Aztecs have the NFL talent in Poinsettia Bowl

SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 20: Quarterback Ryan Lindley #14 of the San Diego State Aztecs throws a pass against the Utah Utes at Qualcomm Stadium on November 20 2010 in San Diego California. Utah won 38-34. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Tonight is quietly one of the better bowl games of the year in the S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. It's expected to be a close game as Navy takes on San Diego State.

It's not a close game in terms of NFL prospects, though. San Diego State clearly has the edge as Navy runs the option offense and its players must serve the military before going pro.

The Aztecs' Ryan Lindley could enter next season as one of the top-rated senior quarterbacks in the nation. Lindley works really well out of play action and has a strong enough arm. He needs to improve on his timing, though. This season he's completing 56.5 percent of his passes, a number most NFL teams want to see higher in college.

Lindley is a class pocket passer and has started three seasons. in 2010 he's thrown for more than 300 yards in six games, including 528 against Utah. But in that game he had three interceptions as the Aztecs lost 38-34. San Diego State has lost its three toughest games of the season, Missouri, TCU and Utah. In those games, Lindley is completing only 54 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

San Diego State's top receiving targets are wide receivers Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson. Both are excellent vertical receivers with each averaging more than 18 yards a reception. The 6-foot-1 Brown grades higher as an NFL Draft prospect because he's quicker and is runs crisper routes. His explosive will help him as a returner and going over the middle from the slot.

Sampson will make an NFL team and possibly get drafted late on day three. He has great body control and catches a lot of passes in traffic.

Unfortunately for Lindley, both are seniors. Because of that, some might think it would be wise for him to enter the draft following tonight's bowl game. However, as a senior, San Diego State may not have to rely on him so much. The Aztecs could get an even better performance out of running back Ronnie Hillman. Against Missouri, Hillman ran for 228 yards and finished the regular season with 1,304 and 14 touchdowns.

With an offense built around Hillman, Lindley could settle in and become more consistent while relying more on emerging freshman tight end Gavin Escobar.

Also keep an eye on San Diego State outside linebacker Miles Burris. The junior has quietly put together a good season with 9.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. The junior isn't expected to entering the drafter after this season. LIke Lindley, he could enter next season near the top of his position for seniors.
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