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2023 NFL Draft: Prospects in Week 3 bowl games for Bears to remember

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2023 NFL Draft: Prospects in Week 3 bowl games for Bears to remember
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Bowl season is upon us, so here’s our guide of 2023 NFL Draft prospects to watch in this week’s action!

The 2022 college football regular season has come to an end, which means one thing: it’s time to go bowling!

Bowl season is arguably the most exciting time of the year for college football fans, as it pits the best of the best up against each other on a big stage. The Chicago Bears figure to have their fair share of needs heading into the 2023 offseason, and luckily for them, these bowl weeks will give them a great chance to check out some of the top talent slated to hit the 2023 NFL Draft.

Not all of the prospects listed below will be playing in these matchups, whether it be due to injury or having opted out of the bowl itself. However, I have decided to keep it inclusive and list the top prospects for each team playing this weekend, whether the player suits up or not.

I will also not be included New Year’s Six games on this list — the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. I will have a separate article up for the prospects in those games.

Here are some of the top 2023 NFL Draft prospects in each Week 3 bowl game.

Note: Times are listed in Central Standard Time (CST). Players denoted with asterisks will not be playing in the game, whether it be because of having declared for the draft or being injured. This also does not include players who are either not eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft or have publicly decided to come back to school or enter the transfer portal.

Quick Lane Bowl

New Mexico State vs. Bowling Green

Monday, Dec. 26, 1:30 p.m.

  • Bowling Green DL Karl Brooks

Don’t you love a matchup of two 6-6 Group of 5 teams? I sure do. Keep an eye out for Brooks, an explosive defensive lineman with inside-outside versatility, a quick first step and impressive athleticism in space. He finished the regular season with 10 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss.

Camellia Bowl

Georgia Southern vs. Buffalo

Tuesday, Dec. 27, 11:00 a.m.

  • Buffalo LB Shaun Dolac
  • Buffalo LB James Patterson

Neither Buffalo nor Georgia Southern seem to have a slam-dunk prospect for the 2023 draft, but the Bulls do have two intriguing linebackers. Dolac and Patterson both topped 100 tackles this year, and while the former is a junior, he lit up the stat sheet this season with 135 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 7 pass deflections.

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

Memphis vs. Utah State

Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2:15 p.m.

  • Memphis S Quindell Johnson

I will admit that, again, my knowledge surrounding two 6-6 Group of 5 teams is not as strong as it could be. That said, Johnson is the star on Memphis’ defense this year, possessing the length, intelligence and ball skills needed to be a contributor in the secondary at the NFL level.

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl

Coastal Carolina vs. East Carolina

Tuesday, Dec. 27, 5:45 p.m.

  • Coastal Carolina DL Jerrod Clark
  • Coastal Carolina CB Lance Boykin*
  • East Carolina WR C.J. Johnson
  • East Carolina TE Ryan Jones*

Two of the Carolinas’ best prospects will not be playing in the Birmingham Bowl, but there’s still NFL-caliber talent to watch. Clark is a massive, space-eating nose tackle with solid quickness in his first step for someone nearing 350 pounds. Though Johnson might not declare for the 2023 draft, he’s still an intriguing prospect at receiver with a big frame, good physicality and 168 catches over the last four seasons.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Wisconsin vs. Oklahoma State

Tuesday, Dec. 27, 9:15 p.m.

  • Wisconsin LB Nick Herbig*
  • Wisconsin DL Keeanu Benton*
  • Wisconsin C Joe Tippmann*
  • Oklahoma State EDGE Tyler Lacy*
  • Oklahoma State LS Matt Hembrough

This is a matchup hurt by early draft declarations and transfer portal addition, but the quality of these two programs should still make it a solid battle.

All of the top NFL Draft prospects I’ve watched on Wisconsin have already declared for the draft, but keep an eye on sophomore running back Braelon Allen as a name for future draft classes. Oklahoma State has an accomplished long snapper in Hembrough, who has been mistake-free in college and also graduated from the best high school in the Chicago suburbs in Benet Academy!

Military Bowl Presented by Peraton

UCF vs. Duke

Wednesday, Dec. 28, 1:00 p.m.

  • UCF LS Alex Ward
  • UCF RB Isaiah Bowser
  • Duke LT Graham Barton
  • Duke LB Shaka Heyward

UCF and Duke both put together solid seasons, and they’ll both probably have multiple players from this year’s rosters make it to NFL teams.

