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2017 College Football Bowl Preview: FAU, SMU and Temple headline the prospects to watch this week

Know the prospects heading into the 2018 NFL Draft with a look at the upcoming Bowl Games.

SMU v Navy Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Bowl season doesn’t pick up major steam until after Christmas, but we still get a smattering of games leading into the holiday. Here’s a look at the 2018 NFL Draft prospects I’ll be watching closely during the midweek bowl games this week…

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl Tuesday 7:00 PM ET

Akron vs Florida Atlantic

#4 Kalib Woods WR FAU 6’3” 193
Season Stats: 20 REC 540 YDS 27.0 AVG 4 TD

Woods faces a January court date and two counts of felony battery stemming from his involvement in a fight last winter. He re-joined FAU after serving a six-game suspension to start the season, and posted three 100-yard games, including a 208-yard effort in the conference championship game against North Texas. Woods is a tall, lanky guy, and a long strider who appears to have some open field speed and elusiveness. He didn’t emerge as a big play threat until late this season, but he piled up more that 900 receiving yards a year ago, and is averaging a staggering 27 yards per catch heading into this game.

DXL Frisco Bowl Wednesday 8:00 PM ET

Louisiana Tech vs Southern Methodist

#16 Courtland Sutton WR SMU 6’4” 216
Season Stats: 62 REC 1017 YDS 16.4 AVG 12 TD 1 rush TD

Sutton is the best big receiver in the 2018 draft class, and displays strong hands, excellent body control, and the ability to pick up big chunks of yardage after the catch. He’s a former basketball player, and is expected to post impressive athletic testing numbers, but his 40 time will ultimately determine just how early he’ll be drafted. Sutton is closing his college career with back-to-back 1000-yard, 10-touchdown seasons, and has averaged nearly 17 yards per catch on 189 receptions at SMU.

#18 Trey Quinn WR SMU 6’ 202
Season Stats: 106 REC 1191 YDS 11.2 AVG 12 TD

Sutton is the marquee name, but redshirt junior Quinn led the Mustangs in receptions and receiving yards in his first season after transferring from LSU. Quinn will likely be typecast as a slot receiver, but he has pretty good size and is expected to run in the 4.4 range in the 40, so he should get a look outside. He also has some experience fielding punts, though with uninspiring results. Quinn is rumored to be leaning toward leaving a year of eligibility on the table and declaring for the draft.

#99 Justin Lawler DE SMU 6’4” 265
Season Stats: 74 TKL (42 solo) 15.5 TFL 9.5 SCK 2 FF 2 PBU 3 kick BLK

Lawler arrived at SMU as a two-star recruit, and he redshirted during his first year on campus. Since then he’s become perhaps the key player on the Mustangs’ defense and special teams, with 39.5 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks, and six blocked kicks in his last 36 games. Lawler is currently projected as a mid-to-late round pick.

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl Thursday 8:00 PM ET

Temple vs Florida International

#3 Sean Chandler S Temple 6’ 195
Season Stats: 74 TKL (53 solo) 1.5 TFL 1 FF 2 INT 3 PBU

Chandler is a four-year starter in the Owls’ defensive backfield, with experience playing cornerback and safety. He’s a valued team leader, and a productive player who has logged nine interceptions and 22 pass breakups during his career. Chandler has also returned 25 punts during his time at Temple, and his versatility on defense and special teams will get him a look as a late round pick or priority free agent.

#5 Keith Kirkwood WR Temple 6’3” 220
Season Stats: 39 REC 575 YDS 14.7 AVG 7 TD

Kirkwood starred as a high school basketball player, and spent just one year on the gridiron before heading to the University of Hawaii on a football scholarship. Kirkwood transferred after his freshman season, but did not become a key contributor at Temple until last year. The redshirt senior receiver is a big target, and despite battling through injuries this season, he’s currently tied for second on the team with 39 receptions, and tied for the team lead with a career-high seven receiving touchdowns.