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College football players to watch for: New Year’s Six

Related: Patriots currently projected to pick 14th overall in the 2021 NFL draft

Army v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

We have officially arrived to the penultimate weekend in college football. The next four days will provide six games that will lead us into the future of the sport. We will see bowl champions crowned and two lucky teams move on to the National Championship Game.

Today we will be profiling our 14 favorite players from these games and talk about their strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit in New England.

Now I couldn’t tackle this project alone, not just because the 10 profiles from a couple weeks ago nearly killed me, but because I, Keagan Stiefel, and everyone’s good pal Ryan Spagnoli have a little something up our sleeves. We will be providing the loyal readers of Pats Pulpit with a draft chart where we profile, rank, and grade draft prospects at positions of need for the New England Patriots. That will be released closer to the draft, so this will serve as a little in-season precursor of what’s to come.

Now let’s quit wasting time. Without further ado here are some college football players to watch in the New Year’s Six bowl games.

Cotton Bowl Classic: (6) Oklahoma vs (7) Florida

  • Date: Wednesday - 12/30/2020
  • Time: 8:00pm
  • Network: ESPN

Player: Kyle Trask (#11), QB, Florida

It’s fairly common knowledge that the Patriots are still looking for their quarterback of the future. One of the most realistic options for the team would be selecting Kyle Trask, who’s one of the most polarizing players in the upcoming draft. No matter if it is positive or negative, it feels like everyone has an opinion and most of them are strong. I don’t feel as comfortable drafting a second-round quarterback than most but I do understand the idea behind it. The biggest positive I see in drafting Trask: allowing him to grow in a system that will maximize his strengths and is a good fit in terms of the offensive system. — Keagan Stiefel

Player: Charleston Rambo (#14), WR, Oklahoma

Charleston Rambo is one of the more interesting potential targets in this draft. Though he was never able to replace the production of Marquise Brown or CeeDee Lamb, he’s been nothing but solid in his time at Oklahoma. He’s a smooth route runner with great footwork. Separation is the name of his game and there isn’t something more the Patriots should be looking for at wide receiver than someone who can create separation. He’s not the sexy pick but he’ll be available late in the draft and would be an immediate upgrade at a couple receiver spots. He also plays in kick coverage units so you know Bill Belichick will be interested. This is the kind of guy you mention early in the draft process to your friends and look like a genius when he turns into a solid pro. You’re welcome. — Keagan Stiefel

Peach Bowl: (8) Cincinnati vs (9) Georgia

  • Date: Friday - 1/1/2021
  • Time: 12:30pm
  • Network: ESPN

Player: Jordan Davis (#99), DT, Georgia

You know that joke you keep seeing on Twitter about the Patriots using their top pick on a defensive tackle instead of a receiver or quarterback? This is the guy they’re talking about. Defensive tackle is becoming another glaring need for New England in the upcoming draft and Davis is the top DT on many people’s boards. You may not want him, but that’s who you might get. Read more about his strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit in New England here. — Keagan Stiefel

Player: Desmond Ridder (#9), QB, Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder is the most interesting player of the weekend. He hasn’t made a jump quite like Zach Wilson but has steadily risen into the conversation for top quarterback on the board on Day Two of the draft. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound dual threat has led Cincinnati to a perfect record this season and displayed all the skills of a successful signal caller. He’s been slapped with the label of a guy with “first-round potential” due to his live arm, athleticism, and attitude. Watching Ridder shows that he’s got an alpha mentality, the man hates to lose and constantly has a chip on his shoulder. This should be the final time Ridder takes the field for Cincinnati and it will be against one of the nation’s top defenses. If he can finish off a perfect season against this Georgia team, he could launch himself over guys like Mac Jones and Kyle Trask. — Keagan Stiefel

Rose Bowl*: (1) Alabama vs (4) Notre Dame

  • CFP Semifinal
  • Date: Friday - 1/1/2021
  • Time: 5:00pm
  • Network: ESPN

*Game will be played in Arlington, TX, not at Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, CA.