A Patrick Mannelly Award finalist, Ward is one of the top long snappers in college football and has the size, strength and snapping ability to have a very long NFL career. Bowser is an unheralded yet intriguing power back with a big frame and sneaky quick feet for a 225-pounder. Barton is a powerful offensive tackle for Duke who uses his hands well and has good spatial awareness, while Heyward is a lanky linebacker with good coverage chops and a high football IQ at the MIKE.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Kansas vs. Arkansas

Wednesday, Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m.

  • Kansas LT Earl Bostick Jr.
  • Arkansas RT Dalton Wagner
  • Arkansas LB Drew Sanders*
  • Arkansas C Ricky Stromberg*
  • Arkansas LB Bumper Pool*
  • Arkansas WR Jadon Haselwood*

Two teams who each had impressive resurgences in the last two seasons will be colliding in this year’s Liberty Bowl.

Kansas doesn’t have a ton of 2023 draft talent, as some of their top talent is either ineligible or unlikely to declare for this year’s class. Remember Bostick’s name, though; the Shrine Bowl invitee is an athletic blocker with long arms and three years of starting experience. Many of Arkansas’ top prospects will not be playing on Wednesday, but the Razorbacks will have a powerful behemoth on display in the form of the 6-foot-9, 331-pound Wagner.

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

No. 15 Oregon vs. North Carolina

Wednesday, Dec. 28, 7:00 p.m.

  • Oregon DL Brandon Dorlus
  • Oregon C Alex Forsyth
  • Oregon LT T.J. Bass
  • Oregon RT Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu
  • Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez*
  • Oregon LB Noah Sewell*
  • Oregon EDGE D.J. Johnson*
  • North Carolina LB Cedric Gray
  • North Carolina WR Josh Downs*

Two of the top quarterbacks in college football will square off in the Holiday Bowl, but neither Bo Nix nor Drake Maye will be in the 2023 draft, as the former is staying in school and the latter is ineligible.

Oregon’s advantage in this game will come in the trenches. All three listed offensive linemen should get Day 3 looks as draftable talent, while Dorlus is an explosive defensive tackle with tremendous alignment versatility and a dense frame. Gray might not leave the Tar Heels until after the 2023 season, but should he declare, his productivity this year and value in coverage could see him quickly rise up boards.

TaxAct Texas Bowl

Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss

Wednesday, Dec. 28, 8:00 p.m.

  • Texas Tech QB Tyler Shough
  • Texas Tech LB Dimitri Moore
  • Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson*
  • Ole Miss RB Zach Evans
  • Ole Miss WR Jonathan Mingo
  • Ole Miss LG Nick Broeker
  • Ole Miss S A.J. Finley
  • Ole Miss LB Troy Brown
  • Ole Miss RB Ulysses Bentley IV

Texas Tech will be without their top prospect in Wilson, a future first-round pick. Shough’s collegiate career hasn’t gone as hoped after starting for Oregon in 2020, but his size and arm strength should get him some professional looks. The same could be said about Moore, an All-Freshman SEC defender at Vanderbilt who didn’t start for Texas Tech this season, but his early tape and time at Missouri State last year shows some flashes.

Ole Miss has one of the deepest backfields in the nation; Evans is an explosive playmaker, Bentley is a third-stringer who would start for several Power 5 squads, while freshman Quinshon Judkins is a dominant back worth remembering for future drafts. Their offense also touts a physical YAC threat at receiver in Mingo and a consistent, sound blocker with tackle-guard versatility in Broeker. On defense, both Finley and Brown are reliable tacklers with good instincts in coverage at their respective positions.

Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl

Syracuse vs. Minnesota

Thursday, Dec. 29, 1:00 p.m.

  • Syracuse LB Mikel Jones
  • Syracuse K Andre Szymt
  • Syracuse RB Sean Tucker*
  • Syracuse CB Garrett Williams*
  • Syracuse LT Matthew Bergeron*
  • Minnesota C John Michael Schmitz
  • Minnesota RB Mohamed Ibrahim
  • Minnesota WR Dylan Wright
  • Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan*

Syracuse’s top prospects are either sitting out the bowl game or unable to play. However, the Orange do have Jones on defense, an athletic playmaker at linebacker who tackles well and offers impressive agility in space. Szymt has a big leg and won the Lou Groza Award in 2018, and he’s a graduate of Vernon Hills High School.

