Despite it being for a great cause, it's hard to get excited about the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (3:30 p.m., ESPN). No team enters the bowl season looking worse than Illinois, which has lost six games in a row. UCLA enters the game with a losing record at 6-7. Both teams also fired their head coaches.
Worst, still, is the overall lack of prospects in the game. The chief player to monitor in this game is Illinois end Whitney Mercilus. He had a breakout season and leads the nation in sacks with 14.5 coming into today's game. He gives great effort and gets good pop in his initial punch. He's not an elite athlete to be a true speed rusher, though, and will probably get taken in the second round.
Illini wide receiver A.J. Jenkins is a decent prospect, but isn't great in any area of his game. His size, route running and speed are all above-average traits. Jenkins specializes in getting of the line quickly and getting leverage against man coverage up the field.
Illinois offensive tackle Jeff Allen should at least get some camp looks and could be drafted in the later rounds. He's solid in pass coverage but struggles to be a consistent factor in the run game.
UCLA has struggled because their highly rated recruits haven't produced as expected. It also doesn't help that the Bruins decided to try the pistol offense, which has been disastrous. Despite the offensive inefficiencies, wide receiver Nelson Rosario has had a solid year with 61 catches for 1,106 yards and 4 touchdowns. His size (6-foot-5, 219 pounds) will get him drafted. He'll have to work hard to become a team's No. 4 receiver.
2013 NFL Draft watch: UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria has flashed incredible ability at times this season. He's athletic for a tight end who gets listed at 6-foot-8 and 252 pounds. His size gives him the advantage in jump ball situations and he's fast enough to get up field.