The New Orleans Bowl traces back to 2001 and has been played annually since. The game raises $25M annually into the great economy of New Orleans and the schools playing experience the thrill of the city. This year, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns come to town to face off against the Marshall Thundering Herd.

Louisiana (12-1, 9-0 vs Sun Belt) enters the game as Sun Belt Champions and on a 12-game winning streak. Head coach Billy Napier has departed for the Florida Gators, but the nucleus of this team still remains intact. Outside of their single loss to Texas, Louisiana has beaten Appalachian State twice and Liberty.

Marshall (7-5, 5-3 vs C-USA) has had it’s ups and downs this season, and lost to Appalachian State by 1 point in a controversial finish. However, after a 2-3 start, Marshall rebounded and finished the season 5-2 to position themselves for this bowl matchup. Led by redshirt freshman quarterback Grant Wells, Marshall is in their first year under head coach Charles Huff.

New Orleans Bowl – The Marquee Attraction: OT Max Mitchell, Louisiana

Max Mitchell (6’5″ 299 lbs) is Senior Bowl bound and has all of the positive qualities of a blindside protector… except for the fact that he plays on the right side. Louisiana quarterback Levi Lewis is a left-handed quarterback which makes Mitchell, who is a stellar right tackle, the blindside protector. He’s no doubt very talented and loaded with tools, which makes him an intriguing prospect in itself.

He’s a very strong run blocker, which should help him tremendously considering that he’s a right tackle, and probably a year away from starting in the NFL. Regardless, he has immense upside at the position, is versatile because of his ability as a pass protector, and will be solid depth immediately.

Louisiana players to watch

  • S Percy Butler (Shrine Bowl)
  • NT Tayland Humphrey (Shrine Bowl)
  • RUSH EDGE Chauncey Manac

Percy Butler (6’0″ 191 lbs) is a ball hawk to a tee, typically playing the football and looking for the turnover. His tackling ability is questionable, which I believe is the reason he wasn’t invited to the Senior Bowl and will instead perform at the Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas. Regardless, he’s rangy and offers good ball skills that will make him an intriguing target.

Tayland Humphrey (6’4″ 349 lbs) is a mountain of a nose tackle prospect. Despite his large size, Humphrey moves extremely well. He’s quick and has the ability to contain double teams. He collapses well on the play when the run goes through his gap.

The explosive ability of former Georgia Bulldog Chauncey Manac (6’3″ 247) is evident at even the Sun Belt level. The main issue with his ability to rush the quarterback is that he’s still a stiff athlete and doesn’t display the bend that you like to see. Still, he produced double digit sacks this season (10.5) and is a strong run defender with solid tackling ability. I like Manac, personally, and I think he’s among the country’s most underrated talents.

Marshall players to watch

  • TE/H-Back Xavier Gaines
  • CB Steven Gilmore

Xavier Gaines (6’2″ 216 lbs) is one of our favorite sleepers in the draft class. He’s been a versatile weapon in the Marshall offense for the last three years, playing an extremely wide variety of positions across the board. The only concern with his game is his lack of size to play the traditional positions. Still, he’s an impressive talent with all of the ways that the Thundering Herd use him and he’s worth watching.

Steven Gilmore (5’10” 169 lbs), the younger brother of Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, hopes to prove that he’s just as talented as his older brother is. He has good speed and agility for the most part. However, one thing is for sure – his hips and ability to change direction isn’t as smooth. He’s a bit undersized too. However, the pedigree certainly makes it worth checking him out.

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By John Vogel

NFL Draft Analyst. Dad.

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