Player: Mac Jones (#10), QB, Alabama

Another prospect that is constantly being linked to the Patriots in one of the first two rounds, Jones has had a remarkable season and is one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy. I’m not as big on him as others simply because of the talent around him and that everything is schematically perfect for him in the high-powered Alabama offense. However, Jones has a high ceiling and can certainly be viewed as the Patriots’ quarterback of the future with a year or two of development to adapt to the pro game. — Ryan Spagnoli

Player: DeVonta Smith (#6), WR, Alabama

There isn’t much to be said about DeVonta Smith that hasn’t been said yet. He’s an unbelievable talent that will contribute right away for whatever team selects him come April. I’d even be willing to bet he’s number one or number two on the Patriots’ notoriously small draft board. He needed to be included here because you need to watch him. Check out a little more about him, his strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit in New England here. — Keagan Stiefel

Player: Dylan Moses (#32), LB, Alabama

Moses was a projected first-rounder last year until he tore his ACL right before the season and elected to stay at Alabama for his senior campaign. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound athletic freak is everything the Patriots need in their front seven as they desperately lacked a consistent playmaker all season long. He’s a physical, sideline-to-sideline linebacker that would fit right in the middle of the Patriots defense instantly. — Ryan Spagnoli

Player: Patrick Surtain II (#2), CB, Alabama

You know it will be extremely funny when Bill Belichick and his staff completely blow up everyone’s mock draft and select a defensive back once again with their first pick in the draft. With the future uncertain surrounding Stephon Gilmore, they could indeed elect to go cornerback at their spot in the draft. Surtain is by far the best defensive back in the draft and has had a solid college career while consistently facing off against the SEC’s best receivers. — Ryan Spagnoli

Player: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (#6), LB, Notre Dame

Another linebacker Patriots fans should keep a close eye on as we inch closer to the draft process: Owusu-Koramoah is one of the nation’s top linebackers and should hear his name called early in April’s draft. With the Patriots lacking youth and playmaking ability at the position since the free agency departures of Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins as well as Dont’a Hightower’s Coronavirus opt-out (and uncertain future), Owusu-Koramoah would add youth to a position the Patriots addressed early in 2020 when they drafted both Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings on Day Two. — Ryan Spagnoli

Sugar Bowl: (2) Clemson vs (#3) Ohio State

  • CFP Semifinal
  • Date: Friday - 1/1/2021
  • Time: 8:45pm
  • Network: ESPN

Player: Chris Olave (#2), WR, Ohio State

This is take No. 347 of talking about Chris Olave in this series. You guys know that I love him and think he’d be a great fit in New England. Like I’ve mentioned before, there will be a litany of wide receiver options for the Patriots to choose from once their second-round selection comes around. He’s got as good a shot to be a Patriot is 2021 than anyone. See more about his strengths, weaknesses, and fit in New England here. — Keagan Stiefel

Player: Travis Etienne (#9), RB, Clemson

One of the most explosive players in the draft has been a real treat to watch for Clemson over the last few years. Etienne has been a true playmaker as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. Expect Etienne to go towards the end of the first round or early second, but with Sony Michel’s future in New England up in the air due to injuries and the rise of Damien Harris this season, would it really shock anyone if Bill Belichick pulled the trigger on the ACC’s all-time leading rusher early in April? — Ryan Spagnoli

Players: Trevor Lawrence (#16), QB, Clemson AND Justin Fields (#1), QB, Ohio State

These two are a package deal. With the Jacksonville Jaguars having locked up the number one draft pick and being expected to select generational talent Trevor Lawrence, the New York Jets might be stuck with Justin Fields... another generational talent. In short, the Patriots might be game-planning for Fields twice a year for the next decade, so you folks might want to get to know about him. You also might want to know about Lawrence, who could become a major presence in the AFC for years to come. This is also a revenge game for Fields who was eliminated by Lawrence from the playoff last year and has been stuck behind him as the number two quarterback of their class for their entire careers. Fun! — Keagan Stiefel

Fiesta Bowl: (25) Oregon vs (10) Iowa State

  • Date: Saturday - 1/2/2021
  • Time: 4:00pm
  • Network: ESPN

Player: Charlie Kolar (#88), TE, Iowa State

The closer we get to the draft the more clear it’s becoming that Kyle Pitts may not be an option for the Patriots. He’s played himself into contention for a top-8 pick. So, if the Patriots do end up looking at tight ends like last year, they might look in the same spot, the third round. Kolar is an extremely solid prospect who does everything well. He won’t blow doors with upside but he’ll be a contributor right away for whatever team drafts him. Read more about his strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit in New England here. — Keagan Stiefel

Orange Bowl: (5) Texas A&M vs (13) North Carolina

  • Date: Friday - 1/2/2021
  • Time: 8:00pm
  • Network: ESPN

Player: Dazz Newsome (#5), WR, North Carolina

Speaking of mid-round prospects who can contribute right away. Dazz Newsome was outproduced by his teammate Dyami Brown, so it’s easy to overlook his talent when watching UNC. Brown opted out of this game so you’ll get a full-fledged look at Newsome on the biggest stage. There are a few receivers in this year’s draft that fit the mold of a Patriots slot receiver, perhaps none fit quite as well as Newsome. Read more about what Dazz (great name by the way) does best, his strengths, weaknesses, and potential fit in New England here. — Keagan Stiefel