With apologies to Mountaineer and Tiger fans, the Orange Bowl is the worst of the five BCS bowl games this year. It's just difficult to get excited about a 10-3 Clemson team that choked down the stretch and a 9-3 West Virginia team that won its last three games by a total of seven points.
For our purposes, as a draft site, this game may not even feature a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The best of the lot is Clemson senior defensive tackle Brandon Thompson. He's a gap-shooting tackle with nice athleticism for the position. He closes quick in the pass rush and has enough upper body strength to keep blockers off this frame. Thompson didn't have as productive of a season as expected, though, and may not get drafted until the second round.
The production was solid for Tigers end Andre Branch as the season progressed, who finished the year with 10 sacks — including four against Virginia Tech. Branch has a good burst off the snap and may get worked out in the offseason as an outside linebacker.
The play of tight end Dwayne Allen rode the same wave as Clemson's season overall. He was good in the early and middle parts of the year, but wasn't successful down the stretch. He caught just six passes for 59 yards in the team's last three games. The junior is at times very good because he's athletic and powerful in the open field.
The top prospect for West Virginia is defensive end Bruce Irvin. Perhaps no other player is hurt more by scheme than Irvin, who is miscast in the Mountaineers 3-3-5 defense. Irvin has perhaps the best first step of any pass rusher in this year's class, but gets taken out of the game by agile, stronger blockers. He's a prime candidate to play in a 3-4 in the NFL.
Fellow end Julian Miller is probably a little more NFL-ready than Irvin, only because he's bigger and stronger. Miller is an underrated player who plays the run well but has enough quickness to get after the ball.
For NFL teams that run bump and run with their corners, West Virginia's Keith Tandy will be an attractive target in the draft. He's a strong corner who can overpower receivers as they run their routes, disrupting the offense's timing.
2013 NFL Draft watch: Some draft followers are big fans of West Virginia's Geno Smith. He has a lot of plus physical tools, but really gets flustered under pressure and struggles to reset his feet.