Fisher Leads '13 MAC NFL Draft Prospects
By Jon Coffey
By now, you’ve probably heard that Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher is projected to be either the first or second overall pick in Thursday’s NFL draft – going back and forth with Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M on every mock draft board in America for the top spot.
If you’re like me you’ve probably asked yourself, at least once, how Fisher got himself into that conversation at all. He’s a big, powerful offensive lineman, who looked dominant for about 99 percent of the 2012-13 season, but he was playing at Central Michigan.
So just how did he grab the scouts' attention enough to get himself into the No. 1 debate?
The 2013 Senior Bowl.
While many Joeckel supporters say that Fisher’s highlight tape looks unfairly impressive because of weaker matchups, there is no denying that a great performance in the Senior Bowl means he is good no matter who is lining up across from him.
But regardless of which team claims Fisher on Thursday, the Central Michigan tackle will have a chance to make history by becoming the first Mid-American Conference player ever taken with one of the first five picks.
No MAC player has ever been drafted higher than Marshall’s Byron Leftwich, who was selected seventh overall in the 2003 draft. After Leftwich, the next-highest draft position for a MAC player is a two-way tie between Bernie Casey of Bowling Green, who was drafted in 1961, and Art Lewis from Ohio, drafted in the inaugural year for the NFL draft – 1936. Both players were taken ninth overall.
Coincidentally the last MAC player picked in the first round of an NFL draft was former Central Michigan Chippewa Joe Staley. Since his being selected as the 28 th pick in the 2007 draft, Staley has played six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, been named to two Pro Bowls and starting Super Bowl XLVII at left tackle.
Like Staley, Fisher flew under the NFL scouting radar for much of his college career before having a standout senior season.
But despite Fisher dominating the headlines for anything related to MAC football during the last several months, he will not be the only player from the conference who will join the professional football ranks by week’s end.
Here’s a look at the top five draft prospects from the Mid-American Conference in 2013:
5) Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan
In his sophomore and junior seasons combined, Carder threw for 61 touchdowns and 7,207 yards. Although a finger injury on his throwing hand caused him to miss six games in his final season as a Bronco, he still managed to throw for 13 touchdowns and attracted the attention of the Cincinnati Bengals, who sent QB coach Ken Zampese to evaluate Carder at Western’s Pro Day.
Projected Draft Round: 7, Undrafted Free Agent (UFA)
4) Stephane Milhim, OL, Massachusetts
Milhim ran a 5.14 40-yard dash at the UMass pro day after dropping about 15 pounds from his weight at the NFL Combine (listed at 314 pounds). His size and athleticism impress scouts, and that 40 time helped his draft stock. At this point he is viewed as a project player. But Milhim could start near the end of this year, and will likely become a regular starter at some point in his career if he lands with the right team.
Projected Draft Round: 7, UFA
3) Zac Dysert, QB, Miami (OH)
Dysert reminds some scouts of a smaller version of Ben Roethlisberger – is it the uniform? – but is said to have all the intangibles to make it as an NFL starter someday. Most people will point to his athleticism and toughness as his two best qualities, but scouts have also noticed his touch on throws that they think will allow him to make plays on the run at the professional level. Even if he doesn’t live up to the two Super Bowl victories of his Miami brethren, Dysert has a big upside and might be viewed as the best quarterback to come from this class in five years.
Projected Draft Round: 3, 4
2) Brian Winters, OL, Kent State
NFL scouts love the wrestling background of Winters. His most noted features are what they call his “hand-play” and aggression. Even though his arms are a little shorter than the average outside lineman at the NFL level (Winters’ arms measure 32 ¾ inches) he is a viable option to play at an inside position on the line. Winters played in 49 collegiate football games, all at offensive tackle. But he has embraced the prospect of playing guard in the NFL and even ran some drills at center during the Golden Flashes Pro Day.
Projected Draft Round: 3, 4
1) Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
It’s no surprise that Fisher is No. 1 on this list. Having the opportunity to be the first player to ever go No. 1 from the MAC should at least guarantee him a No. 1 spot on someone's list, so here it is. An interesting note about the draft prospect: Fisher didn’t even play on an offensive line until his senior year at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills, Mich. Coming out of preps, he slipped past recruiters as a 250-pound tackle. After he put on some weight and developed his skill as an offensive lineman, the 6-foot-7, 306-pound Fisher will be a force for years to come in the NFL.
Projected Draft Round: 1
MAC NFL Draft History
- Since 1936, when the NFL draft began, 462 players have been drafted from schools that are currently a part of the Mid-American Conference.
- Of those 462 players, 12 were taken in the first round, and two were taken in the top 10.
- Out of the current MAC schools, Miami has seen the most players drafted (74). Bowling Green sits in second (62), and Toledo in third (51).
- Eastern Michigan, Massachusetts, and Miami are tied for the most players drafted in the first round of the NFL draft with two apiece.
- No player from the MAC has ever been selected within the first six draft picks.