Happy New Year everyone! The ReliaQuest Bowl between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Illinois Fighting Illini will be the first college football game of 2023 and feature a few NFL Draft prospects that Las Vegas Raiders fans will want to check out.
Below is a look at the top 300 prospects who will be playing today from each school based on NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board. One note, both teams have a few opt-outs.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Jartavius Martin, S (No. 21)
Career stats (five seasons): 220 total tackles (144 solo), 10.5 TFL, 7 INTs, 22 PD, 3 FFs
NMDD draft projection as of 12/31: 5th round
In the run game, he’s aggressive coming downhill and a sure tackler.
Good strength to tackle. Plays with high energy and is a tough-minded overachiever.
Extremely aggressive to come up and put his body in traffic to make tackles.
He’s excellent in run support, a physical hitter who could also get a look at safety
Can track the ball downfield and gets his head around when playing in a trail position, and Martin shows excellent ball skills when breaking on a route. He’s a plus tackler in run support as well.
Transitions well from coverage to close on the ball. Strong hands, quick reactions for the interceptions.
Emmanuel Forbes, CB (No. 13)
Career stats (three seasons): 143 total tackles (88 solo), 6.5 TFL, 14 INTs (6 TDs), 19 PD
NMDD draft projection as of 12/31: 2nd round
I am a fan of cornerbacks that play with visible swag and confidence. Emmanuel Forbes is not a shy defensive back. He is an ultra-competitive and tough cover corner. When the ball is in flight, he battles at the catch point to force pass break-ups. He has functional arm length that shortens available space in throwing lanes. Forbes is at his best in press alignment where he can operate in close quarters and disrupt the receiver’s timing. He will use bump-and-run technique along with soft shoe press to stick in his receiver’s hip pocket. Forbes plays with good instincts. He does a good job working against rub routes and switch releases. When he is playing fast and with decisiveness, Forbes will operate as a force defender against the run. I like his ability to quickly slip stalk blocks on screen plays before making contact.
Cameron Young, DL (No. 93)
Career stats (four seasons): 107 total tackles (33 solo), 8 TFL, 1 sack, 4 PD
NMDD draft projection as of 12/31: UDFA
Scouting report via Draft Buzz (full report)
Provides some secondary interior pass rush, getting most penetration when playing three technique.
Pops off tape due to his explosive first few steps. While powerful, doesn’t rock the guard/ center back with his upper-body strength or explode into tackles.
His motor is excellent, and he’s quick to locate the ball and make plays against the run.
Good weight-room strength, which translates onto the field in terms of his anchor.
Strong tackler. Has good power in hands and can anchor, shed, and chase.
Young is strong enough in the lower body to hold up at the point of attack, and Young displays a good feel as a grappler in the phone booth, consistently getting blockers off-balance before sending them to the ground.