Welcome to the first MWCConnection roundtable of 2021. We will kick off the off-season of roundtable topics with a familiar question: Who are the 2022 NFL draft prospects from each team?
Zach: For Boise State, the obvious answer is Khalil Shakir. Shakir should be taken in the first two days of the draft. Some other names to keep an eye on would be George Holani (if he declares), John Ojukwu, and Riley Whimpey. I could also see a guy like Scale Igiehon declaring if he has a big season.
Lute: After Warren Jackson didn’t get drafted this year out of Colorado State, I’m hesitant to put anybody on CSU’s 2021 squad as an NFL draft prospect...Semi-kidding aside, I think Trey McBride is a really solid NFL prospect at the Tight End position. He has the size and ball skills to potentially be a mid-round pick in next year’s draft. Dante Wright at Wide Receiver is also someone who should get some looks. He might be the quickest player in the Mountain West, and someone that you can move all over the field.
Graham: For Utah State, three names on the Utah State offense to keep an eye on are Jordan Nathan, Savon Scarver, and Deven Thompkins. All three of three play wide receivers for the Aggies and Thompkins led the team in receiving yards in 2019 with 536 yards and four touchdowns and had 214 yards and a touchdown in 2020. From 2017-2020, Jordan Nathan made plays for Utah State, going for 324 yards in 2017, 297 yards in 2018, and 581 yards in 2019, catching seven touchdowns in his career. Defensively, Shaq Bond, Troy Lefeged, and Justin Rice are big names to think about. Lefeged totaled 103 tackles in 2019 and had two sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. With a big season, he could be a very potential draft prospect. Shaq Bond is a prospect that could go as an undrafted free agent. His best season came in 2019, when he had 83 total tackles, a forced fumble, and three interceptions. Justin Rice has made a return to the Mountain West after starting his career at Fresno State. In 2019, he had 112 tackles and had three sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and eight pass deflections. In 2020, Rice had 76 tackles, seven sacks, and a pass deflection. He has shown the ability to make big plays and at 6’2 225 lbs, he has the size to be a force at the next level. Shaq Bond had 83 total tackles in 2019 and a forced fumble, three interceptions, and a touchdown. In 2020, he had 47 tackles, an interception and three pass deflections. These are just some of the names to keep in mind for the 2022 NFL Draft and while the Aggies may not get any prospects in the first couple rounds, free agency always provides opportunities.
Mike: I’ll tackle a few schools here, much to the disappointment of their respective fans.
For Wyoming, Xavian Halladay is the best player on the team and has the tools to succeed in the NFL. However, as an “older” running back, he will likely be regulated to a Day 3 selection. Linebacker Chad Muma has the size, talent, and production to get on the NFL radar. He broke onto the scene in 2019 and then increased his tackle total in half as many games in 2020. If he can keep up that pace, he could follow in the footsteps of Logan Wilson.
Moving over to San Diego State, they always seem to have NFL-bound players. The Aztecs have had good fortune putting tight ends into the league, so Daniel Bellinger is a good bet for next year. Everyone knows they can develop next-level running backs, and Greg Bell was a stalwart before getting injured last year. However, Cameron Thomas on the defensive line may be the best-looking prospect for 2022, assuming he decides to enter early. He started in 2019 despite never having played a college snap and ended up a first-team All-MWC player. He followed that up with a great 2020 campaign. Thomas can rush the passer and stop the run and also possess NFL size.