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2011 NFL Draft: Will Insight Bowl Performance Affect Mizzou's Blaine Gabbert, Aldon Smith?

Two of the most high-profile names on the Missouri Tigers roster that will contemplate jumping to the 2011 NFL draft are QB Blaine Gabbert and DE Aldon Smith. For Gabbert, the reasons are obvious including his size, accuracy and experience. For Smith, his athleticism and versatility is among his top attributes.

As we often see, a bowl game can help a player make up his mind on whether to go pro or not. A solid performance and you could catapult yourself into the NFL draft talk, such as JaMarcus Russell's Sugar Bowl performance a few years ago.

Would a big game by Gabbert and/or Smith help them make the decision to go pro? It's hard to say that it won't because momentum is a factor here. Some talent evaluators on the fence about both players may see a big performance from them in the Insight Bowl that pushes them over the edge into believing they can succeed at the next level. Likewise, a bad game can push them down the list.

Teams like to see how players will perform when the spotlight is on them. That'll be the case Tuesday evening when ESPN airs the Insight Bowl between Mizzou and Iowa.

Who knows what a big game would do for each of them. They'll need to make their decision on early-entry by the middle of January.