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Tropical Bowl Preview (2023)

Tropical Bowl

The Tropical Bowl is one that has been overlooked, but always brings a ton of small school prospects who can try and show their talent. It will be played this year on January 21st in Orlando, FL. There have been undrafted players that have come out of the game and made an NFL impact in recent years like Kenny Moore, Jack Stoll ,and Devlin Hodges. Though almost all participants will be undrafted free agents, some could make an impact in camp and make a roster. Here is one invited player from each position I think is most likely to make an NFL roster:

 

Quarterback

 

Fred Payton, Mercer

Coming from Coastal Carolina to Mercer, there is some upside with Payton’s talent. With a record breaking season, Payton has shown the arm and accuracy to be a camp arm. He has a little bit of movement ability, though not a runner by any means as well. The Tropical Bowl could  be a good showcase for Payton to show his good technique and processing ability in real time. 

 

Running Back

 

EJ Burgess, Franklin Pierce

Not many have heard of Franklin Pierce University, but Burgess was flat out dominant. The former JUCO rusher has good size and was the offense for the team. He is tough through the hole and was near the top of the conference with 1,200 yards rushing. He has even played some special teams, which may help in the NFL quest. Despite not winning a game this season, Burgess is a potential camp prospect.  

 

Wide Receiver

 

Mac Hippenhammer, Miami (OH)

A small route runner with good hands, Hippenhammer has had two great seasons for the Redhawks. Similar to last year’s teammate Jack Sorensen, Hippenhammer is definitely a better collegiate player than NFL player. But, he should get a camp shot to see if his route running footwork can translate in the pros. Maybe a practice squad placement is in his future. 

 

Tight End

 

Jordan Murray, Hawaii

A Missouri State transfer, Murray did not quite take hold for Hawaii this year. He does have a nice frame and is a physical blocker at the line. There could be a specialized role in the NFL as a blocker and seam catcher.

 

Offensive Line

 

Jacob Gall, C, Baylor

Gall is one of those players I like more than consensus. He is a tough player, even when making mistakes. He is a big effort player who can play Guard or Center with a solid bend. A big reason for Baylor’s rushing success the last few years, Gall should be able to stick on a practice squad and not be a minus if pressed into playing. 

 

Defensive Line

 

Isaiah Curry, DE, Valdosta State

A former JUCO player who has climbed the college ladder from Texas A&M Commerce to Valdosta State, Curry has been impressive at every stop. With good size and length, he is a nightmare block and has shown it. He is a good pass rusher who is stout enough to hold up against the run. The physical abilities could get him into an NFL camp with upside for more.

 

Linebacker

 

Tre Vallar, Wagner

A tackle machine with great technique, Vallar looks like an NFL special teams player. His closing speed and the angles he takes are tremendous. Though he may not have the size or athleticism to be a great cover backer, Vallar’s stats and success for multiple years may get him into a camp. 

 

Defensive Back

 

Adrian Frye, Texas Tech

A freshman phenom back in 2018, Frye was a ballhawk early in his college career. But, injuries and moving down the depth chart has led to some average seasons where he got lost in the shuffle. With good size and a solid wingspan, as well as early instincts, Frye still has an NFL shot. The Tropical Bowl may be a good place for him to show that and make a camp.

 

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