2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch: Jan. 2 Bowl Games

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2017 NFL Draft C.J. Beathard
Sep 3, 2016; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback C.J. Beathard (16) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /

Outback Bowl: C.J. Beathard (QB – Iowa)

The class of senior quarterbacks this season is lacking star power, but C.J. Beathard is one of the few who has a chance to be selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. He’ll participate in the Senior Bowl later in January, but first will take on an SEC defense for the first time since the TaxSlayer Bowl two years ago. Iowa lost by 17 in that contest against Tennessee and will now face a Florida Gators defense featuring two of the better cornerback prospects in college football.

Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson have combined to intercept seven passes and breakup 11 this season. Tabor has the better ball skills of the two, while Wilson is more physical. Both present problems for the Iowa offense, which lacks a serious threat at the receiver position. Senior Riley McCarron was the top receiver for the Hawkeyes this season, yet he gained just 506 yards through the air.

The less Beathard has to drop back and pass in this game, the better. During Iowa’s three-game win streak, Beathard has averaged just nine completions and 17 pass attempts per game. Even if he stays in that range against the Gators, just one mistake could swing the momentum. Tabor and Wilson will make Beathard pay if he’s off target on any of his throws in their direction.

Beathard is a potential late-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft if he performs well at the Senior Bowl, while Tabor and Wilson both have a shot to go in round one if they declare.