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2022 NFL Draft: Prospects in Week 2 bowl games Bears should target

Bowl season is upon us, so here’s our guide of 2022 NFL Draft prospects to watch in this weekend’s action!

NCAA Football: Alabama at Florida Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 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. Much like the first weekend, the second weekend of bowl action is reserved primarily for some of the top Group of 5 schools in the nation — i.e. those schools in the FBS but not in the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, ACC or Pac-12.

The Bears figure to have their fair share of needs heading into the 2022 offseason, and luckily for them, these bowl weekends will give them a great chance to check out some of the top talent slated to hit the 2022 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.

Here are some of the top 2022 NFL Draft prospects in each Week 2 bowl game.

Myrtle Beach Bowl

Tulsa vs. Old Dominion

Monday, Dec. 20 - 2:30 PM

  • Tulsa OL Tyler Smith
  • Tulsa OL Chris Paul

Though Old Dominion doesn’t seem to have a notable draft prospect this year, Tulsa has two standouts on their offensive line who could be drafted this season.

Tyler Smith is a sizable tackle prospect at 6-foot-6 and 332 pounds with incredible grip strength and a mean streak, while Chris Paul is a versatile prospect with tackle-guard versatility and a powerful anchor. Both prospects have Day 3 upside and could offer plenty of value in a power-heavy blocking scheme.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Kent State vs. Wyoming

Tuesday, Dec. 21 - 3:30 PM

  • Kent State QB Dustin Crum
  • Wyoming LB Chad Muma

A three-year starter at quarterback for Kent State, Dustin Crum has 51 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his collegiate career. He is an accurate passer with solid athletic ability which could see him receive looks late on Day 3.

Wyoming had linebacker Logan Wilson drafted in the third round in 2020, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Chad Muma is selected in that range this year. He’s a bit raw, but he has great size for an off-ball linebacker at 6-foot-3 and 242 pounds with above-average speed and a red-hot motor. He has starting potential at the next level and could be a legit riser up boards in due time.

Frisco Bowl

No. 24 San Diego State vs. UTSA

Tuesday, Dec. 21 - 7:30 PM

  • San Diego State DL Cameron Thomas
  • San Diego State TE Daniel Bellinger
  • UTSA CB Tariq Woolen
  • UTSA OL Spencer Burford
  • UTSA RB Sincere McCormick

San Diego State and UTSA have been two of the best Group of 5 schools in the nation this year, so it’s no surprise they each feature a handful of intriguing 2022 draft prospects.

Cameron Thomas is a tweener defensive line prospect who can play almost anywhere up front. He finished the regular season with 10.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for a loss and offers quick hands as a pass-rusher, as well as a well-built frame. On the other side of the ball, Daniel Bellinger is an effective in-line tight end who excels in tight windows and is tough to tackle.

UTSA features a physically-gifted cornerback in Tariq Woolen. A 6-foot-4 defender with a 4.34 40-yard dash and the speed needed to defend vertical route concepts, his combination of length and athleticism gives him a very high ceiling at the NFL level. He’ll probably be the Roadrunners’ top draft pick, but they also have two intriguing offensive prospects likely to enter the 2022 draft. Spencer Burford has tackle-guard versatiltiy and is an extremely athletic lineman with fantastic mobility, and Sincere McCormick is a physical back with 3,929 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns at the collegiate level.

Armed Forces Bowl

Missouri vs. Army

Wednesday, Dec. 22 - 8 PM

  • Missouri CB Akayleb Evans
  • Missouri RB Tyler Badie
  • Missouri CB Allie Green IV
  • Missouri OL Michael Maietti

Though Army has the better record heading into this matchup, it’s Missouri that offers more in terms of NFL prospects.

Akayleb Evans and Allie Green IV are two physical cornerbacks with very good length, and while Green should receive looks as an undrafted free agent, Evans has the fluidity and instincts needed to go as high as late Day 2. Tyler Badie was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award this season, and for a dynamic scat back with very good agility, he also brings an element of toughness to his game. Center Michael Maietti has five seasons of starting experience at the collegiate level and has been a reliable run blocker for Missouri since transferring there in 2020.

Frisco Football Classic

Miami (OH) vs. North Texas

Thursday, Dec. 23 - 3:30 PM

  • Miami (OH) EDGE Dominique Robinson
  • Miami (OH) S Sterling Weatherford
  • North Texas DL Dion Novil

Both Miami and North Texas are 6-6 squads who figure to have a tight matchups, and both squads have some defensive prospects worth considering late on Day 3.

Dominique Robinson is an intriguing edge rusher with rare acceleration and an 82-inch wingspan, and though he’s raw as someone who started off as a wide receiver for the Redhawks, his athleticism jumps off the screen. Sterling Weatherford also has enticing physical gifts as a 6-foot-4, 215-pound safety with great play strength who plays like a heat-seeking missile in run support. North Texas isn’t without their own NFL prospects, though, as Dion Novil is a 330-pound interior defender with nice first-step quickness for his size.

Gasparilla Bowl

Florida vs. UCF

Thursday, Dec. 23 - 7 PM

  • Florida CB Kaiir Elam
  • Florida EDGE Brenton Cox Jr.
  • Florida DL Zachary Carter
  • Florida EDGE Jeremiah Moon
  • Florida LB Ventrell Miller
  • UCF EDGE Big Kat Bryant

Florida has fallen apart in the second half of the 2021 season, but that doesn’t mean they’re without their NFL-caliber talents this year.

Kaiir Elam is a first-round prospect with great fluidity, length and deep speed who projects as a Day 1 starter at the next level. The Gators have two explosive edge rushers in Brenton Cox Jr. and Jeremiah Moon, while Zachary Carter is a powerful interior defender with underrated athleticism in space. Ventrell Miller may be limited as a lateral athlete, but he offers great instincts at the second level who takes precise angles in run support. UCF doesn’t have the extensive group of pro prospects their opponent does, but they do feature Auburn transfer Big Kat Bryant, who has 6 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss this year.

Hawaii Bowl

Memphis vs. Hawaii

Friday, Dec. 24 - 8 PM

  • Memphis WR Calvin Austin III
  • Memphis OL Dylan Parham

Hawaii has the opportunity of what will essentially be home-field advantage, but Memphis could end up coming away with the win.

The Tigers have a dynamic weapon in Calvin Austin III, and while he lacks in size and physicality, he’s a fantastic athlete with dangerous agility in space. Dylan Parham is undersized for an interior blocker, but he’s a very athletic player with good spatial awareness as a pass protector and as a down blocker in the run game.

Camellia Bowl

Ball State vs. Georgia State

Saturday, Dec. 25 - 2:30 PM

  • Ball State LB Brandon Martin
  • Ball State WR Justin Hall

Though this game appears fairly light on NFL prospects, Ball State has a few players worth monitoring as undrafted targets. Brandon Martin has battled through injuries throughout his career, but he is a tough-nosed tackler. Justin Hall is an explosive returner with five seasons of quality production at the collegiate level, too.