Mountain West Draft Preview
By Joe Jenkins
Every year, the NFL Draft gives fans a reason to look forward to what might be in store for the season ahead. Unless you’re a Bills fan; then it remains your annual opportunity to question if the entire front office is slipping further into the grips of senility.
From the college football perspective, the draft offers different opportunities, like the ability to track a school’s or a conference’s progression. It’s not a coincidence that Alabama has had 24 players drafted into the NFL, including 11 in the first round, since it began it's latest title run in 2009.
For conferences like the Mountain West, the draft is also a chance to increase exposure to potential recruits. Programs that put players into the NFL have an easier time selling themselves to higher-profile prospects.
On the surface, the 2013 MWC draft class probably won’t have the marquee feel that some of the other classes have had. It won’t have the No. 1 overall pick like 2002 or 2005. Nor will there be multiple players picked in the first round like 2000 and 2012.
This doesn’t mean that all is lost, however. The MWC should still have 10-12 players selected this weekend, and some will be expected to make an impact immediately. Here’s a look at the some of the conference's most talented players and what day you can expect to see them come off the board.
The consensus on Taylor is that he’s either a late first or early second-round pick, so you might have to keep the TV on both Thursday and Friday nights to see him get picked (like you weren’t going to anyway). Our own David Seigerman has him going to the Atlanta at No. 30. He’s strong, fast and can create turnovers. He relied on his speed to make up for coverage flaws, which is something he will have a harder time doing on Sundays, but there’s no reason why he won’t be yet another Bronco cracking a starting lineup in the NFL next season.
At 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, Escobar has the body of a top-flight NFL tight end. He’s also proven he has the hands and the route-running capabilities. The three-time all MWC selection may have hurt his draft status when he ran a 40 time that scouts could have measured with a sundial (4.85). But he plays much faster than that and is still regarded as a high-end talent. He should get picked Friday night in the second or third round.
Leon McFadden – DB, San Diego State
McFadden lacks the speed to be an early-round selection, so you probably won’t see him picked until late Friday in the third or possibly Saturday in the fourth round. He projects as a nickel/dime defender early and could grow in to a solid No. 2 corner. He’ll have to find the right system, as he is more of a finesse/coverage guy and not very physical.
Last year’s record-breaking running back in the MWC is going to have to wait a while to hear his name get called. Chances are it won’t be until late on Saturday as Jefferson is projecting to go somewhere in the last two rounds. Scouts love his vision and his patience, but question his high pad level when he runs and his inability to make people miss. His skill set makes him a good project for a team with a zone read running scheme.