Minnesota is headlined by Schmitz, arguably the best draft-eligible interior offensive lineman in the nation who figures to be an immediate starter in the NFL. Ibrahim has had a long rollercoaster of a college career, but when he’s healthy, he’s a bowling ball of a runner with good ball-carrier vision. Wright seems unlikely to declare but offers a nice variety of releases as a route runner.

Cheez-It Bowl

Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Florida State

Thursday, Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m.

  • Oklahoma WR Marvin Mims
  • Oklahoma C Andrew Raym
  • Oklahoma P Michael Turk
  • Oklahoma TE Brayden Willis
  • Oklahoma LB DaShaun White
  • Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel
  • Oklahoma LT Anton Harrison*
  • Oklahoma RB Eric Gray*
  • Oklahoma RT Wanya Morris*
  • Oklahoma DL Jalen Redmond*
  • Florida State EDGE Jared Verse
  • Florida State S Jammie Robinson
  • Florida State S Akeem Dent
  • Florida State WR Johnny Wilson
  • Florida State DL Damien Lovett

The star of the show for Oklahoma in this one is Mims, a twitchy receiver who can stretch the field and who projects as a Day 2 selection in the 2023 draft. Raym is a coordinated, athletic and flexible blocker with developmental upside at center, while Willis is a tight end-fullback hybrid with good YAC ability who runs routes pretty well.

Florida State saw a resurgence in 2022, and arguably their biggest breakout star was Verse, an explosive and bendy edge rusher whose value on passing downs could see him drafted as high as Round 1. The Seminoles have a very good safety tandem in Robinson and Dent, with Robinson being more of a physical defender and Dent being the rangier prospect. Lovett is a work in progress but has well-proportioned raw power, and Wilson is a massive receiver at 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds whose physicality and catch radius may actually suit him better at tight end in the NFL.

Valero Alamo Bowl

No. 20 Texas vs. No. 12 Washington

Thursday, Dec. 29, 8:00 p.m.

  • Texas DL Keondre Coburn
  • Texas DL Moro Ojomo
  • Texas WR Jordan Whittington
  • Texas CB D’Shawn Jamison
  • Texas RB Bijan Robinson*
  • Texas RB Roschon Johnson*
  • Texas LB DeMarvion Overshown*
  • Texas TE Jahleel Billingsley*
  • Washington LG Jaxson Kirkland
  • Washington RG Henry Bainivalu
  • Washington WR Rome Odunze
  • Washington EDGE Jeremiah Martin
  • Washington LB Edefuan Ulofoshio

This should be one of the best non-New Year’s Six games of the year, even with Texas missing a few key players.

Coburn is a super stout gap eater at nose tackle with great raw power and leverage at the point of attack, while Ojomo is a versatile defensive lineman with nice burst off the line of scrimmage and a high motor. It’s no guarantee he declares, but Whittington has very good deep speed and strong hands that can be unlocked at the next level. Jamison has also been a reliable cornerback for the Longhorns, lacking in physicality and size but standing out in practically every other aspect of his game.

Washington has two quality offensive linemen in Kirkland and Bainivalu, both of whom seem likely to become NFL draft picks. Odunze is a personal favorite of mine, as he’s a lengthy speed receiver with enticing physical attributes. Martin isn’t a super twitchy edge rusher but has a polished use of his hands and very good play strength, while Ulofoshio is an athletic linebacker with coverage upside.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Maryland vs. No. 23 North Carolina State

Friday, Dec. 30, 11:00 a.m.

  • Maryland LT Jaelyn Duncan
  • Maryland EDGE Durell Nchami
  • Maryland CB Jakorian Bennett
  • Maryland RG Spencer Anderson
  • Maryland K Chad Ryland
  • Maryland WR Dontay Demus Jr.*
  • Maryland WR Rakim Jarrett*
  • Maryland CB Deonte Banks*
  • Maryland WR Jacob Copeland*
  • NC State DL Cory Durden
  • NC State LB Payton Wilson
  • NC State LB Isaiah Moore
  • NC State LG Chandler Zavala

Though Maryland will be down arguably their three most talented wide receivers, they will have plenty of talent in the trenches on display on Friday. Duncan is one of the top offensive tackles in the 2023 draft, and his combination of length, athleticism and raw power should see him go in the first two rounds. Joining him on the offensive line is Anderson, a powerful guard who can clear out lanes in the ground game. Nchami is a toolsy prospect who has never been able to quite reach his full potential in college, Bennett is a smart and scrappy field-side cornerback, and Ryland is a polished kicker with consistent mechanics.

