With the NFL Draft getting started on Thursday there is a good chance that at least one Mountain West or Western Athletic Conference athlete will have their named called during the first round. The MWC has had a strong history of players being drafted early in the first round but that most likely won't be the case this year. There is no Alex Smith this year who is a top 10 pick but there is plenty of talent.
It will get very interesting towards the end of the first round to see if someone sneaks in or we may have to wait till Friday to hear their named called. There could be a big swing where several of these top players end up. We're going to review some of the higher ranked offensive players from the MWC and WAC to see where they could land during the draft.
Andy Dalton - TCU
He has received a lot of praise this off season but has also been critiqued plenty as well. Does it really matter that he has red hair? Some teams may think that it matters when they are looking for the slightest reason not to draft a player. Dalton has a solid shot at being the first MWC or WAC player to have his named called. He was not one of the 25 athletes that will attend the NFL Draft in person.
Projection: Late First Round to Early Second Round
Colin Kaepernick - Nevada
If being drafted was purely based on stats then Kaepernick would the first player drafted on Thursday. With his unique blend of size and speed he is a very interesting target for teams. Operating out of the Pistol may not have given scouts a great idea of how he will do in the NFL. Still he has exceeded expectations throughout workouts and the combine.
Could the unique characteristics that Kaepernick brings to the table be enough to have him drafted before Dalton? It is possible.
Projection: Early Second Round
Marcus Cannon - TCU
There is expected to be a rush on offensive linemen in the opening round. Depending on how many teams look to add protection will determine how far Cannon drops. At 6-5 35lbs Cannon is a big boy but can also hustle as evidenced by his 5.20 time in the 40.
Projection: Second or Third Round
Alex Green - Hawaii
Something you almost never imagined could happen, a Hawaii running back being drafted. Well it is going to happen this year and Alex Green is the man. He is 6-0 225 and excels at pass protection due to the air attack of the Warriors. There really aren't another backs from the MWC or WAC that will be drafted this year.
Projection: Fifth Round
Titus Young - Boise State
The speedy Bronco will most likely be the top WR from a non AQ school drafted. There are athletes from a couple FCS schools that could go earlier. There are some concerns about his character but teams don't see very leery. If he drops down into the late third round he would be a huge steal.
Projection: Late Second Round
Jeremy Kerley - TCU
The speedy Horned Frog was a menace on kick and punt returns during his career and can do the same thing at the next level. Ran just a 4.59 at the combine but his agility is what sets him apart. Really a lot of real estate in which round he could end up.
Projection: Fourth to Sixth Round
Greg Salas - Hawaii
The flying Hawaiian caught everything that was thrown his way as a Warrior. Solid receiver that could do wonders if utilized in the slot. Crazy offensive numbers from Hawaii can hurt draft stock at times.
Projection: Fourth or Fifth Round
Austin Pettis - Boise State
The larger portion of the Young/Pettis duo he earned the nickname magic hands and can haul in some amazing catches. Ran 4.56 at the combine which is impressive for a 6-3 209lb receiver. He doesn't have the sexiness that other players may have but can still have a solid career.
Projection: Fifth Round
Vincent Brown - San Diego State
Despite his stellar career as an Aztec it may take a while for Brown to have his name called in New York. He did well at the Senior Bowl but didn't melt anyone's face at the combine. If for some reason he goes undrafted he would be quickly signed as a free agent.
Projection: Sixth or Seventh Round
Virgil Green - Nevada
Teams looking for an productive offensive tight end will be very happy to add Green to their roster. Friday could be the best bet for him to have his name called.
Projection: Late Third Round or Fourth Round