don't let Carlos Henderson's inconspicuous frame — 5-foot-11, 191 pounds — fool you; he's an elite receiver who can take a hit and overpower defensive backs.
He caught 72 passes for 1,406 yards and 17 touchdowns during the regular season and Conference USA Championship. Against UMass, he became one of only 10 FBS receivers to catch five touchdown passes in one game. If Henderson forgoes his final year of eligibility, a late second-day or early third-day selection may be awaiting him. If not, you'll hear a collective moan from Conference USA defensive coordinators.
Henderson's teammate Trent Taylor is also looking for a final chance to impress scouts. A 5-foot-8, 175-pounder, Taylor caught a whopping 223 passes over the last two years. He's the ideal slot possession receiver, averaging less than 13 yards per reception during his college career, and rarely dropping targets inside 10 yards.
Taylor joins safety Xavier Woods and quarterback Ryan Higgins in vying for late-round consideration.
Woods is a hard-hitting, sure-tackling 5-foot-11, 220-pounder who could join the increasingly large number of NFL players who have transitioned to cornerback from safety. He does need work in man-to-man coverage, especially in press and in the slot, but has the footwork and ball skills to make it happen.
Woods is a less polished version of Damarious Randall when the current Packers' cornerback left Arizona State as a safety in 2015.
Higgins, despite throwing for 4,208 yards and 37 touchdowns in his first season as full-time starter, is a long shot to be selected before late on Saturday, if at all. Practice squad is the most likely scenario for the talented but relatively inexperienced quarterback.