This year's Independence Bowl features two teams that seemed to be going in different directions at the end of the season. The Missouri Tigers closed the season by winning three straight games while the North Carolina Tar Heels dropped four of their last six.
In regard to draft prospects, though, North Carolina is much more on the uptick than Missouri. The top prospect in tonight's game is Tar Heels defensive end Quinton Coples. Make sure to see our in-depth scouting report on him here.
When North Carolina outside linebacker Zach Brown is lined up to cover the pass, he tends to keep his eyes in the backfield too long. Because of that, he'll be slow to react and can get beaten over the top. When he gets to work forward, though, Brown is excellent. He as athletic as any linebacker you'll come across and closes in a hurry. Because he's so athletic, Brown can afford to work around blockers instead of go through them to get to the ball carrier.
Lining up next to Brown is middle linebacker Kevin Reddick. Where Brown struggle at times in pass coverage, Reddick excels. If a team is looking to add a linebacker to drop in coverage, it will be hard to find one better than Reddick.
If North Carolina wide receiver is consistently catching the ball with his hands (and not his frame), he's as good as any receiver in the nation. He's big and physical and hard to take down after the catch. His speed is good for his size and he runs solid routes.
North Carolina also features one of the draft's better guards in Jonathan Cooper. The senior is a strong blocker on the left side, but may not have the best movement skills.
Tar Heels cornerback Charles Brown is generally lightly regarded because he lacks height and can be beaten vertically. But if Brown is drafted into the right scheme, he should be a solid starter.
Missouri's best prospect is tight end Michael Egnew. He's had a long season with questionable play from quarterback James Franklin. Egnew has nice size at a listed 6-foot-6, 245 pounds but isn't the best when playing with his hand down. Egnew is at his best when he can work shallow crossing routes.
Defensive end Jacquies Smith didn't have quite the season rushing the passer as everyone expected, but he projects to being a solid backup who could get some looks as an outside linebacker this offseason.
If you haven't already, download the bowl watch list put together by 3k.
Also see: Sean Keeley delivers the root ability index for this game here.
In this game last season: In perhaps the most-boring bowl last season, Air Force beat Georgia Tech 14-7. If you like option football, this was up your alley.
2013 NFL Draft watch: One player who has really come along this year is North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams. He's quick off the snap and a load to move around. He's light on experience and should return for his senior season. If he does, look for Williams to develop into a first-round player for 2013. Williams consistently outplayed fellow tackle Tydreke Powell, a late-round possibility in 2012.