A week ago, we conducted a draft with five of our current staff writers. Each of us were to select a position group from teams throughout the Mountain West. I am one of the more recent acquisitions to the MWCC team, but that does not mean I do not know the current status of each roster in the conference. Let’s take a look at how I did!
Round 1: Colorado State Wide Receivers
There was a lot of talent to choose from here, but offense is king in this era of football. So, I had to grab arguably the best receiving core in the Mountain West. Some may claim that title to belong to Boise State but I beg to differ. Warren Jackson is hands down the best receiver in the conference and Dante Wright was no slouch himself. E.J. Scott and Nate Craig-Myers round out the list as solid rotation pieces themselves.
Round 2: Wyoming Quarterbacks
Quarterback is by far the most important position on the offense and with Air Force and Boise State having their signal-callers chosen before my first pick, I decided to go with Wyoming’s stable of QBs, led by Sean Chambers and Tyler Vander Waal. Neither was productive through the air last season, but both add rushing ability to the backfield. With Chambers coming off back-to-back season ending knee injuries, it is a bit of a risk here but barring injury, I believe this roster would help get the most out of the young Cowboy.
Round 3: San Diego State Defensive Line
The first of four San Diego State selections for me, no surprise here as I am SDSU’s main contributor, I went with their defensive line. Normally I would take cornerbacks here, but in a conference where running the football is king, I had to take a front four I could trust to rush the passer and stop the run. Cameron Thomas is the key here, as he is alongside Nevada’s Dom Peterson as the top returning defensive lineman in the entire conference. Keshawn Banks is also dependable off the edge and the two should be one of the deadliest d-line duos next season.
Round 4: San Diego State Offensive Line
The Aztecs are returning three out of their five starting offensive linemen and are bringing in a strong recruiting class. Guard William Dunkle and tackles, Kyle Spalding and Zachary Thomas, are the highlights but the SDSU staff knows how to coach up a stellar offensive line. They are mainly known for their run blocking which weighed heavily in my decision as the running game will play a pivotal role in my offense.
Round 5: Wyoming Linebackers
Logan Wilson and Cassh Maluia were both drafted in this year’s NFL draft, but they were not the only productive linebackers last season. Chad Muma was impressive rushing the passer as a blitzer and stuffing the run in limited snaps in 2019. He is more of a projection than anything, but if he can continue his success in a much larger role, he will be one of the best linebackers in the Mountain West.
Round 6: San Jose State Cornerbacks
The tandem of Nehemiah Shelton and Bobby Brown II are what the Spartans have as their starting corners next season. The pair combined for 6 interceptions a year ago and Shelton was a pass deflection machine. They proved to be ballhawks in the secondary, but with great power comes great responsibility and both players had their fair share of missed assignments as they were going for the big play rather than staying on their man. If the duo can cut down on the costly mistakes, they can yield extraordinary returns on investment.
Round 7: Utah State Safeties
One of the more underrated units of the past season was the Aggies safety position. They will be bringing back Troy Lefeged Jr. and Shaq Bond in 2020, both of whom played nearly every snap for Utah State’s defense last year. Neither defender was great when wrapping up, but both were above average in coverage and had no issue dropping into the box to help stuff the run. If they can reduce their tackling woes, they will be able to be thorns in the sides of opposing passing attacks.
Round 8: New Mexico Tight Ends
The Lobos have a quality tight end stable with Marcus Williams as the starter and redshirt senior Jeffrey Jones Jr. as the backup. Williams is a reliable pass-catcher as he did not drop many passes in 2019. He also has sneaky after the catch ability, proving to be more of a downfield threat than many would expect. Jones has not seen much time in New Mexico but is 6’5” and 230 pounds, making him a big target and should allow him to be utilized as an inline blocker.
Round 9: San Diego State Special Teams
SDSU had quietly one of the best special team units last season and are returning a decent amount of their key contributors. Punter is a question mark with Brandon Heicklen leaving, but I do not expect to punt all that often with this team. The steal here was kicker Matt Araiza, who nailed all 28 of his PATs and 22 of 26 of his field goals, including 7-10 from 40+ yards out.
Round 10: San Diego State Running Backs
Juwan Washington received a boatload of carries last season and to his credit, he did not fumble a single time. Although he was rock solid in that department, he left much to be desired as a runner of the football. With Washington now leaving the program, it leaves 100+ more carries for the trio of Chance Bell, Chase Jasmin, and Jordan Byrd who are all serviceable as both runners of the football and receivers out of the backfield.
Offensive scheme wise, I would utilize a run-pass option system that also incorporates play-action and zone reads. Having the Wyoming QBs at the helm of the offense offers rushing ability all over the field, whether it is a direct handoff to the SDSU running backs, read options with my QBs, or even jet sweeps with the CSU receivers, every player is a threat to receive the rock.
On the defensive side of the ball, I will run a man-heavy 3-4 scheme. I prefer man to zone, especially with all the playmakers I have in my secondary. Muma should be able to hold his own against tight ends and running backs and the defensive line should be able to pressure the quarterback rather quickly.
It was not always pretty, but I am confident in my team’s abilities in all phases of the game. Leave me your thoughts below!