Saturday NFL Draft watch notes

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Here's what to watch for in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Buffalo's Khalil Mack is the star of the day, but not the only pro prospect.

Matthew Fairburn has a separate preview for the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl between Southern California and Fresno State right here. Spoiler: It's a big game for Derek Carr.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Washington State vs. Colorado State, 2 p.m., ESPN

Surprisingly, this game has several NFL Draft prospects. It's only surprising because these two teams only had one player drafted last year – WSU wide receiver Marquess Wilson in the seventh round.

The top prospect is Washington State senior safety Deone Bucannon. The rangy strong safety is headed to the Senior Bowl following a regular season of 109 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and five interceptions. Bucannon has the athleticism to make plays all over the secondary. Bucannon has started four years for the Cougars, and it shows in his pass anticipation. In addition to having solid hands to intercept passes, Bucannon can lower his shoulder and deliver crushing hits. There is some negative, however, to that aggressiveness in that Bucannon will sometimes whiff on a play and get out of position.

Colorado State's Weston Richburg, another Senior Bowl attendee, may be the first center drafted in May. Richburg is a technician who can get out on the second level and make blocks on the move. Richburg is a smart blocker. He knows when to drop off a defender, pivot and help another lineman on a block. He's not an overly powerful drive blocker, but Richburg rarely makes mistakes.

Richburg is one of four Colorado State players who will play in an all-star game. End/linebacker Shaquil Barrett and tight end Crockett Gillmore will play in the East-West Shrine Game. Offensive tackle Jared Biard will play in the NFL Players' Association Collegiate Bowl.

Barrett is the highlight of the group. The Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year had a stellar season of 20.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. CSU uses him as a traditional end and will as a linebacker. Because he's only 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, NFL teams will be looking at his athleticism and movement to see if he can stick full-time as a linebacker or if he's only a situational rusher.

Biard, a right tackle, will get a look because he's a 6-foot-7 lineman. Rams running back Kapri Biggs is a name to keep in mind for 2015. The redshirt sophomore has 28 touchdowns this season to go along with 1,572 yards.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Buffalo vs. San Diego State, 5:30 p.m., ESPN

Despite cementing himself as a top 12 pick, Buffalo's Khalil Mack still has something to play for, and it's not a bag of potatoes. Mack already has the NCAA record for forced fumbles with 16. But Mack will be after a tackle for loss to take that record as well. Arguably no front seven defender will have finished his college career with better stats than Mack, who also has 28.5 sacks. There is little Mack can't do. He's proficient dropping into coverage, he's strong enough to stack and shed and has the speed to close in the backfield.

San Diego State junior running back Adam Muema has a tendency to run over defenders. When he gets going down hill, Muema is hard to take down. It will be interesting to see what happens if he squares up Mack one-on-one in the open field. Muema tweeted that he'll be in the draft, but has since deleted the tweet.

Mack isn't Buffalo's sole NFL Draft prospect. Senior running back Branden Oliver should get a look in a camp. He's squat, decisive runner who dealt with injuries in 2012. This season Oliver has 1,421 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. Wide receiver Alex Neutz will also get a look as a No. 4 or 5 receiver.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

In regard to NFL prospects, this is the lightest game of the day. Tulane wide receiver Ryan Grant is headed to the Senior Bowl following a solid season of 70 receptions for 926 yards and nine touchdowns. Grant is at his best when coming out of the slot where he can use his speed to pick apart the seam.

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