NC State doesn’t have a top-tier prospect in the 2023 draft class, but they have some solid prospects in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Durden has been on my radar for a while as a sneaky good nose tackle, while Wilson is an off-ball/edge hybrid with good fluidity and great size. Moore is an intelligent MIKE linebacker with 5 seasons of starting experience, while Zavala is strong interior blocker who could be a solid backup in the pros.

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Pittsburgh vs. No. 18 UCLA

Friday, Dec. 30, 1:00 p.m.

  • Pittsburgh EDGE Habakkuk Baldonado
  • Pittsburgh DL Calijah Kancey*
  • Pittsburgh RB Israel Abanikanda*
  • Pittsburgh LT Carter Warren*
  • Pittsburgh LB SirVocea Dennis*
  • Pittsburgh EDGE Deslin Alexandre*
  • UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet
  • UCLA WR Jake Bobo
  • UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu
  • UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson

Pittsburgh will be down most of their top talent against UCLA, but that allows a brighter spotlight to be shone on Baldonado, a lengthy and athletic edge rusher with good finesse in his hands, nice flexibility on the outside corner and good hand activity. UCLA has a potential NFL starting running back in the physical and explosive Charbonnet, as well as a massive red-zone target in Bobo. Latu is a crafty technician off the edge with a deep arsenal of pass-rushing moves, and Thompson-Robinson’s arm strength, speed and starting experience should see him end up with an NFL team in some capacity.

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

No. 21 Notre Dame vs. No. 19 South Carolina

Friday, Dec. 30, 2:30 p.m.

  • Notre Dame LG Jarrett Patterson
  • Notre Dame S Brandon Joseph
  • Notre Dame DL Jayson Ademilola
  • Notre Dame RB Chris Tyree
  • Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer*
  • Notre Dame EDGE Isaiah Foskey*
  • South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler
  • South Carolina CB Cam Smith*
  • South Carolina DL Zacch Pickens*
  • South Carolina CB Darius Rush*
  • South Carolina EDGE Jordan Strachan*

In case you aren’t picking up a trend yet, a lot of these teams won’t have their best players playing in these bowl games!

Notre Dame will features a guard-center prospect in Patterson, who could be a solid starter pretty quickly in his NFL career, along with a small but super explosive back in Tyree. On defense, they have an intelligent safety in Joseph whose stock has fallen a bit over time, but the highs in his tape are very impressive. Ademilola is a sleeper interior defender who wins with good pad level and has a nice first step off the ball.

Some of the top performers on South Carolina are either already entering the draft or entering the transfer portal. However, should Rattler choose to declare for the 2023 draft, he could be a Day 3 pick worth taking a shot on because of his sheer arm talent and playmaking ability.

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl

Ohio vs. Wyoming

Friday, Dec. 30, 3:30 p.m.

  • Wyoming DL Cole Godbout

The Arizona Bowl doesn’t have a ton of NFL-caliber talent eligible for 2023, but Godbout is a name to watch; he’s a veteran presence along the interior defensive line for Wyoming who has had 166 tackles in the last 4 years.

TransPerfect City Music Bowl

Iowa vs. Kentucky

Saturday, Dec. 31, 11:00 a.m.

  • Iowa LB Jack Campbell
  • Iowa DL Lukas Van Ness
  • Iowa CB Riley Moss
  • Iowa S Kaevon Merriweather
  • Iowa P Tory Taylor
  • Iowa LT Mason Richman
  • Iowa TE Sam LaPorta*
  • Kentucky WR Tayvion Robinson
  • Kentucky RG Tashawn Manning
  • Kentucky QB Will Levis*
  • Kentucky RB Chris Rodriguez Jr.*

Iowa may have an ugly offense, but their defense is loaded with potential NFL contributors. Campbell is a physical freak with great size, speed and a high motor, while Van Ness is an inside-outside threat with a quick first step and great raw power. Moss and Merriweather are both intelligent defensive backs who earned Senior Bowl invitations for this year. Richman seems unlikely to declare but has NFL potential.

Kentucky will be without their two top players, including their star quarterback. The offense still has two intriguing prospects for the 2023 draft in Robinson, a dynamic playmaking receiver with great agility in space, and Manning, a lone bright spot on a disappointing Wildcats offensive line whose physical upside should warrant NFL looks.

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