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NFL draft prospects to watch in Saturday's bowl games

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Bear predicts upset wins for Washington, Miami (2:38)

Bear likes No. 11 Washington to upset No. 9 Penn State and No. 10 Miami to upset No. 6 Wisconsin, as he expects both teams' defenses to be the difference. (2:38)

It's becoming a trend in college football for top draft-eligible players to sit out bowl games to avoid the risk of injury with a significant payday looming. The overwhelming majority of the players who will enter the NFL in 2018, though, will suit up for their team in a bowl game.

Here's a look at some of the players NFL scouts will be paying close attention to Saturday:

Louisville vs. No. 23 Mississippi State, TaxSlayer Bowl, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN App

QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

  • Kiper position rank: No. 7 quarterback

  • Scouts Inc. ranking: No. 88 overall

Statistically, Jackson had a better season than in 2016, when he won the Heisman Trophy, and he is widely expected to leave for the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining.

OT Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State

  • Kiper position rank: No. 4 offensive tackle

  • Scouts Inc. ranking: No. 32 overall

Rankin accepted a Senior Bowl invitation after a season in which he was named second-team All-SEC. He started 18 games in two seasons for Mississippi State

Louisville CB Jaire Alexander (No. 7 CB) announced last week he would sit out the game in preparation for the draft.

Iowa State at No. 20 Memphis, AutoZone Liberty Bowl, 12:30 p.m. ET, ABC and ESPN App

WR Anthony Miller, Memphis

  • Kiper position rank: No. 3 wide receiver

  • Scouts Inc. ranking: No. 138 overall

Miller's 187 catches over the past two seasons are the most in FBS. The one-time walk-on needs four catches and 28 receiving yards to break his own single-season school records from 2016.

No. 11 Washington vs. No. 9 Penn State, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN App

DT Vita Vea, Washington

  • Kiper position rank: No. 2 defensive tackle

  • Scouts Inc. ranking: No. 28 overall

Vea could have departed for the draft following the 2016 season but returned for his junior year in which he was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

  • Kiper position rank: No. 1 running back

  • Scouts Inc. ranking: No. 2 overall

Barkley topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the third straight season (1,134) and caught 47 passes for 594 yards. He figures to be the first running back off the board should he declare, which is the clear expectation.

TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State

  • Kiper position rank: No. 3 tight end

  • Scouts Inc. ranking: No. 70 overall

A finalist for the Mackey Award, given to the nation's best at the position, Gesicki has more catches than any tight end in Penn State history (123).

OG Brendan Mahon, Penn State

  • Kiper position rank: No. 7 offensive guard

A key piece on the line that blocked for Barkley, Mahon has started 39 games in four seasons.

No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 10 Miami, Capital One Orange Bowl, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN App

FB Austin Ramesh, Wisconsin

  • Kiper position rank: No. 6 fullback/h-back

In 39 career games (19 starts), Ramesh, who is primarily a blocker, has carried 32 times for 140 yards, with five touchdowns.

FB Alec Ingold, Wisconsin

  • Kiper position rank: No. 10 fullback/h-back

Ingold figures to return for his senior year and should enter the 2018 season as one of the nation's best fullbacks.

TE Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin

  • Kiper position rank: No. 7 tight end

  • Scouts Inc. ranking: No. 101 overall

A former walk-on, Fumagalli caught 43 passes for 516 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season.

LB T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin

  • Kiper position rank: No. 6 inside linebacker

  • Scouts Inc. ranking: No. 130 overall

Edwards was the defensive MVP in last season's Cotton Bowl, and he recorded 75 tackles in 13 starts this season.

OG KC McDermott, Miami

  • Kiper position rank: No. 9 offensive guard

  • Scouts Inc. ranking: No. 184 overall

McDermott was named third-team All-ACC. He has started a team-high 33 straight games.

S Jaquan Johnson, Miami

  • Kiper position rank: No. 10 safety

In his first year as a full-time starter, Johnson was named first-team All-ACC.